A History of the Great Pyramid
Copyright © Steve Bedford – 2007.

How old is the Great Pyramid?

Archaeologists, Egyptologists and Historians, if they’re honest, will tell you we just don’t know.

Recorded history stretches back only to the 9th Century, when the pyramid was first opened and explored. There are reports that date back to Classical Greek times (around 500 BC.), but these are limited to fragmentary references which are difficult to relate to each other or to the pyramid’s descent through this or previous periods.

Using, sometimes blatantly abusing the limited information we have, current age estimates range from around 5,000 to many tens of thousands of years, each dependant on one or more of a huge range of theories for the pyramid’s true purpose. Most researchers agree on an age of at least 4,500 years, but even this is based on unsubstantiated claims that the pyramid was built by an otherwise obscure 4th dynasty pharaoh.

All we know for sure is that, at the very dawn of human history, the Great Pyramid slipped quietly onto the world stage and stood silently, not so much waiting to be noticed as waiting to be understood. Then, as now, it was static, with no discernable beginning, no foreseeable end, and, for many it seems, exhibiting no reason to seek either. The more curious have argued over the pyramid’s age and true purpose for thousands of years, but all to no avail. To some the Great Pyramid has already fulfilled its destiny, but to others it has yet to do so and the question remains simply a matter of how and when.

The history of the Great Pyramid is therefore a history of those who have been the most profoundly influenced by it. It is a history of those who have sought what the pyramid was waiting for - those who believed it had yet to fulfill its true destiny.


The Mystery Years

The people we refer to as ancient Egyptians descended from a mixture of African and Asian strains that were ushered gradually into the Nile Valley by climate and geological changes that may have lasted until as late as 4,000 BC.  Despite evidence of complex religious beliefs, astonishingly rapid advances in everything from agriculture to architecture, and a seemingly endless series of internal and external conflicts, these people maintained no reliable history of their own meteoric ascent from the Stone Age to history’s most mysterious and fascinating civilization. Almost everything we know – or think we know - about the rise of ancient Egypt is derived from accounts recorded many thousands of years after the people and events described.

It is against this murky backdrop, during the Old Kingdom reign of fourth dynasty Pharaoh, Khufu (2604-2581 BC), that the Great Pyramid emerges from the mists of time. Despite reports that Khufu made repairs to the already aging monument, and that he was buried elsewhere, modern day Egyptologists assure us the pyramid was his tomb (a theory adopted much later in this story and more by accident than design). Unfortunately, no human or funerary remains were found when the pyramid was opened (in fact Khufu’s remains have never been found!) and there were no hieroglyphs carved into any of its walls, floors or ceilings. Indeed, with the exception of the empty and undecorated coffer in the King’s Chamber, a curiously worked stone in the Grotto and small pieces of wood, metal & stone (discussed later), not a single truly definitive artifact has ever been found inside the pyramid. If Khufu, or even the ancient Egyptians in general were responsible for the pyramid, there is no evidence that this is so. Even if there were, the pyramid’s curious mathematical symmetry would, until this very day, continue to push us to search for a solution to its true purpose.


Honor Guard

An interesting parallel to the mystery surrounding the Great Pyramid’s age, origin and purpose is that it appears to have been protected or at least overseen on the earlier part of its journey down through the centuries. These guardians (often referred to as Priests) appear to have been both knowledgeable and powerful and their ranks were almost certainly replenished from a specific group or groups and/or by some higher form of teaching or initiation

            Many researchers have connected these guardians to such organizations as the Illuminati, Freemasons and other secret organizations, both past and present. In Fact, there are many that believe some high level Freemasons are aware of the pyramid’s true purpose and that, for some unknown reason, they choose to remain silent. This particular aspect of pyramid discussion is far beyond the scope of this article but there is no shortage of books on the subject for those interested in pursuing this further. It would, however, be prudent to note that Freemasons founded the United States and that the Great Pyramid’s enigmatic geometry had a considerable influence upon them; this is evident not only on the Dollar bill and in the history books, but also in Washington DC’s layout and early architecture.

            That the pyramid had a continuous chaperone indicates not only that it was designed with a specific and much later destiny in mind, but also that knowledge of its intended purpose generated sufficient altruism that many subsequent generations could be recruited to continue the tradition. If the pyramid had been a tomb, it would certainly have been protected in some way, perhaps even for an extended period, but it seems extremely unlikely that even the most powerful pharaoh could arrange for a personal escort for many thousands of years. It therefore seems much more likely that early rulers whose times the pyramid passed through would simply perform whatever renovations were required and adopt the building as their own. This appears to be the most likely case with Khufu and we should consider ourselves fortunate that he chose not to muddy the water by having his remains interred within or nearby.


Classical Times

One of the most interesting and promising clues to the pyramid’s true origin and purpose is its location, orientation and dimensional symmetry. Indeed, it is this amazing mathematical and geometric symphony which, finally, brings it into a clearer and more historical focus.  

As early as 500 BC, the classical Greeks treated Egypt in much the same way we treat trendy, modern day tourist destinations, paying a great deal of attention both to the pyramid and to those who accompanied it. In fact so many Greeks studied with the pyramid’s guardians that it is now generally accepted that Egypt was the birthplace of many mathematical advances, particularly those in geometry and astronomy, that were, for many hundreds of years, attributed to the Greeks alone.

So-called, Father of History, Greek Geographer/Historian Herodotus (484-425 BC) is one of many voices which assure us this is so. Herodotus also provides us with one of the earliest accounts of ancient Egypt and a great deal of detailed mathematical information about the pyramid. It remains unclear as to whether his knowledge of the pyramid was first hand or if it was handed down, but his reports confirm that the pyramid was designed using advanced geometry and with some arcane or esoteric purpose in mind.

Herodotus also claimed to have been told by the pyramid’s guardians that Cheops (the Greek name for the Pharaoh Khufu) was buried below the pyramid on an island that was surrounded by waters fed by the Nile. There is, however, only solid rock below the pyramid and recent research seems to indicate that what Herodotus was told, although accurate in some respects, was also deceptively cryptic. In fact it is now believed that, because of his reputation as a traveler and historian, Herodotus was used as a conduit to spread selected misinformation about the pyramid, partly to maintain public interest in it, but, at the same time, to dissuade treasure seekers from disturbing it.

            Several hundred years later, in the first century BC, Sicilian born, author & historian, Diodorus Siculus, although describing the pyramid as being complete and in perfect condition, noted that there was no apex or capstone (the absence of which is still the subject of debate over two thousand years later).

Also around this time, Strabo (63 BC - 24 AD), another Greek Geographer, was evidently given a guided tour of the pyramid’s lower interior. He not only described the pyramid’s concealed entrance, but also commented at length on the Descending Passage and the empty and supposedly unfinished Subterranean Chamber. Strabo failed, however, to mention the upper passages & chambers or even the lower entrance to the Well Shaft. This is almost certainly because both routes to the upper interior remained concealed until they were discovered, quite accidentally, almost a thousand years later.

In fact, that only the lower portion of the pyramid’s interior was known  - and visited regularly down to Roman times - is evidenced by the presence of graffiti, which was found in the lower passages & chambers but absent in the upper interior. This, along with later discoveries, would seem to indicate that the upper passages and chambers were concealed even from those charged with guarding the pyramid.


The Christian Era

By the 6th century AD, Egypt’s politics had changed considerably and the pyramid’s guardians had completely disappeared. It is not known when or how the last guardian faded away, or why this happened. What is known, however, is that academic interest had waned and, presumably with the disappearance of the guardians, awareness of the pyramid’s concealed entrance was lost. Visitors to Egypt became fewer and fewer in a time when Christian hermits are reported to have used many of its temples and monuments - now considered pagan - as homes. There is no evidence the pyramid was used in this way, scattered references from this time note only the pyramid’s magnetism for what few tourists there were and it’s continued good condition - something it was not destined to retain for much longer.


A Rude Awakening

            Documented history of The Great Pyramid begins in 820 AD, when the Caliph of Baghdad, Abdullah Al Mamoun (786-833), forced his way through the north face in search of a fabled treasure of ancient documents and artifacts. Exactly what Mamoun expected to find inside the pyramid is difficult to say. He is reported to be an educated man who tried, without success, to calculate the true circumference of the Earth, and who sought to regain ancient navigational knowledge that had been lost when the library of Alexandria was destroyed.

            Hacking blindly into the base of the pyramid, Mamoun eventually broke into the Descending Passage just below its carefully hidden junction with the Ascending Passage. From here he was free to explore everything in the pyramid’s lower interior, from the formally concealed entrance (ironically just a few feet from his forced tunnel) to the lower passages and Subterranean Chambers. Finding nothing that interested him in the lower part of the interior, Mamoun turned his attention to the foot of the Ascending Passage, which, after remaining concealed for thousands of years, had been exposed when its stone seal had been dislodged by his excavations.

            Ordered to tunnel up and around what was eventually discovered to be three huge granite plugs (still wedged firmly in place today), Mamoun’s men smashed out core masonry and then broke up several smaller limestone plugs which had been placed behind the heavier, harder and more securely wedged granite. Having finally gained access to the Ascending Passage, Mamoun climbed into the heart of the pyramid, where he found the upper end of the Well Shaft, the Grand Gallery, the King & Queen’s Chambers and almost all other known features located in the upper body of the pyramid.

            It is both interesting and important to note that Mamoun and his men, after tunneling horizontally for a hundred feet through solid stone, now went to almost unimaginable lengths to tunnel upward, around the granite plugs that blocked the Ascending Passage. This would seem to confirm, once again, that the bottom of the Well Shaft was effectively concealed at that time. If this had not been so, it would have been far easier for Mamoun’s men to remove the loose rubble that we know filled the Well Shaft, than to tunnel upward through solid stone.

One can only imagine Mamoun’s thoughts as he and his men explored the upper part of the pyramid. The disappointment of finding only cramped passages and empty chambers, and the confusion of staring into the empty coffer must have been heart breaking. Although the treasure Mamoun sought had, quite literally, been staring him in the face since before he’d broken into the pyramid, it remained concealed by his own greed, and he was eventually forced to pay his men from his own pocket. Aside from a few interesting but unsubstantiated rumors to the contrary, the interior features of the pyramid are all that were exposed at that time and, regrettably, both the pyramid and mankind failed to benefit from their discovery.

Despite his reputation as an educated and enlightened man, Mamoun shamelessly savaged the Great Pyramid and left without giving its size, orientation and curiously arranged passages & chambers another thought. Open to the elements for the first time since it was built, the battered and bruised pyramid quietly awaited a much more serious and deadly attack.

Seismic Shock

Soon after Mamoun departed, a series of unusually powerful earthquakes ravaged the area and presumably further damaged the already shattered casing. How bad the actual damage was we will never know, the quakes transformed the pyramid into a convenient, twenty-two acre, pre-cut limestone supermarket and the casing was looted to rebuild what is now Cairo. When the quarrying finally stopped, over four hundred years later (as late as 1356 casing stones were removed to build Cairo’s celebrated Mosque of Sultan Hassan), what little that remained of the casing lay buried beneath some fifty feet of rubble.

Abandoned, this time quite literally to the elements and ignored for hundreds of years, The Great Pyramid continued its free fall through the Middle Ages. The lost casing became as potent a legend as the monument’s embodiment of ancient knowledge, and the exposed core became a home for bats and rodents. For a while, the remains of the once great monument, regardless of what they may or may not have concealed, appeared destined for little more than decay and obscurity. As the darkness surrendered to enlightenment, however, inquiring minds appeared to re-acquire their target, preparing now for a much more sustained but benign assault.


The Renaissance in Giza

            In the sixteenth century, the brilliant Italian physician & mathematician (and friend of Leonardo da Vinci), Girolamo Cardano, concluded that the Great Pyramid embodied a system of linear measure that had been derived from the dimensions of the Earth itself. Cardano knew that a great deal had been learned and copied from the early Egyptians. He also believed the true size of the earth had been known thousands of years earlier, and that it too would be embodied in the pyramid. It would be hundreds of years before Cardano’s suspicions could be tested, but the search was on, and by the early seventeenth century, the Great Pyramid was attracting the attention of far more benign and inquisitive visitors.

            In 1637, British astronomer and mathematician, John Greaves, came to Giza in search of the true circumference of the Earth. Greaves, who had studied in Italy and Greece, and who had discovered the use of a geographic foot in the ruins of the Parthenon, believed, like Cardano, that he would find similar information embodied in the pyramid’s exterior measurements. Unfortunately, debris from the stripped casing made it impossible for Greaves to make an accurate survey of the pyramid’s base and Cardano’s theory remained just that.

Inside the pyramid, and although finding the Descending Passage blocked with rubble left by Al Mamoun’s men over eight hundred years earlier, Greaves was able to examine the upper passages and chambers. Gathering a great deal of the early data on the pyramid’s upper interior and commenting on many of its enigmatic features, Greaves captured public imagination and set the stage for far more detailed study. 

Rather ironically, that same public soon began to refer to the coffer in the King’s Chamber as a sarcophagus. This fostered the assumption that somebody must have been buried within and thus was born the theory that the Great Pyramid may have been a tomb. Academic interest remained firmly focused on the pyramid’s mathematical mysteries, but, for reasons that may never be known, and despite knowing it was grossly at odds with the evidence, Egyptologists of the time appeared more than willing to jump on (and, in fact, may even have created) the tomb bandwagon.

            In the summer of 1665, Bubonic plague swept across Europe. In England institutions of higher learning were closed and an already reclusive young student was quarantined on his family’s farm. Far happier in the solitude of the English country side than the comparative crush of Trinity College, the young man spent his summer studying the works of Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler in an effort to provide mathematical proof of their discoveries. Not satisfied with the observations of his predecessors, he invented an entirely new branch of mathematics in order to feed an obsession with proving the things his contemporaries accepted without question. It was during this summer (legend has it after seeing an apple fall in his garden) that Isaac Newton decided to rethink an old problem.

            In order to calculate the force of gravity, Newton needed to know the true diameter of the earth. He believed such information was embodied in the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, but like many others, was unsure if it would pertain to the earth’s mean diameter, or its diameter at the latitude of the pyramid. Compounding the problem of latitude was Newton’s belief that, when measured accurately, the earth would be found oblate (slightly flattened at the poles) and this added to the possibility that the dimensions of the pyramid might prove more confusing than enlightening.

            In fact Newton found the pyramid’s dimensions extremely confusing, but not because of its location or his beliefs with regard to the shape of the earth. According to the most recent data, the pyramid’s base and height were not divisible by a common unit, something utterly inconceivable. To Newton it appeared that the pyramid had been designed using at least two different systems of measurement, a situation akin to us designing a building using imperial units for horizontal dimensions and metric for the vertical components. Despite this glaring disparity, (something later recognized as quite deliberate on the part of the pyramid’s designers), Newton concluded that the pyramid had indeed been built using two entirely different and unrelated units.

In other words, instead of pondering the powerful enigma presented by the pyramid’s dimensions, one of the greatest minds known to science (and one evidently obsessed with proving what others accepted without question) simply invented a separate unit for each dimension. To be fair, Newton put a great deal of thought into the problem, but, already a deeply troubled man, perhaps he was also inhibited or influenced by the current conflict between science and religion and so did not give the pyramid the attention it so clearly deserved. Eventually concluding the pyramid’s designers had used a “sacred” cubit for the base and a “profane” cubit for the height, Newton evidently gave no further thought to the significance of the problem itself.

Fortunately, Newton’s (inverse square) law of gravitation proved far more accurate than his proposed cubits. The true size of the earth, however – along with the answer to the mathematical problem posed by the pyramid’s base and height dimensions, would elude science for another two hundred years.

            Thirty-eight years after Newton’s death, Nathaniel Davison, a British official vacationing in Egypt, attempted to explore the pyramid. The exterior remained shrouded in rubble and, like Greaves, Davison was unable to bypass Al Mamun’s debris in the lower interior. Concentrating instead on the upper passages and chambers, and, after being driven from the Well Shaft by the lack of breathable air, Davison discovered a roughly carved passage, at the top of the Grand Gallery’s south wall. Risking almost certain death by scaling the twenty-four foot height of the already elevated gallery, Davison followed the passage to a low, empty and featureless compartment which had evidently been designed to protect the King’s Chamber, directly below, from the weight of the masonry above.

            In the end, Davison added little more than his name to the history of The Great Pyramid, but the “Construction Chamber” he discovered (and which now bears his name) would later precipitate a great deal of activity, discovery and controversy.


A New World Order

            Soon after conquering Egypt, in 1798, Napoleon initiated the first truly scientific study of the pyramid by savants (scientists and scholars) who had accompanied his army.

Inside the pyramid, Napoleon experienced a measure of success in as much as he was able to explore the upper part of the pyramid personally and even spend some time alone in the King’s Chamber (where, it is claimed, he foresaw his own destiny). But the pyramid was now home to thousands of bats, and efforts to explore the Descending Passage and blocked Well Shaft, were prevented by rubble, bat droppings and foul air.

Outside the pyramid, Edme-Francois Jomard, one of the most influential of Napoleon’s savants, had cleared away some of the debris at the base and exposed what were believed to be the northeast and northwest alignment sockets (shallow depressions carved into the bedrock). Like many before him, Jomard believed not only that the base of the pyramid would reflect the Earth’s true circumference, but that it would also reveal the builder’s original units of measure. Unfortunately the sockets he uncovered were separated from the core masonry by a thick layer of carefully manufactured rock pavement which posed more questions than it answered. Debris still surrounded the remainder of the pyramid and Jomard was unable to measure the base accurately enough to prove his theory before the French were obliged to leave Egypt.

Napoleon appears to be one of the few men of power - certainly the first - to show any respect and compassion for the pyramid. The extent, accuracy and results of work he commissioned provided a wealth of important information and proved conclusively that the Great Pyramid – far from being a tomb – was all about numbers.


The Victorian Era

            In the early nineteenth century, The Great Pyramid fell into the hands of an eccentric Italian seaman who believed it concealed a secret chamber.

Somewhat curiously, Giovano Caviglia began his search for this chamber from the shallow confines of Davison’s Construction Chamber. After tunneling a short distance into the core above and to the south of the King’s Chamber, he suddenly stopped work and decided to explore the Well Shaft instead. When progress there was halted by helpers who refused to work in the airless shaft, he moved into the lower part of the pyramid. The Descending Passage, still blocked by debris left by Al Mamun’s men a thousand years earlier, was finally cleared and Caviglia continued his search for the secret chamber. What he eventually found was actually the lower end of the Well Shaft, his men succeeding in doing from the bottom what so many had failed to do from the top.

It is not known exactly how Caviglia discovered the bottom of the Well Shaft, but  we do know that it was filled with loose rubble. Rather than being forced to tunnel upward, the workers simply loaded the debris into baskets and removed it to the exterior.

Once open and finally explored, the Well Shaft revealed the existence of the two-room Grotto, carved into the bedrock just below the pyramid’s core masonry. It is doubtful the Grotto satisfied Caviglia’s secret chamber theory, but he had unwittingly exposed another piece of the pyramid puzzle. Regrettably, its significance would also be misunderstood and overlooked for many years.

            Colonel Richard Howard-Vyse, a British army officer, arrived in Giza in 1837 and worked with Caviglia long enough to become similarly obsessed with a secret chamber (by which time Caviglia became dissatisfied and left Egypt). 

Howard-Vyse also began his assault from Davison’s Chamber, but moved in a different direction. Blasting upwards, he exposed a second chamber and named it after Wellington, under whom he’d served earlier. No taller than Davison’s Chamber below, the granite-beamed floor of Wellington’s Chamber was, in fact, the roof of Davison’s Chamber. The similar, granite beamed ceiling of the second chamber, prompted the assumption that still more lay above, and several months of blasting uncovered third, fourth and fifth Construction Chambers. 

Unlike the first four, the fifth chamber had a gabled roof, which almost certainly convinced Howard-Vyse that it was the last (there is evidence he pushed a little higher). Perhaps knowing he would not find the fabled secret chamber here proved just too much of a disappointment for him. Later, he claimed to have discovered proof that Khufu built the pyramid, but the single cartouche, painted on the rock of the fifth chamber, was discredited by the discovery that it was misspelled in exactly the same way as in a publication available at that time. In fact it would be prudent to note here that Howard-Vyse had a profound knack for exploring with explosives and for finding all kinds of evidence to support his theories. That he was the only one ever to find hieroglyphs and artifacts in the Great Pyramid should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Outside the pyramid, Howard-Vyse made two major and much more authentic discoveries. The first was to confirm a theory that the air shafts in the King’s Chamber actually penetrated to the exterior of the building (there are reports that the shafts penetrated the casing, but this is now impossible to confirm). Later, while removing debris from a small area at the foot of the north face, he also uncovered the finely crafted rock pavement and discovered that it continued north under the remaining debris. In doing so, he also uncovered some of the original casing stones, confirming the now centuries old legend of the limestone casing and providing a more accurate angle for the pyramid’s sloping sides.

The pavement uncovered by Howard-Vyse was the same as that which proved so problematic for Napoleon’s Savants at the pyramid’s northern corners. The significance of this pavement actually extending beneath the core masonry of the pyramid (as opposed to ending or beginning at the base line) was evidently lost not only Howard-Vyse, but also on other researchers of his and later eras.

When he returned to England, Howard-Vyse published his findings and re-ignited the debate over what, in reality, was yet another failure to discern the true purpose of the Great Pyramid.


Editing The Results

            Fascinated by the failure to reach a solid conclusion for the actual size and shape of the pyramid, the Editor of the London Observer, John Taylor, began a detailed study of the work of both Napoleon’s savants and Howard-Vyse. Although it would take him the rest of his life, Taylor eventually published a number of fantastic conclusions, which he reached, regrettably, by making the same mistake as Newton.

            Taylor noted that the pyramid’s base perimeter had grown considerably over the previous two hundred years. Assuming – quite correctly - that each successive explorer had plunged ever deeper into the debris, Taylor decided to mathematically reconstruct the pyramid using the most recent measurements and to probe it for the geometric poetry he was sure it contained. Unfortunately, he also assumed the most recent measurements were correct and so was unable to reveal that poetry.

Discouraged by the same lack of symmetry between the base and height that had troubled Newton, Taylor explored an earlier claim that the area of each face had been designed to equal the square of the pyramid’s vertical height. Then, in assuming the pyramid was a perfectly geometric construction, he plunged headlong into the same quagmire from which even Newton had been unable to emerge unscathed

While comparing the base perimeter to the pyramid’s height, Taylor arrived at a figure just slightly larger than, but close enough to pi to spark his imagination. Then, in assuming the pyramid’s height had the same relationship to its base perimeter as does the radius of a circle to its circumference, he also searched in vain for a unit of measure that would divide the base and the height. (There are many who claim the pyramid embodies Pi & Phi along with a solution for squaring the circle, but there is, as yet, no evidence for this). Failing, but determined to retain the pi proportion he was now sure existed, Taylor plunged back, starting back at the base. In one of his calculations, he came up with a unit of 25 inches, a value remarkably similar to Newton’s sacred cubit and also one recently proposed by renowned astronomer Sir John Herschel.

            In the early 1800’s, Herschel had proposed dividing the earth’s as yet unknown polar axis by five hundred million to produce a sensible, earth commensurate, unit of measure. This, he predicted, would result in a unit of about fifty inches, which, when halved, would provide a useful cubit of twenty-five (which more or less agreed with the sacred cubit Newton believed he had “found” in the pyramid). Taylor already knew that the side of a British acre measured 2,500 inches, and, for him, a recently adopted map scale of 1:2500 appeared to complete the circuit. Although the new map scale bore absolutely no relation to the standard British mile of 5,280 feet, it fit both Herschel’s cubit and the ancient acre exactly.

Evidently unconcerned that the pyramid had yet to be measured accurately, Taylor went on to study the pyramid’s interior and eventually concluded that the entire structure was a record of weights and measures which had been constructed, or, at the very least, commissioned by God himself. Publishing in 1859, he was ridiculed almost until his death, a scant five years later. Despite the less than complimentary publicity, however, Taylor found an influential supporter who took up his cause just before he died.


The Astronomer Royal

            Charles Piazzi-Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, adopted the sacred cubit without question, publicly supported Taylor’s views of divine inspiration, and, in return, was criticized and censured by his peers. As provocative as Taylor’s views were, the divine inspiration angle appeared just too much for most people to swallow, especially those recently exposed to Charles Darwin’s views on the origins of man. Undaunted and unconvinced by the views of his peers or Darwin, Smyth not only continued to work with Taylor, but also gleaned enough information to conclude that he would have to go to Giza himself.

Although finding the Descending passage blocked again (this time by guides who resented escorting tourists to the Subterranean Chamber), Piazzi-Smyth is credited with making the first truly comprehensive study of the beleaguered pyramid. His work is now one of the most widely read and respected on the subject, but, as it had for so many others, the debris at the base severely hampered his efforts on the exterior.

Smyth was determined to prove that the pyramid had been designed using the sacred cubit, that its base perimeter would reflect the number of days in a year and that it would contain an accurate value for pi. In order to prove this, however, Smyth required a base length longer than the French figure but less than the most recent figure as reported by Howard-Vyse. Perhaps realizing his was an arbitrary and unscientific approach, he decided the only sure way to make his point was to clear the remaining corner sockets and to measure up and over the debris himself. Unfortunately he ran out of time and was forced to convince visiting engineers to finish the job for him and to forward their results. 

When the results arrived, the base sides, at 759.17 feet, were far too short to prove his point. Rather than accept the engineers’ findings, Smyth chose a point between their results and Howard-Vyse’s figure of 764 feet - a value that was, ironically, equally arbitrary and which was still too short to prove his point.

Smyth published his findings as soon as he returned to England, but his deeply religious beliefs were not well received. The latest measurement of the pyramid’s base had not only failed to support his theory that the pyramid embodied a reference to the year – and that it was therefore the product of divine intervention, but it also failed to prove Taylor’s pi proportion.

With nothing else to turn to, those uninterested in the tomb theory (by now more or less official), remained torn between the Taylor/Smyth divine intervention theory and Jomard’s earth commensurate proposals. Despite being forced, once again, to wait for confirmation of one or the other, the public was suddenly treated to an intriguing new discovery.


Concealed Shafts

            In 1872, Engineer, Wayneman Dixon, on scarcely more than a hunch, discovered the first entirely new feature of the pyramid’s interior in more than a millenium.

Evidently puzzled by the absence of so called “air shafts” in the Queen’s Chamber, Dixon concluded that something similar would be concealed behind its otherwise featureless walls. Within minutes of instructing his helper to chisel into the south wall, Dixon found exactly what he’d suspected, a concealed shaft almost identical to those in the King’s Chamber. Probing the north wall in the same way, Dixon uncovered a second shaft, and, inside, claimed to have found a small piece of wood, an iron hook and a stone ball. Unlike their counterparts in the King’s Chamber, these shafts did not penetrate to the exterior of the pyramid. Attempts were made to explore the new shafts, but their size, depth and angle of ascent made anything other than clumsy probing impossible.

Dixon wrote to Piazzi Smyth about his discovery and sent him the artifacts he claimed to have found in the northern shaft. These were reportedly examined by experts at the British Museum but shed little light on their own origin and purpose, or on why the shafts were open and continuous in one chamber but deliberately concealed and evidently limited in the other. The newly discovered shafts would eventually prove significant, but not for another 121 years.


One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

                In 1880, the Earth’s Polar Diameter was calculated to be 7,898.78 miles. The newly determined dimension translated into just shy of 500,500,000 British inches, or an even five hundred million if the inch were lengthened slightly. Herschel had been right (as had both Newton and Taylor - but each for the wrong reasons).

The following year, William Flinders Petrie, a professional surveyor, cleared a little more of the pyramid’s base and also made an accurate survey of the entire Giza complex. Having done so, Petrie proved that the pyramid was almost perfectly aligned to the cardinal points of the compass, and also discovered a curious hollowing of the pyramid’s sides. This subtle hollowing – about thirty seven inches on each face - had been noted and sketched by one of Napoleon’s savants, but overlooked until it was rediscovered by Petrie.

Petrie had long been interested in the variety of measures used throughout the world, and believed that a history of these measures could be ascertained by the careful measurement of ancient monuments. He also knew only a truly accurate survey of the pyramid would prove the Taylor/Smyth theory right or wrong. Clearing the pyramid’s corners once again, Petrie concluded that the alignment sockets discovered by the French had been designed more for reference than physical alignment (the Northern sockets were far too shallow to provide the required strength). While working on another area of the base, Petrie had also noted that the pavement surrounding the pyramid had, in fact, been laid first and continued for an unknown distance beneath the structure. In all likelihood, the sockets had been for surveying and preparation purposes and the pavement had, presumably, supplied a second, more effective alignment method some eighteen to twenty inches higher. 

            After numerous researchers had spent almost a hundred years digging down to the base of the pyramid (albeit only at the corners and a small section of the north face), Petrie was now forced to calculate his way back up. In doing so, he found the base length to be 755.75 feet – far too short to support either of Jomard’s Earth circumference or Piazzi-Smyth’s days in a year theories. 


The 20th Century

Next into the fray was a Structural Engineer who sought only to destroy the idea that the pyramid was an instrument of prophecy. David Davidson, appalled that, for some, the pyramid had become the bible in stone, went over the building with fine toothed comb in an effort to silence the religious fanatics. Not only was he forced to concede defeat, he was also forced, like many others, into rethinking the issue from two entirely different points of view at one and the same time. In the end Davidson accepted the divine inspiration/bible in stone theory completely, but the route to his conversion would throw the whole pyramid debate on its ear.

By noting that Petrie had not extended the hollowing of the pyramid’s sides to his calculations for the lost casing, Davidson discovered the pyramid’s designers had, in fact, incorporated three calculations for the year in the base perimeter. By extending the hollowing himself, he was able to prove that each face of the pyramid had been a complex geometric contour. When the base perimeter was finally measured accurately, it would, he claimed, prove that the designers had purposely embodied what we refer to as the Solar, Anomalistic and Sidereal years. Davidson had all but proved Piazzi-Smyth correct, but the pyramid’s missing apex now cast an eerie new light on the monument.

Davidson predicted that, when finally measured accurately, the pyramid’s base perimeter would be found short of Piazzi-Smyth’s length by exactly 286.1022 inches (23.84 feet), and he called this distance the pyramid’s “Displacement Factor.” The figure itself is embodied within the pyramid in numerous places. The original entrance is offset to the east of the north/south axis by this amount; it is exactly the difference in height between the Ascending Passage and the Grand Gallery; and it is also the calculated height of the missing apex.

In 1925, the pyramid was finally cleared of debris, the base accurately surveyed for the first time and the results published as the official size and orientation of the pyramid. Davidson was not only proved correct by the results, but a curious mathematical conundrum was also uncovered.

The actual distance around the base was found to be equal to half of one minute of arc of the Earth’s circumference - which the pyramid’s designers had evidently deemed to be slightly less than our own calculation. Although vindicating Jomard in one respect, the figure did not provide the much-anticipated unit of measure because it was a scaled reference, which would be recognized regardless of the units used to confirm it. But, when the height of the missing apex was added, the result reflected the number of days in a year and also vindicated Piazzi-Smyth. It was this figure, ironically, that supplied an original unit of measure, an increment that was within a few decimal places of one we’d used for much of recorded history – the inch! For many this was confirmation that the pyramid had been designed to attract the attention of those capable of appreciating its mathematical symbolism as opposed to its previously supposed perfection.

The designers of the Great Pyramid had carefully incorporated specific information into the casing of the pyramid and then squared and oriented the building almost perfectly north/south by a near miss so close it is debated as deliberate to this day. If indeed the designers had sought to attract the attention of those who understood the numbers embodied in the Great Pyramid, they had not succeeded until well over four and a half thousand years after the building had been completed. Even then, what should have been a turning point in pyramid research was lost on two camps still torn between what they saw as opposing theories.

Science, it seems, was unwilling to chose between the Earth Commensurate & Bible in Stone theories and unable to move forward with both. As a result, a whole new ball game would play out in the vacuum left by indecision.

            In the 1950’s the Great Pyramid was granted a small part in a drama that would one-day see it promoted to a more prominent role. The general public was suddenly rocked by claims the earth had not evolved as slowly and uniformly as originally supposed. Evidence of regular, perhaps cyclic cataclysms was found all over the planet. To many it appeared the earth had been suddenly shaken, ripped or smashed from its daily rotation not once, but dozens, perhaps hundreds of times - and with disquieting regularity. Suddenly, the theory of ice ages, both fatally flawed and unexplainable by science anyway, was placed under increasing pressure.

In the tropics and close to the equator, scientists found striations in the bedrock caused by ice that not only moved under the broiling heat of the tropical sun, but which also moved in the wrong direction – often uphill. Erratic boulders weighing thousands of tons, supposedly transported by glaciers, were found thousands of miles from their point of origin, often in the middle of open plains or half way up mountains that were older than the strata below.

In the far north explorers found the remains of huge numbers of animals, some now extinct, frozen solid with their last meals still in their mouths and stomachs. Whole populations of animals had dined on lush, green vegetation and were then instantly transported to the arctic, where they were smashed together in heaps, along with the very vegetation they had been eating, and flash frozen.

Evidence from all over the world forced one simple conclusion on incredulous minds. Time and time again ancient mountain chains had been thrust up and over much younger formations or had been suddenly submerged. Sea and land had exchanged places in violent convulsions. Volcanoes had spewed lava thousands of feet deep over hundreds of thousands of square miles, all in the age of man and often in cycles of only a few thousand years.

Much of the evidence, it was learned, was not new. Darwin himself had remarked on the awesome destruction of fauna and the geological anomalies evident over the almost pole to pole length of the Americas. In his notes he remarked that the earth’s entire frame must have been shaken both repeatedly and frequently. Mainstream science, at a loss or reluctant to explain the evidence, battled or denied theory after theory. Some, still searching for a reason for the pyramid, tried to connect it and the obviously recent geological violence – sometimes with astonishing results - to almost everything from Plato’s Atlantis to the biblical flood.

Ironically, the pyramid embodied an answer, but it would remain concealed a little longer.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, a public perhaps forced into readiness by the terrifying revelations of the fifties, was treated to a burgeoning array of ever more outrageous and groundless theories. The history of the pyramid was lost on a public more willing to believe it was the work of aliens. Its orientation and mathematical symbolism meant nothing to those who believed its missing apex had been fashioned from an unknown precious metal or crystal, which beamed mystical energy to or from space. If nothing else, the furor paved the way for a much more scientific and sensible approach.

The 1980’s and 90’s saw a surge of study that, among other things, tied the very layout of the Giza complex to ancient astronomical data, and set the stage, finally, for finding a reason for the pyramid’s very existence. Modern researchers, it seemed, were beginning to suspect that The Great Pyramid contained a message of some kind, a message not from God or from space travelers, but from our own ancestors, somewhere in the dim and distant past.

            In the spring of 1993, a small video camera equipped robot, ascended the southern shaft in the Queen’s Chamber in search of a solution to continuing pyramid ventilation problems (at the time, the northern shaft was deemed unsuitable because of debris left by Dixon’s probing). High in the pyramid’s core masonry, the robot stopped cold at what first appeared to be a dead end. As the area was studied more closely, however, the video camera revealed a stone slab that appeared to have been dropped into the shaft and secured with small copper pins. That the shaft continued beyond the slab was made obvious by a tiny, triangular gap at the bottom right hand corner (if the robot’s video camera was able to see through the gap, the results were not revealed to the general public).

Some two hundred feet up, in a shaft impossible for even the smallest child to navigate, the Great Pyramid’s designers had left a stone slab that could be discovered and studied - perhaps even moved - only by a technologically advanced explorer. But, before even completing the task, they had concealed the bottom of the shaft and left no visible clue of its existence! As exciting and provocative as this was for many, what became known as the “Door” was arbitrarily dismissed by authorities as unimportant, and, for a while, no further exploration was allowed (or revealed).

Almost a decade later, a second robot was dispatched to drill through the door and to pass a video camera into the space beyond. The televised, supposedly live, but embarrassingly unprofessional event was condemned as little more than a money raising sham, which ended too soon after the camera passed through the newly bored hole. The presumably world wide TV audience was given a suspiciously brief glimpse of a second obstruction, but no explanation for why the previously articulate camera remained perfectly rigid after being passed through the door.

In the years between the only two publicized forays, the airshafts were studied more intensely by other researchers, and it was claimed that each “pointed” to a specific star or constellation in remote antiquity. Somewhat naively, it was assumed that the “star shafts” were incorporated into the pyramid to signify its date of construction (a common, if not entirely understandable failing among those claiming to have found dates embodied in the pyramid).

It has since been rumored that there has been quiet exploration of the remaining shafts, that an additional door has been found and that an additional passage, perhaps even chamber, exists. At this point in time, one can only wonder what will become of these or any other new discoveries that are made within or around the pyramid. Access to the pyramid is already severely restricted and it seems unlikely that Egyptian authorities will comment upon – or even reveal – any discovery which contradicts the official tomb theory.


The Great Pyramid’s Future

            As a consequence of all of the above, The Great Pyramid has been handed down in battered and desecrated condition and the general public now allowed only limited access. Despite a still burning desire to know who built it and why, we are hampered by the events & attitudes of the past, the politics & prejudices of the present, and by a confusing jumble of information that, perhaps, we were intended to uncover in a more logical sequence.

We can no longer marvel at the true size, shape and precision of the pyramid; it has been ravaged by man and the elements for more than a quarter of its known history. We no longer need to search for a hidden entrance or concealed passages because we know exactly where they are. We have no need to explore and measure those passages and chambers because it’s been done for us over and over again. And, largely because we’ve been bombarded by crackpot theory after crackpot theory, we no longer have a desire for anything but concrete facts.

            Early in the twentieth century, the Great Pyramid was finally recognized for what it was intended to be - a complex mathematical message aimed at only those who were diligent enough to uncover the subtle clues to its existence. In 1925, after thousands of years in limbo, the pyramid had cleared its throat and uttered a single word – inch. But it has taken us almost a hundred years to realize that the pyramid had spoken, let alone understand the significance of that word.

            As of April 2007, pyramid research continues at a furious pace, and the inch continues to play a prominent role, reveal more and more about the pyramid and why it was built. Today, more than ever, research is conducted by thousands of individuals who are completely independent and unfettered by antiquated beliefs and pressure to adhere to old school cronyism.

            The pyramid’s future, although still uncertain, now appears brighter than ever; will we be listening when it speaks again?