What strikes me is that the various authors Al-Maqrizi collects, being devout Muslims and sometimes Christians, say virtually nothing about the pagan gods, whom Tsoukalos and von Däniken claim are the aliens, and attribute to these gods squarely nothing. I haven’t yet found a writer who attributed the pyramids to anything other than the agency of a (human) king, whether that be Surid (Sourid or Saurid), Sheddad (or Shaddad) ben ’Ad, or Hermes (also called Edris or Idris). So, even taking the stories at face value and out of context, there just isn’t any non-human activity at work. The closest Al-Maqrizi’s sources get is when they suggest Surid built the pyramids in response to a dream or an astrological forecast—but again, no gods are involved. (I previously wrote of an earlier passage attributing the origins of science to demons, but this was only very tenuously connected to the Giza pyramids.)
I found most interesting the little bits of fact wedged in among the distortions and myths. Although the specific stories the writers tell are clearly wrong, in that they do not match any archaeological evidence, it is also clear that some are distortions of actual events that must have occurred one or two centuries earlier and had passed into myth. Take this one from Abu Abdallah Muhammed bin Abd ar-Rahim al Kaisi, speaking (incorrectly) of the Great Pyramid in the time of the Caliph Al-Ma’mun (ninth century CE):
It is said that a man who entered [the pyramid] in Al-Ma’mun’s time discovered a small room therein where there was a statue of a man in stone green as dahang. This statue was brought to Al-Ma’mun. It had a lid that could be removed, and within they found the body of a man wearing a gold breastplate encrusted with all kinds of jewels. On his chest lay a sword of inestimable price, and near the head was a red ruby the size of a hen’s egg which shone like a flame, which Al-Ma’mun took for himself. The statue within which this dead man was encased was put up near the door of the king’s palace in Cairo where I saw it in the year 511 (1138 CE).
Consider, too, this description, again supposedly (and wrongly) of the Great Pyramid, but quite clearly describing some alabaster sarcophaguses in a burial chamber not unlike that of King Tut, along with the Book of the Dead provided to the deceased:
They entered the central chamber in which were three transparent and luminous stone beds and on these three beds lay three bodies covered with three robes. Near the head of each was a book in unknown characters. In the second room were arranged many shelves supporting stone baskets containing vases of gold wonderfully encrusted with jewels. In the third room also stood shelves and baskets of stone in which were deposited instruments of war and a large number of weapons. One of the swords was measured, and it was not less than seven spans. One breastplate measured eighteen spans.
I still fail to see where the aliens figure into any of this, or how anyone with any integrity could read them as anything other than distorted legends abstracted from small grains of truth. On the plus side, now that this material is available in English, it will be that much harder for alternative writers to make unsupportable claims about what it says.