Answers In Action

AIA FAQ file on the Great Pyramid

© 1994 by John Baskette.
I do not know any book in any of several libraries and book stores I visited
that did a broad based debunking of pyramidology.  Even the chapter in
Martin Gardner's _Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science_, while good,
contained inaccuracies.

The Los Angeles astronomer and UCLA professor E.C. Krupp has an article in a
book _Science and the Paranormal: Probing the Existence of the Supernatural_
(George O. Abell and Barry Singer eds, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 
1982.) called "Recasting the Past: Powerful Pyramids, Lost Continents, and
Ancient Astronauts".  He has other writings on the subject in professional 
journals.

The American Research Center in Egypt sponsors a project called the Giza 
Plateau Mapping Project under the direction of Mark Lehner.  Results of 
this project are reported on periodically in the "American Research Center
Quarterly" and sometimes in the "Smithsonian".  

The 1881 measurements by Flinders Petrie, a famed archaeologist known as
"The father of modern Egyptology who did extensive work on the pyramid, are  
shown by later efforts to have been extremely good.  In fact all references
in popular literature to pyramid measurements that I have seen have used
either Petrie's measures, Petrie's measures plus a revised set of baseline
measures made in 1925 by J.H.Cole, or fictitious sets of "measurements" used 
by pyramidologists.

Petrie's book was out of print for many years, but it has been republished
recently.  It is _The Pyramids and Temples of Ghizeh" by Sir William Flinders 
Petrie. (2nd edition London: Histories & Mysteries of Man Ltd., 1990, This is 
a reprint of the 1885 book published by the Royal Society.  The first edition 
was published in 1883.)  Petrie has this to say about pyramidologists:

  "It is useless to state the real truth of the matter, as it has no
   effect on those who are subject to this type of hallucination.  
   They can but be left with the flat earth believers and other such
   people to whom a theory is dearer than a fact."

(This is from p. 35 of his book _Seventy Years in Archaeology_ (London: 
 Sampsom Low, Marston & Co.)  The quotes later in this post are from
 his _Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh_.)

The fictitious sets of measurements come mainly from either a four volume set 
of books, _Pyramidology_ by Adam Rutherford (Bedfordshire, Great Britain: The 
Institute of Pyramidology, 1961) or from David Davidson and his Encyclopedic 
(and boring and racist) tome (tomb?) volume _The Great Pyramid, Its Divine 
Message_ (London: Williams and Norgate, 1937).  

I've read Peter Tompkins book already mentioned in this group.
It distorts Petrie's contributions and simply omits any data contrary to 
Pyramidology, but I think that it covers the history of Pyramidology fairly
 well.

Now I will address a couple claims as follows:

1.)  The Pyramid baselines record the exact length of the solar year
(3665.242 - accurate to a thousandth of an inch) using units called 
the "pyramid inch" and the "sacred cubit".

2.)  The Pyramid encodes an extremely accurate value for Pi.

There is no evidence in any literature or from archaeology that the 
"sacred cubit" and "pyramid inch" are units of measure used by the 
ancient Egyptians.  According to Petrie, the Egyptians did use a 
cubit measure equal to 20.632 +- 0.004 inches.  The sacred cubit and 
pyramid inch were first mention by 19th century pyramidologists.  
The two most significant of these are John Taylor who wrote a book 
"The Great Pyramid: Why Was it Built?  And Who Built It?" and Piazzi 
Smyth who wrote after Taylor in the 1860's "Our Inheritance in the 
Great Pyramid."  Piazzi Smyth was the astronomer royal of Scotland 
and as such lent early pyramidology some credibility in some circles.

(Smyth is in fact the chief culprit in starting this "cult".  His book
went through many printings and was translated in several languages 
and spread pyramidology all over the world.)

These two were British-Israelites who believe that the white peoples of 
northwest Europe, particularly those of Great Britain and those who
migrated to the U.S are descendants of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel.  
According to them the pyramid was built by some Biblical patriarch 
such as Job or Enoch.  The pyramid allegedly encodes statistics 
about the form and measure of the earth and also contains a map of 
Bible history and future prophecy.  (The prophecies have all failed
so far.  Rutherford thought the millennium would begin by 1977;
Davidson set a date of Aug. 1953;  Smyth thought that the millennium
would start no later than 1960.) 

They claim that the ancients built the pyramid using an English unit 
of measure, the inch.  The sacred cubit equals 25 inches.  To be sure 
the inch unit did change some over the years.  The primitive or 
"pyramid inch" is 1.00106 British inches.  The difference was estimated
using the early (1830s) measurements of the pyramid baseline which was
9140 inches to a side.  Multiply that by 4 and you get 36,560 inches 
as the sum of all four baselines.  Well, modify the inch a little and 
hypothesize a sacred cubit of 25 inches and (viola!) the baseline of 
the pyramid is 365.242 sacred cubits, a figure equal to the length of 
the solar year in days.  This idea was first proposed by John Taylor 
over 130 years ago.    

Here is a picture to illustrate this idea:

               .                        ------------
   side      .'|`.            top       |`.       '|
   view    .'  |  `.          view      |  `.  .'  |
         .'    |    `.                  |    `'    |
       .'      |      `.                |  .'  `.  |      
      ------------------                |.'      `.|
      <- 9140 inches -->                ------------
                                      <- 9140 inches ->


      If one side is 9140 inches then the perimeter of the
      base is 9140x4 or 36560 -- pretty close to the number
      of days in a century.

      Petrie's measurements show that the actual lengths
      were between 9120 and 9130 inches showing that the
      claim is wrong.
Note that this inch idea is strictly inferred. It has no basis in fact beyond the curious relationships alleged by pyramidologists. Pyramidologists will speak of a "boss" in the ante-chamber to the Kings chamber that is supposed to encode the pyramid inch. Petrie measured this boss. According to Petrie, "This boss, of which so much has been made by theorists, is merely a rough projection, like innumerable others that may be seen; left originally for the purpose of lifting the blocks. When a building was finished these bosses were knocked away (I picked up a loose one among the waste heaps at Ghizeh) and the part was dressed down and polished like the rest of the stone. It is only in unimportant parts that they are left entire. This boss on the leaf is very ill-defined, being anything between 4.7 and 5.2 [in inches] wide, and between 3.3 and 3.5 high on it's outer face". Latter day pyramidologists will measure the baselines from some "socket" corners that extend a little further out from the edges of the pyramid. They claim that this outer measure is where the original design pyramid was to be built, but a smaller pyramid was built instead. One problem with modern popular books on the pyramid by British-Israelites and new agers is that these books quote figures that pertain to this so-called design pyramid, but the design pyramid is not the same as the pyramid that was built. There is no archaeological or historical evidence to show that the ancients intended any design other than what was actually built. The early estimates of the baselines were not accurate. This is because by the 1800's almost all of the original casing stones that once covered the pyramid had been stripped leaving only the core masonry that we see today. When Petrie did his survey in 1881, he was able to recover casing stones buried under 12 to 20 feet of debris right at the pyramid base on all four sides. His measurements of baselines and distances between the socket corners are as follows (+-0.1 in): SIDE BASELINE (in) SOCKET (in) CORE (in) N 9069.4 9129.8 9002.3 E 9067.7 9130.8 8999.4 S 9069.5 9123.9 9001.7 W 9068.6 9119.2 9002.5 All of these lengths are much to short to match any of claims made by the pyramidologists concerning the years in a day idea. Note that the measurements are in real inches. To get "pyramid inches" you have to divide by 1.00106 (or 1.0011 depending on which pyramidologist you want to believe). By refuting the pyramid inch idea all other claims based on the pyramid inch become baseless, but if you have any particular claim -- ask me -- I have checked out several of them. Better yet -- check yourself -- I have observed that Pyramidologists have the habit of using false or obsolete information and are almost always wrong about specific claims. The pi ratio in the pyramid is derived from the ratio of the pyramid baseline divided by the height. The average baseline is 9,068.8. Divide this by the height (5776 +- 7 inches) and you get 1.5701. This value times two is 3.1402. A better approximation of pi is obtained using the angle of the slope of the faces of the pyramid. The angle for the north slope according to Petrie is 51 deg. 50 min. 40 sec. +- 1 min. 5 sec. The same ratios in a pyramid with this angle yield a value of 3.1427+-0.002. Petrie explains this as follows: "For the whole form the pi proportion (height is the radius of a circle = circumference of Pyramid) has been very generally accepted of late years, and is a relation strongly confirmed by the presence of the numbers 7 and 22 in the number of cubits in height and base respectively; 7:22 being one of the best known approximations to pi. With these numbers (or some slight fractional correction on the 22) the designer adopted 7 of a length of 20 double cubits for the height; and 22 of this length for the half-circuit. The profile used for the work being thus 14 rise on 11 base." This picture maybe of help: . .'|`. .' | `. .' | `. .' | `. .' 14 | `. .' | `. .'____________|____________`. <---- 11 ----> The Pi value in the pyramid is an interesting feature, but the facts show that the value that can be found is not any more accurate then the value of 22/7 for pi (or 11/14 for pi/4) that is traditionally attributed to Archimedes. It is not at all clear that the Egyptians intended this Pi relationship to be a design feature per se. The Egyptians experimented with different slopes in other pyramids. An interesting case is the bent pyramid of Dashur where the original angle was too steep and was changed mid-way through construction. The recognition of this feature of the pyramid is not and should not be viewed as a concession that the pyramidologists are correct about this claim. The pyramidologist claim is that the pyramid value for Pi is extremely accurate and had to have been a design feature of the Pyramid. The value is not that accurate and may not have been a design feature as such. There are good reasons, BTW, to believe that the Egyptians and Cheops (also called Khufu) built the pyramid apart from historical records. In the Great Pyramid Cheop's name is written on stones used to build the roof of the King's chamber (I've read some claims that these may have been forged but I don't know the facts). There is another stone from one of the corners of the Great Pyramid that bears the inscription, "The Craftsmen gang, How powerful is the White Crown of Khnum Khufu!". Good information on the pyramids can be found in I.E.S. Edwards _The Pyramids of Egypt_ which should be available in many local libraries. You also might check out "The Ancient Engineers" by L. Sprague De Camp. What you say is a little misleading. The claims that I have read say that there are no extant Egyptian records either written or pictorial that cast light on the methods used by the builders of the *Pyramids*. Egyptian history spans 31 dynasties. In summary: I & II Dynasties Archaic Period 3188-2815 B.C III - VI Dynasties Old Kingdom 2815-2294 B.C VII - X Dynasties First Intermediate Period 2294-2132 B.C XI - XII Dynasties Middle Kingdom 2132-1777 B.C XIII - XVII Dynasties Second Intermediate Period 1777-1573 B.C XVIII - XX Dynasties New Kingdom 1573-1090 B.C XXI - XXV Dynasties Late New Kingdom 1090- 663 B.C XXVI Dynasties Saite Period 663- 525 B.C XXVII - XXXI Dynasties Late Period 525- 332 B.C Virtually all the great pyramids that are talked about were built during the Old Kingdom period. That is over 4,500 years ago. There was a revival of pyramid building in the XII dynasty, but these later pyramids are much smaller and are constructed differently than the Giza and other old kingdom pyramids. Your hieroglyphic interpretations regarding beer and other subjects may very well have come from anytime during the 2700 years of history. Any pyramid construction records would have to have survived from the old kingdom period. The first intermediate period was an age of anarchy and chaos in which virtually all the old kingdom monuments were looted and vandalized. Few records of any kind survive from this ancient period. There are some records of a sort from later dynasties. There is a picture on the tomb of Jehutihetep, a 12th dynasty noble man showing a 60 ton statue being pulled on a sledge by 172 men. There is a time keeper (yelling "stoke" or some equivalent) standing on the knee of the seated figure. There are others pouring water or oil on to the ground to lessen the friction. This picture is very much like your "workers dragging a capstone" image you talk about. Your statement regarding "not a shread of evidence" is not accurate. Having not extant records is not the same as no evidence. There are remains of tools and ramps at places such as the temple of Karnak and the pyramids at Lisht, Meidum, and Dahshur. Many of the building blocks have annotations on them. In the Great Pyramid Cheop's name is written on stones used to build the roof of the King's chamber. There is another stone from the Great Pyramid that bears the inscription, "The Craftsmen gang, How powerful is the White Crown of Khnum Khufu!". The marking of stones by the various work gangs is found in many pyramids. This evidence does not tell us how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids, but it is ample evidence that show that they did build them and that their methods were highly skilled but low-tech. The source of my information is I.E.S. Edwards _The Pyramids of Egypt_. Get a copy or check one out of your library. Petrie has been called the "Father of modern Egyptology". The data I will list here will be from this book, but the data is very good. Later survey's by J.H. Cole in 1925 and modern surveys by legitimate research organizations such as the American Research Center in Egypt and others all confirm the accuracy of Petrie's original survey data. Petrie was very much aware of 19th century pyramidological claims. He refutes many of these claims and rejects pyrmaidology with the following words: "It is useless to state the real truth of the matter, as it has no effect on those who are subject to this type of hallucination. They can but be left with the flat earth believers and other such people to whom a theory is dearer than a fact." (This is from p. 35 of his book _Seventy Years in Archaeology_ (London: Sampsom Low, Marston & Co.) ) There is another book still in print that can be found in a fairly good local book store. It is by Peter Tompkins and is called _The Secrets of the Great Pyramid_ (New York:Harper & Row, 1971). This book is a psuedo-science book, but it is well illustrated and has some value because the author gives much of the history of pyramidology. It lacks substantial information with which to evaluated pyramidological claims. John Baskette

The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26


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