Pyramid-Zone # 17
How Old is the Great Pyramid?
© Alan Watts 2009
© Alan Watts 2009
How Old is the Great Pyramid ?
In Pyramid-Zone#16 we posed the question “How Old is the Wessex Grid?” Who laid down the pyramidal web of navels across Wessex - and when? Our link here is to the designers of the Great Pyramid. If we can get an idea of when the Pyramid was built then we it seems likely that the Wessex grid was laid down at roughly the same time.
However we immediately come up against a problem. Khufu’s dates are somewhere around 2550 BC while we know from corrected carbon dating that king-pins of the grid such as Wayland’s Smithy are much older. So did Khufu get his pyramid design from Britain or is there something distinctly wrong with the Egyptologists attribution of the Pyramid to Khufu? Is the Great Pyramid much older than we are led to believe?
Now rain, in the quantities required for this degree of weathering, had not fallen in Egypt since the end of the last Ice Age , around 11000-10000 BC. He was backed up by a huge phalanx of geologists who found West’s evidence overwhelming. When West presented his findings to the 1992 Convention of the Geological Society of America no less than three hundred of his peers endorsed his work.
A related piece of circumstantial evidence is the situation of the Sphinx itself. It has been sculpted out of the solid rock and so is surrounded by a deep trench which, until relatively recently, was always full of sand so burying most of the monument. It has always been agreed by Egyptologists that the Pyramids and the Sphinx are contemporary and related structures but at the time the Sphinx was carved there could not have been a desert. No one would have carved out a monument which was going to be constantly buried in sand.
Thus, it was argued, the Sphinx must have been carved before the establishment of the Libyan desert i.e. some time prior to 10,000 BC. Thus the Giza Pyramids must also be that old.
Unfortunately none of these pieces of evidence has cut any ice with established Egyptologists. They are still sticking to the theory that the Great Pyramid was built in the reign of Pharaoh Khufu – of the Fourth Dynasty (2575 – 2467 BC). The paradigm is that the first pyramid was built at Saqqara and attributed to Zoser (or Djoser) who was the second pharaoh of the Third Dynasty (c. 2650 BC). It was conceived and executed by the semi-divine architect Imhotep who built a pyramidal structure over the tomb of Zoser surrounding it with a funery complex consisting of temples, storehouses, dwellings for attendants etc. This whole complex was enclosed by a magnificent wall.
Just outside the wall there was built a small pyramid attributed to Unas, a Fifth Dynasty pharaoh (2356 – 2152 BC) . the burial chamber under this pyramid has walls that are covered in hieroglyphic writings – the oldest of the so-called Pyramid Texts. These writings are deemed to be of very ancient lineage. They are thought to have been composed by the Priests of On (Heliopolis) in the late third millennium BC but contain stanzas handed down from pre-dynastic times. They are considered to be the oldest surviving statements of Egyptian religious thought from re-dynastic days and to, in part, bridge the gap between the historical human pharaohs and their semi-divine forebears.
Zoser’s pyramid at Saqqara was constructed in giant steps but was really only a huge extension of the previous mastaba tombs where a burial pit was cut in the rock and covered over by a massive stone called a mastaba. The steps of Zoser’s pyramid are made of mud bricks and have therefore been subject to much weathering. However they have survived better than many of the lesser pyramids that were built in later days in an attempt to emulate the Zoser masterpiece.
The pharaohs who followed Zoser wanted their pyramids as well, but Zoser’s successor’s pyramid collapsed during building. The one after that suffered the same fate and is today just a pile of rubble lying between Saqqara and Giza.
The ruins of the Step Pyramid, some thirty miles south of Saqqara is associated with two pharaohs; Huni, who began it, and Sneferu, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty, who tried to complete it. It was meant to be a true pyramid having its stepped core covered in smooth stones but the outer casing, its stone filling and part of the core collapsed under their own weight. Interestingly they tried to build this pyramid with the same 52 degree angle as the Great Pyramid. It is assumed that another pyramid – the so-called Bent Pyramid – was also built by Sneferu who, having learned a lesson with the Maidum construction changed the angle half way up to the more sustainable 43 degrees. This worked in as far as this pyramid still stands. Sneferu was a prolific pyramid builder because, not far away, he had the Red Pyramid constructed which had the mush safer angle of 44 degrees. This construction is deemed to be the first classical pyramid . However no one apparently could build a pyramid with an angle of 52 degrees.
Khufu was the son of Sneferu and it is assumed by academia that he suddenly realised how to do what all his predecessors had failed in – construct a pyramid of 52 degree angle. Thus, according to the accepted time scale, chronologically he built the most magnificent pyramid of them all at Giza. A pyramid so far in advance of any of the previous ones that there is no comparison between them. The two companion pyramids are attributed to Khufu’s successor Chefra (or Chefren) and to his successor Menka-ra (or Mycerinus). As pointed out previously these three edifices were built over centres that lay almost on a straight line – but not quite. This is the version of events that has been accepted and continues to be promulgated across the world.
The pyramids that are supposed to have preceded those of the Giza complex were all capable of being build by the indigenous Egyptians for their construction in small bricks makes that perfectly possible. The Giza pyramids are in a different league entirely. For example it has been estimated that there is more stone in the Great Pyramid than in all the churches, cathedrals etc that have been built in the whole two-thousand year history of Christendom. Some of the stones weigh as much as 70 tons and there are all-told some two-and-a-half million of them. Zecharia Sitchen in Book II of his Earth Chronicles puts he matter thus:-
The alignment with the cardinal points of the compass, the inclination of the sides at the perfect angle of about 52º (at which the height of the [pyramid in relation to its circumference is the same as that of the radius of a circle to its circumference); the square bases , set on perfectly level platforms – all bespeak of a high degree of scientific knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, geometry, geography and of course building and architecture, as well as administrative ability to mobilise the necessary manpower, to plan and execute such massive and long-term projects. The wonderment only increases as one realises the interior complexities and precision of the galleries, corridors, chambers, shafts and openings that have been engineered within the pyramids, their hidden entrances (always on the north face), the locking and plugging systems – all unseen from the outside, all in perfect alignment with each other, all executed within these artificial mountains as they were being built layer after layer.
The other pyramids mentioned above and others not included show no signs of a global involvement but the Great Pyramid is set a third of the way up the hemisphere to within a sixtieth of a degree and reasons have been advanced for even this slight discrepancy. Its dimensions are so cunningly contrived that one stands in awe of the mathematical abilities of those who designed it.
It was the Greek historian Herodotus who was told that the Pharaoh Cheops ( the Greek name for Khufu) built the Great Pyramid but by all accounts Herodotus, who got much of his testimony from Egyptian priests, muddled some of what he was told. For example he said that Cheops enslaved the people of Egypt for thirty years to build the causeway and the Pyramid. Yet Cheops only reigned for twentythree years so how could he have enslaved the people of Egypt for thirty years? If he were such a master-builder where are the other edifices that can be attributed to him?
What is much more likely is that Cheops had his name grafted onto the already existing Pyramid by building funery temples etc alongside the building whose dates of origin were much further from his own time than his is from our own. In this way Cheops got his name firmly attached to the Great Pyramid.
Cheops son, Radedef, you might suppose would have built his own pyramid next to that of his father but instead he built a vastly inferior construction to the north of Giza at Abu Ruash. It follows that he did this because there was not enough room for any more pyramids on the Giza plateau. However Radedef’s successor, Khefren (or Chefra) decided that what was good enough for Cheops was good enough for him and likewise appropriated the middle pyramid of the complex in the same way so that that pyramid is now attributed to Khefren.. There was just one of the Giza pyramids left and so Khefren’s successor, Menkara, became the “owner” of the smallest pyramid of the three – but they had all been there for thousands of years before.
These appellations have, through the succeeding millennia, stuck and so when, in 1873, Colonel Howard-Vyse, , announced that he had discovered the cartouche ( a lozenge-shaped space containing the hieroglyphic name of the Pharoah) of Cheops in a previously undiscovered chamber above the King’s Chamber, this was taken as proof positive that what Herodotus had reported was indeed true, namely that Cheops had built the Great Pyramid. This has been accepted as fact ever since and it is always referred to as The Great Pyramid of Cheops (or Khufu). However there are good reasons to believe that Vyse actually forged the Pharaoh’s name. It is important to investigate this because of the bearing it has on the origin of the antiquities of Britain.
On his own testimony Vyse was attracted to pyramid exploration by the lure of being the first to discover previously unknown passages and chambers. To this end he hired the services of a professional engineer, John Shae Perring. Perring had become “street-wise” around the pyramids by having been the assistant to Mohammed Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt under Ottoman suzerainty.
Vyse set Perring the task of measuring all the pyramids on the Giza plateau as well as others elsewhere. He himself set up a headquarters in an empty tomb and was, at one time, employing no less than 700 workmen in the pursuit of his quest. To supervise his labour force he employed a Genoese merchant who had turned explorer, Captain G.B. Caviglia. Amongst Caviglia’s contributions to pyramid exploration was the clearing of the Well-shaft that connected the top of the Ascending Passage to the lower reaches of the Descending Passage as well as revealing the whole of the Sphinx by having the accumulated sand removed. Up to this time only the head of the Sphinx projected above the sand.
However the relations between Caviglia and Vyse were not easy and eventually Vyse paid him off after a row, taking the whole task upon himself . At this he laboured throughout the hot season as well as the cool in his efforts to make a name for himself by revealing previously unexplored regions of the Pyramid.
Nathaniel Davison, at one time Bristish Consul General in Algeria, made an important discovery in 1785. He noticed a small square hole at the top of the Grand Gallery which, when he precariously entered it led him to a space above the roof of the King’s Chamber. This roof consisted of a set of great granite slabs whose undersides were polished to form the flat ceiling of the King’s Chamber but whose upper sides had been left un-dressed. The ceiling of what was to become Davison’s Chamber was another set of nine monoliths like the ones below him. There were, and this is important, no marks of any kind to be seen in his space above the King’s Chamber. Davison carved his name in the wall and then left – it was, in some ways, an unrewarding discovery.
Vyse was, according to his diaries, desperate to make some discoveries before he had to return to England. He and Perring secretly went in to the Pyramid the very night before Caviglia was dismissed and, by pushing a reed through a crevice in the ceiling of Davison’s Chamber, found there was yet another space above. Perring was taken on the payroll the very next morning. Eventually, in a desperate move to make his way into the space above Davison’s, Vyse ordered that explosives be used They opened a small hole through which a candle could be inserted to prove to Vyse that his new chamber was like Davison’s. Eventually gunpowder enabled Vyse to enter the space to find that the floor was rough and the ceiling polished, but there was nothing whatever in it.
Vyse, always ready to curry favour with the great and the good of his day, named the new space Wellington’s Chamber and in the course of taking measurements Vyse, Perring and invited civil engineer ( Mr Mash) suddenly found the quarry marks. Similar marks in red paint had been found in tombs elsewhere but strangely, Vyse and a Mr Hill who had accompanied him, had completely missed them on their first reconnoitre of the chamber.
Eventually, after some three and a half months of endeavour, Vyse blasted out a path that revealed, including Davison’s, no less than five spaces above the King’s Chamber the whole topped off with a gabled roof consisting of two enormous granite slabs . It was in these newly-discovered spaces that two cartouches, that resembled those of Cheops, were ostensibly discovered.
After the British Consul had visited the site he requested that the quarry marks be recorded but curiously Vyse delayed doing this. It was a whole fortnight after the Consul’s request that Vyse acceded and had Hill copy the marks in the chambers. It is important to realise that during this time it was only Hill and neither Perring nor Mash, who had repeatedly visited the chambers in order to inscribe the names of Wellington and Nelson in the first two of Vyse’s newly discovered chambers.
The fourth space was eventually broken into and Vyse named it after Lady Arbuthnot (the wife of Lt. General Sir Robert Arbuthnot ) who happened to be visiting at the time. Again it seems very odd that Vyse’s diary for that day makes no mention of any new markings in that chamber , and yet, later, many were to be found there. The top space Vyse named Campbell’s Chamber as he was Her Brittanic Majesty’s Consul in Cairo.
The sensational discovery, which would make Vyse’s name, was finding, amongst the other markings, cartouches that were superficially recognised as those of Cheops. Added to the statement by Herodotus this seemed to be indelible proof that the Great Pyramid had indeed been constructed by Cheops. However it must be recognised that these are the only pieces of evidence to support this contention. If either of them is proved to be false then the whole house of cards collapses.
Zecharia Sitchen has taken the trouble to read the original report on the marks produced by the British Museum’s hieroglyphics expert Samual Birch and what follows is the gist of the latter’s testimony as set out in Sitchin’s book The Stairway to Heaven.
At the outset Birch makes the qualified remark that the symbols or hieroglyphs were apparently quarry marks. However he observed that he had difficulty reading them because they were in semi-hieratic or linear hieroglyphic characters . These characters, the somewhat puzzled Birch observed, were those of a script that only started to appear centuries after the supposed dates of Cheops. Birch found many of the symbols very unusual some of them stemming from a period later than the one cited above. He had great difficulty finding solutions to the hieroglyphs that Hill had copied. Things that were obvious to the expert, but maybe not to the amateur, make laughable reading. One row of symbols seemed to run parallel to those which appeared on the coffin of the Pharoah Amesis’s queen two thousand years after Cheops. Most damning of all, Birch could not recognise that any of the script used was from the reign of Cheops. Other prominent experts came to the same conclusion as Birch. Carl Richard Lepsius, the foremost German Egyptologist at that time, said Some of the hieroglyphs following the cartouches are totally unknown and I am unable to explain them.
Birch then demonstrated that there were the cartouches of two different pharaohs amongst the markings, the later one (that of Senekhuf or Seneshufo) being found in a chamber lower than the one supposedly of Cheops. Thus the suggestion that these two were co-regents proved to be false and other evidence backed-up this contention. The apparent discovery of the names of not one but two pharaohs in the spaces above the King’s Chamber has been a source of embarrassment to Egyptologists ever since.
It is remarkable that in a pyramid of such architectural grandeur the only mason’s marks that have even been discovered were found by Vyse and his assistants. It will be argued that those who viewed the red-paint inscriptions would have been able to tell at once whether they were new or thousands of years old. However this is not so because the arid conditions in Egypt mean that art-work performed millennia ago still look fresh as if done yesterday. This applies even more to the hermetically sealed chambers involved. There was no reason for these non-experts in ancient Egyptian forms of writing to suspect that the markings they saw were anything other than what Vyse said they were.
One other strange fact also adds to the doubts about the authenticity of the markings. As well as the true masons marks which were precise and delicate and were upright, the other cartouches etc were large, imprecise and either upside down or vertical. Just as you might expect from someone who, in the very restricted height of the chambers , had to lay down or crouch to execute them. Further there are, with minor exceptions, no inscriptions on the east-facing walls where Vyse’s workmen had broken through. Yet the other walls, including the west-facing ones, were covered in them. There were however true mason’s marks on the damaged walls.
Vyse used a standard work, published by a Mr Wilkinson in1828, Materia Hieroglyphica, to read the cartouches etc that were being discovered in tombs all around the pyramids. This could have been the source of those we suspect were inscribed by Vyse and Hill in the chambers. Samuel Birch reported that a cartouche similar to that which appeared in Wellington’s Chamber, has been published by Mr Wilkinson. Sitchin goes deeply into the many suspicious circumstances surrounding Vyse’s so-called discoveries . Sitchin has done a remarkably thorough piece of detective work to prove his – and others – contention that Howard Vyse obtained the major slice of his fame by false pretences. As for Hill, he suddenly went from being a copper-mill employee to owning the Cairo Hotel!
It may also be that Vyse and Perring perpetrated another forgery. In the smallest of the Giza pyramids fragments of a mummy-case bearing the cartouche of Menkahre were found and also the partial remains of a mummy. Thus it was concluded (but not by Birch) that Vyse had found proof of the attribution of a pyramid to yet another pharaoh. However it has been proved beyond doubt that neither of these artefacts is from the Fourth Dynasty and so could not be those of Menkahre.
In the ruins of the Temple of Isis close to the Great Pyramid the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette (1821-1861) discovered a limestone stela. Khufu himself restored this temple and the stela is a self-laudatory monument to that effect. After the usual preamble which invokes Horus and offers a prayer for the kings’ long life, the translation of the hieroglyphs read (referring to Khufu) He founded the House of Isis, Mistress of the Pyramid beside the House of the Sphinx. This says unequivocally that the Pyramid was already standing when Khufu restored the temple of Isis and that the temple belonged to Isis and not to Khufu . The inscription goes on to correctly identify the position of the Sphinx and records that it was damaged by lightning – damage that can still be seen. So the Sphinx was also there at the time. Khufu says that he built a pyramid for the Princess Henutsen (one of Khufu’s wives) beside the temple of the goddess. and one of the small pyramids beside the Great Pyramid has been found to be dedicated to Henutsen just as the stela states.
This very important inscribed stone is known as the Inventory Stela and is now in the Cairo Museum. Breathtakingly, it has been declared a forgery. Could this be in order to maintain the accepted paradigm of Pyramidology that Khufu built the Great Pyramid? In other words, according to most Egyptologists, Vyse was right and Khufu himself wrong.
Thus there is a considerable weight of evidence that Khufu did not create the Pyramid which bears his name. Indeed, on balance, the evidence is that he could not possibly have created it and that its inception is close to 12,000 years ago. This means that the pyramidal triangle shape, which is common to both the Pyramid and the layout of the ancient artefacts of Wessex, could stem from as far back as this. The dating of the post-holes in what is now the car-park area at Stonehenge (Pyramid-Zone#16) alludes to the occupation of many of the ancient sites of Britain by astronomically and mathematically knowledgeable people at a time of the order of 12,000 – 10,000 BC. It means that the grid of pyramidal triangles connecting the positions of our most famous antiquities could be of this same immense age, and may go some way towards explaining why Britain, through continuity of culture, was anciently described as the Insula Sacra (Sacred Island) of the west and why, in Druidic times, neophytes came to Britain from the Continent to study the ancient wisdom. (See Pyramid-Zone#15)
(For reproductions of the marks and their locations see Secrets of the Great Pyramid, Peter Tompkins, Allen Lane, 1971)