Originally, the Great Pyramid stood at 481.3949 feet high. It has now been reduced to a little over 450 feet. Each side was intended to be about 755 feet long, and this hardly varies.

Initially the pyramid was encased in 22 acres of gleaming white limestone blocks, which were 8 feet thick and weighed about 16 tons. The mean thickness of the joints between these blocks was 0.02 of an inch, an astounding figure which would have made the pyramid appear as one single flawless megalith. Unfortunately, the majority of these were dislodged by an earthquake in AD 1301, and the exposed interior rock was used as a quarry for about 500 years.

The pyramid stands at a latitude of 29º58'51", or merely a mile south of exactly 1/3 the distance form the equator to North Pole.

The sides of the pyramid slope upwards at about 51º52', about the slope made by loose sand if it is allowed to fall and pile up. Interior passages always run at 26º. The longest star-shaft is that of the North Kings Chamber, at 65m. The shortest is 24m, and belongs to the Nth Queens Chamber. The steepest angle is 32º28' from the vertical, also held by the North Kings chamber. The shallowest is 45º15, this time belonging to the South Kings Chamber. The apparent reason for this variation (not counting star alignment) is that the two pairs (King's and Queen's shafts) appear to have been designed to emerge at the same height. Each star-shaft is about 23x22cm in width.


The meridian is an imaginary line running north-south across the center of the sky. As stars move in an east-west fashion, they achieve their highest point apon crossing the meridian. The shaft targeted at Osiris-Orion's belt would have done so circa 2,500 BC. A more intriguing possibility arises when one searches even further back, to approximately 15,000 BC, when the shaft once more lines up. Although 2,500 BC is labeled the 'pyramid age' by egyptologists, it is believed by many that the Sphinx, which is an integral (although not necessarily contemporary) piece of the Giza complex, can be dated back much further.

In the last few decades it has become apparent that the massive wearing on the Sphinx was not caused by wind and sand damage, but rather by enormous rainfall. The Sabians (whose arabic name Sa'ba comes form the ancient Egyptian word for star, Sba) worshipped the Sphinx under the name of Mwl, and believed that it had survived a great flood in approximately 13,000 BC. In this era, the Sphinx, which points due East, would have seen the sun rise against the background of the constellation Leo.

And so we see that the Giza plain may well have been seen as special, from an astronomical standpoint, since long before the great pyramids were built. It might also be useful to mention here that the Great and Second pyramids are built upon protruding foundations of bedrock, which may well have served as astronomical observation points for millennia.

It would be foolish to believe that the star shafts served intentionally as ventilation for the workers. As noted by Dr. Alexander Badawy in 19641, the simplest way to provide sufficient airflow would be to leave a slight space between slabs running from opposite sides of the Pyramid to the ceiling of the chambers. The shafts we are presented with, however appear to be constructed in the most difficult way, requiring 4 differently shaped blocks (A large wedge-shaped block with a flat underside, upon which a downward slanting hollow block rests to form the tunnel. On each side a wedge-shaped block with a flat top is required, and a final flat-topped wedge-block which rests apon the tunnel block completes the illusion of a single slab). Not to mention that the two shafts running to the so-called 'Queen's Chamber' have been sealed off for the last few epochs right up to the original construction, and the last 5 inches were only opened with a chisel in 1872 by Waynman Dixon, a British engineer.

Although rarely given credit for any astronomical expertise, it is believed that the ancient Egyptians knew about Zodiac progression (the Zodiac symbols move across the sky, changing the apparent rising point of the sun. As of AD 2000, we have entered the Age of Aquarius. Yay!). According to the pyramid texts, Horus (or the Horus-Kings/pharaohs, the reflection of the sky mirrored on earth as were many customs in ancient Egypt. It was believed that changes in the sky represented events that had happened in Zep Tepi, the first time, or age of the gods), in the form of the solar disc, crosses the Nile (the band of the Milky Way) on his way to join Osiris and Isis (Sirius, which moves across the sky at about 1 degree per 3000 years). He must first stand between the paws of Leo (or Rostau, a creature represented with a hieroglyph depicting two lions side by side, or one above the other) and receive directions form the ancients. The ceremonial boat discovered buried near the Great Pyramid's south face suggests that this journey may have been undertaken by the pharaoh, and that the Giza plan (and other pyramids to the North and South, at the correct to-scale distance, which help to complete the image of Orion) may have simply been tools used to complete this journey, perhaps as a kind of rejuvenation ceremony. After all, the rising of the region of sky known as the Duat, or afterworld in which Horus' journey takes place, is bathed in pink light before the Summer Solstice, and subsequent inundation of the Nile.

1 'The Stellar Destiny of the Pharaoh and the so-called Air Shafts in Cheops' Pyramid.'
The Purpose of Airshafts in the Pyramids at Giza

You might want to the read pyramid node first as a little background. There isn't much about airshafts but it might prove helpful.

You might have seen drawings of the layout out of the pyramids before but most of them are inaccurate. One common mistake is that the airshafts lead into the grand gallery when they really lead into the directly into the king's tomb. The airshafts did have a physically practical purpose. They gave air to the workers that built the inner workings of the pyramid. But the workers did have other air holes, such as the entrance, the airshafts were angled upwards diagonally, and only into the king's tomb. He didn't need much after he was mummified. Now that we've posed the question, let's step back a bit now.

The king's death was a very public thing, at first. The ancient Egyptians believed that the sun was carried across the sky in a specific type of boat used on the Nile, and the king used the same kind of boat to the afterlife. The king would be in a reed-boat like those when he was going to his pyramid/grave. There were many steps involved after the king died: being taken to the burial site, mummified, various rituals, etc. Each step of the process would have less and less people involved in it until the king was alone in his tomb.

The ancient Egyptians also believed that when the pharaoh died, he was "merged" with the god of death and the underworld, Osiris. Well it turns out that the airshafts had more than one purpose: the "air" one, leaving a path for the king to merge with Osiris, and leaving a path for the pharaoh's ka to roam freely. One has a "ba" and a "ka", the "ba" being your physical body and your "ka" the spiritual one. When your ba dies, your ka needs a place to go. So several "ka images" are built such as paintings, carvings, and sculptures that are supposed to be an image of the king and a place where he can reside after his ba has died. All the images were basically identical and they did not exactly represent the true image of the king, but the ideal one. He is shown eternally youthful, unblemished, and physically fit perfectly matching the time's ideal of masculine beauty; broad shoulders, flat stomach, and toned muscles.

There were a minimum of 28 images for a king. That's the number king Khafre had. There were so many because, if one was broken or stolen then there was another that fit the king and it was more likely that the king would last for eternity. Now back to the airshafts. Many ka images weren't even located inside the pyramid, many for Khafre were out in the courtyard of his palace or in one of his many valley temples. He needed a path to get to these images after all the entrances were sealed off! Remember, that they believed gods could see through the eyes in their ka images, and Khafre oversaw all festivals after his death.

All images had the pharaoh's name and title inscribed upon them so the king could know for sure that he was possessing the right image.

Now, the even more amazing purpose. If you look at the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure (the three great pyramids at Giza) you can see that they are in descending order (chronologically). There is nothing that says the Khufu was greater than either other king or that Menkaure was the weakest or poorest of the three. But you can see that the diagonal angles of Khufu and Khafre line up. Not only are all their sides parallel but the two diagonals form one line. Menkaure is not on this line and he is much smaller.

Remember that the ancient Egyptians had a great respect for the stars. People (at least the commoners) didn't have much entertainment so what could they do? They would sit around and tell stories about and look in awe at the stars. The pharoah did the same, but he gave them the impression that he caused all of it to occur. The farmers that made the majority of the population relied on the stars to tell them the season and the optimum time to plant and collect and all sorts of things. So the farmers were greatly in debt to them.

Well, you can't see it to day, but the airshafts in the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure all pointed to the constellation of Osiris at the time they were built. Scientist have recreated what the sky would look like at the time. They didn't have a north star to build or travel by, the used the all-important constellation of Osiris. Not only did they point to that constellation, but if you look at other pyramids' location all along the Nile, they actually form the constellation of Osiris to make a big cosmic map! The pharaohs were using there power to make a mirror image of the heavens on earth. How many people can say they've done that on such a great proportion.

Also, on the equinoxes, the setting sun lines up the corner of the pyramid Khafre with the shoulder of the Sphinx. It was supposedly built for him.

So anyway, it was originally thought that the pyramids Khufu and Khafre were built the way they were because there had been many accidents and cave-ins on the pyramid of Khufu, trying to perfect the smooth-sided pyramid, and they didn't want to make the same mistakes on Khafre. It would have been a very nice template to follow. It's true that this alignment may have helped in the construction of Khafre, but it simply isn't true that it's the reason why it was built the way it was. The were looking to the stars...

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