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Those who understand, understand. Emotional and psychological factors, more than science, combined to make modern Egyptology. How did the Egyptians build an immense structure like this [the pyramids]? We do not know all the details even now. It is clear from what remains that they used huge limestone blocks, but there are still problems over how they managed to slide one block across another, and of the way in which the walls and ceiling of the inner chamber are supported Obviously they used a block and tackle to lift the blocks, but even so the precise method of getting objects so large and heavy up hundreds of feet without a tall crane to help them is uncertain, while their technique of supporting the internal blocks is completely unknown.
From the astronomical point of view, the single unarguable fact The most extraordinary result is found at the pyramid of Cheops, but the precision is scarcely less with Chephren and Mycerinus Such close approximations repeated by many buildings cannot be accidental, and bear witness to certain astronomical knowledge From the mathematical point of view, the study of the pyramids, and especially the great pyramid reveals very remarkable geometrical properties as well as numerical rapports that deserve attention.
But the whole problem that this poses is to establish the extent to which the builders were aware of these properties. Of all the monuments of Egypt, the pyramids have always provoked the keenest interest and wildest theories. Generations of Egyptologists have stolidly declared that the pyramids were built for the most trivial and misconceived motives, that their dimensions and proportions are accidents, and that their bulk is no more than an instance of pharaonic egomania.
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Yet the layman remains unconvinced, and anything smacking of mystery continues to excite attention. Ancient sources reported that the pyramids, and the Great Pyramid of Cheops in particular, were built to embody in their dimensions and proportions a wealth of astronomical, mathematical, geographic and geodesic data.
Geodesy: the branch of applied mathematics which determines the figures and areas of the earth's surface. But while certain of his calculations seemed to bear out the idea, others did not jibe. Accurate measuring of the pyramid overall was then impossible due to the sand and debris around the base, and — as is generally the case in science — those data that supported prevailing orthodox theory were retained, while those that were embarrassing were ignored. In England, however, Jomard's ideas were taken up by an amateur astronomer, mathematician and religious zealot, John Taylor, who found many astonishing coincidences between the measurements and proportions of the pyramids and the then but recently verified modern measurements of the earth.
He could not attribute this to chance. As a fundamentalist, however, Taylor believed in the literal truth of the Bible, and could not bring himself to attribute such knowledge to the ancient Egyptians — a race much abused in the Old Testament though Moses learned his wisdom at the court of the pharaoh by Biblical account.
Given his fundamentalism, Taylor had no choice but to call in direct divine intervention, and the pseudoscience of 'pyramidology' was born. The most obvious reason is believed to have been a religious one, and based on the self-interest of the individual.
Catalog Record: Serpent in the sky : the high wisdom of ancient Egypt | HathiTrust Digital Library
We know far too little about the spiritual concepts prevailing years ago to say exactly what motivated the average Egyptian farmer to give his time and labour to pyramid construction Mendelssohn supports the view that the problems of policing and guarding would have made it impossible to build the pyramids with forced or slave labour, therefore the work must have been done voluntarily. Altogether one begins to wonder whether esoteric religious concepts were really more important in bringing about the pyramid age than such down-to-earth issues as assured food and a new dimension in neighbourliness After four centuries of fitful attempts at unification and internal strife, the stage had finally been reached when the gods, Horus and Seth, were finally at peace The stage was set for the next great step in the development of human society, the creation of the state.
The pyramid was going to provide the means of achieving it.
Once it is realised that the main object of pyramid construction was a work programme leading to a new social order, the religious meaning and ritual importance of the pyramids recede into the background. If anything these manmade mountains are a monument to the progress of man into a new pattern of life, the national state , which was to become his social home for the next years. The state as created by the Fourth Dynasty was the nucleus from which, through an infinite variety of expansions, mankind has progressed to its present form.
Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt
Mendelssohn received his Ph. Author's note. Smyth set out for Egypt to confirm Taylor's thesis. His measurements on site were by far the most precise to date, and again confirmed the hypothesis that the ancient Egyptians had precise advanced astronomical, mathematical and geodesic knowledge, which was embodied in a magnificent system of related weights and measures, whose remnants were still in wide use the world over in the form of bushels, gallons, acres and other measures.
But, as avid a fundamentalist as Taylor, Piazzi Smyth could not credit the Egyptians with high learning; he, too, had recourse to divinity. Shortly thereafter, another religious enthusiast, Robert Menzies, proposed that the passage system of the Great Pyramid was intended as a system of prophecy from which the date of the Second Coming might be deduced.
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And at that point, pyramidology became a zealot's playground. Curious as it may now seem, the Anglo-Israelite theory that the British were descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel was one upon which many educated Victorians, not otherwise bereft of sense, spent much time and thought. Pyramidology was a hotly contested intellectual issue. But in Smyth's ostensibly scientific context, the theory stood or fell upon the validity of the 'pyramid inch', a measure invented by Smyth and manifested in no other Egyptian monument or metric device.
When this was disproved by the still more exacting measurements of W. Flinders Petrie, the theory was undermined, though enthusiasts continued to read more and more detailed prophecies into the king's chamber. With the advent of the space age, spiritual descendants of the pyramidologists Erich Von Danikin is the least credible, hence most successful of these continue to propose new and fantastic uses for the pyramids: they served as landing pads for space ships or were protective baffles for ancient scientists tapping the energy of the Van Allen belt.
Needless to say, these theories are backed by no concrete evidence. But if lack of evidence constitutes the criterion for judging the crankiness of any given theory, then there is one theory crankier than all the fantasising of the pyramidologists and the UFO freaks. This is the theory that the great pyramids were built as tombs, and as tombs only.
As the numbers and were the key to unravelling the astronomical and geodetic secrets of the Great Pyramid, they may in due course resolve the mysteries of the Mesoamerican pyramids. Is it a coincidence that a circle of 1,, units has a radius of , units and that 20, is the length of both an English and an Egyptian cubit, that the Hebrew shekel weighs Not only was the number 1,, the numerical basis for astronomical measurements as far back as the records are traceable, it was also the favorite number in Plato's mystic symbolism.
In support of this theory there is no direct or indirect evidence whatsoever. While the numerous small pyramids of Middle and Late Kingdom Egypt were clearly and obviously designed as tombs, and have disclosed a wealth of mummies and coffins, the eight 'great' pyramids assigned to the Third and Fourth Dynasties of the Old Kingdom have revealed no sign of either coffin or mummy.
Catalog Record: Serpent in the sky : the high wisdom of | HathiTrust Digital Library
The construction of these vast edifices differs in every way from the later tombs. In the Library Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. Order a copy Copyright or permission restrictions may apply. We will contact you if necessary.
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Includes bibliographical references p. Occultism -- Egypt. Egypt -- Civilization -- To B.