Were Egypt’s Pyramids Megalithic Machines or Magical Mausoleums?
Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza were always my favorite ancient mystery growing up. I was forever debating whether they were high-tech super machines or massive tombs of the pharaohs. Their odd angled passageways, stacked chambers, and precision engineering suggested a machine-like nature, and I used to dream of them emitting lasers, radio waves, fire blasts, lightning discharges, or water fountains.
Their mystery only deepened in 2017, when muon and thermal scanning of the Great Pyramid revealed several lost chambers still to be excavated (scanpyramids.org). With the eyes of the world once again focused on Egypt, I asked myself: what really were the pyramids – sophisticated secret machines or symbolic stone sepulchers?
Did Pharaohs Dream of Electric Pyramids?
The Greek name pyramidos means “fire in the middle.” Many believe this referred obliquely to some internal electrical process. The “pyramid power” phenomenon emerged first in the 1930s, connecting the pyramid shape to mental and physical benefits. However, the first book to argue for an actual pyramid “machine” was Pharaoh’s Pump (1973), written by Edward J. Kunkel. He proposed the Great Pyramid worked like a hydraulic ram pump, forcing water up through the structure and out the small shafts via changes in air pressure. This model saw the pyramid as essentially a massive megalithic version of the smaller hydraulic/pneumatic water pumps later developed by Heron of Alexandria.
Basic mechanism of a hydraulic “ram” pump, which can raise water to a higher level via hydraulic pressure and six main components. (Provided by the author from Edward Malkowski’s article in the New Dawn Magazine, Special Issue #13’)
Engineer John Cadman tested and modified Kunkel’s theory, discovering that the pyramid could work as a vibrational “pulse generator,” via changes in air and water pressure. He argued that as water flooded into the subterranean chamber via the descending passageway, pressure would have increased via granite check valves, until a vibrational pulse was released. These “pulses” translated to a steady rhythm of vertical compression waves that would have propagated up through the structure.
Building on these ideas, engineer Chris Dunn proposed the pyramid was a chemical MASER system (or microwave LASER) in his 1994 book The Giza Power Plant. It would have used the cyclical compression pulses to transduce sound energy, via hollow clay resonators, and electromagnetic energy, via the piezoelectric effect of the quartz crystals in the granite of the King’s Chamber.
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The components of Dunn’s Power Plant inside the Egypt’s Great Pyramid. (provided by the author from Chris Dunn’s blog)
In the meantime, liquid hydrated zinc chloride and dilute hydrochloric acid, stored in the shafts of the Queen’s Chamber, would have produced hydrogen gas. This would have filled the Grand Gallery and King’s Chamber. To complete the process, atmospheric microwave energy would have entered the King’s Chamber via the north shaft, where it would have been amplified via the hydrogen gas, itself energized via the transduced energy of the vibrational pulses, and then emitted via the south shaft as a focused microwave beam.
Dunn suspects the Egyptians would have then used this microwave energy to power machines and appliances, such as high-speed rock saws. He noted several strange features of the pyramid that seemed to agree with his model, such as the north shaft from the King's Chamber, which appeared to him exactly like a waveguide used to direct microwaves.
Also, as the hydrogen gas formed in the Queen’s Chamber, impurities would have precipitated out, leading to encrustation of salts on the walls. This was indeed found by early explorers, including Flinders Petrie, who observed this noticeable crust in the Queen’s Chamber and could not explain it.
Layout of Egypt’s Great Pyramid, showing all the main interior rooms and passageways. (Jeff Dahl / CC BY-SA)
What Could be the Purpose for Electric Pyramids?
If Egypt’s pyramids were capable of generating or collecting electro-magnetic fields, then what purpose could these serve? Ancient Origins’ Borisov Konstantin proposed it was to: “emit free electrons to the Ionosphere … to create light on the planet.” Meanwhile, other scholars like Philip S. Callahan and Edward Malkowski believe the pyramids may have been using these fields, composed of ELF/VLF (extremely low and very low frequency) radiation, i.e. radio waves, to “fertilize” the Nile Valley. Callahan studied the tall, round towers in Ireland like Glendalough, and demonstrated (in his book Paramagnetism, 1995) that they are able to collect and concentrate atmospheric low frequency radiation (i.e. from global lightning strikes) into the surrounding fields, assisting the growth of crops.
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The tall round tower at Glendalough, Ireland. This tower was studied by Philip Callahan, who recorded voltage increases around these towers, which, he suggested, made the surrounding crops grow better. (Robertrevill / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Evidence the pyramid can focus radio waves came in 2018 with a study by Russian scientists. They confirmed that the Great Pyramid can measurably focus radio waves, noting:
“the pyramid's chambers can collect and concentrate electromagnetic energy … It is shown that the pyramid scatters the electromagnetic waves and focuses them into the substrate region.”
The King’s Chamber is also a locus of radio waves, likely due to its granite construction, which has >50% quartz crystals.
Despite this, many of these theories do not hold up to scrutiny. For example, the four small shafts are too irregular in dimensions and contorted to be specific waveguides. Also: for the water pump effect to work properly, massive multi-ton granite blocks would have had to function as check valves, pivoting up and down every few moments for potentially years. These massive granite slabs, swinging up and down repeatedly, would quickly break away from their pivot points, disabling the pump.
The same mechanism applied to Egypt’s Great Pyramid internal architecture. (Provided by the author from Edward Malkowski’s article in ‘New Dawn Magazine, Special Issue #13’)
When Rudolf Gantenbrink explored the shafts with his electronic rover Wepwawet in 1992-1993, he discovered many cracks along the sloped floors. He concluded that no liquid could have been contained within the shafts, therefore ruling out the power plant theory and any other that requires liquid to be stored there. As a geologist, I recognized another flaw: a dilute hydrochloric acid solution in any of the pyramid shafts would quickly dissolve away the surrounding limestone.
Were Egypt’s Pyramids a Primitive Tesla’s Tower?
When Wepwawet crawled all the way up the 208-foot-long (63 meters) southern shaft from the Queen's Chamber, he discovered two corroded copper handles protruding from a limestone slab. Another door with identical handles was discovered in 2003 at the end of the other Queen’s Chamber shaft. These four copper handles looked suspiciously like electrodes, prompting some to argue the pyramid might have been a primitive version of Tesla’s Tower at Wardenclyffe, N.Y., built to wirelessly transmit electricity.
Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe wireless station, located in Shoreham, New York, seen in 1904. (Unknown / Public domain)
Tesla believed the Earth and Ionosphere were two plates of a global capacitor, which offered an endless flow of electrons that could be transmitted around the world. Both structures were primarily non-metallic, built on a porous limestone foundation riddled with saltwater caves, with tunnels dug deep underground to below the water table. They both had golden capstones (Tesla’s was domed, the pyramid’s was pyramidal) from which excess electricity could discharge. He also needed his tower to be tall, for every extra meter of tower height increased the voltage he could generate by 100 volts. The Great Pyramid was the world’s tallest structure at 480 feet (146 meters) until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889.
Imagine the pyramid once showering the Nile Valley with electrical discharges, exactly like a report from a witness to the Wardenclyffe Tower in 1903:
“All sorts of lightning were flashed from the tall tower and poles last night. For a time, the air was filled with blinding streaks of electricity, which seemed to shoot off into the darkness.”
How intimidating it would be for the Egyptians to see this, but it’s nearly impossible to prove. However, when Sir Williams Siemens, a British inventor, visited the top of the Great Pyramid in the 19th century, he detected electro-static electricity in his Leyden jar, a primitive capacitor.
With these tantalizing ideas in mind, Zahi Hawass finally drilled into the southern limestone slab in 2002 and inserted an endoscopic camera, live on global TV. Chris Dunn thought it would reveal the reservoir of hydrated zinc chloride, which he argued was used to produce hydrogen gas. He believed they would also find copper cables connecting the shafts to an internal power grid. Unfortunately, all they saw was another limestone door 21 cm away. No cables have ever been found.
Then, in 2011, a reversible camera was inserted into the space and rotated to see the back of the slab. It was discovered that the copper handles formed two loops, and far from being electrodes, they actually resembled the metal loops of Egyptian door locks (through which a bolt would slide). Such symbolic “doors” are mentioned in the Pyramid Texts as being important to the pharaoh’s ascension: “The two doors of the horizon are open; its bolts slide.” (Utterance 220).
Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza at sunset (acrylic on canvass). (Jennifer Stephenson / author provided)
The Stars, the Sun, and the Cosmic Sea - Symbolism in Stone
A poem from the time after the Pyramid Age, “The Harper’s Song,” speaks of the pyramids as tombs for the deceased pharaohs:
“The dead pharaohs who were before rest in their pyramids.”
Hawass and Dr. Mark Lehner, in their definitive Giza and the Pyramids (2017) explain: “the pyramid tomb was the place of ascension and transformation of a god-king.” Dr. Bob Brier stresses their magical nature, likening them to “resurrection machines.”
Magic, or hekau, was the chief aspect of daily life in ancient Egypt. Just as ivory wands became magically powerful with the right spoken words, and special temple rooms called Bes chambers magically helped visiting women with conception, Brier argues that Egypt’s pyramids would have been used in conjunction with the incantations of the Pyramid Texts to magically revive the king: “Rise yourself, O King, for you have not died!” (Utt, 373), and “be powerful forever and ever!” (Utt, 364).
The Pyramid Texts were inscribed onto the walls of later pyramids, and were full of stellar, solar, and mythic elements. It is therefore not surprising that the pyramids and their mortuary complexes were themselves complex stellar-solar-mythic structures. This is best summarized by Alan F. Alford in The Midnight Sun (2004): “The pyramid was designed to resurrect the king according to the creation myth.”
They provided for the king the path of ascent to the sky: “A stairway to the sky is set up … that he may mount upon it to the sky!” (Utt, 365). Even their “mound-like” shape reflected the benben stone, the first dry land to emerge from the waters of creation and symbol of rejuvenation and rebirth.
In The Orion Mystery (1994) authors Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert stress the stellar aspect of the pyramids: the Giza pyramids mirror the stars of Orion, all have north-facing entrances to the pole stars, and many have stellar names (Djoser’s Step Pyramid was Horus is the Star at the Head of the Sky). The four shafts point to the northern and southern skies, both of which are mentioned in the Pyramid Texts.
The northern shafts point to the polar stars (the “Imperishables”). These never set below the horizon and were considered the home of the gods. According to John F. Hall, “the destination of (the king’s) ascent is the undying stars, the abode of the gods”: “I am back to back with those northern gods of the sky – the Imperishable Stars, and I will not perish … I will not pass away.” (Utt, 1080).
The southern shafts point generally to the belt of Orion and the bright star Sirius, both of which were incorporated into the afterlife mythology of the Pyramid Texts. Bauval and Gilbert related how the king personified Osiris and his stellar counterpart, Sah, or Orion.
Meanwhile, Manu Seyfzadeh showed that during the Old Kingdom, Horus and the pharaoh were equated with Sopdu, or Sirius, the night’s brightest star, upon whose yearly 70-day “disappearance” from the sky, the process of mummification was founded. Most importantly, Virginia Trimble and Alexander Badawy showed in 1964 that the shafts pointed to these stars at the particular date range of 2500-2550 BC. This corresponds well with the calibrated radiocarbon dates of 2620-2484 BC as presented by Michael W. Dee (2012).
Curiously, the three pyramids form a diagonal of 44°, which was explained most famously in 1994 by Bauval and Gilbert. They suggested the three pyramids “mirrored” the three belt stars of Orion, only in 10,500 BC. Bauval recognized another possibility for this angle in The Egypt Code (2008): its alignment towards Heliopolis, home of the creator god Atum and Sun god Ra. As Dr. Giulio Magli notes: “an interesting feature exists in the layouts of Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza: the presence of a ‘main axis’ directed to the area where the ancient Temple of the Sun of Heliopolis once stood, on the opposite bank of the Nile. This axis is connected with a process of ‘solarization’ of the pharaoh, which probably started with Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid.”
Approximate stellar alignments of the four shafts within the Great Pyramid. (Ancient Origins)
The ideas of light and the Sun seemed integral to Egypt’s pyramids, for the Great Pyramid was called Akhet Khufu, meaning “the horizon of light of Khufu”. His father, Sneferu, had earlier embraced the Sun cult of Ra, re-orienting his mortuary temples east instead of north and giving his pyramids light-based names such as The Shining Pyramid of Sneferu. He even began the tradition of finishing his pyramids with smooth polished sides, likely to mimic sun rays. Khufu then incorporated the name Ra into those of his children, and the deity featured prominently in the Pyramid Texts: “O Ra, give this king your hand!” (Utt, 571). It is tempting to imagine the purpose of Khufu’s wholly unique open southern shaft was to allow the Sun into the Great Pyramid – Ra as the high-noon Sun, connecting with the pharaoh forever. This effect was actually observed on two days annually by Flinders Petrie.
A third aspect of pyramid symbolism is the flood of rebirth. Akhet Khufu has a double meaning of “the flooding of Khufu”, and the Pyramid Texts speak of the pharaoh being resurrected in water: “Raise yourself, O King, receive your water, gather together your bones, stand on your feet, being a spirit at the head of the spirits.” (Utt, 457). The burial of Sneferu, Khufu’s father, was sunk into the floor at the Red Pyramid, and Khaf-Ra likewise sunk his sarcophagus into the floor of his pyramid – likely to symbolize the flooding of rebirth.
However, Khufu’s sarcophagus was not sunk into the ground, and his burial was also high into the pyramid. In fact, his burial was the only one above the level of its entrance in all Egypt. How then could it symbolically “flood”? More importantly, Khufu was connected to the very old creator god, the ram-headed Khnum, after whom he was named. He hailed from Elephantine Island, where the Nile flood first appeared in Egypt. Before Osiris emerged later in the 5 th Dynasty, it was Khnum who controlled the flooding of rebirth from his caves at Aswan, and it was from here that both Djoser and Khufu acquired their respective burial’s massive red granite beams, pregnant with magical potential. “Raise yourself, O King … receive this pure water of yours, which issues from Elephantine…O King, the cool water is the Great Flood…” (Utt, 865).
Elephantine Island in the south of Egypt, home of the Nile Flood, the god Khnum, the primeval mound of creation and the magical red Aswan granite, seen in photo as rounded mounds. Djoser and Khufu both used this sacred granite for their burials. (Marc Ryckaert / CC BY 3.0)
Scholar Anthony Sakovich believes the open shafts in the King’s Chamber hold the clue: they were used to symbolically “flood” the burial chamber with celestial waters, which the Egyptians believed resided behind the sky. As he states:
“these shafts serve as one single canal linking the southern end of the great waterway, through Khufu’s sepulchral chamber, to the northern end of the same celestial counterpart of the Nile… This kind of ‘sympathetic magic’ …allowed the king to divert the waters that were essential for his revivification, while still allowing him to move his body upward into the body of the pyramid.”
Interestingly, the shafts are exactly as high as the sarcophagus (meaning they wouldn’t “over” flood the burial) and they exit the pyramid at the same level, implying a symbolic water level of the ‘Great Cosmic Waterway’.
Egypt’s pyramids, therefore, really were machines – not physical ones but magical ones, with functions every bit as “real” to the Egyptians as our own computers. They combined unique cosmological models of the stars, the Sun, rebirth, flooding, and the Celestial Ocean with the magical spells of the Pyramid Texts to create an equally unique “resurrection machine” for the king.
Top image: Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza, in the night sky. Source: Aliaksei / Adobe stock
Alford, A. 2004. The Midnight Sun: The Death and Rebirth of Gods in Ancient Egypt. Eridu Books.
Allen, J. 2005. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Society of Biblical Literature.
Balezin, M., Baryshnikova, K., Kapitanova, P., and Evlyukhin, A. 2018. Electromagnetic properties of the Great Pyramid: First multipole resonances and energy concentration. Journal of Applied Physics. [Online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326530154_Electromagnetic_properties_of_the_Great_Pyramid_First_multipole_resonances_and_energy_concentration
Bauval, R., and Gilbert, A. 1994. The Orion Mystery: Unlocking the Secrets of the Pyramids. Doubleday.
Callahan, P. 1995. Paramagnetism: Rediscovering Nature’s Secret Force of Growth. Acres.
Dunn, C. 1998. The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt. Bear & Company.
Lehner, M., and Hawass, Z. 2017. Giza and the Pyramids: The Definitive History. University of Chicago Press.
Magli, G. 2010. The Cosmic Landscape in the Age of the Pyramids. Journal of Cosmology [Online] Available at: https://books.google.com.ec/books?id=t400fpjvskIC&pg=PA263&lpg=PA263&dq=Magli,+Giulio,+“The+Cosmic+Landscape+in+the+Age+of+the+Pyramids”,&source=bl&ots=NEGF3ziyxU&sig=ACfU3U0li9JL2AUTmwuEb4T5X0CqMuQzIg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwifqomXjqTnAhVR2FkKHVR5CMAQ6AEwAnoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Magli%2C%20Giulio%2C%20“The%20Cosmic%20Landscape%20in%20the%20Age%20of%20the%20Pyramids”%2C&f=false
Malkowski, E. 2010. Ancient Egypt 39,000 BCE: The History, Technology, and Philosophy of Civilization X. Bear & Company.
Sakovitch, A. 2005. Explaining the Shafts in Khufu’s Pyramid at Giza. Journal for the American Research Center in Egypt. [Online] Available at: http://www.gizapyramids.org/static/pdf%20library/sakovich_jarce_42_2005-6.pdf