Orion Pyramids
The Orion-Theory

In 1994 the book The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert caused an uproar in the Egyptological world like no single book before. No wonder, it states on its cover “After more than 4000 years the secrets of the pyramids had been solved” (German paperback edition). The thesis, which purports to have done this, is now called the Orion Correlation Theory or, in short, the OCT.
Although published by two authors the thesis is essentially the work of Robert Bauval. He claims to have found the answer to a questions which has been hotly debated for decades:
Is pyramid placement coincidental? Or is there a wider plan? For many decades this has been discussed. Most of it centres around – oh wonder – the Giza-pyramids (in short Gizamids 😉 ). Some scientists say the distribution is pure coincidence, others say that it is because of the available terrain, others think they have discovered an underlying geometrical pattern to explain the locations. Some examples are listed in the pyramid section of this site. Nearly all “pattern”-theories have one major fault: to explain them the Egyptians needed a knowledge of mathematics and geometry which they never had. Those ideas are therefore pure speculation.
Bauval and Gilbert argue using a mythology-derived distribution. As a result of their investigations they concluded that the Egyptian World of the Dead was located in the sky and that the placement of the pyramids represented the most important stars for them.

The dead kings, and ordinary people later, became the god Osiris after their death. This god had a stellar representation, the constellation Sah which is, according to Bauval, identical to our modern Orion. Since each person had one star soul, each dead king could become one star of Orion, thus the pyramids were placed in a way to represent the specific star the king became.
In later times a new solar cult replaced the older stellar religion, the pyramids of the late 5th and 6th dynasty do not therefore match any stars in the sky.
The best evidence for the Orion cult is the comparison between the 3 largest pyramids at Giza with the so called belt-stars of Orion:

Pyramids from above plus Belt of Orion

is Orion and Pyramids
Fig. 1 – Orion and Pyramiden according to Bauval/Gilbert

There is a striking resemblance: three stars in the middle of the Orion constellation, diagonally but with one star deviating, and three pyramids, also with one deviating from the diagonal. And the relative positions of stars and pyramids match each other perfectly.

But the authors found even more similarities which cannot be explained by coincidence:

  • Star brightness and pyramid size: Giza consists of two almost equally tall pyramids and a smaller one which is only 53% of the height of the other two. The belt of Orion consists of two almost similarly bright stars, and one with only 50% of the brightness of the other two. The smallest pyramid is the one which deviates from the diagonal, as does the dimmest star!
  • Ohter pyramids: More pyramids in Egypt fit the picture of the sky: the two large pyramids at Dahshur are a match for the brightest two stars in the open cluster “Hyades”, two more pyramids near Giza are bright stars of Orion, and the pyramids of Abusir are exactly where the head of Orion should be.

    OrionPyramids
    Fig. 2 – Stars and more pyramids according to Bauval/Gilbert

  • Selection of construction sites: The centre of the pyramid constellation, Giza, was chosen so that the Nile exactly represents the Milky Way at the position of Orion’s belt. The Milky Way represents the field of reeds in the legends which had to be crossed to reach the netherworld, just like the pharaoh had to cross the Nile to go from the land of the living on the eastern bank to the place of the dead on its western bank (where all the pyramids and tombs were located).
  • The shafts: There are four strange and small shafts (20 x 20 cm wide) in the Great Pyramid. Both upper chambers have two of them, one going south and one north. All four shafts rise at angles between 36° and 45°, the shafts of the upper King’s chamber were each open at both ends, the shafts of the lower Queen’s chamber were each closed at both ends.
    These shafts are an unsolved enigma. The German Egyptologist Rainer Stadelmann calls them “model shafts” for the soul of the dead king. The soul could travel through the northern shaft to the imperishable stars in the North. These stars never set and had a special meaning for the Egyptians from the earliest times.
    The other three shafts could also be connected with stars. The astronomer Virginia Trimble noticed in 1964 that the southern shaft of the King’s chamber points to Orion. Bauval made further calculations and found out that this happened about 100 years after the accepted building date of the Great Pyramid. At that time the shaft pointed exactly to the star the Great Pyramid represents in Orion’s belt. Coincidence?
    Bauval extended the idea and found to his surprise that the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber pointed at the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, at almost the same time. And Sirius is the representation of Isis, who was the sister and great love of Osiris (who was represented in the sky by Orion). Another coincidence?
    The last shaft also points to a relevant star in the north so, all in all, this really looks sensational.

    Targets of the shafts
    Fig. 3 – targets of the shafts, after Bauval/Gilbert

Problems

There are some problems with the idea. For example: The inclination of the pyramids relative to the equator was different, at the time of their construction, from that of the belt stars against the celestial equator (and therefore against the horizon) at their highest position in the sky. Therefore Bauval suggested that the pyramids were planned at another time. After some calculations he concluded that the inclinations matched at about 10500 BCE.
The other stars also had their best correlation with their pyramids around that time so the authors concluded that the pyramids were planned around the end of the last ice age. Since the shafts in the Great Pyramid point to a building date of about 2450 BCE, the planning and building dates differ by about 8000 years!
But that “shaft date” also creates problems because it is too young. At present Egyptologists are tending to make the Old Kingdom a little bit older rather than younger.

Such a revolutionary thesis generated objections from academia. The first inconsistency found was about a mixup of the directions implemented into the concept, and shortly afterwards it was discovered that the inclinations did not match at the claimed planning date.
But that is secondary. The biggest question is, if the foundation of the theory is correct, the necessary link with Ancient Egyptian culture. Can the Osiris/Orion-myth be traced back to the beginning of the pyramid building era? My preliminary investigations found some serious problems here.

Therefore the following analysis of the OCT will consist of two parts. I will start with a discussion of the cultural link addressing the following points:

  • Osiris in the history of Ancient Egypt
  • Underworld beliefs and funerary ceremonies
  • Contents of the Pyramid Texts

The second part deals with the “normal” OCT critique including:

  • Direction and location problems of the pyramids
  • Targets and dates of the star shafts
  • Problems with the look and feel

The second part is an expanded version of my old home page with some new points (eg. Milky Way).
But I will give an advanced warning: the first part is very difficult material!!!

 

Osiris plays the central role in the Orion theory. Without him around at the beginning of the 4th dynasty the whole idea would fall apart. Therefore Bauval and Gilbert try to argue this point in The Orion Mystery as follows:

(1) “Egyptologists have shown that the underlying concept of Ancient Egyptian theocracy was that while the king was alive he was a reincarnation of Horus, the first man-god king of Egypt, and was hailed as the son of Osiris and Isis. After his death it was believed that the pharaoh would depart to the sky and himself become ‘an Osiris’. But why an Osiris? What does the Osirianisation doctrine mean?
In Unas’s pyramid the dozens of textual passages which call the dead king Osiris-Unas are emphatic declarations that, in his afterlife form, the mummified Unas was to be an Osiris. We are also told that the Osirianised kings became stars; not any stars but specific stars in the region of the constellation of Orion. Egyptologists thus concluded long ago that the rebirth ritual was essential to convert the dead kings into Osiris and more specifically (as Mercer argues for example) to Osiris in his astral form of Sahu, the constellation of Orion: ‘Orion (Sah) was identified with Osiris . . . It is not surprising to find an identification with Orion … [for] … one of the central themes in the Pyramid Texts was the complete identity of the dead king with Osiris.”[ 1 ]

This quote is very important, and I will refer to it again on the following pages. Also important for our further investigations is for example the question of whether Horus is really the son of Isis and Osiris. That would be a sure sign of a very old cult of Osiris.
Unas is the first king with religious texts in his pyramid. He lived at the end of the 5th dynasty, his pyramid was built about 220 years after Khufu’s, which is the first of the Orion pyramids at Giza. Bauval and Gilbert assume that in these earliest pyramid texts residues of the former stellar cult are preserved, which was progressively replaced by a solar cult in later pyramids:

(2) “The astronomical evidence suggests that there was, indeed, an attempt to solarise the cult of Osiris and possibly Osiris himself. … It seems to have worked until the end of the Sixth or even the Seventh dynasty…”[ 2 ]

Compared with the Unas texts, an analysis of the pyramid texts should show reduced references to stars in later texts, and an increasing number of references to Re.

A direct link from the pyramids to Osiris is also detectable:

(3) “The other version of the death of Osiris was his being killed by Seth and his body cut into (14) pieces and scattered about Egypt. The seven pyramids of the Fifth Dynasty, together with the seven pyramids of the great Fourth Dynasty gives a total of fourteen which comprised the Memphite Necropolis, at the time the Pyramid Texts were written.”[ 3 ]

Bauval is therefore of the opinion that Osiris is a very old god. He refers to Samuel Mercer:

(4) “Mercer also believed in the great antiquity of the cult found in the Texts: «The worship of Osiris is, no doubt, prehistoric, by the time of the Pyramid Age it was a well-established cult»”[ 4 ]

Visually there is a similarity between the three Giza-pyramids and the belt of Orion, as we saw in fig. 1 on the previous page. According to Bauval more pyramids are parts of an earthly Orion representation, ie. the pyramids at Abu Roasch and el-Aryan (both were most probably never finished):

(5) “Carefully aligning the Giza group pyramids with the stars of Orion’s Belt, I saw that the pyramid of Nebka at Abu Ruwash corresponded with the star Saiph or Orion’s ‘left foot’ and that at Zawyat al-Aryan represented Bellatrix in his ‘right shoulder’.”[ 5 ]

This part of the so called “wider plan” was withdrawn by Bauval in 1998, because those two stars and pyramids did not match at all (see my calculations in the second section). But he did not retract it with a clear statement, he offered a possible explanation how they could fit in after all. If the reason for the unfinished state was that the Egyptians had discovered that they had chosen the wrong place to put them (and not because the kings building them died early) they could still support the OCT… no comment.[ 9 ]
The pyramids of Abusir of the 5th dynasty should represent more stars of Orion:

(6) “With ‘Bellatrix’ located south-east of Giza it was not difficult to see how the three or four little stars forming Orion’s ‘head’ could fit the three or four (…) little pyramids at Abusir, a kilometre or so south-east of Zawyat Al Aryan.”[ 10 ]

The two large pyramids at Dahshur, built by Khufu’s father Snofru, are, according to Bauval, also representations of stars. Not stars from Orion, but the constellation of Taurus, whose most dominant stars are in the open cluster of the Hyades:

(7) “These two stars (Aldebaran and Epsilon Tauri of the Hyades, FD), seen together after rising, had the exact layout relative to each other and the axis of the Milky Way as the two Dashour pyramids relative to each other and the axis of the Nile. Transposing the two stars on the correlation Memphis-Duat map, they fitted the position of the two Dashour pyramids. This gave me the complete stellar pattern of the sky-Duat.”[ 11 ]

Why Taurus? Because Egyptologist Jane Sellers saw the stellar representation of Seth, the brother and murderer of Osiris, in the constellation of Taurus. The Dahshur pyramids therefore complete the Osiris-myth:

(8) “As Jane Sellers previously concluded: ‘an important court decision gave the office of Osiris to Horus, and Seth was banished to a position bearing the ‘southern’ constellation ORION’ – that is the Hyades stars.”[ 12 ]

What has to be examined?

The Orion theory rests on some points which have to be true or the whole thing falls apart. And there are some where it would be nice if they are true but it would not damage the idea if they aren’t. The number of pyramids being identical to the number of pieces Osiris was hacked into is such a “nice to have”.
The following points are the most fundamental ones. If they are not true any discussion about “nice to haves” is futile:

  1. Stars must have played an important role right from the beginning of the pyramid era. The Orion-theory says nothing less than the fossilisation of a great star cult.
  2. Osiris must have been known since the earliest times and his cult must have been well established at the beginning of the 4th dynasty with Snofru’s first true pyramids. To verify this it is necessary to look for the origin of Horus and his cult (which is connected to (1) to Osiris since the earliest times and therefore proves the existence of the Osiris cult since the earliest times), and, of course, for evidence of Osiris himself.
  3. Osiris must have had the role as lord of the underworld at the time of Snofru.
    That’s not as trivial as it sounds, since the Egyptian pantheon went through some major changes in the first half of the Old Kingdom. And there are no coherent records about Egyptian religion surviving from before the Pyramid texts. But if Osiris already has his full funerary role in the first texts in Unas’ pyramids and if there are no objections from Egyptologists about that we can at least assume that he had this role much earlier
  4. Orion and Osiris must have been identical at the beginning of the 4th dynasty.
    This has the same problems as the last point, so we can use the same method we used there. If the identity is already clear in the first pyramid texts of Unas we can assume that this identity goes a long way back.
  5. Also by the beginning of the 4th dynasty at the latest the king must have identified himself with the god Osiris in his afterlife. Without this identification the whole pyramid/Orion idea makes no sense. Therefore Osiris must have had the role as a King’s god at the time of Snofru.
    This, too, is not trivial to prove as a pharaoh identified himself with a lot of gods. Another problem: Osiris had several different roles – or there was more than one Osiris (that’s not as funny as it sounds, as we will see with Horus on the next page). Osiris was known as a god of vegetation and of the water of the Nile – and the vegetation symbolism already hints at the resurrection theme of his second role, the Lord of the underworld. But there was another Lord of the underworld: Anubis. Osiris replaced this god who became the master of mummification. To make sure that Osiris had the necessary role we need a tight link between Osiris, the underworld and the pharaoh in the earliest pyramid texts at least.
  6. The target of the king in his afterlife must have been the stars which are relevant for Bauval’s theory. And this also at the beginning of the 4th dynasty.
    Bauval is very sure here, if you remember point (1) where he states that the target of the dead king was definitively the stellar region of Orion in the southern sky. But that also is not as trivial as it looks because Bauval simply interprets each and every mentioning of “the star becomes a king” as afterlife in Orion. Unfortunately the pharaoh always had a star soul, the Ach (this role was later taken by the Ba) which became a star, but was not connected with the afterlife of the pharaoh!
    To confirm this idea we would expect in the oldest pyramid with texts, at least. a majority of references as location of the afterlife in the stars of the southern sky, and not for example Re’s companionship.
  7. To justify the explanation that a later sun cult suppressed an earlier star cult we should expect that the percentage of star references is highest in the early pyramids of Unas and Teti, and lowest in the late pyramids like Pepi II and his queens.

I will start the examination with one of Bauval’s important sources:

Samuel Mercer

Mercer is one of Bauval’s main sources for his stellar thesis. In the first half of the 20th century this Egyptologist came to the conclusion that many of the pyramid texts are not only descriptions of religious cults or fantasies, but references to astronomical events instead.
But Mercer is not highly regarded in Egyptology. His four volume work about the pyramid texts was published in 1952 and was already outdated. His analyses were doubted because they were not using the latest Egyptological knowledge and were therefore often pure speculation. Therefore it’s not a miracle that Mercer is the first choice of today’s fringe authors like Atlantis Messiahs, World Saviours and other esotericists who want to see fantastic things in the pyramid texts.[ 5 ]
Egyptologists further agree that Mercer didn’t make a proper translation of his own because of his limited knowledge of Old Egyptian. He took Sethe’s outdated German translation from 1910, changed some passages here and there and wrote his own name on it. Professor Henry Fischer from the University of New York used a word play to describe Mercers method: He “mercerized” Sethe. Mercerisation is a process which changes cheap cotton to a silk-like consistency.[ 6 ]

On February 20, 2003 John Gee of Brigham Young University commented on Yale University’s “Egyptologists Electronic Forum” (EEF) email discussion list. He mentioned a critique of Mercer from James P. Allen in JNES 13 [1954]: 119: The defects of Mercer’s translation “spring from two main sources: faulty translation of German and violation of Egyptian grammatical principles.”. Gee noted that he’d had the luck to work with books from Mercer’s own library and had noticed that Mercer often wrote transliterations between the lines and wondered how often Mercer got even simple constructions wrong.
This does not really inspire confidence in this source. But Bauval sees things differently. In his eyes Mercer is more of a rebel against mainstream Egyptology, a sort of Robin Hood:

“This, of course, conflicted with the established view, and Mercer was pilloried for being rash and far too bold in his interpretations. It was also said that his translations did ‘not represent current knowledge of ancient Egyptian’ which was not entirely true. Mercer’s study must have its place in the anthology of the Pyramid Texts, and his boldness may yet prove to be a good thing. (However, I soon discovered that quoting Mercer on the Texts was frowned on by academics.)”[ 7 ]

I will discuss some of Mercers points later in the pyramid text section. Of course Bauval is aware of other available translations of, and commentaries, on the pyramid texts, and he also knows the modern standard translation from Faulkner.[ 13 ] This translation is known to be very accurate, as an Egyptologist who translated parts of the texts herself told me. But Bauval has only sarcasm for him, because Faulkner, like the rest of the Egyptologists, is unable to see the coded stellar messages Mercer detected:

“Faulkner quoted a large number of passages from the Pyramid Texts which mention the stars in connection with the soul of the dead kings and their afterlife destiny. Yet he ignored hundreds of other passages which also refer to the astral destiny of the kings, without specific reference to the word star, and more which drew attention to the stars by metaphors and allegories.” [ 14 ]

Then the book gets really funny, when Bauval demands a new review of the Pyramid Texts – in other words conformation to the unfounded speculations of Mercer:

“I discovered that I was not the only one who felt that a fresh review of the Pyramid Texts was imperative if progress were to be made in solving the mystery of the Egyptian pyramids.”[ 15 ]

In plain language: Twist the texts until you get the results desired by Bauval Oh yes, and Bauval’s demand is funny because he is not even able to judge the validity of the interpretations.
If Bauval had a true interest in the meaning of the Pyramid Texts, he could do this “fresh review” himself. The hieroglyphs of the Pyramid Texts are published – even on the internet – and with a course of Old Egyptian (which is offered at adult evening classes here) he could translate the texts personally and thus judge Mercer’s validity himself.

Star cults

But it’s not only the pyramid texts that would need a fresh review, we would also have to revisit our knowledge about star cults in Egypt. Bauval’s pyramid placement sounds so secondary that most readers are not aware of the seriousness of his idea. But we should be aware that the consequence of the thesis is that the largest building project in antiquity, if not the largest coherent building project of all time, was to praise the stars. According to Bauval seven gigantic pyramids (the Bent and the Red at Dahshur, the three large ones in Giza, the unfinished one in el-Aryan which would have been between the size of the Bent and Khafre’s, and the pyramid of Neferirkare at Abusir) and a couple of smaller ones (the rest of Abusir, and Abu Roasch), built over a period of more than 200 years are part of a giant stone planetarium, a picture of the sky.
But not only the placement of the pyramids should be connected to the stars, even some details of their construction, like the mysterious shafts in the Great Pyramid, should hint at such a connection. And last but not least Bauval even tries to explain the pyramid form itself, the Benbenet (which is also the top part of an obelisk) as a stellar symbol.
With this reasoning we can say that the pyramids of the 4th and 5th dynasty form a large open-air temple for the stars, a sort of monster Stonehenge, which was planed and built by many generations of Pharaohs following a common plan. The funerary character of the pyramids is then only secondary.

Readers with some knowledge about Egypt surely know other multi-generational temples. For example the famous Hathor temple at Dendera (yes, the one with the “light bulb” reliefs in the basement 🙂 ) from the Ptolemaic/Roman era. This temple was built over a period of 200 years, but it was built on the foundations of a much earlier Hathor temple dating from at least the 6th dynasty.
Or the Osiris temple at Abydos. At least three pharaohs built there. Or the large Amun temple in Karnak with a building history of more than 1000 years up to Alexander the Great.
But all these temples, although dedicated to the most important gods of their time, are child’s play compared with the star temple of the pyramids. What an important role the stars must have played during the Old Kingdom!

Well, the experts on Egyptian religion tell us – almost none at all. Stars were children of the gods, sitting on the body of the sky-goddess Nut. Nameless and low. Stars, that were the souls of the Dead. The Ach, the spirit of the person. Or the Ba souls, flying to the sky each night, to return to the dead each day. But practically without any religious meaning. And those few important stars are unfortunately (for Bauval) in the wrong region of the sky…
And because the religious role of the stars was so insignificant, few Egyptologists wrote about them.

The well known Egyptologist and expert on Egyptian religion Hans Bonnet is one of the few who examined the topic. His “Reallexikon” is somewhat old but still THE reference in most religious questions and is often cited even today. He writes;

“Additionally, the stars are well in the background of religious life. There is very little evidence that they were worshipped or that offerings were made to them. They are, after all, mites of the night and, as their incalculable number shows, of such a low rank. [ 16 ]

Bonnet further explains that only the so called Decan stars had some respect, but only because of their “practical use”: the time keeping of the night used them to calculate the current hour. The only other two stars or constellations with some meaning, Sirius and Orion, were also known for their practical uses. The heliacal rising of Sirius, the brightest star, predicted the annual Nile flood – the connection of this star to the goddess Isis happened later.[ 17 ]
And Sah, the constellation we may see today as Orion, had practical uses too. Its first appearance marked the time of the gathering of grapes and might have been the marker for the annual Wag festival.[ 18 ] But some stars, or more correctly a region of stars, HAD special religious meaning for the pharaohs. Bonnet writes:

“There are ‘those who cannot set’, the imperishables, the circumpolar stars. They do not set in the west therefore they are the oarsmen of the day barque.

So the funerary literature is full of utterances where the hopes of an afterlife existence is connected with the desire to become a star … Understandably enough that spell culminates in the wish to become a member of the imperishable stars.”[ 19 ]

The famous expert on religion Erik Hornung writes on the stars:

“The Egyptians conceived of only a few of the most important stars and constellations as deities. Apart from the sun and the moon only Sothis, the brightest fixed star Sirius, acquired a cult as herald of the inundation. … Even the morning and evening stars had no cult; nor did the pole star (alpha Draconis in the early Old Kingdom), despite its great importance as the fixed pole of the sky and the goal of the dead king’s ascent into the sky.
For the Egyptians the great mass of other stars was a metaphor for vast numbers and also embodied the souls of the dead. Because these souls counted as “gods”, the stars were considered to be gods in the latest periods of Egyptian religion, and the word “god” came to be written with a star.”[ 20 ]

Strangely enough, one of the papers Hornung used as the basis for his conclusions is the one paper Bauval so openly disliked above: Faulkner’s “The King and the Star-Religion in the Pyramid Texts”, JNES 25(1966). The reason is clear: Hornung (and the rest of Egyptology) puts the target for the king’s soul, the imperishable stars, to the north. Why? Because the pyramid texts describing their locations have a pretty clear directionality (as we will see later). That’s a completely different region of the sky than Bauval needs – because Orion is not even near the celestial north pole, it’s a constellation in the equatorial region. And it’s in total contrast to what Bauval wrote in (1): “We are also told that the Osirianised kings became stars; not any stars but specific stars in the region of the constellation of Orion.”
Although the circumpolar stars, the imperishables, clearly had the most important role of all the stars they had no cult, as Hornung reported. No temple was built for them, nothing. So Bauval has to deliver really good reasons to explain his giant star temple for seemingly unimportant stars in a completely different region.

The attempt to explain the pyramid form as a stellar symbol also has little chance of success. The English Egyptologist Stephen Quirke writes:

“The word for pyramidion, benbenet, seems unambiguous on this score; the root word from which it derives, weben ‘to shine’, refers specifically to sunshine, not to the glittering of stars.” [ 21 ]

Dahshur

By looking through the paers about star cults I noticed, that one of the basic requirements for the “wider plan” of the OCT vanished into thin air. Namely the connected points (7) and (8) which are culminating in the sentence

“As Jane Sellers previously concluded: ‘an important court decision gave the office of Osiris to Horus, and Seth was banished to a position bearing the ‘southern’ constellation ORION’ – that is the Hyades stars.”

I don’t know what Sellers wrote – but I bet that she didn’t mention the Hyades. It is pretty clear for a long, long time now that the “Seth-stars” are the constellation “Leg of a Bull”. But that bull has nothing to do with our constellation Taurus, although Bauval wished it would. In fact, the “Leg” is what we know today as the “Big Dipper”.[ 22 ] This is not even near the Hyades which are needed to connect Dashur culturally with the stars. The Hyades, and the region of our Taurus, are nonames in the Egyptian star lore. Some stars of the nameless masses, therefore ther is no reason at all to build pyramids to represent their positions. The basis for Bauvals wider plan in Dashour does not exist!

The results of the last 150 years of Egyptology are clear. Against an important stellar cult, and even against the pyramid itself as a stellar symbol. What does Bauval know that no Egyptologist has detected before?

Multy Generation Funerary Projects

MGFP, in short, seems to be the new buzzword used as an excuse for the OCT. Because some Egyptologists suggest some form of MGFP in different areas, it validates the whole OCT as one gigantic MGFP.
What signs do we have for multi generational funerary architecture? Not much. There are signs that the immediate successor finished the work of his predecessor so that a regular funerary- and cult procedure was possible – but often only in a “quick and dirty” form. Examples are the mortuary temple of the Red Pyramid (started in limestone but then finished quickly with mudbrick), Khufu’s boat pit which was finished by his son Djedefre (his cartouche was found inside it), the mortuary temple of Djedefre (also finished in mudbrick), and Menkaure’s Pyramid (valley temple finished in mudbrick by Shepseskaf, but his pyramid was left in an unfinished state; only the casing stones around the entrance and the mortuary temple were finished, the rest was left as it came from the quarry).[ 23 ]

unfinished blocks
Fig. 4 – Border between finished and unfinished blocks on Menkaures east side

This doesn’t look as if successors cared much about the pyramid complex of their predecessors. And that is not a good basis to claim a MGFP of such a scale as proposed in the OCT. But what IS the basis for such a claim in “orthodoxy”?

It was Hans Goedicke who made some early suggestions. But they were not published first in a scientific journal, but in a newspaper in 1983 ![ 24 ]
THIS was the basis for Lehner’s speculations in his Giza. A Contextual Approach[ 25 ]. And what does that groundbreaking theory say? Well, Goedicke noticed that there seems to be a common constructional element at several necropolises: one corner of each structure is often on a straight line with the same corner of other structures in the necropolis. These alignments are found at Giza (south-east corners of Khufu, Kaphere and Menkaure), Abusir (north-west-corner of the pyramids of Sahure, Neferirkare und Neferefre), Saqquara (south-east-corners of Sekhemkhet, Djoser, Userkaf und Teti) – and even between necropolises as Goedicke thinks that the east face of Userkaf’s Pyramid is aligned with the same face of Khufu’s Pyramid several kilometres to the north!
Goedicke later concluded that some of these sight lines were aimed at the solar temple at Iunu (Heliopolis) and later wrote papers about it in “real” scientific publications.

Pyramid sight lines
Fig. 5 – Pyramid sight lines at Abusir, Saqquara und Giza; Top North
Abusir, Sakkara after Stadelmann; Giza after Verner

What do these sight lines have to do with the concept of the OCT? Not much. Whereas the OCT is a fully intentional multi-generation project which requires a plan from the beginning of the first building phase at Dahschur (and all kings until the middle of the 5th dynasty sticking to it), the “Sight Line Theory” (SLT, as I call it) is a un-intentionally MG-project where a later pharaoh decided to built his, and only his, pyramid on the same sight line as one of his successors. It was not a strict scheme, as we can see very good in Saqquara, where pharaos of the 3rd, 5th nd 6th dynasty mixed their pyramids on a sight line. In the 4th dynasty only 3 out of 8 pharaohs decided to “build in line”; Snofru, Djedefre, Bakare and Shepseskaf didn’t care, and neither did Khentkaus, probably the last, and female, pharaoh of Dynasty IV. And in Dynasty V most kings decided not to stick to the Abusir-line: Userkaf (who lined up his pyramid at Sakkara with Khufu’s), Niuserre, Menkauhor, Djedkare and Unas chose not to build their pyramids on the alignment and sometimes built in totally different regions. Again only 3 out of 8 pharaohs were “on-line” in Abusir.
It is pretty clear: Whereas it ws necessary for the OCT that the first pharaoh knew everything about the postitions of his successor’s buildings, with the SLT each king decided individually if he wanted to share an alignment with his predecessors. No king needed knowledge about the intentions of his predecessor or successor. From the kings deviating from this layout we can be sure that there was no master-plan from the beginning for all pyramids, not even for individual necropolises.
To compare these “linearity-on-demand” alignments with the strict plan necessary for the OCT is therefore in my opinion just plain silly.

Addendum: I received a quick objection against my judgement regarding the effort required for the star temple as Bauval has removed two pyramids from the wider plan.
But the effect is only minute. The pyramid at el-Aryan never got much further than a large hole in the ground for the chamber system, and the pyramid of Abu Roasch, if ever finished, had a height of 60 m; one of the smaller ones. Compared with the other pyramids it’s a “reduction” in the range of 1% or so. Bauval never removed “serious” pyramids like Abusir or Dahshur from the wider plan, just the contrary: In his “retractment” he writes, that the Dahshur-pyramids are definitively part of the original plan.

 

The invisible god I

Osiris in Papyrus Ani
Fig. 6 – Osiris in Papyrus Ani

As we saw on the previous page, comparing the assertions of the OCT with our current knowledge of star cults in Ancient Egypt left many unanswered questions. But this is where Bauval’s thesis begins. He thinks that the OCT fills the holes that “orthodox” Egyptology has left. This is because Egyptology has found only the tip of the iceberg with respect to stellar cults.
His catchphrase (repeated ad nauseum by his defenders): “The previously important star cult was so effectively replaced by a later sun cult that no visible trace was left”.
The general idea: The stellar cult was based on the connection between the Lord of the Underworld, Osiris, with the constellation of Orion, and on the connection between the dead pharaoh and Osiris, and therefore also with Orion. Building the constellation on the ground is not therefore a separate star cult, but a memorial for the pharaoh, who became a star himself. Each pyramid represents the pharaoh’s individual star. What role the other stars played is therefore totally irrelevant. The offering cult for the dead pharaoh is therefore a camouflaged stellar cult, and the pyramid cult, which was perpetuated for several centuries at each pyramid, also a hidden stellar cult. Invisible to orthodox Egyptology, it would refute the words of those such as Bonnet or Hornung.

For this to be true Osiris must be a very ancient god, and the connection between Osiris and Orion must also be very old. Oh yes, and the connection between the pharaoh and Osiris equally old.
There are several methods of detecting such cults:

  • Indirect evidence: Ancient cult places, symbols, fetishs and myths would be the main body of indirect evidence for such a cult, even if no written records have survived. I will discuss this form of evidence, in particular the myth of Osiris, the developing pantheon, the Djed pillar and tombs of Osiris on this page.
  • Representations of Osiris: There were depictions of many gods from the early dynastic period onwards. It is said that there are also very early depictions of Osiris, for example in Djoser’s complex. If that’s true it would be a big step forward for the OCT. I will look into this on the next page.
  • Texts mentioning Osiris: According to Bauval, Osiris was one of the most important gods at this time. Since almost every god with less influence appears in a multitude of texts before the Pyramid Texts (mostly from the beginning of inscribed tombs onwards) we should expect similar appearances of Osiris in the texts. We will see if this is fact or fiction on the 3rd page of this section “The invisible god” (and you can place a bet on the outcome 🙂 ).

So let’s start:

Indirect evidence for Osiris

The main basis for an early Osiris is the so called “Myth of Osiris”. This describes the birth of the main gods of Egypt and their not very peaceful coexistence. The god Horus plays an important role in our understanding of the early Egyptian pantheon, and the many symbolisms in this myth, like the Djed pillar and Osiris tombs, are important for dating the possible age of the cult. But let’s start from the beginning.

The Myth of Osiris

The surviving legend of Osiris tells us about the life of Osiris as king of Egypt, and how he brought prosperity and happiness to the country. We are told that he brought the knowledge of agriculture and livestock farming to the Egyptians, and how he loved his sister Isis. They even had a child, Horus, together.
Seth, the brother of Osiris, was jealous about the success of his brother as he longed to be king himself and planned to overthrow him. He made a chest covered with gold and gemstones and during a celebration promised to give it to the person it fitted exactly. Nobody knew that Seth had constructed the chest using Osiris’ measurements, and when it was Osiris’ turn to try the chest it fitted perfectly. At that moment Seth and 72 conspirators jumped out, nailed the chest shut, and threw it into the Nile where it sank to the bottom.
When Isis heard about this she started a long search for the body of her beloved husband and after many years she found the chest inside a large tree at Byblos (which is probably not the city in Lebanon, but another name for a city in the Nile delta [1]).
The king of this country felled the tree and used it to make the first Djed pillar which he used to support the roof of his palace. The chest containing the body of Osiris was given to Isis who returned with it to the court of Horus.
Seth discovered it there and became furious. He tore the body of Osiris into 14 pieces and scattered them around the country. Isis again embarked on a quest to find these pieces, and built a special tomb for every piece found. After all the pieces were buried Osiris returned from the dead to teach Horus how to fight and so revenge him…
These are the basic concepts of the Osiris myth. But the full story is a mess. We learn, for example, that Osiris had an affair with Seth’s wife Nephtys, and that they even had a son, Anubis, together – and that Seth knew about it. Well could THIS, for example, be the source of Seth’s anger?
The number of Greek gods in the Osiris myth is also disturbing. Strange.
But it’s not so strange when we learn the context of the myth: The only complete version comes from a Greek. It was written by the well known philosopher Plutarch, who lived between 46 and 125 AD![2]. Of course this doesn’t mean that the Osiris myth didn’t exist much earlier as even the oldest religious texts, the Pyramid Texts, refer to parts of it. But the details are frequently very different from Plutarch’s version as he collected the surviving portions after 3000 years of changes. But which parts of the myth have an early origin, and which parts were added later? This is of great importance for the Orion theory.

We know for example that the part of the story about tearing Osiris’ body into 14 pieces is most probably an addition from the Late Period, some 2000 years after the pyramid era when the myth originated[3] – and that is the quick and unspectacular end of Bauval’s “nice to have” number of pyramids = number of bodyparts.
The story of the procreation of Horus also shows influence from different periods as there are several collected in the myth. Plutarch wrote that Horus was the product of an affair that Isis and Osiris had inside the womb of their mother, Nut. Other versions of the story move this to the time of the resurrection of Osiris by Isis and Nephytis, some even to the time of the reassembly of Osiris’ body (although some parts of the myth do not even have the tearing-apart-part but have the individual Osiris tombs instead).
These few examples show that there is no “Osiris myth”, only a collection of totally different parts from different periods and different regions that don’t fit together. It is not a nice, simple, straightforward piece of literature – and that goes for most parts of Egyptian religion!

An unchanging religion

I have noticed that many Egypt-lovers and amateur-Egyptologists are unaware that Egyptian religion wasn’t unchanging and monolithic throughout the 3000 years of Egyptian civilisation. The reason for this is often the use of outdated literature, which is widespread and very cheap – and useless to get an accurate perception of the culture of the Ancient Egyptians.
There are for example the books of Wallis Budge, which are mostly about 100 years old but reprinted cheaply every few years. Budge was, along with many other Egyptologists of his time, of the opinion that the Egyptian pantheon was fixed at the beginning of the dynastic period, and that only minor changes occurred subsequently. During the early decades of the 20th century that picture changed slowly, but this has not fully found its way into the popular literature. Books by some alternative authors keep quiet about this as it is very convenient to pick religious customs from a particular period and project them into the period their theory is set in…

The picture of the Egyptian religion we meet in standard popular books about Egypt normally represents the form in the New Kingdom, around the time of the great Ramses II. But a projection of this picture into another time is inadmissible, because the religion was in a state of constant change. This change was particularly strong in the first 1000 years after the unifiction – and the time of the pyramids lies smack in the middle.
But this change was not of the kind we would understand as change. There were no “victorious” gods which replaced older ones, or the complete change of the pantheon. The changes were subtele and were based on assimilation instead of replacement.
The reason for this might be the geopolitical situation of Ancient Egypt. In its predynastic times several independent regions were founded along the Nile, which had more or less constantly trade and cultural contact. Because of the constant exchange religious ideas were traded also, so that many ideas were smeared up over larger regions. This probably lead to a melting togehter of the roles of the gods. The result were gods with different names but same roles, and gods with different roles but the same name in different regions. This is, of course, speculation, but it can explain some strange things.
During the phase of the unification, which lasted some 100 years, and still after it a sort of nation wide pantheon was created, which still had local variations.
This complicated process is caled “syncretism”. Break throug work about this central point of Egyptian religion, which is still valid today, comes from Hans Bonnet. He explains:

“So the struggle of superiority lead to a contest of the great gods. But the form of the contest was unique. It was not lead in a way where one region god fights against another to replace him. One region recognized the god of the others and tried to win by pulling the other region god to their own, by demonstrating, that their god shares the other god’s features and that it would add to the fame of the god to unify with the other. Instead of polemic debates there is a search for secret connections to add other gods and mythologies to the own realm of religion, to strengthen their might. So the competition of the gods did not lead to an isolation and a mutual exclusion, but to an intervining of the roles. This intervining is more than a superficial connection; it is a merge. Because the urge of a sycretistic compensation is deeply routed into the Egyptian culture.”[4]

This syncretism as key element is important to understand the role of the deceased king. The implications are at least as grave as this textbook example of syncretism in one piece of the basic evidence for the Orion theory we will examine now:

Horus

The ancient god Horus was used by Bauval in quote (1) to prove an older Osiris. To refresh your memory:

“Egyptologists have shown that the underlying concept of Ancient Egyptian theocracy was that while the king was alive he was a reincarnation of Horus, the first man-god king of Egypt, and was hailed as the son of Osiris and Isis.”

We remember: Horus appears in the Osiris myth as child of Isis and Osiris. On the other hand we know that in earliest dynastic times, and even before, the pharao wsa identified with Horus. Even the oldest known name form of an Egyptian king is the so-called Horus-name. If Horus is the child if Isis and Osiris, and Horus is even older than ancient, Osiris MUST be as ancient, too. Simple as that.
Well, you wish. The Osiris-myth starts even in Plutarchs retelling earlier. It begins with the creation of the earth by Geb and Nut. At that time the prominent gods were born: Isis, Osiris, Seth, Nephtys – and Horus!
Hm, but Horus is, as we read above, the child of Isis and Osiris? Yes, Plutarch was aware of the fact that there was a mixup. He lived about 2500 years after the earliest mentioning of the myth, and there was a lot of change in the mean time and he was confronted mith many pieces not fitting together. So he used a trick and declared Horus to be the brother AND son of Osiris:

“Isis and Osiris were so in love even before their birth, so that they went together in the darkness of the womb of Nut. Some claim that Haroeris was concieved that way, and he was called “the older Horus” (Horsemsu) by the Egyptians, and Apollo by the Greek.”[5]

This explanation doesn’t work with other parts of the myth, where for example the already dead and resurrected Osiris has intercourse with Isis or her representation (like a bird). But if Horus was at least brother of Osiris since oldest times, this would still be acceptable to demonstrate an early Osiris.
But unfortunately even this part of the legend, the birth of the 5 Epagomes (that’s the greek name for the children of Geb and Nut; Isis, Osiris, Seth, Nephtys and Horus) is not very old either. The first mentioning of the Epagomes is in the very late pyramid texts, in one single instance in a queen’s pyramid in PT § 1963 c[6]. By the way: the situation of an early Isis as lover of Osiris has a similar bad evidence situation.[7]

Yes, Horus is an old god. But the old falcon god we know from the earliest periods of Egypt has nothing to do with the later Horus.
The old falcon god (Hr Smsw or Hor semsu, – Horus the older, as he was called by the Egyptians to distinct him from Horus, son of Isis, Harsiese), is a sky god, who is called “Lord of the sky” in the pyramid texts. It isthis god who is depicted in the erly falcon representations (and in the titularies of the pharaos). His mother is according to the pyramid texts Hathor, only later she is replaced by Geb and Nut.[8]
We even have utterance 534 in the pyramid texts, which defines the difference between Horus the older and the gods of the Osiris circle, including Horus the younger: starting in § 1264 Horus the older starts a speach, during which he advises the pahrao not to open his arms to Horus the younger and his “bad things”.(§ 1268)
“A” horus came relatively late into the Osiris myth. As early as 1934 Adolf Erman wrote:

“The real home of Horus might have been in the Delta region; we can conclude that from the fact alone that he was the national god of this part of the country, whereas upper Egypt belonged to Seth. Both gods together were the rulers of Egypt.”[9]

Ups, Horus and Seth? Not Osiris and Seth? Right, the “dynamic duo” of old times consisted of Horus and Seth – and therefore an early existence of Seth is also no evidence for an earlier Osiris. Erman continues:

“Horus became paticularly popular, when he was integrated into the Osiris myth, where he aroused sympathy as poor orphan Horus, son of Isis, Harsiesis.”[10]

Although Erman was follower of the then popular “ancient Osiris” thesis he could not help to notice, that there were many parts in the Osiris myth which couldn’t have been there from the beginning, like the Eye of Horus or the antagonists Horus and Seth.[11]. His analyses of the Pyramd Texts showed similar results, I will deal with them later.
Bonnet writes about the development of Horus:

“As far as we can see the great falcon god Horus is the first of the local gods who gained a country wide dominance. He acquired this in prehistoric times. Even the two kingdoms, the predecessors of the unified Egypt of historic times, honor him in heir capitals .. as their main god.
His largest role is that of the king’s god. In this role he exists in the prehistoric kingdoms besides the godesses Nebchet and Uto.”[12]

So Horus did exist even before the rest of the Egyptian pantheon was fully formed! Therefore any claim of a “natural connection” between Horus and Osiris is invalid. Bonnet continues:

“The kingship of Horus is as much the basis for the dogma of the king as it is the gestalt of Horus himself. … Now and then similar claims from other gods like Seth, lord of Ombos, appeared. But they didn’t succeed in overtrhrowing him, the leading role of Horus stays undisturbed. … The rivalry between Horus and Seth did not end in a fight which lead to the total destruction of one side; it ends in the typical Egyptian way of a fair compensation. … Each of the two gods got one half of Egypt as a domain. …”[13]

So Seth arrived on the stage much later than Horus. And not as the enemy to the death he was in later texts. Bonnet continues:

“The fighting myth comes in a third circle Horus is integrated into. He becomes son of Isis… and becomes member of the Osiris circle. …
Initially Horus had nothing to do with the gods of Busiris. In fact his introduction lead to major problems in the geneology of these gods which lead to an artificial split of Horus in two entities, in special to the creation of “Horus the older”.”[14]

This makes clear that Horus as son of Isis is an artificial product, a result of the syncretism of Egyptian religion in the time of the Old Kingdom. And it’s also clear that the original Horus has nothing to do with Horus the son of Isis. And therefore we can conclude that the early Horus is no evidence whatsoever for an early Osiris!

Another symbol for an early Osiris does not come from Bauval himself, but several defenders of his thesis used it to strenghten the case. But the case with this symbol is pretty much similar to Horus. It’s the

Djed-Pillar

Djed

Fig. 7 – A Djed
from the tomb
of Amenophis II

The provenance and original meaning of the Djed symbol is unknown to us. Some see it as a garb of wheat, others see in him a tree trunk without branches, and some even claim to see a bundle of reeds. And I didn’t even mention those who think the Djed is an electrical insulator or even a power generator 😉
I will not expand this topic further since it has no meaning for our discussion. All that matters to us is, that it’s there. And that he exists since predynastic times.[15].
The word “djed” is used to express stability. So the symbol is used as pillar of the sky, and it is from earliest times on a symbol for the stability of kingship. And exactly in this form it is seen as evidence for an early Osiris.
It was the spinal column of that god, and parts of the Osiris myth claim that a djed pillar replaced Osiris’ penis who was not found by Isis collecting together his body parts. And the “raising of the Djed” was the centerpoint of each heb-sed (30 year crown jubilee) festival, which was connected with Osiris.
The connection between Djed and Osiris and Djed and Egyptian prehistory was formulated in later times in such a natural way, that early Egyptologist had not the slightest doubt that Djed was a prehistoric fetish and therefore Osiris was a prehistoric god. The great religious expert Erman for example used this assumend connection as evidence for very early Osiris festivals.[16]. Bonnet confirms, that the later formultion of the connection seemd so natural, that long time there was no doubt about it.[17]
But science is in perpetual motion. And so a change began in the second half of the 1930’s. Whereas Erman had in 1934 no doubt about age and connection of Osiris and Djed, Hermann Kees published only 7 years later a completely different thesis:

“It has long been discussed what this symbol shows. The explanations were often blocked by personal prejudices, that the symbol was connected from the beginning with Osiris. But the solutions found on this ground, in specal the idea of a debranched tree, are equally improbable as the later Egyptian interpretations which carried an osirian interpretaion into it. Fortunately we have now found enough fragments of older customs connected with Djed to prove independence of the Djed from Osiris (footnote 6: 2 Djed pillars as pillars of the ladder to heaven in Pyr 389b, as towing post for the solar barque in Pyr 1255, “the Djedpillars of Re”, also found in the Coffin Texts, see Kees, Totenglaube S. 296) .[18]

Footnote 6 shows explicitely, that even at the time of the pyramid texts there was no solitary connection between Djed and Osiris! Kees continues:

“The main fact is that the memphite circle included the holy Djed without any trace of Osiris into the cult circle of Ptah. The “raising of the Djed” in Memphis certainly was celebrated according to the rites in Busiris, connected with a kings festival to demonstrate the stability of kingship. But the symbolic representation of these rites which came to us from an old crowning ritual from thinite times compares the Djed pillar, which is then layed down, with a decapitated Seth, the later murderer of Osiris, who has to bend down before Horus the king! This would have been completely impossible if the Djed really was an identical representation of Osiris.”[19]

Well, this closes the case. Neither the “raising of the Djed” not the Djed itself was connected to Osiris in the early times. And this result has not lost its validity until today, as we see from this passage from Richard Wilkinson:

“It is known, however, that the Djed wa associated from Old Kingdom times with the chief Memphite god of creation, Ptah, who was himself termed the “Noble Djed”. … Through a process of assimilation and syncretism, the god Pthah was eventually equated with the underworld deities Sokar and Osiris, and by the beginning of te New Kingdom, the djed was widely used as a symbol of Osiris and seems to have been regarded as representative of that deities backbone. …”[20]

The way of the tradition is clear: in earliest times the symbol for overthrowing Seth, later, in the for the OCT relevant time as symbol fo Ptah, and later, much later as symbol of Osiris.
By the way: the oldest known connection between Djed and Osiris in the form of “raising the djed” comes from the late 18th dynasty, from the time of Amenhotep III[21]. More than 1000 years after the earliest “Orion pyramids”.

The Osireion

This piece of evidence was also not brought up by Bauval, but by some of his defenders. But this building plays also a major role in other alternative theories, because it should be evidence for early Egyptian high technology.
We remember: one part of the Osiris myth tells, that his body was divided into 14 pieces which were scattered all over Egypt. And according to another part of the legend, Isis built for each part she found an own tomb.
But none of these tombs remained. Really not one? There is this seemingly old building in Abydos with an archaic building style. And Abydos is the region where Osiris gained overregional influence for the first time. And Abydos is, so the story tells, the burial place of the head of Osiris.[22]. So it is only natural to assume that the Osireion is in reality one of those tombs built by Isis.

Osireion
Fig. 8 – Osireieon. Photo: Gitta Warnemünde

The analysis of the Osireion by early Egyptologists is a typical case for circular argumentation. Flinders Petrie, father of modern Egyptology, had no doubts about the old age of the Osireion, because Osiris was an ancient god.[23]) His opponent Wallis Budge argued the oher way round: BECAUSE the Osireion was ancient (what Petrie had claimed), and Abydos was only a LATER cult center of Osiris, Osiris himself must be much much older, even older than the Osireion. [24]. Both argumentations were supporting each other withaut a basis of objective facts.

Why did they beleive that the Osireion is so old? Well, because of its architecture. In total contrast to the other temples of the New Kingdom, it was built from seemingly massive, archaic rough hewn square pillars with a weight of 55 tonns each, covered with an archaic corbelled roof made of massive slabs of stone, with walls made from seemingly massive granite blocks. The whole architecture looked like the valley temple of Kaphere.[25]). We can therefore excuse the dating based on the architecture by Petrie.

In the mean time we found many false or Osiris tombs, also called Kenotaphs. It started with the introduction of corn mummies into private tombs (also called “Osiris beds”)[26] or pictures from typical Osiris tombs. People with larger tombs began to separate a room for a small symbolig Osiris coffin, and even richer persons or communities built complete symbolic Osiris tombs, like the rrediscovered Osiris shaft at Giza.
Those Osiris tombs tried to replicate the architecture of the original cult tombs. Although none of them has survived (or has benn found), reports from 4 cult tombs have survived (Philae, Abydos, Memphis and Busiris) that gives us clues about their appearence:[27]

  • The sarcophagus was on an island
  • The tomb was below the ground, in the so-called “lower Dat”, surrounded by niches.
  • Above the tomb a hill, the “upper Dat”, represented the primeval hill.
  • A grove of trees should be the resting place of the Ba birds of the soul of Osiris.

The private Osiris tombs often also consisted of two parts. Covered with a hill, which often was planted to represent the holy grove, below the surface the main part was hidden. It normally was a pillared hall, sometimes dozens of meters below the ground. Centerpiece was an “island”, a square platform with the sarcophagus, surrounded by a moat. The archaic pillar theme can be found in many tombs of the New Kinkdom, almost every tomb in the valley of the kings has such a room completely devoyd of any inscription or pictures.[28]
Often the main chamber or a neighbouring room had 7 niches which stood for the 7 doors of the Duat,[29], like the above mentioned Osiris shaft (although one of these was later used to dig a tunnel do a deeper compartment). Richard H. Wilkinson writes:

“The number seven is frequently associated with deities in different ways. … The company of gods revered at Abydos comprised seven gods, and the number is frequently associated with Osiris, the great god at that area. …
Multiples of seven are also extremely common. According to myth the body od Osiris was cut into fourteen pieces by Seth … The Book of the Dead provides spells to be repeated as the deceased passes through the gates of the house of Osiris of which there are usually twenty-one, though in one papyrus seven are shown, showing the relationship with the base number. …”[230]

The Osireion has all of the typical details of an Osiris tomb. Petrie found remains of a covering hill, plant holes with roots showed that the hill was the holy grove[31], and in the center of the underground part a large island with surrounding niches was found.
But ist it one of the “origina” tombs of Osiris, or is it just one (but very large) of the many false tombs?
The interpretation of the Osireion also changed during the 1930’s. Although almost 30 years were spent on several digging operations in the Osireien, no other name for the complex than “Useful is Men-Maat-Re [Sethos I.] for Osiris”[32]. Sethos I is a king from the 19th dynasty, which has built another temple just nearby, and both were surrounded by one single wall. This, so the Egyptologists, shows, that the Osireion was built in a way to make it LOOK older, to show the connection of Sethos to the oldest time of the gods. This trick was often used in the New Kingdom.
Analyses of the texts in temple and Osireion showed, that the temple is the mortuary temple of Sethos I, and that the Osireion is the false tomb (Kenotaph) for the transformed Osiris Sethos.[33]

Why didn’t the old grandmasters of Egyptology notice that? Well, because the evidence was hidden from their eyes until Frankfort cleared the whole building in the 1930’s
Large parts of the Osireion are without inscriptions, only the small walls show them, and the names of Sethos are even only found just above ground:

Inschrift
Fig. 9 – Cartouches in the Osireion. Foto: Gitta Warnemünde

Other inscriptions were found in the roms before tha large hall, which had also not been found by the early explorers:

Vorraum
Fig. 10 – Inscriptions in the antechamber. Photo: Gitta Warnemünde

The complete excavation of the building took 30 years, and the major discoveries were made only near the end of this periode.
Like many buildings the Osireion was “clamped together” with dove tail joints. Some of them were recovered from under the mighty ceiling beams – and they all carried the name of Sethos.They could not have been put there after the building was finished, and are the undisputable proof that Sethos built it.
Also the seemingly massive granite walls were only sand stone walls blended with a thin layer of granite. Behind it also the Sethos name was found.
But there are other, cultural reason for a younger age of the Osireion.

Duat = Underworld?

The world of the dead, the duat, is often translated as “underworld”. Osiris wsa lord of the underworld, therefore the underground Osiris tombs with their false doors into the ground make sense.
But Duat as underground is only one side of the medal, “netherworld” would be a correcter term. Because at the time of the pyramids the situation was a bit different. Hans Bonnet notices:[34]

“One of the places where the dead stay is the Dat or Duat (an older name form). Even the oldest surviving texts speak of her, and after some time she becomes the only real netherworld. The lokalisation of the Dat is not always the same; only from the New Kingdom on the localisation become unequivocal. From this time on the Dat ist clearly the underworld. …
The localisation of the Dat in the underworld is not completely unknown in earlier times, but normally the Dat was placed in the sky. The dead reaches the Dat after he climbed up a ladder into the sky (Pyr.390). Also often are the “dwellers of the Dat” mentioned, which are from their way of writing the stars (Pyr.953). …
Because the thoughts of the pyramid texts are firmly in the sky it is logical that this netherworld pictuere is a heavenly one. It is equally logic that after the decline of the heavenly netherworld the Dat became the underground “lower” Dat, to stay there. …”

Even clearer is this transition described in Erik Hornungs Nachtfahrt der Sonne:

“Thoughts about the night journey of the sun and about the netherworld existence of he dead are buried deep in Egypts prehistory. Even a bowl from the earlies Naquadan time around the middle of the 4th millenium BC shows a picture of the sun sailing on a barque through desert mountains. …
But preferred in the pyramids is from the beginning on the north-south orientation, in which the end of the inclined passage which leads to the grave chamber points to the region of the circumpolar stars. … In the utterances of this collection [the pyramid texts, FD] the journey of the deceased king to the night sky, to the imperishable stars of the north, is the leading idea. But even befor the pyramid texts this idea can be detected by the names of pyramids and of working groups. …
It is also clear, that the idea of the Ach, the name for the spirit of the deceased, and of the active, free moving Ba-soul have been conecteted originally with this royal existence in the northern skies, and moved only later to an existence in the western underworld. …
There the dead king meets the sun god …
Much more richer are the thoughts [about a subterran underworld, FD] in the coffin texts of the Middle Kingdom. Still the ascend to the sky plays a major role, … but the heavenly netherworld is no longer a priviledge of the king, it is open for everyone. Parallel to that we find the motive of a rebirth from Nun, the prime ocean, and the domain of the earth god. …
The change of the location of the netherworld from the sky to the underground is clearly visible in the layout change of the chambers pharao Sesostris made in his pyramid in Illahun around 1840 BCE. He added the winded ways of the underworld, which dominated from this moment on the royal funerary architecture and lead in the consequence to the abandoning of the pyramid form, which is as we know firmly connected with the heavenly afterlife of the king.”[35]

As I might add: This above mentioned pyramid of Sesostris II is mentioned as the earliest form of an Osiris tomb ever found![36]
So there is no trace of ancient Osiris tombs, these are not even compatible with the afterlife model at the time of the pyramids. Without exception all such structures are from the Middle Kingdom or later. Osiris tombs are therfore also no evidence for an ancient Osiris.
And the clear words by Hornung about the target of the souls of the deceased additionally weakens the basic idea of the OCT.

Conclusion

On this page I examined indirect evidence for an early Osiris. But neither the Osiris myth nor the other surrounding pieces are useable for this. None of those connections were around at the time of the pyramids. Osiris must have been an invisible god then…

Technical examinations:
The shafts

After our attempt to find a link between Giza and Osiris failed, we are forced to examine other possibilities. It might be possible that the Egyptians reconstructed Orion although it had noting to do with Osiris at that time. So if we can prove this, Bauvals Osiris-idea might be wrong, but the Orion theory still remains valid.
Therefore we will now examine Bauval’s “technical” evidence step by step. Unfortunately it is very theoretical and might be difficult to understand in some places. If something is difficult to understand, or if there are still questions, please contact me.

Shafts/Stars?

As an introduction, a few words about the general idea and methodology of dating something “with stars”. And about some of the problems which might occur.

To point at a star

Fig. 11 – Target of shafts

As mentioned in he introduction there are four tiny shafts in the Great Pyramid whose functions are unknown. Before Bauval several researchers had the idea that these shafts could have a symbolic connection with the stars. If they are intended as exits for the different souls (Ach/Ka/Ba) they could point in the general direction of the destination of the soul, which would probably be the highest point a star reaches in the south (the so-calledculmination point).
The northern shafts can, of course, point in two directions. The constellations high in the north never set, so they describe small circles around the celestial pole. So a shaft could aim at the highest or lowest point of the circle, the upper or lower culmiantion.
The pyramid builders must have designed such shafts to match their current view of the sky. And if we now know at which star each shaft should point, we can calculate when the star reached the same angle in the sky as the shaft. This would be the date of the design. And because there are four shafts we can use statistics to average out any building errors which probably occurred.

Evidence for star-targeting-idea may be a precise north/south-course of both southern shafts. But one theory can certainly be rejected: These shafts could never have been used to look at a star. They go horizontally for the first few metres, and then bend upwards. Additionally they have several horizontal bends so there was never a direct view of the sky.

Shaft and accuracy

The slope of the shafts was first accurately measured by Rudolf Gantenbrink; in 1993 he worked under contract to the “Deutsches Ärchäologisches Institut” (DAI) to clear, check and measure the shafts. He used several small robot vehicles and his most famous discovery is surely the stone object blocking the southern shaft from the Queen’s chamber. This blocking stone has been the centre of much heated debate and speculation. But this object is not discussed on these pages.
His robot UPUAUT II, in combination with another vehicle, permitted measurement of the inclinations to an accuracy of 1/20° or 3′. Gantenbrink gave these values personally to Robert Bauval and also published them in the official journal of the DAI, the “Mitteilungen des deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo” (MDAIK)t[1]. I mention his because it becomes important a little bit later…
Gantenbrink writes that the inclinations of the upper shafts could be measured by drawing a line between the beginning and end of the shaft, and that the shafts, although bending horizontally, were extremely precise. With a laser measuring device he didn’t find any differences in the width of the shafts of greater than 0.005 m.
Even more fantastic is the fact that the beginning and the end of a shaft are precisely on one line, even though the shafts bend inbetween![2]

The situation with the lower shafts is a bit different. The northern shaft shows settling which might have occurred due to an earthquake during the building phase, Gantenbrink therefore says that the current shaft inclination might vary from the planned angle by up to 2°. The southern shaft, on the other hand, has the same accuracy seen in the upper shafts. Gantenbrink measured the shaft at 24 points over 30 metres and could find no deviation greater than 12′ from the average.[3]
This gives a good overview of how carefully the Egyptian engineers and builders dealt with the shafts. The following table summarises the “official” inclinations for the shafts.
BTW: I will sometimes use the “official abbreviations” of the shaft names, as defined by Rainer Stadelmann, on the following pages.

Shaft
Abbr.
Inclination

King North
nSK
32°36’08”

King South
sSK
45°00’00”

Queen North
nSR
39°07’28”

Queen South
sSR
39°36’28”

Tab. 1 – Shaft inclinations MDAIK

Dating – how?

As previously stated Bauval is convinced that the shafts point at the culmination points of stars. He emphasizes several times in his book how necessary it is to “watch the meridianal passage” of a star. This was certainly necessary for the builders, but it is not required when calculating these points with a computer program. All you need is the declination of a star (its distance to the celestial equator) ) at the intended time. Then simply add a beta = (90° – latitude) and voila, you have the meridianal elevation without “watching the meridianal passage”. Fortunately the declination is a value all astronomical programs show first.
If the angle of the shaft (inclination) is identical to the elevation of the star you’ve got your date. With this method you can also calculate the required declination for such a match: Inclination – beta = required declination.
With circumpolar stars you have to use (180° – declination – beta) to get the elevation, and (180° – elevation – beta) to get the declination.
To calculate the positions of the stars I used the program Redshift 3 which also performs calculation of precession and star movement. I checked the values with another program, Sky Map Pro 7. The values of both programs differed only in the area of seconds, therefore I’m only using the data from Red Shift.

Strange aberrations…

When I compared Bauval’s data with the official MDAIK values I became irritated. Bauval produced three publications after Gantenbrink’s discovery. Two articles in the “open” journal Discussions in Egyptology(DE), No. 26 and 27, and his book The Orion Mystery (OM). And all thre publications had different values. And all were different from the values in MDAIK:

Shaftt
Inc. Bauval
Inc. MDAIK
Difference

King North
DE26: 32°28’16”
OM  : 32°38’00” / 32°28′ *
32°36’08”
DE26: 7’52”
OM  : -2’08” / – 8’08”

King South
45°00’00”
45°00’00”

Queen North
DE27: 40°00’00”
OM  :39°00’00” **
39°07’28”
DE27: +52’32”
OM  : -07’28”

Queen South
39°30’00”
39°36’28”
-06’28”

Tab. 2 – Data Bauval/MDAIK

* :
*: In the German paperback edition Bauval uses two values: One in the table on p. 200 with the “more correct” value of 32°38′, later, eg. in Figure 20 on p. 240 he uses a grossly wrong value of 32°28′ (N.B.The Crown paperback uses 32°28′ consistently)

**:
On p. 201 Bauval notes that there are no measurements available at the moment, so he has to use an estimated value of 39°. Later he uses this value as if it was a measured angle.

These differences are peculiar, particularly as Bauval identifies Gantenbrink as the source. The origin of these incorrect values is unclear. Oh, and by the way, a difference of 10′ produces a shift of constructional date of about 50 years, therefore they’re not negligible.

Confusion

The “normal” way to date such a shaft would be to calculate the year in which a match between shaft inclination and star elevation took place. If the values of the different shafts are close together and the differences could be explained with building tolerances we have our date.
Bauval does nothing like this. Instead, he produces “Epochs” which he never completely explains. And he doesn’t calculate exact matches, but talks of “good confirmation of the epoch 2475 BC”. But what is the definition of a “good confirmation”? Either there is a match, or there isn’t.

These “Epochs” are a further source of confusion – they don’t match! After I compared the values in two English versions of Bauval’s book with the German edition by Knaur and the values in DE , I got these epochs:

Shaft
Epoch Knaur
Ep. English
DE

King North
2450
2425
2425

King South
2445
2475
2475

Queen South
2450
2400
2450

Tab. 3 – differing “Epochs”

The German version of the book seems to be wrong, therefore I will only use the English values for the shafts sSK and nSK . The shaft sSR is another matter, because here we have a match between the German epoch and DE 27. In reading this article I found out that Bauval used a grossly wrong inclination so I think he used a reworked epoch for his book. Therefore I will also use the English book values.

The Stars

Let`s now get to the positions of the stars and the inclination of the shafts. As a reminder I will repeat Bauval’s statements concerning the shafts:

1
“In 1964 Egyptologist A. Badaway and astronomer V. Trimble discovered that the small “air shaft” in the northern wall of the King’s Chamber seems to point at the circumpolar stars. Bauval modified the idea to the effect that this shaft once aimed directly at the pole star of the pyramid age, Thuban (Alpha Draconis): “This means that the shaft points very nearly toward the north celestial pole, about which the circumpolar stars seem to revolve. It is also of interest to note that, at the time the pyramid was built, the pole was marked by a bright star about as accurately as Polaris (alpha Ursae Minoris) now marks it.”[4]

2
Badaway and Trimble came similarly to the idea that the southern shaft of the King’s Chamber aimed in the direction of Orion. Although they used old, and incorrect, values (measured by Petrie in the 1880’s and with an angular error of 30 minutes) they found an indisputable correlation between the highest southern elevation of Orion’s belt and the inclination of the shaft around the assumed date of pyramid building. Bauval used the latest values and could calculate from them that the correlation was greatest around the year 2450 BCE. At that time the shaft aims directly at the westernmost star of Orion’s belt, Bauval therefore claimed that this shaft directly aims at the star Al-Nitak or Zeta Orionis.[5]

3
After Rudolf Gantenbrink had demonstrated with his robot, “Upuaut II”, that the shafts from the Queen’s Chamber had not been abandoned after a few metres, Bauval also associated them with star-symbolic representations. The southern shaft should aim directly at the highest elevation of Sirius in the year 2450 BCE! OK, this isn’t new, the oldest publication I could find was from 1919 by the German engineer Albert Neuburger. But due to the imprecise measurements available at that time he couldn’t verify it..[6]

4
The northern shaft, on the other hand, points at Ursa Minor or, to be more precise, at its second brightest star Beta Ursa Minor: “”…to the head of Ursa Minor, the celestial adze of Horus, also called the ‘adze of Upuaut’.”[7]

Let’s now compare these ideas with the astronomical reality. I will come to Bauval’s “epoch-method” later. In the following table I calculated the most important astronomical values for the four stars for the year 2450 BCE, declination, elevation and positional error, and the correct year of the match. After that we can ask the questions

  • How close are the dates together?
  • Are all values within a common error range?
  • Are there “direct hits”?

Star
Decl.
Elev.
Shaft
Error
Nec. Decl.
Corr. Year

Thuban
88°01′
31°57′
32°36′
-39′
87°20′
-2326

Al Nitak
-14°49′
44°49′
45°
-11′
-15°02′
-2496

Sirius
-20°42′
39°20′
39°36′
-16′
-20°26′
-2348

Kochab
80°38′
39°20′
39°07′
+13′
80°51′
-2385

Tab. 4 – Star- and Shaft dates compared

Interesting: At a first glance we can see that not a single star is anywhere near Bauval’s suggested time of 2450 BCE. Three stars are in the region around 2300 BCE, one is near to 2500 BCE. The average is 2389 BCE, 61 years later than Bauval’s dream time.
Even worse: With the exception of one star (al-Nitak) all the shafts cluster around a date of 2350 BCE, with a standard error of 20.33 years. Normally this star would be regarded as exceptional and a date of 2350 BCE accepted – 100 years away from Bauval’s dream time.

Another problem as an aside: The shafts span an era of more than 160 years. This is longer than some dynasties! And it is more than double the time between Djoser’s pyramid and Khufu’s! You cannot date anything with such an interval; it is close to scientific quackery.

Bauvals Methodology

But how DOES Bauval get his values? Easy, he doesn’t average dates but epochs. An epoch for Bauval seems to have 25 years, and if you take the average of the three epochs Bauval uses (2425, 2400 and 2475 BCE) you get 2433 BCE which can be classified as “epoch of 2450 BCE”.
And what are these epochs??? Well, nothing more than a trick to eliminate unwanted deviations. These epochs work like the British voting system: All that counts is “in or out” (of course, all values are “in” according to Bauval). If a value is “in epoch 2400 BCE” he deals with it as if it IS 2400 BCE Strange method, he doesn’t deal with the real errors here, he smoothes out the differences. Unfortunately this is nothing you would expect in a scientific work. I will show later how this should be done correctly.
According to Bauval the reason for the epochs are building mistakes. Because of these errors we can never get the intended year for the match, all we can get is the epoch during which such a match took place.
The way Bauval explains his epochs leads to the suggestion that they are “centred”, which means that the epoch “2450 BCE” goes from 2437.5 to 2462.5.

Let us now take a look at Bauval’s epochs. As we can see not a single star lies within its designated epoch, to see this look at the following table. In it I’ve calculated the matching year and the difference from the middle and rim of the epoch:

Shaft
Epoch
corr. Year
Dev. to center
Dev. to border

King North
2425
2326
99 a
86,5 a

King South
2475
2496
21 a
8,5 a

Queen South
2400
2348
52 a
39,5 a

Tab. 5 – Bauvals “Epochs” and Star dates

Oops! No value is near its designated epoch. All are wrong, there is no hope. Or is there? At the beginning I was wondering about the different values Bauval used for the inclinations. Could there be a reason behind these changes??? Let’s recalculate the above table with Bauval’s inclinations…

Star
Shaft
Inc. Bauval
Nec. Decl.
Year
Difference

Thuban
King North
32°28′
87°31′
2360
-34 a

Al Nitak
King South
45°00′
45°
2496
0

Sirius
Queen South
39°30′
-20°31′
2375
-27 a

Kochab
Queen North
39°00′
80°59′
2344
+41 a

Tab. 6 – Star- und Shaftdates Bauval compared

Well you could knock me over with a feather, Bauval’s “correction” places two critical values 34 and 27 years nearer to their desired dates. Only one value worsened: the Kochab match got slightly younger – but Bauval doesn’t use this star for his epoch dating!
If we now take the average of the 3 stars used by Bauval we get the year 2410 BCE, much nearer to his desired date…

An aside: My colleague in the battle against the fringe, Rainer Lorenz, once interviewed Rudolf Gantenbrink for a newspaper article. In this interview Gantenbrink did not speak well of Bauval, because he had given him this values explicitly as Bauval had requested of him several times on the phone. Consequently, he had been very angry when Bauval had used these grossly wrong values and had asked himself, and Rainer, why he had done this? Well, now we know 🙂

But even this operation does’t do much for Bauval’s epochs. if we assign these star dates to epochs we get:

Shaft
corr. Epoch korrekt
with Bauv. values

King North
2325
2350

King South
2500
2500

Queen South
2450
2350

Epochen

Tab. 7 – correct Epochs

…this gives us an average epoch of 2400 BCE :-)The diagram on the side shows, how the correct dates (lower markers) are moved to the desired epochs due to the strange shifting of the original values…

How to do it right?

Bauval used epochs because of building errors which could have occurred. There is nothing wrong with this, just the contrary. Tolerances are always used when evaluating such results. But not the way Bauval did it!
The correct method looks like this:

  1. Take the inclination
  2. Add/subtract the error interval (+/- 15′)
  3. Calculate the necessary declinations for these three values
  4. Calculate the matching years for these values
  5. Do this for all the shafts
  6. Get an average value with +/- errors from them

In the following table I will do this for all four shafts and use Bauval’s gigantic tolerance of +/- 15′:

Star
Shaft
Elev
Decl.
Year
max. Decl.
min. Decl.
max. year
min. year

Thuban
King North
31°57′
87°20′
-2326
87°35′
87°05
-2370
-2283

Al Nitak
King South
44°49′
-15°02′
-2496
-15°17′
-14°47′
-2547
-2445

Sirius
Queen South
39°20′
-20°26′
-2348
-20°41′
-20°11′
-2430
-2265

Kochab
Queen North
39°00′
80°59′
-2344
81°14′
80°44°
-2415
-2265

Tab. 8 – Error Intervalls

The +/- error intervals according to Bauvals absurd building tolerance are:

Star
Shaft
Year
+

Thuban
King North
-2326
44 a
43 a

Al Nitak
King South
-2496
51 a
51 a

Sirius
Queen South
-2348
82 a
83 a

Kochab
Queen North
-2344
71 a
79 a

Error diagram

Tab. 9 – +/- Error intervalls

The tolerances span an era of 300 years, the individual tolerances are between 90 and 170 years as you see on the graph: The values just look silly. No sensible person could get an average out of such statistical cluttering. it’s nothing more than white noise. Clearly the shafts were never designed to point at specific stars. By the way: The horizontal red line in the diagram is the year Bauval gets from these values.
If we reduce the error intervals as Gantenbrink’s measurements suggest the picture gets worse, as the overlapping of the tolerances would also be reduced.

Conclusion

The overall impression of the shafts is extremely negative. All the shafts point, more or less, at their dedicated stars – but nowhere near 2450 BCE! And never at the same time! Not a single star reaches the necessary position during Bauval’s pyramid building age. Even when you calculate an average from the four dates you get 2400 BCE, 50 years away from Bauval’s date

The shafts are definitely unusable for dating the pyramid building epoch as they span an era longer than many dynasties. Even if the new calculations by Kate Spence should point to a later pyramid building era, Bauval can claim no credit. If you use his method with the correct values you will never get anywhere near 2450 BCE. Perhaps this is the reason why all these ideas of calculating construction dates from shaft elevations were dismissed during the last 30, 40 years?

The whole story of dating with shafts doesn’t work. Only one shaft, King’s South is anywhere near a date which could have been in the pyramid era. And this one dates to 2496 BCE and is smack in the middle between the “conservative” date of 2550 and Bauvals dream date. With an error interval of about +/- 50 years. When you take into consideration that when the pyramid was started in 2×50 they would have reached the height of the King’s Chamber around 2×65-2×70 BCE, so 2550 would fit the error interval better than 2450.

The View

A major element of Bauvals evidence is the optical similarity between the Giza pyramids and the stars of Orion’s belt. This begins with the comparative height of the pyramids:

“The relationship between the pyramid heights is exactly the same as the relationship of the brightness of the belt stars of Orion: “Not only did the layout of the pyramids match the stars with uncanny precision but the intensity of the stars, shown by their apparent size, corresponded with the Giza group…”.[ 1 ]

According to Bauval the ratio of the sizes of the pyramids is the same as the ratio between the brightness’ of the corresponding stars. Unfortunately, Bauval doesn’t say what he exactly means by “size”: volume, surface area or height? Height would be the most natural choice, but let’s start with the alternatives.

The optical impression of Orion’s belt is that of three approximately equally bright stars, one seems to be a little dimmer for the untrained eye.
If we use the volume of the pyramids as “size”, the third star had to have only 10% of the brightness of the other stars, because Menkaures pyramid has only 10% of the volume of Khufu’s, which clearly isn’t what’s seen in the sky. The same goes for the surface area – since the 3rd pyramid has only 20% of the surface of Khufu’s, the 3rd star would have only 20% of the brightness. Even if we compare the covered area, the base squares, the difference would be too large since Menkaures pyramid has about 1/2 the base square size of Khufus. So “size = height” is not only the most natural, but also the only logical way to compare stars and pyramids.

Another problem: I was not able to find any exact data about the magnitude of the stars in Bauval’s book, he only repeats that the brightness ratios match the size ratios. If so, we would be dealing with two stars of nearly similar magnitude and one with about 50% of the magnitude of the others.
But this contradicts atronomical tables such as the Yale catalogue of bright stars (3rd Edition) or the data from my astronomy program Redshift:

Star
Pyramid
mag Yale
mag Redshift

Zeta ORI
Khufu
2.05
2.00

Epsilon ORI
Kaphre
1.70
1.70

Delta ORI
Menkaure
2.2 – 2.7 (var)
2.50

Tab. 10 – Pyramid heights and Star magnitudes

Mintaka, the star of Menkaure, is varaiable with a magnitude between 2.2 and 2.7.

The magnitude (mag) of a star can reach values between 5 and -1. A magnitude of 5 is the faintest star visible to the naked eye, whereas Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, reaches -1 mag. The magnitude scale is not a modern invention, it dates back to the Babylonian astronomers who invented it to classify stars with the naked eye. A difference in brightness of one mag represents a doubling of the subjective brightness between these stars.Since our eye does not work linear, there is a difference between the visible brightness and the measurable liht intensity, you have to use a logarithmic function to compare them.
Good amateur astronomers can estimate the brightness of a star to 0.2 mag, but differences in magnitudes between neighbouring stars can be estimated to 0.05 mag. If the Egyptians had a desire to build pyramids according to the brightness of stars, they could have achieved it to within an error of 5-10% without problems

But as you can see in the table above, al-Nitak is between 30 and 35% less bright than al-Nilam. Therefore we would expect Khufu’s pyramid to be at least 25-30% lower than Khafre’s. And Menkaure’s pyramid should be about 50% lower than Khufu’s. We would expect one large pyramid in the middle, accompanied by two smaller ones. Let’s calculate the pyramid heights according to the brightness of their stars. I will set Khafre’s pyramid with its 143 m as 100%:

Pyramid
Should-be height
true height
Error

Khufu
93 – 100 m
146,6 m
46 – 57%

Menkaure
46 – 50 m
66,5 m
33 – 45%

Tab. 11 – Error in brightness/height correlation

The errors are clearly too big for a planned correlation; nearly 60% error in the height of Khufu’s pyramid, and 50% in that of Menkaure – never ! The nice idea of height/brightness-correlation, therefore, is WRONG!

Note: I subsequently found some other astronomical tables with differing magnitudes, giving between 1.6 and 1.7for al-Nilam, and between 1.8 and 2.0 for al-Nitak. But in all these tables the differences between the two stars remain…

The Bend

Bauval claims, that the 3rd pyramid, Menkaures, has been built with a clearly visible deviation in respect to the other pyramids. This should be a sign that the pyramids in fact represent the slightly bent belt of Orion:

“All agree that the size and offset of the Menkaura pyramid had been a deliberate choice by the architect. The question was why ?”[ 2 ]

Coins at a ruler
Belt stars of orrion

Fig. 12 – Offsets

Bauval claims that Menkaure’s pyramid deviates from the diagonal of the other two pyramids. But let me first ask: What does “deviates” mean? Let’s place three coins along a ruler, like in this picture with two 10-Pfennig pieces and one 1-Pfennig coin. Does the smaller coin deviate from the other? The centre does, and so does the upper line, but not the lower line. A real deviation would occur if all 3 major points of this coin were off-axis: upper, centre, lower. Like, for example, the third star in Orion’s belt.

Pyramid lines

Fig. 13 – Giza lines

We looked at the so-called Giza diagonal earlier. The south-east corners of the three big pyramids are, together with the center of the first satellite pyramids of Menkaure and Khufu and the center of a mysterious building called “Mauerblock” with only a few meters deviation on a line which points into the heart of the old capital Iunu. So we have a situation like with the coins and the ruler – Menkaure’s pyramid has no real deviation.
There is another diagonal there. If you connect the centers of the two large pyramids you get a line which, if drawn longer, touches the nortwest corner of Menkaures pyramid.
Strange, I remembered another picture from a TV production, where you actually could see a real deviation, and in his book Bauval also argues about real deviations for a couple of pages. Well, there is a very tiny picture, not much larger than a stamp. Its “Figure 12” in the German edition and much too small to make real measurements, but when you abbly a ruler to the SE-corners of the two large pyramid you can see a real deviation of the third pyramid even there. But there is hope. In 1989 Bauval wrote an article forDiscussions in Egyptology, No. 13, and there is a large sketch (his fig. 2).

Sketch Bauval
Difference

Fig. 14 – Giza lines after Bauval

Fig. 15 – Difference Diagonals

Yes, the situation is different. The southeast-diagonal pierces through Menkaures pyramid and leaves the south side even west of the center. That’s definitively wrong. And the second diagonal comes not even near the pyramid base.
The reason for this can be found if we compare the plans: Bauval ises a different angle for the line connecting the centers of the large pyramids, settin Kaphres pyramid slightly to the west. This way he created with a few meters “correction” on the second pyramid a large dewiation on the third one. In Fig. 15 I transfered the angle Bauval had used to the other plan – and it creates exacly the deviations we have seen. This pyramid shifting is even less explainable than the value bending of Gantenbrink’s measurements.

By the way: Only because all three pyramids are aligned so well we get this impressive “nine pyramid view” from where Khufu’s and Menkaure’s pyramid almost look af if they have the same height….

9 Pyramid view
Fig. 16 – 9-Pyramid view

This piece of evidence ist WRONG AGAIN!

Match of stars and pyramids

Orion alt
Pyramiden von oben

Fig. 17 – old pyramid match

Bauval uses these two pictures to show that there is a match between the belt stars of Orion and Giza. But why does he use such a crappy photo of Orion to show this? I found this picture in a book about the history of astronomy, as the first picture ever taken of Orion.

When we compare a modern picture with the pyramids we can see why Bauval used the old one. The stars are smeared up to big blobs of about pyramid size, the diameter of the objects are a similar size to the pyramids at Giza. And you cannot really compare the centres of the pyramids and stars. Let’s look at it when we compare it with a modern photo of Orion.

Orion neuPyramids from above Orion new plus pyramids
Fig. 18 – new pyramid match

The impression is totally different. Now we have three sharp, small, distinctive discs, much farther away from each other than their virtual diameter. Just like the view in the sky. Three squat pyramids sitting side by side do not give the same overall impression The proto-obelisks from the solar temples like Abu Gurob would have been more fitting.
We can see another irritating point: Around the belt stars there are several bright clusters, and on the Giza plateau we have lots of satellite pyramids and mastabas. But we do not have a single match. I would have expected something, because some of these buildings are for the sons, daughters and wives of the great pharaohs. Why is there no match with the lesser Orion stars? There was enough room…

Pyramidenlinie
Fig. 19 – View from SE on the pyramid diagonal

This is the view from the valley temple of the pyramids in the east. Do you see that the summit of the third pyramid is not aligned with the other two?

Abweichung Mykerinosversetzte Sterne
Fig. 20 – trie deviation

To see it you have to wander into the desert for about 2 kilometres, to the west of the hill with the “9 pyramid view”. To give as massive deviation as the stars, Menkaure’s pyramid would have had to have been built at least 100 m further east.

This idea, too, is WRONG!

The View Pt. II

Bauval claims that there are more correlations than the failed brightness/height-one from the last side. In fact the picture of the pyramids on the ground should not be similar to the sky, but it should be a direct representation, a mirror image of the sky above.[1]]

Pyramiden und Sterne

Fig. 21 – Pyramids and stars

Shortly after the release of his book a war started on several discussion boards. The question being debated: What is a “picture of the sky”? In my opinion (which is shared by several Bauval-sceptics) we have to differentiate between a picture and a map of the sky. The sky is above our heads. If I take a piece of paper and mark the position of the constellations above and put this picture before me, I have a map of the sky. I would get a picture of the sky if I drew the stars in positions where they would be projected down from the sky. Such an image would be a mirror image, like the picture of the stars seen in a lake or a large river.
In his publications and debates Bauval regularly emphasizes that he means a picture and not a map, so we know what we are looking for.

It is simple to test this thesis, we do not need any complicated calculations. Just travel to Giza in winter (as I did in December 1997), go to Giza when the sun sets and wait for the stars to come out, A bright moon illuminated the pyramids, running ghost-like from northeast to southwest, and Orion’s belt, running above – from southeast to northwest… Stop, something must be wrong here!

mirror image wrong

Fig. 22 – Pyramids and Stars wrong

Bauval made a big mistake in his theory – the whole pyramid arrangement is not a picture but a map of the sky. It’s flipped around 180°, therefore Orion’s belt runs across the line of the pyramids! You have to turn around either the sky or the pyramids to get Bauval’s proposed picture!

In Bauval’s eyes this is nitpicking. North, south, as if it matters. So you have to turn around, what’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is, that you cannot see Orion if you “turn around”. But why does Bauval’s idea look so good in his book? Well, that’s a matter of perspective 🙂
Most ancient cultures initially had a similar view of the earth: A flat, round thing, surrounded by water and covered by a gigantic hemisphere. The stars seemed to be attached to this sphere which seemed to rotate around the Earth. In the earliest times they tried to capture the happenings in the sky by painting pictures of what they thought happened there and constellations onto the ceilings of tombs or on other domed rooms – the earliest forms of planetariums which have the same domed ceilings today.

Because of this virtual dome the stars are not flat projections, like on a billboard, they seem to bend “inwards”. Let’s take a look at the night sky in winter, from a place where you can see the southern horizon. A fantastic view, thousands of twinkling stars. The southernmost stars seem to be far ahead, not just “deep down”, whereas the higher stars seem to be nearer and not just higher. The higher a star the more you have to twist your neck and several stars are right “above” you. And lots of stars are behind you. This is a view which cannot be captured by sketches in a book, but this is exactly the reason for Bauval’s mistake. A band of stars arching from the north to the south would be an unimpressive vertical line on the map – but in reality it would be a glorious bow reaching over the head of the viewer.
Now the next step. Take a sheet of paper and a pen. Draw three dots in a diagonal running from top left to bottom right. Hold up the “map” and compare it with Orion’s belt. Looks good, doesn’t it? Now hold the paper flat in front of you and compare the dots with Orion NOW. Try to imagine the dots as buildings. Doesn’t look quite so good, does it? Strange, something is missing. Now flip the paper around (turn the front to the back) and mark on this side the exact positions of the dots on the other side. Compare the picture now with Orion: this looks right, you will agree. Hold the paper up to the sky: Funny, now the stars run across the line of Orion. That is the whole secret.

Of course you can also do this experiment without a real Orion. Place three similar items, like teacups, on a sheet of paper. Put them into a diagonal running from top-left to bottom-right. Place another piece of paper over the items and mark their positions with a circle. Then place the paper behind your “teacup-Giza”. You see three pharaonic teacups on the desk, and three stellar circles running in a diagonal similar to that of the teacups. Now get the paper and hold it over your head. Now compare the cups and your Orion – Duh! Not a match any more. Hold it deeper over the cups with an angle of 45° – as misaligned as possible. Only if you hold the paper almost vertical and low behind the cups you get the similarity Bauval talks of.

Bauval’s main problem is his fixation with a “picture of the sky” A symbolic map – fine with me. But he needs the picture to get his date. You can’t get a precise date out of a symbolic map, so all has to be a correct picture of the sky. I asked him twice and his response was: “It’s a picture, not a map”.
But this “picture” analogy is so visibly wrong that a friend of mine who helped me in Egypt in1997 mumbled “I hope they had a guarantee on this and got their money back…” 🙂

In 1999 the BBC aired a two part documentary (“a scandal” in the eyes of Bauval and Hancock) which covered this problem, too (transcripts here). In it astronomer Dr. Ed Krupp accused Bauval of not making it clear in his book that the associated pictures of Giza and of Orion’s belt do not have the same orientation: Orion was turned upside down in the book. Bauval got really angry and told in an “open letter” you can find on Graham Hancock’s site, that he had never had suppressed this information, it’s somewhere in his book (eg. on plate 2 which shows a map) and if the reader doesn’t get the connection, it’s not Bauval’s problem. His friend and co-author of several later books, Graham Hancock, gave a further answer, which was cut-out by the BBC was:

“Ed Krupp’s argument that the pyramids are somehow upside down in relation to the patterns of the stars in the sky, to my mind, is a very pedantic and nit-picking and ungenerous attitude. I think that what we’re proposing — that the Ancient Egyptians were making a pleasing, symbolic resemblance to what they saw in the sky on the ground — is a very reasonable argument.”

Pedantic? Symbolic resemblance? Well, what has happened to the “precise map” here???

Pedantry and nitpicking – Bauval’s fans picked up these words with astonishing speed. Criticism on such minor points like how a picture has to look are nothing more than nitpicking. Well, all these Anti-nits should travel to Giza in winter to see with their own eyes just how nitpicking this is…
Again, this idea of Bauval clearly is Wrong!

The “wider picture”

Besides the “core-OCT” there is, as I mentioned in the introduction, something called “the wider picture” which includes the pyramids in Abu Roash, el-Aryan, Abusir and Dahsur. In point (5) of the thesis-page it says:

“Carefully aligning the Giza group pyramids with the stars of Orion’s Belt, I saw that the pyramid of Nebka at Abu Ruwash corresponded with the star Saiph or Orion’s ‘left foot’ and that at Zawyat al-Aryan represented Bellatrix in his ”right shoulder'”.

Pyramidenorte
alt

Fig. 23 – Pyramid locations and stars

Hmm, Nebka und Abu Roasch? That’s plain wrong becaus Abu Rowasch was the building location of Djedefre, Khufu’s elder son. Funny: I found this mistake in several books. Again a sign of uncritical copying 🙂
Apart from this annoying error the idea looks good, especially when accompanied by drawings like the one on the left. Bauval shows with similar sketches how well the stars and pyramids match (I marked the stars matched by pyramids yellow, stars without known pyramids in red).

This point is a central argument for Bauval’s thesis, so I expected some hard facts to support these sketches. Tables with distances and angles for example, like he does with his other evidence. Or at least some scaled maps. But nothing like this can be found in his book. No proof, just the simple proposition “the match is (somewhere out) there”. Egyptologists wondered about this shortly after the publication of Bauval’s book and asked for supporting values, but nothing has come yet. So I found some maps and measured myself.

To judge how well the Egyptians could have built a stellar constellation on the ground we first have to see how precisely they could draw a map. The Egyptians weren’t master astronomers and they had no hi-tech measuring gear. But that is not necessary. To reproduce a constellation on a piece of paper you only need your fingers!!! That is because you don’t need to make a precise map of the whole sky. You only need some stars around a given fixed point, for example the lower left belt star of Orion.
Your thumb at the end of your outstretched arm covers about 2° of the sky, or 4 full moon diameters. Your small finger covers 1°, a palm width (4 fingers) 8°, a hand 20°. If you start measuring Orion from al-Nitak, the upper left star is one palm and a small finger higher and one thumb and a small finger more to the left. The lower star is one palm lower and a small finger width further to the left. Both stars have a distance of two palms and a small finger from each other. In this way you can measure the whole constellation in just a few minutes. To build a pyramid you would have used better measuring gear, a cubit rod with moveable sliders for example, or an accurate comb. With such simple devices it is possible to measure out constellations to at least 1/3rd full moon diameter or 10′ (minutes of angle) accuracy within a few minutes.

Let’s now bring the sky down to Earth. After turning the plan dutifully around (to get an image and not a map) the Architect has to make the layout on the ground. It’s best to start with the most significant and densest cluster in Giza. The architect would have started with a scale on the lines of “one finger in the sky shall be X Chet on the ground” (1 Chet = 100 cubits). And he would have used the same scale for all other distances and buildings.
Giza is the central point because you can see all the included pyramids from there. If, of course, you have good weather and not too much pollution. To position the other pyramids in the landscape they would send out measuring teams with long measuring bands or rods in the designated directions. The land is mostly flat, especially between Sakkara and Dahshur, so the teams would have met with few problems. Only Abu Roasch could have been a problem with measuring the distance because of the high, nearly vertical cliff you have to climb. Errors in distance would be expected biggest there.
How big would the overall error have been? 1 cubit per Chet? Hardly, maybe a palm per chet. The distances for such an important project would have been carefully measured several times. Hills could have a larger influence as the difference between a “straight line” and the “up hill and down dale” distances had to be corrected for. So I would assume an error of less than 10% of the distance, maybe even less than 5%. The angles would also have to be corrected. So after the distance was fixed by the first group they would build markers; a large smoking fire at each point. The architect could measure them from Giza and send messengers to say “2 chet westwards”, etc. With such methods you could easily achieve an accuracy of one degree or less (that’s the width of a small finger on the horizon). So even with simple techniques quite a good accuracy would have been possible.

Let us now compare the positions of the pyramids to these ideas. I used the following steps: First I calculated the differences of the stars Right ascension (x) and Declination (y) and calculated the effects of the star motion. Because Bauval believes in a planing era of 10500 BCE I calculated the positions for 10500 BCE and 2600 BCE. The measurements were again taken from Yale Catalogue of bright stars. Calculated to minutes, the distances are:

Star
x(-2600)
y(-2600)
x(-10500)
y(-10500)

Alpha ORI
-218
+562
-221
+564

Beta ORI
+394
-382
+394
-382

Gamma ORI
+235
+497
+237
+496

Delta ORI
+132
+ 97
+132
+ 98

Epsilon ORI
+ 69
+ 45
+ 69
+ 46

Kappa ORI
-105
-383
-105
+461

Alpha TAU
+968
+1108
+959
+1069

Epsilon TAU
+1089
+1247
+1089
+1248

Tab. 12 – Star positions

As you can see, the motion of the stars is negligible.

For the second step I identified the pyramid positions from several maps (my main map was the pilot map TCP H-5A) and calculated the distances (Dx, Dy). I had to rotate these 14.29° around Khufu’s pyramid to get the best angular correlation between the belt stars and Giza (Dx’, Dy’). These values can be found in this table:

Pyramid
Dx’
Dy’

Kaphre
395 m
258 m

Mykerinos
756 m
560 m

Djedefre
6036 m
-6284 m

Nebka
360 m
4655 m

Red Pyramid
-1413 m
20380 m

Bent Pyramid
-1260 m
21785 m

Tab. 13 – Relative Pyramid positions

The last step is to get the proper scale for minutes -> metre. Because Orion’s belt is the centre for all assumptions I decided to take a scale which fits the Giza pyramids and the belt stars in the best possible way. The distance between the centres of the pyramids of Khufu and Menkaure is 942 metres, the distance between the corresponding stars was between 2.73° and 2.74° in the years 2600 BCE and 10500 BCE. This means that 1° in the sky is a distance between 343.8 m and 345 m on the ground. Because of the negligible star movements (even Aldebaran moved only a few dozen metres) I dropped the 10500BCE-value in the following table. Here are the results:

Orion real

Star for
x(-2600)
y(-2600)
Error X
Error Y

Kaphre
+396 m
+256 m
+1 m
+2 m

Menkaure
+759 m
+557 m
+3 m
-3 m

Djedefre
+2266 m
-2197 m
-3770 m
-4087 m

Nebka
-1254 m
+3231 m
-1614 m
-1423 m

Red Pyramid
+5566 m
+6371 m
+6979 m
-14255 m

Bent Pyramid
+6262 m
+7170 m
+7522 m
-14634 m

Tab. 14 – Position errors

The circles on the map are where the pyramid had to be considered as a hit. Unfortunately the really bad angular errors don’t show very well, but you can calculate them from the data. As you can see the Giza pyramids are inside their tolerances. But all the other pyramids are not even near their proposed positions. Djedefre’s pyramid is 4100 metres too far away – three times the distance it should be. You remember that I expected problems there because the pyramid is located on a high cliff. But with the factor between sky and ground built into the Giza plateau, the pyramid would have to be nowhere near Abu Rowasch.
To make things worse, its angular error is about 5°, 10 full moon diameter or nearly 3 fingers on the horizon. Nebka’s is 2000 metres too far away. But its angular error is 30 (THIRTY)°. The biggest errors can be found at Dahshur. The angular error between Aldebaran and the red pyramid is more than 40° or 2 spread hands on the horizon. The difference from its target is more than 12 kilometres. There is no match, not even a slight similarity. I tried other values for angle and distance, even an average value as suggested in 1995 by some of Bauval’s supporters. The only result was that the match at Giza was lost. No, this doesn’t work. Ah, by the way: to get a picture you have of course to turn the whole picture around. Bauval also associates pyramids far down in the south with stars high up in the north…
By the way: with this data we have eliminated another points from our initial list of mysteries:
(6) “With ‘Bellatrix’ located south-east of Giza it was not difficult to see how the three or four little stars forming Orion’s ‘head’ could fit the three or four (…) little pyramids at Abusir, a kilometre or so south-east of Zawyat Al Aryan.”
Since el-Aryan is already kilometres off its target, those “3 or 4 ” which are in fact “5 or 7” small pyramids are even farther off.

No problem, Bauval declared the once precise map to be only symbolic, too:

“Chadwick’s approach to this problem, however, typifies the complication and distortion that arises when religious art and architecture is explained by scientific (i.e. astronomy) methods. The scientist totally ignores and misunderstands the magical properties of such art; and foolishly thinks of it as some scientific problem which he or she can rationalise.”

Ommmmm – no doubt, this idea is wrong again!

The constellation

I will come back to the “wider picture” now. Although I demonstrated, that the positions of the pyramids forming it are wrong, I will show now that even Bauval’s definition of his wider picture is wrong. Even IF the pyramids had been at the correct positions, his thesis would not explain it.
Basis for his concept is a multi generation building project which includes all pyramids from the beginning of dyn. IV to the middle of dyn. V. Bauval writes:

“This gave me the complete stellar pattern of the sky-Duat ..and took into account all Fourth Dynasty pyramids and the cluster of small Fifth Dynasty pyramids at Abusir.”[ 1 ]

Chentkaus

Fig. 25 – Chentkaus

All Pyramids? Well, nearly all. But a small group of 4th dynasty buildings object to being included in Bauval’s master plan. Giza alone houses 11-12 pyramids. The three large ones, 6 satellite pyramids at Menkaure and Khufu (some of them are nearly as large as one of the Abusir pyramids he sees represented as stars), and two cult pyramids (Khufu and Kaphre). None of the smaller yramids has its star!
And what about the pyramid of Khentkawes? This is some 100 m to the east of Khafre’s pyramid and was once a 3 step building. The lower course was hewn completely out of the rock and it was topped by several layers. It was long thought to be an unfinished pyramid and some Egyptologists like Miroslav Verner call it the “4th pyramid of Giza”. [ 2 ] Verner is sure: “Only because of static loading problems in the lower chamber the Egyptians stopped to build it as a true 2 or 3 step pyramid.”[ 3 ]. Khentkawes ruled the land for several years as a female pharaoh and had the title “King of Upper and Lower Egypt and Mother of a King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and therefore had every right to a star.What about the pyramid at Meidum? This very first pyramid of the 4th dynasty is ignored almost completely. In half a sentence on p. 29 he tells his readers that it was begun in Dynasty 3 and therefore doesn’t need to be considered. Unfortunately, no living Egyptologist shares this view. They are sure: The pyramid was begun and finished by Snefru, the first Pharaoh of Dynasty 4. Who built several smaller pyramids through Egypt – which also have no place inBavals picture.

Schepseskaf

Fig. 24 – Schepseskaf

Or Shepseskaf, whose gigantic mastaba is covered in my travel section. This building has no need to hide behind other buildings of Dynasty. 4, it’s not a small mudbrick mastaba like the ones at Saqqara, and has nothing to do with the small mastabas at Giza. And ew KNOW that it was planned as a pyramid, since the royal annals have an entry in year one of Shepseskafs regency:

“4th month 11th day: Arrival of the king of upper Egypt, arrival of the king of Lower Egypt. Unification of the two countries. Procession around the wall, Heb-Sed. Birth of the two Wp-w3wt. The king praises the gods, which unified the two countries. Selection of the building place of the kings pyramid “Kbh-Spssk3f. [///] north and south, 20 [///] all days.”

Definitively: it’s a planned pyramid, and its from dyn. IV, so its integral piece of the master plan. But Shepseskaf and his building are not even mentioned by Bauval!
And what about Userkaf, first king of Dyn. V. Why did he fell out of the project? He built in Saqqara, not far from Shepseskaf.
So Bauvals master scheme excludes 10 out of 16 pyramids and monumental graves of this dynasty. Not bad 🙂

But it gets better: Bauval has declared, that the head of Orion (consisting of a handful of dim stars) is formed by the “3 or for little pyramids” in Abusir. Well, the second Abusir pyramid of Neferirkare had a height of about 80 meters – and was therefore 14 m higher than Menkaures Gizamid! Where the heck is the equally bright star for this one?

His claim to have included all relevant buildings into one overall plan therefore again is WRONG.

Orion = Sah?

There is one thing we didn’d have asked yet. Dt the Egyptians recognise the same constellations we do? In the pyramid texts we can only read about “Sah”, which is intrepreted by Egyptologists as Orion. Mainly because of the later decan tables, used for timekeeping during the night, where “Sah” rises one hour before Sirius. Unfortunately these two are the only stars or constellations we have positively indentified so far.
But even that doesn’t tell us, if they really saw the same constellation, or if they had grouped the stars totalyl different. Bauval simply claims “it is so” and argues on the basis of much later myths:

“In all sky mythologies, and especially in the Egyptian one, there always existed a great bull in the sky represented by the vast constellation of Taurus (Footnote 43; See Denderah Zodiac for example). This celestial bull is closely connected with Orion the Hunter, such that classical depictions generally show Orion’s left arm extending with his hand up to the ‘head’ of Taurus. Recently, it has been recognised that the Mithraic bull, slain by the Persian-Roman deity, Mithra, is offering an astronomical scene where Mithra is Orion and the head of the celestial ‘bull’ is none other than the Hyades. This imagery conforms with the classical Greek and Roman representation of Orion and Taurus, with the Hyades being the ‘head’ of Taurus. It is therefore interesting to note that the eyes of the bull were Aldebaran and star 311 (Epsilon Taurus)…”[5]

Sah

Fig. 27 – Sah

This is pretty catastrophic. It shows another fundamental error Bauval makes consistantly: He uses materials from totally different cultural contexts. What has Osiris, lord of the underworld, to do with Greek gods hunting mythical Greek bulls?
He interprets Sahu like our Orion and presents Dendera, a zodiac from the Ptolemaic period, as evidence. A zodiac which dates from more than 2000 years AFTER the pyramids, from Greek conquerors who had nothing to do with ancient Egypt. From conquerors who imported their own gods and constellations. With this argument you could try and decipher Inca legends with the Bible because these folks are now true Catholics.
Even if Persians or Romans saw bulls and hunters there is no evidence that the ancient Egyptians also saw these constellations there. Especially when you notice that the general appearance of Orion differs from that of Sahu as shown in older tombs. Sahu never has a club or mace, and is never shown striking anyone. Normally he carries a sceptre in one hand and an Ankh in his raised other hand. And normally he faces Sopdet/Isis, which is also a constellation, with Sirius as its brightest star. This orientation, especially, would be impossible with a Sahu like Orion.

Sethos I

Fig. 28 – Sterndecke Sethos I

In fact some constellations of the northern sky were identified as early as the 1960’s. The ceiling of the tomb of Seti I from the 12 century BCE shows a “cut open” version of the northern sky. The Egyptians have cut the hemisphere of the sky like a spiral and rolled it out into a flat band. The north pole is the hippopotamus to the right, the other constellations were arranged clockwise around this centre. So we can see a bull on the map – around our little bear! on the other side of the sky from where we have our bull! Therefore Bauval’s identification Mithraic Bull/Egyptian bull fails. Why does Bauval ignore the works of “Neugebauer/Parker, Egyptian Astronomical Texts, London 1960-1969” which he frequently quotes? Or similar work done by Kurt Locher at the beginning of the 80’s[5]? Why does he try and import a foreign mythology?

Sah Sterne

Fig. 29 – Sah after Locher

Current work shows a divergence between Sahu and Orion. Following a paper from Kurt Locher[7]neither the pyramids of Abusir nor el-Aryan could have had anything to do with Sahu. What we see as the Belt of Orion seems to have been the crown of Sahu, the Orion nebula his hair and Rigel the chin. Kappa ORI on the other hand was the tip of the sceptre, and the rest of the stars of Sahu don’t even belong to our Orion. They are from our Columbia, Eridianus and Lepus. In the sketch, after Locher, to the side I’ve marked the double constellation Sahu/Sodpet with red lines, our Orion with green ones. By the way: Locher’s work destroys another part of Bauval’s hypothesis. In his later work with Graham Hancock he wants to identify the Sphinx with a lion, and our constellation Leo with a hypothetical Egyptian lion. Therefore, the Sphinx should look at his stellar representation and give another, independent fix to 10500 BCE. Unfortunately Locher could also identify the Egyptian lion It can be found where we have our Bull. I’ve marked the Egyptian lion with red lines, and the stars of our Bull with blue ones.

For the rest of this story: Bauval seems not to have checked the visibility of the stars at his desired “planning era”. Orion reached its lowest possible position in 11500 BCE, and the constellation was then so low that Kappa ORI only came a mere 2° above the horizon for a few days a year. So low a star is not visible, its light gets absorbed by the dust and haze of the atmosphere. Even 1000 years later the star could have only been spotted by people with keen eyes – as an unimpressive little speck. It would never have been part of a constellation, this is certain. So, why is there a pyramid at Abu Rowasch???

Conclusion: With the correct identification of Sahu we can eliminate one 4th dynasty building and the complete pyramid group at Abusir from Bauval’s master plan. And because of the invisibility of Kappa ORI we can eliminate Abu Rowasch from such a plan, too The only pyramids left for Bauval’s ideas are the ones at Giza…
Again, this idea of Bauval is WRONG.

Pyramids as Osiris cult locations

On the introduction page I quoted Bauval in (3) with:

“The other version of the death of Osiris was his being killed by Seth and his body cut into (14) pieces and scattered about Egypt. The seven pyramids of the Fifth Dynasty, together with the seven pyramids of the great Fourth Dynasty gives a total of fourteen which comprised the Memphite Necropolis, at the time the Pyramid Texts were written.”

Well, if you remember the information about the Osiris myth I gave on the page “The invisible God I”, the story about taring apart Osiris into 14 pieces is much younger than the pyramids, it was introduced well after 1000 years after the building of the pyramids.
And there is something wrong with the number of te pyramids, too. Here a listing of the pyramids of the time in question:[8]

Number
Pyramid 4. Dyn.
Pyramid 5. Dyn.

1
Snofru Meidum
Userkaf, Saqqara

2
Bent Pyramid
Sahure, Abusir

3
Red Pyramid
Neferirkare, Abusir

4
Khufu
Chentkaus II, Abusir

5
Djedefre, Abu Roasch
Neferefere, Abusir

6
Kaphre, Giza
Schepseskare, Abusir

7
Baka(?) el-Aryan
Niuserre, Abusir

8
Menkaure, Giza
Userkaf II, Sakkara

9
Chentkaus, Giza
Lepsius XXIV, Abusir

10
(Schepseskaf, Sakkara)
Menkauhor, Sakkara

11

Djedkare, Sakkara

12

Unas, Sakkara

Tab. 15 – Pyramids of the 4. and 5. Dynasty

14 pyramids? I see at least 8 “real” pyramids in Dynasty 4, one planned and one with an undetermined “pyramidal” state. But in Dynasty 5 there are at least 12 real pyramids. 7 of them alone are located at Abusir where Bauval sees “3 or 4”. Altogether we have 20-22 pyramids in these two dynasties. You don’t have to be a rocket scientists to see this, all you have to do is to look at a modern book about Egypt. Again this idea is WRONG.

Conclusion

I’m speechless. When I read Bauval’s book for the first time it seemed very plausible. He seemed to use a lot of scientific methods and many primary sources. He even spoke to scientists and was in direct contact with some of them. He did everything missing in the publications of other authors. But as we can see this is only on the surface. Below it is dark…The only point he got in this analysis was for a match of a shaft that had been previously calculated by other people. The whole shaft story is a sign of the way he really worked. Wrong shaft data, pseudo-precision and gigantic tolerances which would be appropriate for a straw hut but not for a stone building with a accuracy of 2 cm in 230 m – no way.

As long as Bauval is unable to explain the points in this analysis his theory is something for the bin. Sorry.

Postscript

These Orion pages are now several years old (although constantly reworked; the German version dates back to 1997), and several things have subsequently happened. In 1999 the South African astronomer Tony Fairall published some calculations which were used in the “scandalous” BBC documentary I mentioned earlier (for more information follow this link: http://www.museums.org.za/sam/planet/pyramids.htm)It demonstrated what had long been suspected: Orion’s belt didn’t have the correct inclination for a match in 10500 BCE! The error is almost 10°. Fairall measured an inclination of 38° for the line through the “Pyramids of Khufu and Menkaure”, but 47° for the stars they are supposed to represent. Well, that’s the end of “dating Giza with the stars”.
After some harsh exchanges Bauval presented a solution in the Autumn of 2000: He had never used all three stars and particularly not Menkaure’s pyramid. He had worked with the diagonal of the other two pyramids, and they fitted. Wrong again, the diagonal between the pyramids is a perfect 45° – the stars have an inclination of 54(!)°.
In a flash Bauval re-evluated the structure. Now it’s a great symbolic representation which needs not be precise to the last degree. Everyone could easily see the meaning of the structure. After he posted several messages like this on bulletin boards in early 2001 I asked him, twice, how he could get a precise date out of a now symbolic representation. No answer was forthcoming.
BTW: Orion had the necessary inclination around 12000 BCE. Well, one might think that’s fine. Bauval should be happy. But, no: 12000 BCE doesn’t fit anywhere into the theory Bauval and Hancock have constructed around their lost civilisation, therefore this cannot be right..