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The Great Pyramid and the Axis of the Earth - Part 1
By Scott Creighton and Gary Osborn

Part 1: The 'Shafts First' Solution

This article represents - in part - a response to John Legon's paper, 'The Geometry of the Air-Shafts' [1] in which Legon dismisses the idea that the shafts within the two chambers of the Great Pyramid of Giza were targeted at particular stars, whilst asserting that the function of these shafts were intended merely as ventilation channels.

In particular, this article will challenge Legon's main argument against the star-shaft hypothesis, proof of which he asserts lies in the geometry of the Great Pyramid itself. As Legon puts it, "…we find that the alignments of the shafts fall into place as an immediate development of the most elementary pyramid geometry." This article will show how this proposal is erroneous and will present a radical new proposal for the purpose of these most enigmatic of pyramid features.

In his paper, 'The Geometry of the Air-Shafts' Legon writes:

"…Owing to the random disposition of the stars in the night sky, however, we should not expect that an alignment to a star of cultic significance in the southern sky would have required the same angle of inclination as an alignment to a cult star in the northern sky; and this in itself is a strong argument against the star-shaft hypothesis. Again because the Queen's Chamber is situated in the mid-plane of the pyramid, the equality of the angles means that the shafts would have emerged at the same level in the casing on the north and south sides of the pyramid - a design of no consequence for star-shafts…."

That the designers should wish to target particular stars solely for "cultic' reasons is also an erroneous assumption. The Queens Chamber shafts certainly could have targeted 2 stars of identical (or near identical) inclination but it should not be inferred that this would automatically have been for 'cultic' reasons. These 2 stars at near identical inclination could just as easily have been chosen in order to form the basis of the pyramid design itself - as we shall shortly see. Indeed, that the Queen's Chamber is placed in the mid-plane of the Great Pyramid is central to this idea. In effect, the dimensions of the Great Pyramid are a direct consequence of the geometry of the star-shafts, thus it can be argued that the star-shafts can be deemed the key element of the Great Pyramid design and of primary significance to our investigation.

Legon continues:

"…At a first approximation, one obvious requirement which was satisfied by these angles [of the shafts] was that the shafts should take the shortest route from the Queen's Chamber to the outside of the pyramid. In the context of the 'ventilation' theory this makes perfect sense, since the shortest distance would have provided the most effective air-flow..."

Legon is assuming here that - in the design phase - the Great Pyramid slope (seked 5.5) was selected first and that the angles of the shafts were chosen only afterwards. Naturally, it would follow that if the slope angle of the pyramid had already been decided, for the shafts to then reach the pyramid's exterior quickly and efficiently as possible, then the angle of those shafts should be placed at right angles to the pyramid slope (or as near to this as was practical).

On the surface Legon's criticism of the stellar hypothesis seems perfectly logical. It seems to indicate that the ancient designers were more obsessed with a particular mathematical angle than a particular set of 'cult stars'. However, what Legon has failed to do is to consider the inverse situation with regards to the wider stellar hypothesis, asking the obvious question: what if the primary design element was not actually the Great Pyramid slope but was in fact the shafts and, more specifically, the angles at which those shafts are inclined? If this were the case then it logically follows that the dimensions of the Great Pyramid would have been determined from the shafts and not the other way around as all commentators, including Legon, have long assumed.

Indeed, even from an orthodox perspective whereby it has been proposed that these shafts were 'star shafts' or indeed 'soul shafts' which aided the dead King's soul to target and ascend to particular locations in the northern and southern skies, Legon's argument makes little sense.

The idea that the original purpose of these shafts had something to do with their possible alignment with the northern 'circumpolar stars' (known as the "imperishables" because they never set) and the southern 'setting stars' (which never rise) was first put forward by scholars Alexander Badawy and Virginia Trimble in 1964.

More recently, writer and researcher, Robert Bauval suggests that the shafts were 'stargates' constructed to guide the dead Pharaoh's soul to the heavens[2]. However, like most theories, this conclusion has had its fair share of critics who are right to inform us that:

1) No stars can be seen through the shafts as the angles of the shafts are irregular.

2) The shafts are horizontal for a short distance where they begin from the chambers.

3) Two of the shafts - those exiting the Queen's Chamber - don't even reach the pyramid's exterior and as late as the 19th century were sealed also within the so-called Queen's Chamber.

Bauval is adamant that he is right and that these alignments of the shafts are of a symbolic stellar nature.

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References

  1. J.A.R. Legon, 'The Air-Shafts in the Great Pyramid', DE 27 (1993) [back to text]
  2. R. G. Bauval, 'The Orion Mystery', (1994) [back to text]

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