Star Shaft Pointing - Busted: Debunking the Star Shaft Theory of the Great Pyramid
To the west of Cairo stands the great brooding mass of the Great Pyramid. And within that great edifice there lies four small and almost insignificant shafts, that rise up from the pyramid’s internal chambers like four arrows loosely arranged in a megalithic quiver.
But while these shafts may look insignificant, the complexity of their construction led Rudolf Gantenbrink, the engineer whose small robot explored these shafts, to suggest that they were the most important elements in the entire pyramid. These shafts dart out at (almost) fixed angles from the internal chambers, piercing and severely disrupting the horizontal layers of stone that form the bulk of the pyramid. The architectural danger this creates is that this great shaft of stones, inclined at anything up to 45º from the horizontal, becomes so disconnected from the surrounding construction that it simply slides back down into the chamber below - just like an unsecured child whizzing down a water-slide. And so these sloping stones had to be securely connected to the rest of the pyramid with interlocking ‘girdle stones’, to prevent them sliding downwards into the chambers below.
Fig 1. Inner structure of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Public Domain
Fig 2. The construction of the small shafts in the Great Pyramid is very complex. A flat lower stone is surmounted by a stone containing a channel. But all these stones need tying into the rest of the pyramid, to stop them slipping.
So these ‘insignificant’ small shafts were actually very significant indeed, and Gantenbrink speculated that the disruption caused by this additional architectural complexity may have doubled the construction time for the pyramid. But if these shafts were a central and very important component of the Great Pyramid’s design, then they must likewise have a very important function. But what was that function? And after so many millennia have passed since this great cathedral has been constructed, could we ever divine what that purpose was? One person thought he had.
Like arrows released from a bow, these four shafts appear to dart out at specific angles, perhaps to specific locations in the night sky. And so Robert Bauval devised a theory that these small shafts were designed to point towards particular stars in a particular era. Furthermore, Bauval went on to claim that because the elevation of these stars changes with the advancing millennia, due to the precession of the equinox (the slow precessional wobble of the Earth), a precise date for the construction of the Great Pyramid could be derived. As can be seen in fig 4, the southern shafts were said to point towards Sirius and Alnitak. These were significant stars because Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, while Alnitak is the brightest star in the belt of Orion. But the northern shafts were much less convincing in their trajectories, because they appeared to point randomly into the northern skies. The insignificant stars pointed to in the northern skies were said to be Kochab and Thuban, with the latter being claimed as the pole star in 2450 BC.
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Fig 3. Inside one of the small shafts in the Great Pyramid. There were some regions in these shafts, like this one, that were less than expertly carved. Rudolf Gantenbrink referred to them as ‘Monday morning blocks’.
And this star-pointing theory has been put forward so tenaciously over the years that it has begun to be accepted as a fact, even within the Egyptological world, and so many publications will now portray the small shafts as pointing towards specific stars in the night sky. But the simplistic diagrams that these publications reproduce are rather disingenuous. While Orion and Sirius may be significant stars in the night sky, the star pointing is not simultaneous, as these simplistic diagrams appear to show.
Alnitak, the largest star in Orion, reaches an altitude of exactly 45.0°, the elevation of the K.S. shaft, at midnight in 2480 BC. But it does not achieve this on any special or significant date, for this coincidence occurs on about November 9th. But at midnight on this very same day, Sirius is nowhere near the Q.S. shaft angle of 39.5°. We need to wait another one hour forty minutes for Sirius to reach its culmination in elevation of 39.4°. So this is not actually a simultaneous conjunction of events on a significant date. In fact, the diagram in fig 4 represents just two stars - only one of which is associated with Orion and therefore with Giza - whose elevation-dates have been specifically chosen to match the angles these shafts. And they match these shaft angles at different times on a calendrical date of no consequence. (Data derived from the Voyager 4.0 computer planisphere.)
The situation for the star-pointing theory gets even worse when we turn to the northern shafts in the Great Pyramid, for neither of these northern stars is significant in brightness, position or significance. And the claim that Thuban was the ‘pole star’ is not entirely correct. In reality, Thuban was displaced by 2° from the celestial pole in that era, and displaced a further 0.5˚ from the position that the shaft angle points to. Yet despite the star-pointing theory being contrived to fit a chosen date in this fashion, it has almost become established as a fact. Open any serious historical report or book on the pyramids, and there will invariably be a picture of this star-pointing theory, and a therefore a positive date for the construction of the Great Pyramid of about 2450 BC.
Fig 4. The star-shaft pointing theory championed by Robert Bauval. The shafts are said to point at specific stars in a specific era, and so we can supposedly date the construction of the Great Pyramid from these angles.
But there is more. In a similar fashion to this star-shaft theory, it is likely that the Sphinx was designed as a megalithic image of the constellation of Leo, and so it too can provide us with a precessional date for the construction of the entire Giza plateau. (And perhaps the Second Pyramid too.) The Sphinx achieves this by observing its stellar counterpart, the constellation of Leo, rising at dawn at the vernal (spring) equinox. This correlation will only happen in certain eras, and therefore we can derive a date for this distinctive correlation.
Fig 5. The Sphinx of Giza, Egypt. (Eviljohnius, Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
But while the star-shaft pointing date for the Great Pyramid gave a date of about 2450 BC, the date derived from the rising of Leo is 10,500 BC, which implies that the entire Giza plateau is very ancient indeed. But there is a huge disparity between these two dates, and so the book Keeper of Genesis, which was co-authored by Robert Bauval, concluded that Giza was designed in 10,500 BC but the designers did not get around to constructing the Great Pyramid for another 8,000 years. Clearly there was something drastically wrong with this combination of incompatible theories; and that something is the false star-shaft pointing theory, which is wrong with a capital ‘W’. Or perhaps that should that be more accurately described as being wrong with a capital ‘B’.
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However, it is fairly obvious why Egyptologists decided to jump upon the star-shaft dating bandwagon, rather than the rejected and dejected Leo dating theory. Egyptological ‘experts’ date the construction of the Great Pyramid to about 2550 BC. But this date is based upon some highly disputed evidence for a poorly daubed cartouche of Pharaoh Khufu, situated way up in the attic-chambers above the King’s Chamber. But the 4th Dynasty pharaoh associated with this pyramid was not called Khufu; his name was Pharaoh Ufura, a different spelling completely. And so the provenance of the cartouche in the attic chambers is not only disputed, it is also spelt incorrectly.
In addition, no pharaoh in his right mind would ever design a tomb that did not have its internal walls carved and painted with the king’s great name; with images of the supportive and approving gods; and with extensive quotes from the Book of the Dead. Clearly, the Great Pyramid was not the tomb of a pharaoh, and no royal mummy has ever been discovered in an Egyptian pyramid. Conversely, just because a succession of English kings are buried in Westminster Abbey, does not mean that this great cathedral is merely a tomb. The megalithic pyramids at Giza and Dahshur were most definitely not tombs, they were cathedrals.
So the star-shaft date and the classical date for the construction of the Great Pyramid ended up being within a century of each other, which was highly convenient for all concerned. And the result was an informal ‘conspiracy of mutual confirmation’ between Robert Bauval and academia, which championed and propagated a false theory simply because it supported a dubious official construction date for the Great Pyramid. Had Bauval’s theory derived a date of 7450 BC, these same self-serving academics would have ridiculed it, just as they ridiculed the ‘absurd’ 10,500 BC Leo date. But the star-pointing date was confirmatory and seemingly scientific, so nobody within academia wanted to investigate the issue further, because it was not in their interests to do so.
Fig 6. They pyramids of Giza, Egypt. (Bruno Girin, Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)
However, the truth of the matter is that the elevation angles of these small shafts are mathematical, and therefore the star-pointing theory is completely false. The Great Pyramid has a base-length of 440 tc and a height of 280 tc. (Dimensions measured in thoth or royal cubits of 52.35 cm.) And if we divide these measurements by the esoteric biblical number 40, we can derive a fundamental pyramid ratio of 11:7. And this happens to be half the fractional approximation of Pi, which is 22:7.** So the Great Pyramid is actually a Pi pyramid, it represents a fundamental mathematical function. (In fact, it represents 2 x Pi x r, or a circle.) And in a similar fashion, the Second Pyramid just next door is a Pythagorean 3-4-5 pyramid. And so it would appear that one important aspect of these megalithic monuments’ design, is that they are representations of mathematical functions indelibly carved in megaliths.
In which case, we might suspect that other aspects of this grand design are also mathematical. And we would be right, for the angles of elevation depicted by the four small shafts inside the Great Pyramid are 45°, 39.5°, 39.5° and 32.5°. And the numerical differences between these angles are as follows:
45° minus 39.5° = 5.5°
39.5° minus 32.5° = 7°
This gives us a ratio of 5.5:7, which is obviously half of the Great Pyramid ratio of 11:7. So here are those same Pi ratio numbers yet again, but this time involving angles rather than lengths. It would appear to be undeniable that these shafts angles have been derived from the mathematical function of Pi, because the design of the Great Pyramid itself is also based upon Pi, as has just been demonstrated. In which case these are Pi shafts, not star shafts. And the book K2, Quest of the Gods goes on to prove that the relationship of these shafts to Pi was a cognitive component in this design.
In which case, the angles chosen for these complex little shafts are related to Pi, not stars - their angles of elevation have been designed to resolve into a ratio that represents 1/4 of Pi. But an angle derived from a mathematical function cannot be amended so that it neatly points towards a particular star on a particular date in a particular era. A star-pointing shaft needs some flexibility in its angle, so it can be arranged to point at the intended star. However, a random star in a random era can always be arranged to match these fixed Pi-shaft angles, to force things to fit. And this is what Robert Bauval has done - force a date to match the shaft angle.
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But the methodology is in error, and so the results are wrong. And the resulting erroneous 2450 BC date is why Keeper of Genesis ended up with a highly unlikely 8,000 year interlude, between the start and the finish of the Giza construction project. Unfortunately for Robert Bauval a fixed Pi-based shaft angle cannot be arranged to point at a specific date in a specific era, and so a large number of otherwise respected reference texts will have to be amended to delete this error.
Note: In reality, these shaft angles are actually terrestrial map coordinates. And they are based upon the Pi-ratio of the Great Pyramid, because they were designed to draw a stylized imitation of the Great Pyramid on a map.
By Ralph Ellis
Thoth, Architect of the Universe, 1998
K2, Quest of the Gods, 2001
Also, actual astronomers have stated and shown that 10,500 years ago would not have been the Age of Leo. And Betelgeuse is the largest star in Orion along with Rigel.
Alnitak.... I had to stop reading this when it stated alnitak is Orion's largest star. SMH...
Wel, I happen to have this book and the way I understood it is that also the pyramids are dated at 10,500 BC, not only the Sphynx. Then something else that might support this ancient date. On several Sumerian clay tablets the two greater pyramid of the three are already depicted. I have seen the books presenting this. So there is no doubt in my mind -wether the shaft point to Orion or Signus- that the pyramids are much older then some 4500 years and not of Egyption history but of Sumerian history. Note that every other pyramid is not even by far as sophisticated as the two big ones at Giza. And Oh, Yes Col. Vise did fake the cartouce, we all know that, his family has admitted it because he was running out of money. There is a letter published in a book I have seen, that states this clearly. We should not stumble over each other who is right with what or not, keep open minds. If Bauval is only partially right, well, he has done a great job nevertheless dearing to pose it in the first place. It is easy on hindsite to look and say it all wrong. Let's put ideas together to figure it out. Every contribution will help, this one stated here, since the PI idea is very interesting but Bauval's idea as well. We have still a lot to discover and now with Hawass out of harms way the opportunity might come hopefully.
Ralph, good article here. I agree that the evidence does not seem to lead to the conclusion that the shafts are pointing at stars.
One thing that has always struck me as strange when this subject comes up is the fact that Gauntenbrink discovered that the Queen's Chamber shafts are not straight; they turn and change angles several times. For one of them(can't remember which) the first few turns are understandable, it is navigating around the Grand Gallery. (This leads me to wonder if the other turns could indicate the presence of unknown chambers....)
In any case, the Queen's Chamber shafts are always depicted as straight lines. They are not, and this has been known since the late 90's...
Please if you have time and write about Axel Klitzke's work: "Knowledge in Stone", he does a lot of numerical and mathematical work about the Gisa Plateau (incl. pyramids, inner and outer), it's fascinating although I cannot tell if he's right about it all or not, worth watching anyway (subtitles in English, there are even 5-6 presentations on YT in English): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlhorHHVwHs / here another one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyZyv62M6rc