Frank Dörnenburg, Author of the Month for January 2009
Pyramid Mysteries? What's that? (cont.)
By Frank Dörnenburg
A problem for the "older pyramids" idea is scientific dating methods. But what methods are there, and how do they work? The most important methods are stratigraphy (analyzing the layers of soil during an excavation), dated ceramic types, and of course, radio carbon. These methods will not lead to a result like "died 3 April 3705 BCE at 3:44.", but are the results really so inaccurate that we can toss them out as some "Chronology Critics" (an influential German group of Neo-Velikovskians, claiming that human history is only 2000 years old) claim?
To show the problems and the possible range of errors we look at an example: a modern house is covered by a land slide and in 4000 years archaeologists try to date the catastrophe by analyzing the partly antique furniture.
The pyramids are most probably as old as Egyptology says. But what ARE the pyramids? That pyramids are tombs is too dull for most people to accept, so authors of alternative history come up with a whole range of other uses; for example, landing beacons for approaching star ships, or a giant sun dial combined with an everlasting calendar. In the 19th century some scientists believed that the Great Pyramid was once open on one side and the Ascending Passage and Grand Gallery formed a gigantic astronomical observatory - a meridian instrument. Erich von Däniken even believes that the chambers in the Great Pyramid were cryonic chambers for deep freezing ancient star-gods. The ideas are discussed, with pictures demonstrating the problems.
Instead of having technical functions, the medieval Arabs thought that the pyramids were treasure vaults from a lost antediluvian culture. This idea is still repeated by some modern authors, but is there evidence for this? Are the Arabic stories trustworthy?
Most of the modern alternative authors see the pyramids only as a container to hold mathematical and geometric messages, also expressed through natural constants. The form and size were chosen so that the messages can survive millennia. These messages come from a distant past and tell us that the planners of the pyramids had a knowledge far superior to that of the ancient Egyptians. Several authors claim that the value of Pi, or Pythagoras' theorem is encoded, and not only in the buildings themselves.
Some of these riddles can never be true as the data they are based on are false, as anyone can discover with a cheap pocket calculator. Regardless, these "riddles" are recycled throughout alternative literature, without once being checked.
Another riddle is the position of the Great Pyramid. This combines so many coincidences that it could only have been planned by a people with exact knowledge of the earth. The pyramid stands in the exact centre of all land masses and divides the earth into exact portions of water and land - claims that can be checked easily.
Things really got interesting when I checked some calculations to find numerological secrets in a profane structure - my bureau! I was astonished when I discovered that it also must have been planned by an early high culture, because I could find all the special constants there - and more precisely than in any pyramid! A miracle? Or just a sign that one can find anything everywhere if you have enough measurement points and mathematical formulae?
The idea of the pyramids as a secret vault is not very convincing, so we should take a look at the arguments presented by alternative historians against the use of the pyramids as tombs. Why are there no inscriptions in them? Why were no mummies found? And why were no texts from Egypt found explaining the purpose of those buildings? Or does all this exist but it is suppressed by alternative authors?
Herodotus, the Greek traveler who visited Egypt in about 470 BCE, wrote that the three large pyramids in Giza were the tombs of kings called Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus. Most alternative authors dismiss this as lies, trusting the fantastic stories of Arabian historians or the "we don't know" claims of Diodorus. "Ancient source" is often seen as equivalent to eye witness, but is this true? Is Diodorus really an eye witness to events in ancient Egypt? No, in fact, Diodorus was separated from the time of the Great Pyramid by a longer time span than we are separated from him.
To demonstrate this we use a hypothetical scenario. The Mongols conquer Europe in 2010 and 2000 years in the future a Europologist has to decide what source to use for his research - a travelogue, such as a book from Bill Bryson, who traveled the region in our times, or a philosophical text from a Mongol teacher 1000 years in the future who had his own ideas about the Eiffel Tower or Cologne Cathedral.