Pyramids of Giza, soaring above the city of Cairo, Egypt (Enlarge)
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the most substantial ancient structure in the world - and the most mysterious. According to prevailing archaeological theory - and there is absolutely no evidence to confirm this idea - the three pyramids on the Giza plateau are funerary structures of three kings of the fourth dynasty (2575 to 2465 BC). The Great Pyramid, attributed to Khufu (Cheops) is on the right of the photograph, the pyramid attributed to Khafra (Chephren) next to it, and that of Menkaura (Mycerinus) the smallest of the three. The Great Pyramid was originally 481 feet, five inches tall (146.7 meters) and measured 755 feet (230 meters) along its sides. Covering an area of 13 acres, or 53,000 square meters, it is large enough to contain the European cathedrals of Florence, Milan, St. Peters, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's. Constructed from approximately 2.5 million limestone blocks weighing on average 2.6 tons each, its total mass is more than 6.3 million tons (representing more building material than is to be found in all the churches and cathedrals built in England since the time of Christ). The Great Pyramid was originally encased in highly polished, smooth white limestone and capped, according to legend, by a perfect pyramid of black stone, probably onyx. Covering an area of 22 acres the white limestone casing was removed by an Arab sultan in AD 1356 in order to build mosques and fortresses in nearby Cairo. Herodotus, the great Greek geographer, visited in the fifth century BC. Strabo, a Greco / Roman historian, came in the first century AD. Abdullah Al Mamun, son of the Caliph of Baghdad, forced the first historically recorded entrance in AD 820, and Napoleon was spellbound when he beheld the fantastic structure in 1798.
According to our present knowledge the Great Pyramid of Giza is mostly solid mass, it’s only known interior spaces being the Descending passage (the original entrance), the Ascending passage, the Grand Gallery, a mysterious grotto, an equally mysterious subterranean chamber, and the two main chambers. These two chambers, called the King's Chamber and the Queen's Chamber, have unfortunately retained the misleading names given to them by early Arab visitors to the pyramid. It is an Arab custom to bury men in tombs with a flat roof and women in rooms with a gabled roof; therefore, in the Great Pyramid, the flat-roofed granite chamber became the King's Chamber, while the gabled, limestone chamber below became the Queen's. Even those archaeologists who still stubbornly subscribe to the tomb theory of the pyramid do not believe that a queen or anyone else was ever buried in the limestone chamber. The King's Chamber is 10.46 meters east to west by 5.23 meters north to south by 5.81 meters high (a series of measurements that precisely expresses the mathematical proportion known as the Golden Mean, or Phi). It is built of enormous blocks of solid red granite (weighing as much as 50 tons) that were transported by a still-unknown means from the quarries of Aswan 600 miles to the south. Within the chamber, in the western end, sits a large, lidless coffer (7.5 feet by 3.25 feet, with sides averaging 6.5 inches thick) of dark black granite estimated to weigh more than three tons. When the Arab Abdullah Al Mamun finally forced his entry into the chamber in AD 820 - the first entry since the chamber was sealed in some long ago time - he found the coffer entirely empty. Egyptologists assume that this was the final resting place of Khufu, yet not the slightest evidence suggests that a corpse had ever been in this coffer or chamber. Nor have any embalming materials, any fragments of any article, or any clues whatsoever been found in the chamber or anywhere else in the entire pyramid that in any way indicates that Khufu (or anyone else) was ever buried there. Furthermore, the passageway leading from the Grand Gallery to the main chamber is too narrow to admit the movement of the coffer; the coffer must have been placed in the chamber as the pyramid was being built, contrary to the normal burial custom practiced by the Egyptians for three thousand years.
The foolishness of the common assumption, that the Giza plateau pyramids were built and utilized by fourth Dynasty kings as funerary structures, cannot be overstated. It is a matter of archaeological fact that none of the fourth Dynasty kings put their names on the pyramids supposedly constructed in their times, yet from the fifth Dynasty onwards, the other pyramids had hundreds of official inscriptions, leaving us no doubt about which kings built them. The mathematical complexity, engineering requirements, and sheer size of the Giza plateau pyramids represent an enormous, seemingly impossible leap in abilities over the third dynasty buildings. Contemporary Egyptological explanation cannot account for this leap, nor can they account for the clear decline in mathematics, engineering and size of the constructions of the fifth dynasty. Textbooks speak of "religious upheaval" and "civil wars," but there is no evidence whatsoever of these having occurred.
The attribution to Khufu of the Great Pyramid of Giza is founded solely upon three very circumstantial pieces of "evidence":
- The legends told to and reported by Herodotus who visited the pyramids in 443 BC
- The funerary complex near the Great Pyramid with inscriptions citing Cheops/Khufu as the reigning pharaoh
- In the pyramid itself, on a granite slab above the ceiling of the main chamber, some small, red ochre paint marks that have a slight resemblance to a hieroglyphic symbol for the name of Khufu.
Giza Pyramids after sunset, Egypt (Enlarge)
Pharaoh Khufu himself left no indication whatsoever that he built the Great Pyramid of Giza. He did, however, claim to have done repair work on the structure. On the nearby "Inventory" Stele (dating to about 1500 BC, but showing evidence of having been copied from a far older stele contemporaneous with the fourth dynasty), Khufu tells of discoveries made while clearing away the sands from the pyramid, of his dedication of the monument to Isis, and of his building of the three small pyramids for himself, his wife, and his daughters next to the Great Pyramid. Regarding the red ochre paint marks found within the pyramid, most hieroglyph experts now believe these to be forgeries left by their "discoverer" Richard Howard-Vyse, rather than being quarry inscriptions left by the original builders. Howard-Vyse was under pressure to equal the discoveries of his rival, the Italian explorer Caviglia, who had found inscriptions in some of the tombs around the Great Pyramid. Modern researchers now suspect that, in the battle for one-upmanship, Howard-Vyse sought to overshadow his rival and gain renewed support for his own projects with a similar but more spectacular "discovery", by forging quarry inscriptions inside the Great Pyramid. In other words, no firm evidence in any way connects the pyramids of the Giza plateau to the dynastic Egyptians.
Let us briefly consider a few matters concerning the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza; matters which clearly indicate that the builders of fourth dynasty Egypt did not have the engineering capacity to erect the Great Pyramid (we do not have the capacity even today) and that this structure was used for a purpose altogether different from mere burial.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is constructed with approximately 2,300,000 limestone and granite blocks. Weighing between 2.5 and 50 tons each, these stone blocks had to be quarried from the earth. Herein lays our first unsolved problem. In the Cairo museum one can see several examples of simple copper and bronze saws, which Egyptologists claim are like those utilized in the cutting and shaping of the pyramid blocks. These tools present a problem. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, copper and bronze have a hardness of 3.5 to 4, while limestone has a hardness of 4 to 5 and granite of 5 to 6. The known tools would only barely cut through limestone and would be useless with granite. No archaeological examples of iron tools are found in early dynastic Egypt, yet even if they were, the best steels today have a hardness of only 5.5 and thus are inefficient for cutting granite. Some years ago Sir Flinders Petrie, one of the "fathers" of Egyptology proposed that the pyramid blocks had been cut with long saw blades studded with diamonds or corundum. But this idea presents problems too. The cutting of millions of blocks would require millions of rare and expensive diamonds and corundum, which constantly wear out and require replacement. It has been suggested that the limestone blocks were somehow cut with solutions of citric acid or vinegar, yet these very slow-acting agents leave the surface of the limestone pitted and rough, unlike the beautifully smooth surface found on the casing stones, and these agents are completely useless for the cutting of granite. The truth is, we have no idea how the blocks were actually quarried.
The unsolved problem of how the 2,300,000 very heavy blocks were transported to the building site of the pyramid is even more mystifying. How were the blocks taken to the nearly 500- foot height of the pyramid’s summit? A Danish civil engineer, P. Garde-Hanson, has calculated that a ramp built all the way to the top of the pyramid would require 17.5 million cubic meters of material, this representing more than seven times the amount of material used for the pyramid itself, and a work force of 240,000 to build it in the time allotted by Cheops' reign. But if this enormous ramp were built, it would then require a force of more than 300,000 laborers as much as eight years to dismantle. Where would all the ramp material have been placed, since it is not to be found anywhere near the Great Pyramid? And what of maneuvering the precisely carved blocks into place without damaging the corners? Various lifting devices and levers have been proposed by modern engineers (remember, no existing dynastic records, paintings, or friezes give any clue to this mystery), but none solve the problem of how the 50-ton blocks of the main chamber were lifted and positioned using an area where only four to six workers could stand, when the strength of at least 2000 would be needed.
Next we come to perhaps the most extraordinary problem, that of the fashioning and placement of the highly polished limestone casing stones that covered the entire pyramid. The finished pyramid contained approximately 115,000 of these stones, each weighing ten tons or more. These stones were dressed on all six of their sides, not just the side exposed to the visible surface, to tolerances of .01 inch. They are set together so closely that a thin razor blade cannot be inserted between the stones. Egyptologist Petrie expressed his astonishment of this feat by writing, "Merely to place such stones in exact contact would be careful work, but to do so with cement in the joint seems almost impossible; it is to be compared to the finest opticians' work on the scale of acres." Herodotus, visiting in the fifth century BC, reported that inscriptions of strange characters were to be found on the pyramid's casing stones. In AD 1179 the Arab historian Abd el Latif recorded that these inscriptions were so numerous that they could have filled "more than ten thousand written pages." William of Baldensal, a European visitor of the early fourteenth century, tells how the stones were covered with strange symbols arranged in careful rows. Sadly, in 1356, following an earthquake that leveled Cairo, the Arabs robbed the pyramid of its beautiful casing of stones to rebuild mosques and fortresses in the city. As the stones were cut into smaller pieces and reshaped, all traces of the ancient inscriptions were removed from them. A great library of ageless wisdom was forever lost.
Still further evidence that the dynastic Egyptians did not construct the Great Pyramid of Giza may be found in sediments surrounding the base of the monument, in legends regarding watermarks on the stones halfway up its sides, and in salt incrustations found within. Silt sediments rising to fourteen feet around the base of the pyramid contain many seashells and fossils that have been radiocarbon-dated to be nearly twelve thousand years old. These sediments could have been deposited in such great quantities only by major sea flooding, an event the dynastic Egyptians could never have recorded because they were not living in the area until eight thousand years after the flood. This evidence alone suggests that the three main Giza pyramids are at least twelve thousand years old. In support of this ancient flood scenario, mysterious legends and records tell of watermarks that were clearly visible on the limestone casing stones of the Great Pyramid before those stones were removed by the Arabs. These watermarks were halfway up the sides of the pyramid, or about 400 feet above the present level of the Nile River. Further, when the Great Pyramid was first opened, incrustations of salt an inch thick were found inside. While much of this salt is known to be natural exudation from the stones of the pyramid, chemical analysis has shown that some of the salt has a mineral content consistent with salt from the sea. These salt incrustations, found at a height corresponding to the water level marks left on the exterior, are further evidence that at some time in the distant past the pyramid was submerged halfway up its height.
The building blocks of the Great Pyramid of Giza (Enlarge)
Let us turn our attention briefly to the matter of the purpose or multiple purposes of the Great Pyramid, drawing for our discussion on both the exact measurements made by modern scientists and the mythic legends of the remote past. A few facts:
- The sides of the pyramid are lined up almost exactly with the cardinal points of the compass. The accuracy of this alignment is extraordinary, with an average discrepancy of only about three minutes of arc in any direction or a variation of less than 0.06 percent.
- The Great Pyramid functioned as an enormous sundial. Its shadow to the north, and its reflected sunlight to the south, accurately marked the annual dates of both the solstices and the equinoxes.
- The basic dimensions of the Great Pyramid incorporate measurements from which the earth's size and shape can be calculated. The pyramid is a scale model of the hemisphere, incorporating the geographical degrees of latitude and longitude. The latitude and longitude lines that intersect at the Great Pyramid (30 degrees north and 31 degrees east) cross more of the earth's land surface than any other lines, thus the pyramid is located at the center of the land mass of the earth (the pyramid is built on the closest suitable site to this intersection). The original perimeter of the pyramid equals exactly one-half minute of latitude at the equator, indicating that its builders measured the earth with extreme precision and recorded this information in the dimensions of the structure. Altogether these measurements show that the builders knew the exact dimensions of the planet as precisely as they have been recently determined by satellite surveys.
- The foundation of the Great Pyramid is amazingly level. No corner of its base is more than one-half inch higher or lower than the others. Considering that the pyramid's base covers more than thirteen acres, this near-perfect leveling far exceeds even the finest architectural standards of the present day.
- Measurements throughout the pyramid show that its constructors knew of the proportions of pi (3.14...), phi or the Golden Mean (1.618), and the "Pythagorean" triangles thousands of years before Pythagoras, the so-called father of geometry, lived.
- Measurements show that the builders knew the precise spherical shape and size of the earth and had accurately charted such complex astronomical events as the precession of the equinoxes and the lunar standstill dates. The minute discrepancies of the lengths of the base of the pyramid (several inches over the 230 meter length of its base) reveal not an error on the part of the builders but an ingenious means of incorporating into the pyramid the "discrepancies" of the earth itself, in this case the flattening of the earth's globe at the poles.
- Shafts leading upward from the two main chambers, previously thought to be air shafts for ventilation, have been shown to have another possible purpose. A miniature electronic robot mechanically crawled sixty-five meters up the shafts and its findings suggested that the south and north shafts in the Kings Chamber are pointed to Al Nitak (Zeta Orionis) and Alpha Draconis respectively, while the south and north shafts of the Queens Chamber point to Sirius and Beta Ursa Minor. The scientists conducting this research believe that the layout of the three pyramids on the Giza plateau precisely mirror the position of the three main stars in the Orion constellation. (While crawling along one of the shafts in the Queens chamber, the robot's cameras photographed a previously unknown closed door that may lead to some hidden chamber.) Readers interested in these new findings should consult The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert.
The Pyramids of Giza (Enlarge)
What does all this mean? Why did the ancient builders of the Giza pyramids, whoever they may have been, encode so much precise mathematical, geographic, and astronomical information into their structures? What was the purpose of the Great Pyramid? While no authoritative answer can presently be given to this question, two intriguing matters suggest a direction for further inquiry and research. The first has to do with the persistent legends that the Great Pyramid of Giza, and especially the main chamber, was used as some sort of sacred initiation center. According to one legend, students who had first undergone long years of preparation, meditation and metaphysical instruction in an esoteric school (the mythic "Hall of Records" hidden deep beneath the desert sands somewhere near the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx) were placed in the granite coffer of the main chamber and left alone throughout an entire night. The coffer was the focal point of the energies gathered, concentrated, aimed, and directed at the main chamber by virtue of the precise mathematical location, alignment, and construction of the pyramid. These energies, considered to be especially potent at certain precisely calculated periods when the earth was in a particular geometric alignment with solar, lunar, and stellar objects, were conducive to the awakening, stimulation, and acceleration of spiritual consciousness in the suitably prepared adept. While it is now nearly impossible to spend an evening alone in the coffer of the main chamber, it is interesting to read the reports of those persons who have done so in the past. Mention will be made of experiences both terribly frightening (perhaps because of the lack of any appropriate training on the part of the experimenter) and also deeply peaceful, even spiritually illuminating. Napoleon himself spent a night alone in the chamber. Emerging pale and dazed, he would not speak of his powerful experiences, only saying, "You would not believe me if I told you."
A second matter needing further inquiry from the scientific community studying the Great Pyramid of Giza - and one that might help explain the subject just discussed - concerns the matter of unexplained energetic anomalies frequently noticed and recorded in the main chamber. In the 1920s, a Frenchman named Antoine Bovis made the surprising discovery that, despite the heat and high humidity of the main chamber, the dead bodies of animals left in the chamber did not decay but completely dehydrated. Thinking that there might be some relationship between this phenomena and the position of the main chamber in the pyramid, Bovis constructed a small-scale model of the pyramid, oriented it to the same direction as the Great Pyramid, and placed the body of a dead cat at the approximate level of the main chamber. The result was the same. As he had observed in the Great Pyramid, the cat's body did not decay. In the 1960s, researchers in Czechoslovakia and the U.S., conducting limited studies of the geometry of the pyramid, repeated this experiment with the same results. They also found that the form of the pyramid somehow mysteriously kept foods preserved without spoiling, sharpened dull razor blades, induced plants to germinate and grow more quickly, and hastened the healing of animals' wounds. Other scientists, in consideration of the high quartz content of the granite blocks in the main chamber and the incredible pressures those blocks are subjected to, theorized that the main chamber may have been the focal point of a powerful piezoelectric field; magnetometer measurements inside the chamber indeed showed higher levels than the normal background geomagnetic field.
Although much research remains to be done in these areas, legend, archaeology, mathematics, and earth sciences seem to indicate that the Great Pyramid was a monumental device for gathering, amplifying, and focusing a mysterious energy field for the spiritual benefit of human beings. We do not know exactly how the pyramid and its main chamber were used, and the geometric structure of the pyramid has been subtly altered by the removal of the casing stones and the cap-stone. None-the-less, the Great Pyramid of the Giza plateau still emanates great power as a transformational power place. It has done so for uncounted thousands of years and seems destined to continue for ages to come.
Egypt Travel Guides
Martin recommends these travel guides