A building whose construction would have daunted modern engineers.
The Great Pyramid at Giza, in Egypt, was designed to be a lasting and fitting memorial I to King Khufu, better known by his Greek name of Cheops — one of the most powerful rulers the ancient world had known. About 40 pyramids stand along the banks of the Nile, but none can compare with the Great Pyramid. It stands more than 450 ft high and covers an area of 13 acres enough space in which to cluster together Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and the great cathedrals of Milan and Florence.
The accurately cut blocks of stone used to build it – 2,300,000, each weighing from two to 15 tons – would provide more than enough material to construct all the cathedrals, churches and chapels built in England since the coming of Christianity. Napoleon’s surveyors calculated that it contained enough stone to build a wall three yards high and a yard thick around the whole of France.
Its base is a perfect square, the four sides accurately facing the four points of the compass. The corners are almost perfect right angles.
Even today, it is difficult to imagine how awesome it is without standing in its huge shadow. But 5,000 years ago it was even more magnificent when it was faced with gleaming white limestone – long since plundered for building material elsewhere – and topped by a 30 ft capstone of beaten gold.
But is the Great Pyramid merely a technological marvel, or something that has a much deeper, mystical significance?
As more and more is discovered about the ancient past, irrefutable evidence comes to light that ancient civilizations often reached astonishing levels of scientific expertise. Some seem even to have possessed knowledge that we lack today. How, for example, did the ancient Egyptians, who had not yet even discovered the wheel, raise the Great Pyramid with the aid only of levers and rollers? How did they carve their giant blocks of granite with such amazing precision? How did they harden their bronze tools to a strength that cannot be duplicated today? And how did they acquire the confidence to launch a project whose scale would daunt even the most adventurous of modern architects and engineers?
The Great Pyramid stands on a rocky plateau ten miles west of Cairo. It is thought that a perfectly level foundation was made for it by building a mud wall around the plateau and flooding the area. As the water was gradually drained, bumps were revealed and were cut away until a flat surface was left. On to this foundation, even more, level than that beneath a 20th-century skyscraper, gangs of laborers hauled giant blocks of sandstone from nearby quarries. The facing surface of gleaming limestone had to be brought further, from quarries on the far bank of the Nile. The stones were drawn on sleds up gentle ramps. Once in position, teams of stonemasons took over, cutting them to perfection.
In case King Khufu should die before the work was completed, a tomb was tunneled deep into the solid rock foundations beneath the pyramid, and later another was created within the pyramid itself but at a lower level than the planned burial chamber. This was placed in the heart of the pyramid, 138 ft above ground level. It was reached by a tiny passageway which opened out into a majestic 25-ft-high gallery. Huge granite ‘plugs’ were placed within the passageway so that it could be blocked forever once the priests had completed the rites inside the funerary chamber.
But despite all these elaborate arrangements, it seems that a body was never placed in the Great Pyramid.
Egyptologists who have studied the pyramids closely are basically divided into two groups – those who think the pyramids have some deep and mysterious significance and those who think they are merely tombs. But if the Great Pyramid is merely a tomb, why the absence of a body, and why the mathematical accuracy of every wall, slope, corridor, and cavity?
As is shown by the tombs in the Valley of the Kings – where Tutankhamun’s grave was found – bodies were normally buried surrounded by artifacts and valuables. Thieves, when they raided the tombs, would steal what was valuable and very rarely carry away the bodies. Yet, when the Great Pyramid was first breached in about AD 800 – by a young caliph of Baghdad, A1 Mamun – nothing was found in it.
A1 Mamun was, in fact, after knowledge, not plunder. He had heard legends that the Great Pyramid contained astronomical charts and maps, unbreakable glass and purest metals. After a hazardous and difficult assault on the tomb, which entailed his men carving out passages around the giant granite plugs, he finally reached the King’s Chamber. All it contained was a lidless and empty sarcophagus or stone coffin.
It seemed impossible to the caliph after he had seen the undisturbed granite plugs, that anyone could have been there before. He searched for evidence of forced entry or plundering – but in vain. Finally, he left, disappointed – and baffled as to why the vast monument had been built.
The Great Pyramid was then left virtually undisturbed for centuries until British and French scientists and mathematicians started to take an interest in it during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1638, the Oxford scholar John Greaves explored the King’s Chamber and marveled at its accuracy ‘even to a 1000th part of a foot’. His findings attracted the attention of his fellows, including Sir Isaac Newton, and they labored – unsuccessfully – to discover the secrets of the Great Pyramid.
In the 1830s an English adventurer, Colonel Richard Howard-Vyse, led a team which stumbled across two 9-in. conduits leading from the north and south walls into the King’s Chamber. When these passages were cleared it was found that the temperature inside the chamber, regardless of the climate.
THE ‘POWER’ OF THE PYRAMIDS
It has long been claimed that the pyramids contain mysterious forces that cannot be explained. There have been tests attempting to prove that the structures are magnets for cosmic rays, or that they are power-houses of static electricity. There are also many stories of visitors to the pyramids being able to foresee their own fates. Tourists sometimes go into shock or faint.
On 12 August 1799, Napoleon visited the King’s Chamber inside the Great Pyramid. After some time, he asked his guide to leave him. When he finally emerged, Napoleon, the conqueror of Europe, was white and shaken. Asked what had happened, he said brusquely: ‘I do not want this matter referred to ever again.’ Later in his life, he hinted that he had foreseen the future while in the Great Pyramid.
Shortly before his death on St Helena, he seemed about to reveal his secret to an aide. Then he said: ‘No. What’s the use? You’d never believe me.’
But the most extraordinary cases of pyramid power have been experienced by ordinary people with non-scientific minds who have never been anywhere in Egypt. They are the folk who claim remarkable successes by using cardboard, metal or plastic models built to the precise scale of the Great Pyramid. These models are said to keep razor blades sharp for great lengths of time, keep food fresh, promote feelings of peace and contentment, and even help shape the future.
During the 1850s, a Frenchman named Bovis visited the outside, remained a steady 68° Fahrenheit – ideal for storing the scientific weights and measures that featured in the legendary tales about the tomb.
Another Englishman, John Taylor, the son of the editor and publisher of The Observer newspaper, made further discoveries 30 years later without even straying from his own study. He made a thorough examination of all that was then known about the Great Pyramid and, in his book The Great Pyramid: Why Was It Built and Who Built It? he reached the conclusion that the Egyptians ‘knew the earth was a sphere and, by observing the motion of heavenly bodies over the earth’s surface, had ascertained its circumference, and were desirous of leaving behind them a record of the circumference as correct and imperishable as it was possible for them to construct’.
His studies revealed that the height of the pyramid bore the same relationship to its perimeter as the radius of a circle does to its circumference. This seemed to show that the Egyptians knew of the value of pi, the invaluable mathematical principle that was not thought to have been discovered until
Great Pyramid. Inside, among the usual debris left behind by tourists, be found the body of a dead cat – a remarkably well-preserved mummified body. When he returned home, Bovis experimented with model pyramids, built to scale, and found they helped to keep food fresh.
A hundred years latter, Czech engineer Karel Drbal read of Bovis’s experiments. There was a shortage of razor blades behind the Iron Curtain, and Drbal wondered whether the pyramid power would extend to metal. He built a model pyramid and found that the razor blades he placed in it never became blunt. When he went to the patent office in Prague in 1959 he was not believed. But, after the chief scientist there tested the idea, Drbal was granted patent No. 91304.
Why the technique should work nobody knows. The only clue is the old World War One legend that razor blades left out in the moonlight go blunt. The edge of a razor blade is composed of minute crystals. If the energy generated by the rays of the moon can blunt a blade, could the energy said to be generated by a pyramid help keep it sharp?
There are certain rales to be followed for the pyramid to work. It must be built on a base-to-side ratio of 15.7 to 14.94
and its sides must be aligned with the four points of the compass. The razor blade must rest 3.33 units high, and the sharp edges must face east and west.
Nobody can explain the secret power of the pyramid, but there are thousands of people around the world who swear that it works.
3,500 years later. His findings were confirmed by the brilliant mathematician, Charles Piazzi Smyth, who became astronomer royal for Scotland.
Other theories then followed thick and fast. Some were inspired, some eccentric, some religious and deeply mystical, others practical and scientific. One idea put forward was that the Great Pyramid had been built as a giant clock. In 1853, the French physicist Jean Baptiste Biot deduced that the wide, level pavements adjoining the northern and southern faces were graduated shadow floors. In the winter, the pyramid would cast its shadow on the northern pavement, and in the summer, the polished limestone (ace would reflect the sun onto the southern floor. In this way the time o( day and the day o( the year could be seen. David Davidson, a British structural engineer from Leeds, and fellow-Yorkshireman Moses B. Cotsworth followed up Biot’s idea and claimed that it was correct and that the Egyptians could measure the length of the year to within three decimal places.
Another idea was that the Great Pyramid is, in fact, a huge observatory. The 19th-century British astronomer Richard Proctor pointed out that the corridor known as the Descending Passage was precisely aligned with the Pole Star. The Pole Star in those days, because of the earth’s slight shift on its axis over the centuries, was Alpha Draconis. But as the Great Pyramid has moved along with the earth, the Descending Passage is now aligned with Polaris, the present Pole Star. Proctor pointed out that the various slots and notches to be found in the Grand Gallery of the Great Pyramid could have been used to support movable benches and platforms for observers to study with their instruments the passage of the stars across the entrance opening of the Grand Gallery.
Members of the Institute of Pyramidology, in London, believe that the Great Pyramid accurately prophesies the future of humanity. They claim that it can be shown, through a complicated system of measurements and mathematics, that the Great Pyramid predicted the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, the Crucifixion of Christ, the outbreak of World War One – which, they say, was the beginning of the breakdown of the Old Order as foretold by both Daniel and Jesus – and the beginning of the Millennium in the autumn of 1979. This, the group says, marks the beginning of Christ’s 1,000-year rule on earth which will end with Armageddon and the Day Of Judgment in 2979.
Author Peter Tompkins, who made an exhaustive study of the mysteries of Giza, wrote a book in 1971 which attempted to solve the enigma of the Great Pyramid. Tompkins claimed that the priests of Egypt promised Khufu a mighty tomb. But once the king had sanctioned and financed the building, they set about constructing not a tomb, but a monument to their scientific knowledge. And when he died, the deluded Khufu was not buried there.
With Dr. Livio Strecchini, professor of ancient history at New Jersey’s William Paterson College, Tompkins studied the scientific achievements of 1 the pyramid builders and came up with the following conclusions:
- The Great Pyramid is a carefully located landmark from which the geography of the ancient world was worked out.
- It served as an observatory from which maps and tables of the stars were drawn with remarkable accuracy.
- Its sides and angles were the basis of all ancient map-making.
- Its structure incorporated a value for pi.
- It may have been a practical library of the ancients’ system of weights and measures.
- Builders knew the precise circumference of the earth, and the length of its year, including its ‘left-over’ .2422 of a day. They may also have known the length of the earth’s orbit around the sun, the specific density of the earth, the 26,000-year cycle of the equinoxes, the acceleration of gravity and the speed of light.
Could the ancient Egyptians, 3,000 years before the birth of Christ, have known all this? And if they did, how did they gain this knowledge, and why was it forgotten for centuries?
It is obvious to everyone who sees the Great Pyramid that an advanced civilization was responsible for building it. Did this civilization also possess powers that today we can only wonder at?