THE LUXOR AREA


Colossi

The Luxor area of Upper Egypt was the Thebes of the ancient Egyptians – the capital of Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdoms. Today it is famous for its temples and the nearby Valley of the Kings.

On the east bank is the modern town of Luxor. Running alongside part of the river bank and separated from it by the corniche is Luxor Temple. Modified over many centuries, its main pylons, or gates, are on the northern end. In front of them is one obelisk – its companion was given to France and taken to Paris where it was erected in Place de la Concorde on 25 October 1836.

Just south of the temple is the Old Winter Palace Hotel – used early this century by Lord Carnarvon as work proceeded on West Bank excavations and preliminary work on the tomb of Tutankhamun.

At the northern end of town is the sprawling Karnak complex of temples built over a span of about 1,500 years. It is famous for its main Hypostyle Hall with 134 massive columns. One can wander for hours amongst the ruins. Starting at the first pylon, one walks back through time to the earlier constructions toward the rear.

About halfway between Luxor and Karnak temples is located the Luxor Museum – one of the best in Egypt.

West Bank, Luxor The West Bank was the domain of the deceased and it is dominated by mortuary temples and hundreds of tombs.

The major temples include the Ramesseum – the famous mortuary temple of 19th-dynasty pharaoh Ramesses II. Walking amongst its ruins evokes a special feeling and the fallen colossus shows how even the mighty have fallen. This was the site from which Belzoni removed the famous bust now in the British Museum. Belzoni’s signature can still be found carved in stone in a couple of places within the Ramesseum, along with those of other well-known personalities of 19th-century Egypt.

Stories of the Ramesseum and the display of the enormous bust of Ramesses II in the British Museum moved the 19th-century English poet Shelley to write “Ozymandias”:

Ramesseum I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert… Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on those lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Medinet Habu was Ramesses III’s attempt to copy his ancestor. The complex was added to over the centuries following, but it is most impressive and shouldn’t be missed. The artisans from the nearby town of Deir el-Medina moved in to the compound when things got unsafe and the construction of Royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings came to a halt.

The mortuary temple of 18th-dynasty Queen Hatshepsut is a masterpiece of design and has been under restoration for about a century. It is built into a natural amphitheatre in the cliffs and does not look out of place in the 20th century, even though it was constructed during the early 15th century BC.

The mortuary temple of 18th-dynasty Queen Hatshepsut is a masterpiece of design and has been under restoration for about a century.It is built into a natural amphitheatre in the cliffs and does not look out of place in the 20th century, even though it was constructed during the early 15th century BC. Hatshepsut1

Most famous of all on the West Bank is the Valley of the Kings. Although its modern paths detract a little from its atmosphere, it is still possible to feel the link to the distant past – especially when most of the tourists have left earlier in the day.

Tutankhamun’s tomb is one everyone wants to visit – and should if possible – just to appreciate how small was the area that contained the riches now partly on show at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

However, there are many other more impressive tombs. There is no guarantee which ones will be open during a visit, but try to see those belonging to Thutmose III (the Napoleon of Ancient Egypt), Ramesses III, IV and VI, and Horemheb. That of Horemheb contains examples of how workmen created wall reliefs. The tomb of Seti I is a masterpiece, but structural problems keep it closed these days.


The Great Pyramid, Egypt

Giza pyramids of Cairo, Egypt
Giza pyramids soaring above the city of Cairo, Egypt
(Order Fine Art Print)

The Great Pyramid is the most substantial ancient structure in the world – and the most mysterious. According to prevailing archaeological theory – and there is absolutely no evidence to confirm this idea – the three pyramids on the Giza plateau are funerary structures of three kings of the fourth dynasty (2575 to 2465 BC). The Great Pyramid, attributed to Khufu (Cheops) is on the right of the photograph, the pyramid attributed to Khafra (Chephren) next to it, and that of Menkaura (Mycerinus) the smallest of the three. The Great Pyramid was originally 481 feet, five inches tall (146.7 meters) and measured 755 feet (230 meters) along its sides. Covering an area of 13 acres, or 53,000 square meters, it is large enough to contain the European cathedrals of Florence, Milan, St. Peters, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. Constructed from approximately 2.5 million limestone blocks weighing on average 2.6 tons each, its total mass is more than 6.3 million tons (representing more building material than is to be found in all the churches and cathedrals built in England since the time of Christ). The Great Pyramid was originally encased in highly polished, smooth white limestone and capped, according to legend, by a perfect pyramid of black stone, probably onyx. Covering an area of 22 acres the white limestone casing was removed by an Arab sultan in AD 1356 in order to build mosques and fortresses in nearby Cairo. Herodotus, the great Greek geographer, visited in the fifth century BC. Strabo, a Greco / Roman historian, came in the first century AD. Abdullah Al Mamun, son of the Caliph of Baghdad, forced the first historically recorded entrance in AD 820, and Napoleon was spellbound when he beheld the fantastic structure in 1798.

According to our present knowledge the Great Pyramid is mostly solid mass, it’s only known interior spaces being the Descending passage (the original entrance), the Ascending passage, the Grand Gallery, a mysterious grotto, an equally mysterious subterranean chamber, and the two main chambers. These two chambers, called the King’s Chamber and the Queen’s Chamber, have unfortunately retained the misleading names given to them by early Arab visitors to the pyramid. It is an Arab custom to bury men in tombs with a flat roof and women in rooms with a gabled roof; therefore, in the Great Pyramid, the flat-roofed granite chamber became the King’s Chamber, while the gabled, limestone chamber below became the Queen’s. Even those archaeologists who still stubbornly subscribe to the tomb theory of the pyramid do not believe that a queen or anyone else was ever buried in the limestone chamber. The King’s Chamber is 10.46 meters east to west by 5.23 meters north to south by 5.81 meters high (a series of measurements that precisely expresses the mathematical proportion known as the Golden Mean, or Phi). It is built of enormous blocks of solid red granite (weighing as much as 50 tons) that were transported by a still-unknown means from the quarries of Aswan 600 miles to the south. Within the chamber, in the western end, sits a large, lidless coffer (7.5 feet by 3.25 feet, with sides averaging 6.5 inches thick) of dark black granite estimated to weigh more than three tons. When the Arab Abdullah Al Mamun finally forced his entry into the chamber in AD 820 – the first entry since the chamber was sealed in some long ago time – he found the coffer entirely empty. Egyptologists assume that this was the final resting place of Khufu, yet not the slightest evidence suggests that a corpse had ever been in this coffer or chamber. Nor have any embalming materials, any fragments of any article, or any clues whatsoever been found in the chamber or anywhere else in the entire pyramid that in any way indicates that Khufu (or anyone else) was ever buried there. Furthermore, the passageway leading from the Grand Gallery to the main chamber is too narrow to admit the movement of the coffer; the coffer must have been placed in the chamber as the pyramid was being built, contrary to the normal burial custom practiced by the Egyptians for three thousand years.

The foolishness of the common assumption, that the Giza plateau pyramids were built and utilized by fourth Dynasty kings as funerary structures, cannot be overstated. It is a matter of archaeological fact that none of the fourth Dynasty kings put their names on the pyramids supposedly constructed in their times, yet from the fifth Dynasty onwards, the other pyramids had hundreds of official inscriptions, leaving us no doubt about which kings built them. The mathematical complexity, engineering requirements, and sheer size of the Giza plateau pyramids represent an enormous, seemingly impossible leap in abilities over the third dynasty buildings. Contemporary Egyptological explanation cannot account for this leap, nor can they account for the clear decline in mathematics, engineering and size of the constructions of the fifth dynasty. Textbooks speak of “religious upheaval” and “civil wars,” but there is no evidence whatsoever of these having occurred.

The attribution to Khufu of the Great Pyramid is founded solely upon three very circumstantial pieces of “evidence”:

  • The legends told to and reported by Herodotus who visited the pyramids in 443 BC
  • The funerary complex near the Great Pyramid with inscriptions citing Cheops/Khufu as
    the reigning pharaoh
  • In the pyramid itself, on a granite slab above the ceiling of the main chamber, some
    small, red ochre paint marks that have a slight resemblance to a hieroglyphic symbol for
    the name of Khufu.

Pharaoh Khufu himself left no indication whatsoever that he built the Great Pyramid. He did, however, claim to have done repair work on the structure. On the nearby “Inventory” Stele (dating to about 1500 BC, but showing evidence of having been copied from a far older stele contemporaneous with the fourth dynasty), Khufu tells of discoveries made while clearing away the sands from the pyramid, of his dedication of the monument to Isis, and of his building of the three small pyramids for himself, his wife, and his daughters next to the Great Pyramid. Regarding the red ochre paint marks found within the pyramid, most hieroglyph experts now believe these to be forgeries left by their “discoverer” Richard Howard-Vyse, rather than being quarry inscriptions left by the original builders. Howard-Vyse was under pressure to equal the discoveries of his rival, the Italian explorer Caviglia, who had found inscriptions in some of the tombs around the Great Pyramid. Modern researchers now suspect that, in the battle for one-upmanship, Howard-Vyse sought to overshadow his rival and gain renewed support for his own projects with a similar but more spectacular “discovery”, by forging quarry inscriptions inside the Great Pyramid. In other words, no firm evidence in any way connects the pyramids of the Giza plateau to the dynastic Egyptians.

Let us briefly consider a few matters concerning the construction of the Great Pyramid; matters which clearly indicate that the builders of fourth dynasty Egypt did not have the engineering capacity to erect the Great Pyramid (we do not have the capacity even today) and that this structure was used for a purpose altogether different from mere burial.

The Great Pyramid is constructed with approximately 2,300,000 limestone and granite blocks. Weighing between 2.5 and 50 tons each, these stone blocks had to be quarried from the earth. Herein lays our first unsolved problem. In the Cairo museum one can see several examples of simple copper and bronze saws, which Egyptologists claim are like those utilized in the cutting and shaping of the pyramid blocks. These tools present a problem. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, copper and bronze have a hardness of 3.5 to 4, while limestone has a hardness of 4 to 5 and granite of 5 to 6. The known tools would only barely cut through limestone and would be useless with granite. No archaeological examples of iron tools are found in early dynastic Egypt, yet even if they were, the best steels today have a hardness of only 5.5 and thus are inefficient for cutting granite. Some years ago Sir Flinders Petrie, one of the “fathers” of Egyptology proposed that the pyramid blocks had been cut with long saw blades studded with diamonds or corundum. But this idea presents problems too. The cutting of millions of blocks would require millions of rare and expensive diamonds and corundum, which constantly wear out and require replacement. It has been suggested that the limestone blocks were somehow cut with solutions of citric acid or vinegar, yet these very slow-acting agents leave the surface of the limestone pitted and rough, unlike the beautifully smooth surface found on the casing stones, and these agents are completely useless for the cutting of granite. The truth is, we have no idea how the blocks were actually quarried.

The unsolved problem of how the 2,300,000 very heavy blocks were transported to the building site of the pyramid is even more mystifying. How were the blocks taken to the nearly 500- foot height of the pyramid’s summit? A Danish civil engineer, P. Garde-Hanson, has calculated that a ramp built all the way to the top of the pyramid would require 17.5 million cubic meters of material, this representing more than seven times the amount of material used for the pyramid itself, and a work force of 240,000 to build it in the time allotted by Cheops’ reign. But if this enormous ramp were built, it would then require a force of more than 300,000 laborers as much as eight years to dismantle. Where would all the ramp material have been placed, since it is not to be found anywhere near the Great Pyramid? And what of maneuvering the precisely carved blocks into place without damaging the corners? Various lifting devices and levers have been proposed by modern engineers (remember, no existing dynastic records, paintings, or friezes give any clue to this mystery), but none solve the problem of how the 50-ton blocks of the main chamber were lifted and positioned using an area where only four to six workers could stand, when the strength of at least 2000 would be needed.

Next we come to perhaps the most extraordinary problem, that of the fashioning and placement of the highly polished limestone casing stones that covered the entire pyramid. The finished pyramid contained approximately 115,000 of these stones, each weighing ten tons or more. These stones were dressed on all six of their sides, not just the side exposed to the visible surface, to tolerances of .01 inch. They are set together so closely that a thin razor blade cannot be inserted between the stones. Egyptologist Petrie expressed his astonishment of this feat by writing, “Merely to place such stones in exact contact would be careful work, but to do so with cement in the joint seems almost impossible; it is to be compared to the finest opticians’ work on the scale of acres.” Herodotus, visiting in the fifth century BC, reported that inscriptions of strange characters were to be found on the pyramid’s casing stones. In AD 1179 the Arab historian Abd el Latif recorded that these inscriptions were so numerous that they could have filled “more than ten thousand written pages.” William of Baldensal, a European visitor of the early fourteenth century, tells how the stones were covered with strange symbols arranged in careful rows. Sadly, in 1356, following an earthquake that leveled Cairo, the Arabs robbed the pyramid of its beautiful casing of stones to rebuild mosques and fortresses in the city. As the stones were cut into smaller pieces and reshaped, all traces of the ancient inscriptions were removed from them. A great library of ageless wisdom was forever lost.

Still further evidence that the dynastic Egyptians did not construct the Great Pyramid may be found in sediments surrounding the base of the monument, in legends regarding watermarks on the stones halfway up its sides, and in salt incrustations found within. Silt sediments rising to fourteen feet around the base of the pyramid contain many seashells and fossils that have been radiocarbon-dated to be nearly twelve thousand years old. These sediments could have been deposited in such great quantities only by major sea flooding, an event the dynastic Egyptians could never have recorded because they were not living in the area until eight thousand years after the flood. This evidence alone suggests that the three main Giza pyramids are at least twelve thousand years old. In support of this ancient flood scenario, mysterious legends and records tell of watermarks that were clearly visible on the limestone casing stones of the Great Pyramid before those stones were removed by the Arabs. These watermarks were halfway up the sides of the pyramid, or about 400 feet above the present level of the Nile River. Further, when the Great Pyramid was first opened, incrustations of salt an inch thick were found inside. While much of this salt is known to be natural exudation from the stones of the pyramid, chemical analysis has shown that some of the salt has a mineral content consistent with salt from the sea. These salt incrustations, found at a height corresponding to the water level marks left on the exterior, are further evidence that at some time in the distant past the pyramid was submerged halfway up its height.

Let us turn our attention briefly to the matter of the purpose or multiple purposes of the Great Pyramid, drawing for our discussion on both the exact measurements made by modern scientists and the mythic legends of the remote past. A few facts:

  • The sides of the pyramid are lined up almost exactly with the cardinal points of the compass. The accuracy of this alignment is extraordinary, with an average discrepancy of only about three minutes of arc in any direction or a variation of less than 0.06 percent.
  • The Great Pyramid functioned as an enormous sundial. Its shadow to the north, and its reflected sunlight to the south, accurately marked the annual dates of both the solstices and the equinoxes.
  • The basic dimensions of the Great Pyramid incorporate measurements from which the earth’s size and shape can be calculated. The pyramid is a scale model of the hemisphere, incorporating the geographical degrees of latitude and longitude. The latitude and longitude lines that intersect at the Great Pyramid (30 degrees north and 31 degrees east) cross more of the earth’s land surface than any other lines, thus the pyramid is located at the center of the land mass of the earth (the pyramid is built on the closest suitable site to this intersection). The original perimeter of the pyramid equals exactly one-half minute of latitude at the equator, indicating that its builders measured the earth with extreme precision and recorded this information in the dimensions of the structure. Altogether these measurements show that the builders knew the exact dimensions of the planet as precisely as they have been recently determined by satellite surveys.
  • The foundation of the Great Pyramid is amazingly level., No corner of its base is more than one-half inch higher or lower than the others. Considering that the pyramid’s base covers more than thirteen acres, this near-perfect leveling far exceeds even the finest architectural standards of the present day.
  • Measurements throughout the pyramid show that its constructors knew of the proportions of pi (3.14…), phi or the Golden Mean (1.618), and the “Pythagorean” triangles thousands of years before Pythagoras, the so-called father of geometry, lived.
  • Measurements show that the builders knew the precise spherical shape and size of the earth and had accurately charted such complex astronomical events as the precession of the equinoxes and the lunar standstill dates. The minute discrepancies of the lengths of the base of the pyramid (several inches over the 230 meter length of its base) reveal not an error on the part of the builders but an ingenious means of incorporating into the pyramid the “discrepancies” of the earth itself, in this case the flattening of the earth’s globe at the poles.
  • Shafts leading upward from the two main chambers, previously thought to be air shafts for ventilation, have been shown to have another possible purpose. A miniature electronic robot mechanically crawled sixty-five meters up the shafts and its findings suggested that the south and north shafts in the Kings Chamber are pointed to Al Nitak (Zeta Orionis) and Alpha Draconis respectively, while the south and north shafts of the Queens Chamber point to Sirius and Beta Ursa Minor. The scientists conducting this research believe that the layout of the three pyramids on the Giza plateau precisely mirror the position of the three main stars in the Orion constellation. (While crawling along one of the shafts in the Queens chamber, the robot’s cameras photographed a previously unknown closed door that may lead to some hidden chamber.) Readers interested in these new findings should consult The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert.

What does all this mean? Why did the ancient builders of the Giza pyramids, whoever they may have been, encode so much precise mathematical, geographic, and astronomical information into their structures? What was the purpose of the Great Pyramid? While no authoritative answer can presently be given to this question, two intriguing matters suggest a direction for further inquiry and research. The first has to do with the persistent legends that the Great Pyramid, and especially the main chamber, was used as some sort of sacred initiation center. According to one legend, students who had first undergone long years of preparation, meditation and metaphysical instruction in an esoteric school (the mythic “Hall of Records” hidden deep beneath the desert sands somewhere near the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx) were placed in the granite coffer of the main chamber and left alone throughout an entire night. The coffer was the focal point of the energies gathered, concentrated, aimed, and directed at the main chamber by virtue of the precise mathematical location, alignment, and construction of the pyramid. These energies, considered to be especially potent at certain precisely calculated periods when the earth was in a particular geometric alignment with solar, lunar, and stellar objects, were conducive to the awakening, stimulation, and acceleration of spiritual consciousness in the suitably prepared adept. While it is now nearly impossible to spend an evening alone in the coffer of the main chamber, it is interesting to read the reports of those persons who have done so in the past. Mention will be made of experiences both terribly frightening (perhaps because of the lack of any appropriate training on the part of the experimenter) and also deeply peaceful, even spiritually illuminating. Napoleon himself spent a night alone in the chamber. Emerging pale and dazed, he would not speak of his powerful experiences, only saying, “You would not believe me if I told you.”

A second matter needing further inquiry from the scientific community studying the Great Pyramid – and one that might help explain the subject just discussed – concerns the matter of unexplained energetic anomalies frequently noticed and recorded in the main chamber. In the 1920s, a Frenchman named Antoine Bovis made the surprising discovery that, despite the heat and high humidity of the main chamber, the dead bodies of animals left in the chamber did not decay but completely dehydrated. Thinking that there might be some relationship between this phenomena and the position of the main chamber in the pyramid, Bovis constructed a small-scale model of the pyramid, oriented it to the same direction as the Great Pyramid, and placed the body of a dead cat at the approximate level of the main chamber. The result was the same. As he had observed in the Great Pyramid, the cat’s body did not decay. In the 1960s, researchers in Czechoslovakia and the U.S., conducting limited studies of the geometry of the pyramid, repeated this experiment with the same results. They also found that the form of the pyramid somehow mysteriously kept foods preserved without spoiling, sharpened dull razor blades, induced plants to germinate and grow more quickly, and hastened the healing of animals’ wounds. Other scientists, in consideration of the high quartz content of the granite blocks in the main chamber and the incredible pressures those blocks are subjected to, theorized that the main chamber may have been the focal point of a powerful piezoelectric field; magnetometer measurements inside the chamber indeed showed higher levels than the normal background geomagnetic field.

Although much research remains to be done in these areas, legend, archaeology, mathematics, and earth sciences seem to indicate that the Great Pyramid was a monumental device for gathering, amplifying, and focusing a mysterious energy field for the spiritual benefit of human beings. We do not know exactly how the pyramid and its main chamber were used, and the geometric structure of the pyramid has been subtly altered by the removal of the casing stones and the cap-stone. None-the-less, the Great Pyramid of the Giza plateau still emanates great power as a transformational power place. It has done so for uncounted thousands of years and seems destined to continue for ages to come.

Giza Pyramids after sunset
Giza Pyramids after sunset, Egypt

(Order Fine Art Print)

Great Pyramid, Giza
The building blocks of the Great Pyramid, Giza

the Great Sphinx

Facts About the Great Sphinx of Egypt

  • The Sphinx has been a symbol of Egypt from ancient times to the present. It has inspired the imaginations of artists, poets, adventurers, scholars and travelers for centuries and has also inspired endless speculation about its age, its meaning and the secrets that it might hold.

A Description of the Great Sphinx

  • The Great Sphinx of Giza is an immense stone sculpture of a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. The greatest monumental sculpture in the ancient world, it is carved out of a single ridge of limestone 240 feet (73 meters) long and 66 feet (20 meters) high.
  • The Sphinx sits in a shallow depression to the south of the pyramid of the Pharaoh Khafre (also known as Chephren) at the west bank of the Nile River near the city of Cairo.
  • The rock stratum out of which the Sphinx has been made varies from a soft yellowish to a hard grey limestone. The massive body is made of the softer stone, which is easily eroded, while the head is formed of the harder stone.
  • To form the lower body of the Sphinx, enormous blocks of stone were quarried from the base rock and these blocks were then used in the core masonry of the temples directly in front and to the south of the Sphinx.
  • Despite the hard quality of the stone of the head, the face is badly damaged, and not only by natural erosion. The nose is missing altogether and the eyes and the areas around them are seriously altered from their original state.
  • Some scholars believe that the Great Sphinx originally had a beard. Pieces of this beard discovered by excavation are in the British Museum in London and the Cairo Museum. These pieces, however, may be dated to the New Kingdom times of
    1570-1070 BCE.
  • Napoleon’s artillerymen have been blamed for using the face of the Sphinx for target practice.
  • The Sphinx is part of a complex of structures that also contains the Sphinx temple. This temple, like the Great Pyramid and the Oseiron temple at Abydos in Southern Egypt, may also date from Pre-dynastic times.

The History of the Sphinx

  • According to orthodox Egyptology the Sphinx was constructed in the 4th Dynasty (2575 – 2467 BCE) by the Pharaoh Khafre. However, an accumulating body of evidence, both archaeological and geological, indicates that the Sphinx is far older than the 4th Dynasty and was only restored by Khafre during his reign.
  • There are no inscriptions on the Sphinx, or on any of the temples connected to it that, that offer evidence of construction by Khafre. The so-called ‘Inventory Stele’ (uncovered on the Giza plateau in the 19th century) tells that the Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) – Khafre’s predecessor – ordered a temple built alongside the Sphinx, meaning of course that the Sphinx was already there, and thus could not have been constructed by Khafre.
  • A much greater age for the Sphinx has been suggested by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, based upon geological considerations. Schwaller de Lubicz observed, and recent geologists (such as Robert Schoch, Professor of Geology at Boston University) have confirmed, that the extreme erosion on the body of the Sphinx could not be the result of wind and sand, as has been universally assumed, but rather was the result of water.
  • Geologists agree that in the distant past Egypt was subjected to severe flooding. Wind erosion cannot take place when the body of the Sphinx is covered by sand, and the Sphinx has been in this condition for nearly all of the last five thousand years – since the alleged time of its 4th Dynasty construction.
  • If wind-blown sand were responsible for the deep erosion of the Sphinx, we would expect to find evidence of such erosion on other Egyptian monuments built of similar materials and exposed to the wind for a similar length of time. Yet the fact of the matter is, that even on structures that have had more exposure to the wind-blown sand, there are minimal effects of erosion, the sand having done little more than scour clean the surface of the dressed stones.
  • The purpose of the Sphinx is not known. Some orthodox archaeologists assume that it was a memorial to a Pharaoh or that it functioned as some sort of talisman or guardian deity. Other scholars, however, believe the Sphinx functioned as an astronomical observation device that marked the position of the rising sun on the day of the spring equinox in the time of Leo the Lion, which lasted from 10,970 to 8810 BCE. This interpretation is given support by the leonine shape of the Sphinx.
  • In 1798, when Napoleon came to Egypt the Sphinx was buried in sand up to its neck. Between 1816 and 1858, a series of adventurers and antiquarians, including Giovanni Caviglia, Auguste Mariette and Gaston Maspero, attempted to clear the sand from around the body of the Sphinx but were each forced to abandon the project due to the enormous amount of sand. Finally, between 1925 and 1936, the French engineer Emil Baraize was successful in clearing the sand to reveal the base of the Sphinx.

The Mystery of the Sphinx

  • Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) the ‘sleeping prophet’ had the ability to put himself into a deep trance. He stated in some of his trances that Egypt was the repository for records of the alleged civilization of Atlantis, about 10,500 B.C. This repository was an underground library, called the Hall of Records,” that contained the wisdom of Atlantis. Cayce claims that the Sphinx points in the direction of the “Hall of Records.” His reading states: “There is a chamber or passage from the right forepaw of the [Sphinx] to this entrance of the Hall of records, or chamber.”
  • In the 1980’s and 1990’s the Edgar Cayce Foundation conducted research in Egypt around the Sphinx to verify Cayce’s reading. Although researchers from all over the world have begun to look for this chamber with very sophisticated instruments, they have not found the Hall of Records.”
  • There are three passages into or under the Sphinx, two of them of obscure origin. The one of known cause is a short dead-end shaft behind the head drilled in the nineteenth century. No other tunnels or chambers in or under the Sphinx are known to exist. A number of small holes in the Sphinx body may relate to scaffolding at the time of carving.

The Pre-Dynastic era age of the Sphinx

  • Evidence suggesting a construction period for the Sphinx – greatly predating the 4th Dynasty – may perhaps be indicated by the astronomical significance of its shape, being that of a lion. Roughly every two thousand years (2160 to be exact), and because of the precession of the equinoxes, the sun on the spring equinox rises against the stellar background of a different constellation. For the past two thousand years that constellation has been Pisces the Fish, symbol of the Christian age. Prior to the age of Pisces it was the age of Aries the Ram, and before that it was the age of Taurus the Bull. It is interesting to note that during the first and second millennia BC, approximately the Age of Aries, ram-oriented iconography was common in Dynastic Egypt, while during the Age of Taurus the Bull-cult arose in Minoan Crete. Perhaps the builders of the Sphinx likewise used astrological symbolism in designing their monumental sculpture. Geological findings indicate that the Sphinx may have been sculpted sometime before 10,000 BC, and this period coincides with the Age of Leo the Lion, which lasted from 10,970 to 8810 BC.
  • Further support for this vast age of the sphinx comes from a surprising sky-ground correlation proven by sophisticated computer programs such as Skyglobe 3.6. These computer programs are able to generate precise pictures of any portion of the night sky as seen from different places on earth at any time in the distant past or future. Graham Hancock explains in Heaven’s Mirror that, “computer simulations show that in 10,500 BC the constellation of Leo housed the sun on the spring equinox – i.e. an hour before dawn in that epoch Leo would have reclined due east along the horizon in the place where the sun would soon rise. This means that the lion-bodied Sphinx, with its due-east orientation, would have gazed directly on that morning at the one constellation in the sky that might reasonably be regarded as its own celestial counterpart.”

Restoration of the Sphinx

  • Repairs to the Sphinx have been made over the centuries by the Pharaohs Tuthmosis IV and Ramesses II, and also during the Roman era. Restoration attempts have continued to the present time yet the Sphinx continues to deteriorate because of the relentless wind, humidity and the ever-increasing smog from nearby Cairo.
  • In the 1980’s, during a six-year period, more than 2000 limestone blocks were added to the body of the Sphinx and various chemicals were injected in the hopes of preventing its further deterioration. This treatment was not successful and in fact contributed to the deterioration. In 1988 the left shoulder crumbled and blocks fell off. Present attempts at restoration are under the control of the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ archaeologists.


Napoleon at the Sphinx in 1798


The Sphinx in the early 1900’s

Dendera, Egypt : Temple of the Goddess Hathor

Temple of the Goddess Hathor
Temple of the Goddess Hathor, Dendera, Egypt
(Order Fine Art Print)

Similar to other temple sites in Egypt, the presently standing complex at Dendera marks the location of a very old holy place. An indication of the antiquity of the temple site is given by the astronomical alignment of the main temple to Gamma Draconis before 5000BC. Early texts refer to a Pre-dynastic temple that was rebuilt during the Old Kingdom, and further developed by New Kingdom pharaohs including Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, and Ramses II and III. The present structure dates to the Greek and Roman periods, with the sanctuary and its surrounding chapels built by the later Ptolemies in the 1st century BC, and the great Hypostyle Hall by the Romans in the 1st century AD. Dendera was the chief place for the worship of Hathor, who is variously seen as the patroness of earthly love, the goddess of healing, and the great feminine source of all nourishment (like the Hindu goddess Kali, Hathor also has her terrible aspects; in one ancient myth she is a raging lioness sent to punish mankind for its rebellion).

Recent studies indicate that the temple of Dendera had several interrelated functions. It was a venerated place of pilgrimage where miraculous cures were effected by the goddess; it was a sort of hospital where various physiological, psychological and magical therapies were practiced; and it was the scene of great processions and festivals throughout the astrological cycle. A feature of Dendera not found elsewhere in Egyptian temples are the dozen mysterious crypts, some underground, some enclosed within the massive double walls of the upper temple. It has been suggested that these crypts were the dwelling place of the goddess, where her statue and ritual objects were kept, and where began the great New Year’s processions celebrating the dawn of creation. In the dark of night, the temple priests brought the statue of the goddess from the crypt, through the corridors of the enormous temple and, ascending to the roof, awaited the coming of the dawn. As the first rays of the morning sun broke upon the horizon, the statue was unveiled. Ancient texts speak of this ceremony whereby: “the goddess Hathor might be united with the beams of her father, Re” and that “the sky rejoices, the earth dances, the sacred musicians shout in praise.”

Enclosed within the precincts of the Dendera complex are a sacred lake, a temple of the goddess Isis, and a brick sanatorium where divine healing was practiced. There is also an early Christian church that typifies the situation in so many Egyptian temples, whose sacred precincts were usurped by the Christians. Within the main temple it is interesting to study the beautiful and highly detailed astrological calendars carved and painted upon the ceilings. Visitors may wonder about the blackened condition of other ceilings in the temple. When Napolean’s scholars first visited Dendera they found a centuries-old Arab village firmly established inside the great temple; the villagers’ cooking fires had blackened the ceilings over the years.

Temple of Hathor
Interior of the Temple of Hathor, Dendera

Isis, Egyptian Goddess of Magic and Giver of Life

Isis, Egyptian Goddess

of  Magic and Giver of Life

Isis, the Egyptian goddess of rebirth remains one of the most familiar images of empowered and utter femininity. The goddess Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, the goddess of the Overarching Sky. Isis was born on the first day between the first years of creation, and was adored by her human followers.

Unlike the other Egyptian goddesses, the goddess Isis spent time among her people, teaching women how to grind corn and make bread, spin flax and weave cloth, and how to tame men enough to live with them (an art form on which many of us would welcome a refresher course!)

Isis taught her people the skills of reading and agriculture and was worshipped as the goddess of medicine and wisdom.

Isis

More than any other of the ancient Egyptian goddesses, Isis embodied the characteristics of all the lesser goddesses that preceded her. Isis became the model on which future generations of female deities in other cultures were to be based.

As the personification of the “complete female”, Isis was called “The One Who Is All”, Isis Panthea (“Isis the All Goddess”), and the “Lady of Ten Thousand Names”.

The goddess Isis, a moon goddess, gave birth to Horus, the god of the sun. Together, Isis and Horus created and sustained all life and were the saviors of their people.

Isis

Isis became the most powerful of the gods and goddesses in the ancient world. Ra, the God of the Sun, originally had the greatest power. But Ra was uncaring, and the people of the world suffered greatly during his reign.

The goddess Isis tricked him by mixing some of his saliva with mud to create a poisonous snake that bit him, causing him great suffering which she then offered to cure. He eventually agreed.

Isis informed Ra that, for the cure to work, she would have to speak his secret name (which was the source of his power over life and death). Reluctantly, he whispered it to her.

When Isis uttered his secret name while performing her magic, Ra was healed. But the goddess Isis then possessed his powers of life and death, and quickly became the most powerful of the Egyptian gods and goddesses, using her great powers to the benefit of the people.

Isis


Isis was called the Mother of Life, but she was also known as the Crone of Death. Her immense powers earned her the titles of “The Giver of Life” and “Goddess of Magic”. Her best known story illustrates why she is simultaneously known as a creation goddess and a goddess of destruction.

Isis was the Goddess of the Earth in ancient Egypt and loved her brother Osiris. When they married, Osiris became the first King of Earth. Their brother Set, immensely jealous of their powers, murdered Osiris so he could usurp the throne.

Set did this by tricking Osiris into stepping into a beautiful box made of cedar, ebony and ivory that he had ordered built to fit only Osiris. Set then sealed it up to become a coffin and threw it into the river. The river carried the box out to sea; it washed up in another country, resting in the upper boughs of a tamarisk tree when the waters receded.

As time passed, the branches covered the box, encapsulating the god in his coffin in the trunk of the tree.

In a state of inconsolable grief, Isis tore her robes to shreds and cut off her beautiful black hair. When she finally regained her emotional balance, Isis set out to search for the body of her beloved Osiris so that she might bury him properly.


Isis

The search took Isis to Phoenicia where she met Queen Astarte. Astarte didn’t recognize the goddess and hired her as a nursemaid to the infant prince.

Fond of the young boy, Isis decided to bestow immortality on him. As she was holding the royal infant over the fire as part of the ritual, the Queen entered the room. Seeing her son smoldering in the middle of the fire, Astarte instinctively (but naively) grabbed the child out of the flames, undoing the magic of Isis that would have made her son a god.

When the Queen demanded an explanation, Isis revealed her identity and told Astarte of her quest to recover her husband’s body. As she listened to the story, Astarte realized that the body was hidden in the fragrant tree in the center of the palace and told Isis where to find it.

Sheltering his broken body in her arms, the goddess Isis carried the body of Osiris back to Egypt for proper burial. There she hid it in the swamps on the delta of the Nile river.

Isis

Unfortunately, Set came across the box one night when he was out hunting. Infuriated by this turn of events and determined not to be outdone, he murdered Osiris once again . . . this time hacking his body into 14 pieces and throwing them in different directions knowing that they would be eaten by the crocodiles.

The goddess Isis searched and searched, accompanied by seven scorpions who assisted and protected her. Each time she found new pieces she rejoined them to re-form his body.

But Isis could only recover thirteen of the pieces. The fourteenth, his penis, had been swallowed by a crab, so she fashioned one from gold and wax. Then inventing the rites of embalming, and speaking some words of magic, Isis brought her husband back to life.

Magically, Isis then conceived a child with Osiris, and gave birth to Horus, who later became the Sun God. Assured that having the infant would now relieve Isis’ grief, Osiris was free to descend to become the King of the Underworld, ruling over the dead and the sleeping.

His spirit, however, frequently returned to be with Isis and the young Horus who both remained under his watchful and loving eye.

Isis

There are many other variations of this myth . . . in some Isis found the body of Osiris in Byblos, fashioned his penis out of clay. In others the goddess consumed the dismembered parts she found and brought Osiris back to life, reincarnating him as her son Horus.

In one of the most beautiful renditions, Isis turns into a sparrowhawk and hovers over the body of Osiris, fanning life back into him with her long wings.

Regardless of the differences, each version speaks of the power over life and death that the goddess Isis symbolizes. . . the deep mysteries of the feminine ability to create and to bring life from that which is lifeless.

To this day the celebration of the flooding of the Nile each year is called “The Night of the Drop” by Muslims. . . for it used to be named “The Night of the Tear-Drop” a remembrance of the extent of the Isis’ lamentation of the death of Osiris, her tears so plentiful they caused the Nile to overflow.

Isis


The Egyptian goddess Isis played an important role in the development of modern religions, although her influence has been largely forgotten.

She was worshipped throughout the Greco-Roman world. During the fourth century when Christianity was making its foothold in the Roman Empire, her worshippers founded the first Madonna cults in order to keep her influence alive.

Some early Christians even called themselves Pastophori, meaning the shepherds or servants of Isis. . . which may be where the word “pastors” originated. The influence of Isis is still seen in the Christian ikons of the faithful wife and loving mother.

Indeed, the ancient images of Isis nursing the infant Horus inspired the style of portraits of mother and child for centuries, including those of the “Madonna and Child” found in religious art.

The power of the goddess Isis in the “public arena” was also profound. Her role as a guide to the Underworld, was often portrayed with winged arms outstretched in a protective position. The image of the wings of Isis was incorporated into the Egyptian throne on which the pharaohs would sit, the wings of Isis protecting them.

Isis

The ancient Egyptian goddess Isis has many gifts to share with modern women. Isis embodies the strengths of the feminine, the capacity to feel deeply about relationships, the act of creation, and the source of sustenance and protection.

At times Isis could be a clever trickster empowered by her feminine wiles rather than her logic or brute strength, but it is also the goddess Isis who shows us how we can use our personal gifts to create the life we desire rather than simply opposing that which we do not like.

The myths of Isis and Osiris caution us about the need for occasional renewal and reconnection in our relationships. Isis also reminds us to acknowledge and accept the depths of our emotions.

Egypt

The
Egyptian pyramids, after nearly 4,500 years, are still standing as
testaments to the faith, dedication and technology of ancient
Egyptians. A trip to Egypt would not be complete without a visit to the
Pyramids. Other pyramids exist, but their purpose, for the most part,
was different than those of ancient Egypt. The pyramids most famous
outside of Egypt are those located in Mexico and to the south of
Mexico, these appear to have been built more as temples. The Egyptian
pyramids were built as tombs, sometimes to hold the physical body of a
pharaoh and other individuals, or to hold the soul of the deceased, as
the small cult pyramids built next to the larger ones were. The shape
of the pyramid was choosen,to mimic the Benben, a pyramid shaped stone
found in the earliest of temples. The great size of many of the
Egyptian pyramids is believed to be about the Pharaohs' own power and
perhaps, the glory and strength of their country. 
In the desert west
of Cairo, on the site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, the
Egypt pyramids still stand on the Giza plateau as perhaps the most
elaborate tombs ever built. Probably the most renowned archeological
site, the Egyptian pyramid complex at Giza has three pyramids that were
all built toward the end of ancient Egypt's fourth dynasty of rulers
that reigned from 2589 to 2504 B.C.
The Great Pyramid
of Khufu is the largest of the three Egyptian pyramids at Giza.
Originally about 480 feet tall, the Great Pyramid's base has sides that
are longer than 754 feet and are oriented in the direction of the four
cardinal points of the compass. People have stood in awe of this
largest of Egyptian pyramids. Khufu's pyramid was looted by grave
robbers and had its outer limestone casing scraped off and used for
building projects elsewhere. But now, this Egyptian pyramid is once
again revered as a link to Egypt's past and is protected so that
visitors can experience its wonder for years to come.
Interesting Fact:
..........The
Pyramid of Khufu is revered as a symbol of long lasting durability and
that is probably the reason for its placement on the back of the US
Dollar Bill. 

Artist Rendition of Menkaure
Pyramids in the Mist
www.encarta.msn.com