5 MAY 1961, Page 14


SIR,—Surely, M. 1. Finley, who reviewed Aldred's The Egyptians in your issue of April 7, knows that many Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples, other than the Egyptians, had a penchant for hauling around large slabs of stone by muscle power for purposes which most authorities believe to have been religious: ride Stonehenge, the Maltese monuments, or almost any megalithic tomb. Men were, apparently, perfectly willing to make the most extraordinary efforts on behalf of religious theories which they believed to be scientifically valid and absolutely vital to their well-being. Conceivably. some of the builders of the ,pyramids were atheists, but the majority must have been convinced that the preservation of their society was bound up with the preservation of the body of their sacred king after death which had to be done according to rules laid down by the priests, who were the backroom boys of the time.

This may not commend itself to Mr. Finley as either sound science or sound religion, any more than it does to me. But it is equally unsound history to treat the pyramids as if they were a distressing deviation from the standards of the Welfare State. — Yours faithfully, Maidstone, Kent JANE BAKER