The Lamp

The "Lamp"

After two pieces of circumstantial evidence have been eliminated we should now take a closer look at the objects themselves. I will start "technical", since the authors of the thesis asked for it. On the following pages I will show what Egyptology says about the pictures.
I must start with some words of warning. The book "Lights of the Pharaohs" by the Austrian authors Krassa & Habeck (they wrote the most popular summary of the thesis, and I base my discussion on it) is nicely written and sounds logically sound. After reading of the book a laymen might ask himself, why Egyptology publishes such a rubbish about Egyptian history, since it seems to be completely different. But anyone with just a slight knowledge about Egyptian history sees at once, what a load of rubbish is poured onto the trusting reader. Most parts of the "history" the authors unfold are free inventions, therefore I cannot discuss those parts of the book - I simply have neither web space nor the time to correct everything they have twisted. I will stick therefore strictly to the objects and the technical and Egyptological discussions about them. Only some examples of Krassa/Habeck's weird history will be discussed on an additional page at the end of this article.
So let us see how the representatives of the electro thesis interpret the famous Dendera picture.[1] Krassa/Habeck are giving the following explanations (which I will correct on the following pages :-) ):[2]

Lamp elements
  1. Priest
  2. ionised fumes
  3. electric discharge (snake)
  4. Lamp socket (Lotos)
  5. Cable (Lotos stem)
  6. Air god
  7. Isolator (Djed-Pillar)
  8. Light bringer Thot with knifes
  9. Symbol for "current"
  10. Inverse polarity (Haarpolarität +)
  11. Energy storage (electrostatic Generator?)

On the basis of this picture engineer W. Garn constructed a working device which indeed gave some light. In the book of Krassa/Habeck we find he following sketch and description:

Zeichnung Garn-Birne
"If we evacuate a glass bulb with two metal parts reaching into it (B), (C), we can see a discharge at much lower levels, depending on the size of the glass balloon (D). At a pressure of about 40 t (tonnes) (40 mm of mercury) a snakelike light filament meanders from one metal part to the other (E). If we evacuate further, the light filament grows wider until it fills the whole glass balloon. This is exactly what we see in on the pictures in the subterranean chambers of the Hathor sanctuary."[3]

This is the basis of the technical interpretation. Sounds logical, sounds comprehensible - and doesn't work!
How so often in "fringe science" this lamp idea only "works" by omission of important details. You might have noticed that I emphasized the word "two" in Garn's comment. Why? Because "two" is the key word. Every "normal" lamp needs two electrodes to produce light, a simple light bulb or the Garn-construction.
"Well, and where is the problem?" you might ask. Simple. The problem is, that the "working" lamp picture in Dendera is only one of six. And from all six pictures this is the ONLY one where something reaches "into" the "bulb"!
The pictures of the objects can be seen three times in the subterranean crypts and three times in an associated "cult room" I will discuss later. The "working" lamp is once shown in the crypt. Three times pictures like this, with the air god Heh carrying the "lamp" are shown (one in the crypt, two in the cult room):


and two times this way with a djed pillar outside of the "lamp" (once in the crypt and once in the cult room):

Djed außen

These objects could never had been lamps. Neither a Garn-type nor a "normal" light bulb. But it gets even worse, because there are pictures of similar objects in the chapels around the temple. Without Djed, lotus or generator:

Snake stone

This is a picture with so-called snake stones. Krassa and Habeck are making fun about them, as "silly explanations of Egyptologists" - therefore I will discuss their meaning on the Egyptological pages.
Fact is, that the "lamp explanation" works only for one of six large pictures, and for none of the uncountable snake stones in this temple and in all of Egypt.

The only possible (and really used) explanation was: "The Egyptians saw the whole thing just a short moment, so they couldn't remember how the thing really looked like". But you must admit that this is silly. As you remember: the core of the lamp-story is, that the Egyptians used those things centuries, even millennia, to routinely light out their pyramids and tombs. And yet they could not remember how their daily tool looked like?
Even the "reduced model" (which also contradicts the initial no-soot-"evidence"), that only priests hat this magical instrument and showed it a few times a year to the astonished masses, fails, because they had to have the objects at hand and could have copied them. If we take in account that the "working" model is dramatically outnumbered by the non-working types we can only conclude that the idea is, from the scientific viewpoint, flawed. In science an idea is only interesting if it can at least everything other ideas can explain, and it is really interesting if it can explain some things even better.
The lamp model can not even explain five of the six large pictures, not to mention the hundreds of small snake stones. Funny: "school science" has no problems to explain them...

But there are more problems demolishing even the basic idea that those things could be light bulbs of any kind. Krassa/Habeck seem to believe that the objects on the pictures are shown in their natural proportions with regard to the "priest" behind the lamp (although they are wondering, that some other people are shown smaller than the priest).[4] If we use the priest as scale, the objects on the relief must be around 2.5 m long with a largest diameter of one meter, and a smallest diameter of 50 centimeter!
Regardless of the construction used, the bulb had to have a near vacuum inside - can you imagine the air pressure resting on such a device?
Well, we don't need to guess, we can calculate it. With a length of 2,5 meters, a largest thickness of one meter and a smallest thickness of 50 centimeters we can calculate the volume roughly as a truncated cone of approximately 2 m length ( Volume = Pi * h /3 * (r12 + r1 * r2 + r22) and a hemisphere of one meter diameter (Volume 2/3 Pi r3). The combined volume is around 1,12 cubic meters, the surface of the object amounts to approximately 6,3 square meters.
If the object is evacuated, a pressure of about 63 t (tonnes) would rest on a Dendera object. To withstand such an immense pressure, the object would have to be quite thick-walled, at least two to three centimeters thick. The weight of this bulb would be then approximately 750 kilograms. And this monster would be nevertheless a ticking time bomb: a small crack in the glass by uneven cooling with the manufacturing, and the Dendera lamp implodes with the force of a bomb. The fragmentation effect might be deadly in the periphery of several meters!
I for my case also know of no vacuum glass bulb of similar format from modern manufacturing, and this might have its reasons. We cannot do it - but the Egyptians could? Although they had no technical industry at all? Err - no.
"Rubbish" one lamp-fan told me, who dropped the Garn idea in a millisecond to defend the general idea (the people in fringe science are very flexible in switching even basic assumptions to keep a "mystery" alive). I was told, that the bulb could have been filled with a noble gas.
Sure, noble gas grows on date palms :-) Without a real industrial technology it is impossible to get those gasses. There is no trace of a technology needed to extract them before the 20th century. Also: the Dendera lamp would have to contain enough gas to fill at least 713000 (!!!) halogen lamps with a lighting performance of together 14 million Watts (at one bar filling pressure)!!! And twice may be guessed what lights up more brightly.
In both cases the Dendera construction is characterized primarily by its uselessness. A simple bulb or a 500 W halogen lamp needs fewer resources, is simpler and safer against production defects as such a monster. It has its reasons why we use today small bulbs and no Dendera giant, even 100something years after Edison.

Oh, I forgot the glass bulbs. Glass is for us a daily-life article, but the situation in ancient times was different. That's why we come at last to a major problem of alternative history: the event horizon. Material expert Paul Nicholson writes in the current standard book about Egyptian materials and manufacturing techniques:

"Ancient Egyptian glass is among the finest from the ancient world. Despite its great technical competence its origins and technology are still imperfectly understood. Lucas (1962:179) notes, that while glass may have been made sporadically before the 18th Dynasty (c. 1550 -1070 BC) it was probably a fortuitous product resulting from accidents in faience manufacture, while after that time its production was deliberate. ... From 1500 BC onwards, glass emerges as a regular, if high-status, product in Egypt."[5]

So glass became a prestigious high price product around 1500 BCE - more than 1000 years after the great pyramids were built.
If we add al these facts the air becomes very thin for the lamp thesis - evacuated, to say. :-)

Let's have a look at some negligibilities I noticed along the way. Krassa/Habeck are enraged (like many of their colleagues) by the interpretation of things as "symbolic" in scientific publications. Disgusting. Paleo-SETI is much more straight forward, they need no symbolic hogwash to explain things. Well, aside, of course, of the symbols Krassa/Habeck also need to explain their construction!
Yes, they need symbols too. The snake for example. The Garn-lamp has either a light aura around the arms or the light fills out the whole bulb. A snake as continuous effect does not exist. So the snake suddenly becomes a symbol for the electric current! But it even gets better: not only the snake, but all of the objects on the relief suddenly become symbols - the only way the authors can interpret away unsuitable "details".
The two facing persons below the bulb are transforming to a "symbol for alternating current", the woman before them becomes a "symbol for electric current", the ape with the two knifes (identified only a few pages earlier correctly as protection god Upu[6], but with a crazy interpretation) mutates within a few pages later[7] from a &"symbol for high voltage" to "Thot, bringer of light" - a "symbol for light". That's really funny, because Egyptology needs fewer symbols to explain the whole scenery, as I will show on the following pages.
The lamp idea fails again since it needs not less but more symbols. So what about the disgust for symbols? Are some more equal than others?

The next argument was, as expected, the famous "looks-like"-argument of fringe science. As long as there is no other plausible explanation, so the consensus on the former A.A.S. discussion board, there is no reason to see something else in those objects. Because the Dendera objects look so much like our modern lamps that other interpretations simply make no sense.

Birne 1 Leuchtstoff Spot Halogen

Strangely. In the pictures above you see a set of current and older lamp constructions. Halogen bulbs, Spot lights, fluorescent tubes - and none of them has even the smallest resemblance to the Dendera construction. Even the sodium high-pressure lamp on the right, although a little similar on first look, is completely different in size, structure and mode of operation to its Dendera counter piece. Particularly I miss the so eminent important arms reaching into the lamps. So dear reader, if you know of any lamp in technical use now or in the past - please, send me a picture. Unless then I see no reason to interpret the Dendera reliefs as lamps.

By the way: we often hear about "reconstructions" of ancient "artifacts", but those normally don't deserve that word. Like here those are in reality constructions designed in a way, that they look like parts on ancient reliefs or fit more or less badly written descriptions. Other objects are for example the Maya motor or the Hesekiel shuttle from Blumrich. A lamp construction that looks like Dendera is possible but makes no sense. It has its reasons why we use small bulbs and not 2.5 m Dendera monsters.

The time scale

Let us now take a look at Dendera and it's connection to Pharaonic Egypt. To support an influence of the Dendera-"technology" on ancient Egypt the temple must be old. And, so the authors Krassa/Habeck in their book, the temple IS old. Not only old, but prehistoric, too. Well, that's it, then?

No, not really, the authors are telling only half the truth. It is true that the location of the temple was used since old times, at least back to Khufu's reign. But this temple was torn down completely after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BCE:

"Remnants of the former temples are ... not known, because all earlier structures were torn down in the later Ptolemaic epoch to make room for the new, today visible temple." [ 8 ]

OK, but the reliefs could be older. They are located in underground chambers, maybe the weren't removed? No. The reliefs are worked in high relief which cannot be altered afterwards. And on the reliefs we can find the name of the builder of the temple. Krassa/Habeck were, as we can read in their book, about 4 hours inside the rooms and photographed any square centimeter of the reliefs and inscriptions[9]. So they must have stumbled over the "visiting card" of the owner, its name cartouche. It can even be seen in their book on table 24: Ptolemeius XII. And he lived - around 50 BCE! That was it with prehistoric. If one looks up what Thomas Schneider has written in his " Lexikon der Pharaonen" (Dictionary of the Pharaohs) about Ptolemeius XII, we find:

"The outstanding event of the building and religion policy P.s ' XII. is the inauguration of the Edfu temple on 7 February 70. In Dendera he begun in the year 54 B.C. with the construction work of the Hathor temple......"[10]

Still any questions? The temple was built in an era long after the end of dynastic Egypt, about 300 years after the reign of the last Egyptian pharaoh. And: no temple before Dendera shows symbols like these. There is no connection between these symbols and Pharaonic Egypt. Whatever they are: the whole idea of electricity in ancient Egypt has died with this building date.

[1] The numbers are equal to the ones in the sketch in Krassa/Habeck; Das Licht der Pharaonen, Herbig 1992, p. 231
[2] ibd.
[3] ibd. p. 239, emphasize by me
[4] ibd. p. 97
[5] Nicholson/Shaw (Hrsg.), Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, Cambridge University Press 2000, p. 195
[6] Krassa/Habeck p. 213
[7] ibd. p. 231
[8] Arnold, Dieter; Die Tempel Ägyptens, Artemis 1992, p. 165 ff
[9] Krassa, Habeck p. 100 & 106
[10] Schneider, Thomas; Lexikon der Pharaonen, Artemis 1994, p. 224 f
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All pictures and texts © Frank Dörnenburg