the plan for the future
Taken from: National University of Singapore - Astronomical alignment in Egyptian pyramids
For thousands of years, the great Pyramids of Giza stood as a testament to one of the greatest civilisations on earth. Weighing some 2,300,000 tonnes, and originally 481.3949 feet (now 450 feet) tall, the Great pyramid was built to house the eternal tomb for a divine king. This extraordinary monument stands at a point on earth's surface exactly 1/3 of the way between the equator and North Pole (i.e. 30 degrees latitude) and its 'north-south' axis is aligned to within 3/60 of a single degree to the true south. Because of its perfect geometry, we are deeply fascinated by the significance of its construction. Over the years, Egyptologists have tried to uncover the secrets about Giza monuments but up till today, mystery continues to surround them. Different researchers have given different versions of the true significance of the monuments. While some believed the Egyptian pyramids were built to precise alignment to stars, others have their reservation towards that conclusion. Could it be mere coincidence that the pyramids did match with particular stars? Such notions are hotly disputed, hence we are forced to remain open-minded at present. Why did ancient Egyptians build the pyramids? How did they build the pyramids? When did they build the pyramids? These are the questions that we attempt to answer.
The pyramids and the Sphinx
Pyramids today stand as a reminder of the ancient Egyptian glorification of life after death, and in fact, the pyramids was built as monuments to house the tombs of the pharaohs. Death was seen as merely the beginning of a journey to the other world. In this society, each individual's eternal life was dependent on the continued existence of their king, a belief that made the pharaoh's tomb the concern of the entire kingdom. Believed to be aligned with the circumpolar stars, the king's spirit is then able to commute between heaven and earth in life after death.
The Sphinx, which embodies the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh, is believed to be the head of Khafre and his guardian spirit for his entire burial complex. Carved from the natural limestone of Giza, the sphinx has disintegrated over the years, entire pieces dropping off to the desert floor below.
Alignment of the pyramids to the true north
The Great Pyramid's north-south axis is aligned to within three-sixtieths of a degree of true north-south. It would be worthwhile to note that this alignment is more accurate than that of the Meridian Building at the Greenwich Observatory in London, which deviates from true north by nine-sixtieths of a degree. Even though there is no evidence in ancient texts that the Egyptians used astronomical knowledge in the construction of the pyramids, it seemed possible that they did indeed possess such knowledge, and had used it in finding the true north.
This conjecture came about after the analysis of the night sky in 2,500BC. Egyptologist Kate Spence came up with a more precise method to date the Pyramids of Giza using slight divergences in their bases' alignment from the true north direction. Nature 408'2000, Pg320-324 In this issue, she also proposed a method which might have been used by the Egyptians to find true north.
The precise alignment to true north can only be achieved by astronomical algorithms but the existing Egyptians transcripts mentioned nothing about the exact way to obtain it. By comparing the rising and setting positions of the Sun in the east and the west and bisect the angle between them, we can find the true north. If we apply this procedure, the procedure must be carried out near the time of a solstice, when the Sun seems momentarily to stand motionless in its position in its seasonal transit higher or lower in the sky. However, difficulties with observing objects near the horizon due to the interference from the Earth's atmosphere and with having a perfectly horizontal view at the same level or height at both the east and west sides which make this method quite unreliable.
Alternatively, we can build some type of scaffolding to provide a view line for alignment with the north pole star but there was no appropriate pole star when the pyramids were built. Directly above their heavenly counterparts, the celestial poles are points in the night sky around which the stars seem to rotate about. Now, the north celestial pole points close to the star Polaris. As the Earth's axis of rotation is changing due to precession, the positions of the celestial poles shift gradually among the stars in a 26,000-year precessional cycle.
Therefore, Spence came up with the suggestion that despite the fact that there was no pole star present for accurately pinpointing the exact true north in ancient Egypt when the pyramids were built, there was a pair of moderately shining stars, each on the either side of the ancient celestial pole, which in 2467 BC aligned exactly along a straight line including the celestial pole. One of the stars is Kochab in the bowl of the Little Dipper, the other star is Mizar in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper Kochab and Mizar are technically known as b-Ursae Minoris and x-Ursae Majoris. In 2467 BC, an Egyptian astronomer could wait while the heavens slowly pivoted around the unmarked pole until a plumb line exactly intersected both stars, one above the invisible pole and the other below it. The sight line to the horizon point directly below the plumb line would then point straight to north.
Shaft alignment and the orion correlation
Yet another point of argument would be with regard to in which year was the Giza Pyramids exactly built. Let us review the alignments of the pyramids with the stars.
Studies have been made and were suggested by Robert Bauval (Author of The Orion Mystery) that the shafts emanating from the King and Queen's chambers aligned to particular stars of great symbolism. While the northern and southern shafts from the Queen's chamber did not extend all the way to the exterior of the Great Pyramid as construction was believed to have been abandoned midway, Bauval reconstructed the image on his computer and concluded that the Northern shaft had actually aimed at the Star Kocab - a star associated by the ancients with the immortality of the soul. The southern shaft on the other hand, corresponded to Sirius, associated by the ancients with the cosmic mother of the kings of Egypt.
Specifically, we have to look at the star alignments of the King's chamber's southern shaft. Reconstructing the ancient skies over Giza reveal that at 2500 BC, the Southern shaft targeted straight at Al Nitak (the brightest of the 3 stars of Orion's belt), symbolising their identification with Osiris, their high God of resurrection and rebirth.
As such, the 4 shafts align with high precision to the exact location of the stars in the skies in the 2500 BC epoch. With the 4 starts targeted being of high ritual importance, it is ruled out that the alignments are of mere coincidence or are accidental. The date at which all Egyptologists and archaeologists believe the pyramids to have been built, is hence 2500 BC.
However, controversy over Giza's exact age continues to linger. Turn our attention to the layout of the 3 pyramids on the ground in 2500 BC. It is then observed that the Orion's belt stars are somewhat skewed in relations to the ground plan of the 3 Pyramids. Since precession causes the height of stars to change with time over a period of 26,000 years, try tilting the sky-image anti-clockwise back to the night sky we would observe in the 10,500 BC epoch. We then observe a perfect match of sky-ground image! While star Mintaka, smallest of the 3 stars of Orion's belt is slightly slanted in a south-westerly direction relative to the axis of the Milky Way, the 3rd pyramid too intimates this layout by being offset from the 2 greater pyramids in a similar direction. The Great Pyramid aligns perfectly to Al Nitak, Second Pyramid to Al Nilam and the Third Pyramid, to star Mintaka.
In addition, only in the 10,500 BC epoch will we see that River Nile (which runs through Egypt) actually mirrored the Milky Way in the night skies. Seemingly, this unique layout was an attempt by ancient Egyptians to build a Heaven on Earth's ground.
Discoveries of ancient Egyptian's fascination and devotion towards stars (of which they associate with God) tell us that the strong resemblance in the pyramids' layout with the skies is unlikely to be coincidental. So, when exactly were the Pyramids built? According to Bauval, 'the Pyramids themselves were largely built in 2500 BC, while the ground plan of the 3 pyramids was physically established in 10,500 BC. His conclusion once again stood up to close scrutiny. While some researchers disagreed with the River Nile mirroring the Milky Way back in the 10, 500 epoch, others concluded that the exact mirroring occurred in 12,500 BC, not the suggested 10,500 BC.
The Sphinx as an equinoctial marker... simply coincidental?
Mention the Great Pyramids of Egypt and we never fail to associate with them, the mighty Sphinx of Giza. Calmly and peacefully, the statue lies exactly along the east-west axis of the Giza necropolis, its gaze set perfectly due east. As the rising sun continues to illuminate its face, controversies continue to linger over the underlying meaning of the construction of the majestic body.
On the summer solstice at the latitude of Giza, the sun rises 28 degrees north of east. On the winter solstice, it rises about 28 degrees south of east. By contrast, the main characteristic of the equinoxes is that the sun always rises due east providing a sure and accurate reference to one of the cardinal directions. It is towards this reference point, with high precision, that the gaze of the Sphinx is set- not by accident but specifically designed, as suggested by Robert Bauval (author of The Orion Mystery).
With the Sphinx's gaze set due east, it is a perfect 'equinoctial marker', targeting the exact position of sunrise at dawn. Considering that ancient astronomers were particularly focused on the zodiacal constellation, the Sphinx monument being built in its leonine form, must have its great significance.
Returning to the epoch of 2500BC, when the Sphinx is conventionally assumed to have built, it was in the constellation of Taurus that housed the sun on the spring equinox. The Sphinx however, is leonine form.
Upon reconstruction of the night skies over Giza in the 10,500 epoch, Robert Bauval observed that the portion of the sky into which the sun is about to rise is occupied by none other than the zodiacal constellation of Leo (thus explaining the significance of the leonine form of the monument). This discovery hence strengthened Bauval's argument that the Giza's exact age revolved around 10,500 BC.(The constellation spans 30 degrees along the ecliptic and housed the sun on the vernal equinox from 10960BC to 8800BC - a period of 2160 years.)
The story continues on: National University of Singapore - Astronomical alignment in Egyptian pyramids.