Chapter 49 - The Power of the Thing

On a scale of 1:43,200 the Great Pyramid serves as a model, and map-projection, of the northern hemisphere of the earth. What absolutely excludes the possibility that this could be a coincidence is the fact that the scale involved is keyed in numerically to the rate of precession of the equinoxes—one of earth’s most characteristic planetary mechanisms.


It is therefore clear that we are confronted here by the manifestation of a deliberate planning decision: one intended to be recognizable as such by any culture which had acquired,

(a) an accurate knowledge of the dimensions of the earth

(b) an accurate knowledge of the rate of precessional motion

Thanks to the work of Robert Bauval, we can now be certain that another deliberate planning decision was implemented in the Great Pyramid (which—it is increasingly apparent—must be understood as a device designed to fulfill many different functions). In this case the plan was a truly ambitious one involving the Second and Third Pyramids as well, but it bears the fingerprints of the same ancient architects and builders who conceived of the Great Pyramid as a scale model of the earth.


Their hallmark seems to have been precession—perhaps because they liked its mathematical regularity and predictability—and they used precession to devise a plan which could be understood properly only by a scientifically advanced culture.

Ours is such a culture, and Robert Bauval is the first to have worked out the basic parameters of the plan—a discovery for which he has received public acclaim and will in due course, get the scientific recognition he deserves.1


Belgian by nationality, born and brought up in Alexandria, he is tall, lean, clean-shaven, forty-something, and going a little thin on top. His most notable feature is a stubborn lower jaw which characterizes his tenacious, inquiring personality; he speaks with a hybrid French-Egyptian-English accent and is decidedly oriental in manner. He has a first-class mind and is always restlessly accumulating and analyzing new data relevant to his interests, finding new ways to look at old problems. In the process, entirely by accident, he has succeeded in transforming himself into a kind of magician of esoteric knowledge.

1 Robert Bauval’s The Orion Mystery (Heinemann, London; Crown, New York; Doubleday, Canada; List, Germany; Planeta, Spain; Pygmalion, France, etc.) was an international bestseller when it was published in 1994. Egyptologists closed ranks against its implications, which they refused to discuss, but many distinguished astronomers hailed Bauval’s findings as a breakthrough.

The Orion Mystery
The roots of Bauval’s discoveries at Giza go back to the 1960s when the Egyptologist and architect Dr. Alexander Badawy and the American astronomer Virginia Trimble demonstrated that the southern shaft of the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid was targeted like a gun-barrel on the Belt of Orion during the Pyramid Age—around 2600 to 2400 BC.2

Bauval decided to test the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber, which Badawy and Trimble had not investigated, and established that it had been sighted on the star Sirius during the Pyramid Age. The evidence that proved this was provided by the German engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink as a result of measurements taken by his robot Upuaut in March 1993.


This was the robot that had made the startling discovery of a closed portcullis door blocking the shaft at a distance of about 200 feet from the Queen’s Chamber. Equipped with a high-tech on-board clinometer, the little machine had also provided the first-ever completely accurate reading of the shaft’s angle of inclination: 39° 30’.3

As Bauval explains:

I did the calculations and these established that the shaft had been targeted on the meridian transit of Sirius around the epoch 2400 BC. There couldn’t be any doubt about it at all. I also recalculated the Orion’s Belt alignment worked out by Badawy and Trimble with new data that Gantenbrink gave me on the inclination of the southern shaft of the King’s Chamber.


He’d measured that at 45 degrees exactly, whereas Badawy and Trimble had worked with Flinders Petrie’s slightly less accurate measurement of 44° 30’. The new data enabled me to refine Badawy’s and Trimble’s date for the alignment. What I found was that the shaft had been precisely targeted on Al Nitak, the lowest of the three belt stars, which crossed the meridian at altitude 45 degrees around the year 2475 BC.4

Up to this point Bauval’s conclusions had been well within the chronological bounds set by orthodox Egyptologists, who normally dated the construction of the Great Pyramid to around 2520 BC.5 If anything, the alignments the archaeo-astronomer had come up with suggested that the shafts had been built a little later, rather than earlier, than conventional wisdom allowed.

2 Virginia Trimble, cited in The Orion Mystery, p. 241.

3 Ibid., p. 172.
4 Personal communications/interviews, 1993-4.
5 Atlas of Ancient Egypt, p. 36.

As the reader is aware, however, Bauval had also made another discovery of an altogether more unsettling nature. Once again it involved the stars of Orion’s Belt:

They’re slanted along a diagonal in a south-westerly direction relative to the axis of the Milky Way and the pyramids are slanted along a diagonal in a southwesterly direction relative to the axis of the Nile. If you look carefully on a clear night you’ll also see that the smallest of the three stars, the one at the top which the Arabs call Mintaka, is slightly offset to the east of the principal diagonal formed by the other two.


This pattern is mimicked on the ground where we see that the Pyramid of Menkaure is offset by exactly the right amount to the east of the principal diagonal formed by the Pyramid of Khafre (which represents the middle star, Al Nilam) and the Great Pyramid, which represents Al Nitak. It’s really quite obvious that all these monuments were laid out according to a unified site plan that was modelled with extraordinary precision on those three stars. ... What they did at Giza was to build Orion’s Belt on the ground.’6

There was more to come. Using a sophisticated computer programme7 capable of plotting the precessionally induced changes in the declinations of all the stars visible in the sky over any part of the world in any epoch, Bauval found that the Pyramids/Orion’s Belt correlation was general and obvious in all epochs, but specific and exact in only one:

At 10,450 BC—and at that date only—we find that the pattern of the pyramids on the ground provides a perfect reflection of the pattern of the stars in the sky. I mean it’s a perfect match—faultless—and it cannot be an accident because the entire arrangement correctly depicts two very unusual celestial events that occurred only at that time.


First, and purely by chance, the Milky Way, as visible from Giza in 10,450 BC, exactly duplicated the meridional course of the Nile Valley; secondly, to the west of the Milky Way, the three stars of Orion’s Belt were at the lowest altitude in their precessional cycle, with Al Nitak, the star represented by the Great Pyramid, crossing the meridian at 11° 08’.8

Precession and the stars of Orion’s belt.

6 Personal communications/interviews.
7 Skyglobe 3.6.
8 Personal communications/interviews.


The reader is already familiar with the way the earth’s axial precession causes sunrise on the vernal equinox to migrate along the band of the zodiac over a cycle of about 26,000 years. The same phenomenon also affects the declination of all visible stars, producing, in the case of the Orion constellation, very gradual but significant changes in altitude.


Thus from its highest point at meridian transit (58° 11’ above the southern horizon as viewed from Giza) it takes Al Nitak about 13,000 years to descend to the low point, last registered in 10,450 BC, that is immortalized in stone on the Giza plateau—i.e. 11° 08’. As another 13,000 years pass, the belt stars very slowly rise again until Al Nitak is back at 58° 11’; then during the next 13,000 years they gradually fall once more to 11° 08’. This cycle is eternal: 13,000 years up, 13,000 years down, 13,000 years up, 13,000 years down, for ever. 9

It’s the precise configuration for 10,450 BC that we see on the Giza plateau—as though a master-architect came here in that epoch and decided to lay out a huge map on the ground using a mixture of natural and artificial features. He used the meridional course of the Nile Valley to depict the Milky Way, as it looked then. He built the three pyramids to represent the three stars, exactly as they looked then.


And he put the three pyramids in exactly the same relationship to the Nile Valley as the three stars then had to the Milky Way. It was a very clever, very ambitious, very exact way to mark an epoch—to freeze a particular date into architecture if you like ...10


9 Skyglobe 3.6
10 Personal communications/interviews.


The First Time
I found the implications of the Orion correlation complicated and eerie.

On the one hand, the Great Pyramid’s southern shafts ‘precessionally anchored’ the monument to Al Nitak and Sirius in 2475-2400 BC, dates which coincided comfortably with the epoch when Egyptologists said the monument had been built.

On the other hand the disposition of all three of the pyramids in relation to the Nile Valley eloquently signalled the much earlier date of 10,450 BC. This coincided with the controversial geological findings John West and Robert Schoch had made at Giza, which suggested the presence of a high civilization in Egypt in the eleventh millennium BC.


Moreover, the disposition of the pyramids had not been arrived at by any random or accidental process but seemed to have been deliberately chosen because it marked a precessionally significant event: the lowest point, the beginning, the First Time in Orion’s 13,000-year ‘up’ cycle.

I knew that Bauval believed this astronomical event to have been linked symbolically to the mythical First Time of Osiris—the time of the gods, when civilization had supposedly been brought into the Nile Valley—and that his reasoning for this derived from the mythology of Ancient Egypt which directly associated Osiris with the Orion constellation (and Isis with Sirius).11

11 See Chapters Forty-two to Forty-four.

Had the historical archetypes for Osiris and Isis actually come here in the First Time, twelve and a half thousand years ago?12 My research into Ice Age mythologies had persuaded me that certain ideas and memories could linger in the human psyche for many millennia, transmitted from generation to generation by oral tradition. I could therefore see no prima facie reasons why the Osirian mythology, with its strange and anomalous characteristics, should not have originated as far back as 10,450 BC.

12 ‘The Egyptians ... believed that they were a divine nation, and that they were ruled by kings who were themselves gods incarnate; their earliest kings, they asserted, were actually gods, who did not disdain to live on earth, and to go about up and down through it, and to mingle with men.’ The Gods of the Egyptians, volume I, p. 3.

However, it was the civilization of dynastic Egypt that had elevated Osiris to the status of the high god of resurrection. That civilization was one that had few known antecedents, and none at all recognizable in the remote epoch of the eleventh millennium BC.

  • If the Osirian mythology had been transmitted across 8000 years, therefore, then what culture had transmitted it?

  • And had this culture also been responsible for both the astronomical alignments proven to have been manifested by the pyramids: 10,450 BC and 2450 BC?

These were among the questions I planned to put to Robert Bauval in the shadow of the pyramids. Santha and I had arranged to meet him at dawn, at the Mortuary Temple of Khafre, so that the three of us could watch the sun come up over the Sphinx.

The pyramids and the belt stars of Orion at 10,450 BC, meridian view.

The platform
Positioned beside the eastern face of the Second Pyramid, the largely ruined Mortuary Temple was a spooky, grey, cold place to be at this hour. And as John West had indicated during our conversation at Luxor, there could be little doubt that it belonged to the same severe, imposing and unadorned style of architecture as the better-known Valley Temple. Here, at any rate, were the same enormous blocks, weighing 200 tons or more each.13


13 The Mortuary Temple was excavated by von Sieglin in 1910 and was found to consist of blocks of varying sizes weighing ‘between 100 and 300 tons’. Blue Guide: Egypt, p. 431.

And here too was the same intangible atmosphere of vast antiquity and awakening intelligence, as though some epiphany might be at hand. Even in its present, much despoiled state, this anonymous structure, which Egyptologists had called a Mortuary Temple, was still a place of power that seemed to draw its energy from an epoch far in the past.

I looked up at the huge mass of the Second Pyramid’s eastern face just behind us in the pearl-grey dawn light. Again, as John West had pointed out, there was much to suggest that it might have been built in two different stages. The lower courses, up to a height of perhaps thirty feet, consisted largely of cyclopean limestone megaliths like those in the temples. Above this height, however, the remainder of the pyramid’s gigantic core had been formed out of much smaller blocks weighing around two to three tons each (like the majority of the blocks in the Great Pyramid).

  • Had there been a time when a twelve-acre, thirty-foot-high megalithic platform had stood here on the ‘hill of Giza’, west of the Sphinx, surrounded only by nameless square and rectangular structures such as the Valley and Mortuary Temples?

  • In other words, was it possible that the Second Pyramid’s lower courses might have been built first, before the other pyramids—perhaps long before, in a much earlier age?

The cult
That question was still on my mind when Robert Bauval arrived. After exchanging a few chilly pleasantries about the weather—a cold desert wind was blowing across the plateau—I asked him,

‘How do you account for the 8000-year gap in your correlations?’


‘Yes; shafts that seem to have been aligned in 2450 BC and a site-plan that maps star positions in 10,450 BC.’

‘Actually, I see two explanations that both make some kind of sense,’ said Bauval, ‘and I think the answer has to be one or the other of these ... Either the pyramids were designed as a sort of “star-clock” to mark two particular epochs, 2450 and 10,450 BC, in which case we actually can’t say when they were built. Or they were built up over ...’

‘Hang on with that first point,’ I interrupted. ‘How do you mean “starclock”? How do you mean we can’t say when they were built?’

‘Well, let’s assume for a moment that the pyramid builders knew precession. Let’s assume they were able to calculate the declination of particular star-groups backwards and forwards in time, just as we can today with computers ... Assuming they could do that then, no matter which epoch they lived in, they’d have been able to make a model of what the skies over Giza looked like in 10,450 BC or 2450 BC as required, just as we could. In other words, if they’d built the pyramids in 10,450 BC they would have had no difficulty in calculating the correct angles of inclination for the southern shafts so that they would be sighted on Al Nitak and Sirius around 2450 BC.


Likewise, if they’d lived in 2450 BC they’d have had no difficulty in calculating the correct site-plan to reflect the position of Orion’s Belt in 10,450 BC. Agreed?’


‘OK. That’s one explanation. But the second explanation, which I personally favour—and which I think the geological evidence also supports—is that the whole Giza necropolis was developed and built up over an enormously long period of time. I think it’s more than possible that the site was originally planned and laid out at around 10,450 BC, so that its geometry would reflect the skies as they looked then, but that the work was completed, and the shafts of the Great Pyramid aligned, around 2450 BC.’

‘So you’re saying that the ground-plan of the Pyramids could date back to 10,450 BC?

‘I think it does. And I think that the geometrical centre of that plan was located more or less where we’re standing now, right in front of the Second Pyramid ...’

I pointed out the large blocks in the lower courses of the huge edifice:

‘It even looks like it was built in two stages, by two completely different cultures ...’

Bauval shrugged.

‘Let’s speculate ... Maybe it wasn’t two different cultures, Maybe it was one culture, or cult—the cult of Osiris, perhaps. Maybe it was a very long-lived, very ancient cult dedicated to Osiris that was here in 10,450 BC and was still here in 2450 BC. Maybe what happened was that some of the ways that this cult did things changed over time. Maybe they used huge blocks in 10,450 BC and smaller blocks in 2450 BC ... It seems to me there’s a lot here that supports this notion, a lot that says “very ancient cult”, a lot of evidence that has just never been investigated ...’

‘For example?’

‘Well, obviously the astronomical alignments of the site. I’ve been among the first to start looking into those properly. And the geology: the work that John West and Robert Schoch have been involved in at the Sphinx. Here are two sciences—both hard, empirical, evidence-driven sciences—that have never been applied to these problems before. But now that we have started to apply them, we’re beginning to get a whole new reading on the antiquity of the necropolis.


And I honestly think we’ve just scratched the surface and that much more will emerge from the geology and the astronomy in the future. In addition, nobody’s yet made a really detailed study of the Pyramid Texts from anything other than the so-called “anthropological” perspective, which means a preconceived notion that the priests of Heliopolis were a bunch of half-civilized witch-doctors who wanted to live for ever ...


Actually they did want to live for ever but they certainly weren’t witch-doctors ... They were highly civilized, highly initiated men and they were, in their own fashion, scientists, as we can judge from their works. Therefore I suggest that it’s as scientific or at least quasi-scientific documents that the Pyramid Texts need to be read, not as mumbo-jumbo. I’m already satisfied that they respond to precessional astronomy. There may be other keys too: mathematics, geometry—particularly geometry ... Symbolism ...


What’s needed is a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the Pyramid Texts ... and to understanding the pyramids themselves. Astronomers, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, architects, even philosophers to deal with the symbolism—everybody who can bring a fresh eye and fresh skills to bear on these very important problems should be encouraged to do so.’

‘Why do you feel the problems are so important?’

‘Because they have a colossal bearing on our understanding of the past of our own species. The very careful, very precise site-planning and setting-out that appears to have been done here in 10,450 BC could only have been the work of a highly-evolved, probably technological civilization. ...’

‘Whereas no such civilization is supposed to have existed anywhere on earth in that epoch ...’

‘Exactly. It was the Stone Age. Human society was supposed to have been at a very primitive level, with our ancestors wearing skins, sheltering in caves, following a hunting-gathering way of life and so on and so forth.


So its rather unsettling to discover that civilized people seem to have been present in Giza in 10,450 BC, who understood the obscure science of precession extremely well, who had the technical capacity to work out that they were witnessing the lowest point in Orion’s precessional cycle—and thus the beginning of the constellation’s 13,000 year upwards journey—and who set out to create a permanent memorial of that moment here on the plateau. By putting Orion’s Belt on the ground in the way they did they knew that they were freezing a very specific moment in time.’

A perverse thought occurred to me:

‘How can we be so sure that the moment that they were freezing was 10,450 BC? After all, Orion’s Belt takes up that same configuration in the southern sky, west of the Milky Way at 11-plus degrees above the horizon, once every 26,000 years. So why shouldn’t they have been immortalizing 36,450 BC or even the precessional cycle that began 26,000 years before that?’

Robert was clearly ready for this question.

‘Some ancient records do suggest that Egyptian civilization had roots going back almost 40,000 years,’ he mused, ‘like that strange report in Herodotus that talks about the sun rising where it once set and setting where it once rose ...’

‘Which is also a precessional metaphor ...’

‘Yes. Precession again. Most peculiar the way it always keeps cropping up ... At any rate, you’re right, they could have been marking the beginning of the previous precessional cycle ...’

‘But do you think they were?’

‘No. I think 10,450 BC is the more likely date. It’s more within the range of what we know about the evolution of homo sapiens. And although it still leaves a lot of years to account for before the sudden emergence of dynastic Egypt around 3000 BC, it isn’t too long a period ...’

‘Too long a period for what?’

‘It’s the answer to your question about the 8000-year gap between the alignment of the site and the alignment of the shafts. Eight thousand years is a very long time but it isn’t too long for a dedicated highly motivated cult to have preserved and nurtured and faithfully passed on the high-knowledge of the people who invented this place in 10,450 BC.’14

14 Just as any great Christian cathedral, however modern (for example the twentieth-century gothic cathedral on Nob Hill in San Francisco), expresses the thinking, symbolism and iconography of the Judaeo-Christian ‘cult’ which has roots at least 4000 years old, it should not be impossible to imagine a cult enduring for 8000 years in Ancient Egypt and thus linking the epoch of 10450 BC to 2,450 BC. The completion of the pyramids at that time, like the completion of a cathedral today, would therefore have resulted in structures that expressed extremely old ideas.


Plentiful evidence exists within Ancient Egyptian tradition which seems to attest to the existence and preservation of such ancient ideas. For example, ‘King Nefer-hetep [XIIIth Dynasty] was a loyal worshipper of Osiris and hearing that his Temple [at Abydos] was in ruins, and that a new statue of the god was required, he went to the temple of Ra-Atum at Heliopolis, and consulted the books in the library there, so that he might learn how to make a statue of Osiris which should be like that which had existed in the beginning of the world ...’ (Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, volume II, p. 14).


Also Sacred Science; pp. 103-4, explains that the construction of temples in the Ptolemaic and late periods of Egyptian history continued to obey very ancient specifications: ‘All the plans always refer to a divine book; thus the temple of Edfu was rebuilt under the Ptolemies according to the book of foundation composed by Imhotep, a book descended from heaven to the north of Memphis. The temple of Dendera followed a plan recorded in ancient writings dating from the Companions of Horus.’

The machine
How high was the knowledge of those prehistoric inventors?

‘They knew their epochs,’ said Bauval, ‘and the clock that they used was the natural clock of the stars. Their working language was precessional astronomy and these monuments express that language in a very clear, unambiguous, scientific manner. They were also highly skilled surveyors—I mean the people who originally prepared the site and laid out the orientations for the pyramids—because they worked to an exacting geometry and because they knew how to align the base-platforms, or whatever it was they built, perfectly to the cardinal points.’

‘Do you think they also knew that they were marking out the site of the Great Pyramid on latitude 30° North?’

Bauval laughed:

I’m certain they knew. I think they knew everything about the shape of the earth. They knew their astronomy. They had a good understanding of the solar system and of celestial mechanics. They were also incredibly accurate and incredibly precise in everything they did. So, all in all, I don’t think anything really happened here by chance— at least not between 10,450 and 2450 BC.


I get the feeling that everything was planned, intended, carefully worked out ... Indeed I get the feeling that they were fulfilling a long-term objective—some kind of purpose, if you like, and that they brought this to fruition in the third millennium BC ...


‘In the form of the fully built pyramids which they then precessionally anchored to Al Nitak and to Sirius at the time of completion?’

‘Yes. And also, I think, in the form of the Pyramid Texts. My guess is that the Pyramid Texts are part of the puzzle.’

‘The software to the Pyramids’ hardware?’

‘Quite possibly. Why not? At any rate it’s certain that there’s a connection. I think what it means is that if we’re going to decode the pyramids properly then we’re going to have to use the Texts ...’

‘What’s your guess?’ I asked Bauval. ‘What do you think the purpose of the pyramid builders really might have been?’

‘They didn’t do it because they wanted an eternal tomb,’ he replied firmly. ‘In my view, they had no doubts at all that they would eternally live. They did it—whoever did it—they have transmitted the power of their ideas through something that is to all intents and purposes eternal. They succeeded in creating a force that is functional in itself, provided you understand it, and that force is the questions it challenges you to ask. My guess is that they knew the human mind to perfection. They knew the game of ritual ... Right?


I’m serious. They knew what they were doing. They knew that they could initiate people far ahead in the future into their way of thinking even though they couldn’t be there themselves. They knew that they could do this by creating an eternal machine, the function of which was to generate questions.’

I suppose that I must have looked puzzled.

‘The machine is the pyramids!’


Bauval exclaimed, ‘the whole of the Giza necropolis really. And look at us. What are we doing? We’re asking questions. We’re standing out here, shivering, at an ungodly hour, watching the sun come up, and we’re asking questions, lots and lots of questions just as we’ve been programmed to do.


We’re in the hands of real magicians here, and real magicians know that with symbols—with the right symbols, with the right questions—they can lead you into initiating yourself. Provided, that is, you are a person who asks questions. And, if you are, then the minute you start asking questions about the pyramids you begin to stumble into a whole series of answers which lead you to other questions, and then more answers until finally you initiate yourself ...’

‘Sow the seed ...’

‘Yes. They were sowing the seed. Believe me, they were magicians, and they knew the power of ideas ... They knew how to set ideas growing and developing in people’s minds. And if you start with such ideas, and follow the process of reasoning like I did, you arrive at things like Orion, and 10,450 BC. In short, this is a process that works on its own. When it enters, when it settles into the subconscious, it is a self-willing conversion. Once it’s there you can’t even resist it ...’

‘You’re talking as though this Giza cult, whatever it was—revolving around precession, and geometry, and the pyramids, and the Pyramid Texts—you’re talking as though it still exists.’

‘In a sense it does still exist,’ Robert replied. ‘Even if the driver is no longer at the wheel, the Giza necropolis is still a machine that was designed to provoke questions.’

He paused and pointed up to the summit of the Great Pyramid where Santha and I had climbed, at dead of night, nine months previously. ‘Look at its power,’ he continued.

‘Five thousand years on it still gets you. It involves you whether you like it or not ... It forces you into a process of thinking ... forces you to learn.


The minute you ask a question about it you’ve asked a question about engineering, you’ve asked a question about geometry, you’ve asked a question about astronomy. So it forces you to learn about engineering and geometry and astronomy, and gradually you begin to realize how sophisticated it is, how incredibly clever and skilful and knowledgeable its builders must have been, which forces you to ask questions about mankind, about human history, eventually about yourself too. You want to find out. This is the power of the thing.’

The second signature
As Robert, Santha and I sat out on the Giza plateau that cold December morning at the end of 1993, we watched the winter sun, now very close to solstice, rising over the right shoulder of the Sphinx, almost as far south of east as it would travel on its yearly journey before turning north again.

The Sphinx was an equinoctial marker, with its gaze directed precisely at the point of sunrise on the vernal equinox. Was it, too, part of the Giza ‘grand plan’?

I reminded myself that in any epoch, and at any period of history or prehistory, the Sphinx’s due east gaze would always have been sighted on the equinoctial rising of the sun, at both the vernal and the autumnal equinoxes. As the reader will recall from Part V, however, it was the vernal equinox that was considered by ancient man to be the marker of the astronomical age.


In the words of Santillana and von Dechend:

The constellation that rose in the east, just before the sun, marked the ‘place’ where the sun rested ... It was known as the sun’s ‘carrier’ and the vernal equinox was recognized as the fiducial point of the ‘system’ determining the first degree of the sun’s yearly cycle ...’15

Why should an equinoctial marker have been made in the shape of a giant lion?

In our own lifetimes, the epoch of AD 2000, a more suitable shape for such a marker—should anyone wish to build one—would be a representation of a fish. This is because the sun on the vernal equinox rises against the stellar background of Pisces, as it has done for approximately the last 2000 years.


The astronomical Age of Pisces began around the time of Christ.16 Readers must judge for themselves whether it is a coincidence that the principal symbol used for Christ by the very early Christians was not the cross but the fish.17

During the preceding age, which broadly-speaking encompassed the first and second millennia BC, it was the constellation of Aries—the Ram— which had the honour of carrying the sun on the vernal equinox. Again, readers must judge whether it is a coincidence that the religious iconography of that epoch was predominantly ram-oriented.18 Is it a coincidence, for example, that Yahweh, God of Old Testament Israel, provided a ram as a substitute for Abraham’s offered sacrifice of his son Isaac?19 (Abraham and Isaac are assumed by biblical scholars and archaeologists to have lived during the early second millennium BC20).


Is it likewise coincidental that rams, in one context or another, are referred to in almost every book of the Old Testament (entirely composed during the Age of Aries) but in not a single book of the New Testament?21 And is it an accident that the advent of the Age of Aries, shortly before the beginning of the second millennium BC, was accompanied in Ancient Egypt by an upsurge in the worship of the god Amon whose symbol was a ram with curled horns?22


Work on the principal sanctuary of Amon—the Temple of Karnak at Luxor in upper Egypt—was begun at around 2000 BC23 and, as those who have visited that temple will recall, its principal icons are rams, long rows of which guard its entrances.


15 Hamlet’s Mill, p. 59.

16 Ibid.; Sacred Science, p. 179.

17 Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 514.

18 Sacred Science, p. 177.

19 Genesis: 22:13

20 Jerusalem Bible, chronological table, p. 343.

21 King James Bible, Franklin, Computerized First Edition.

22 The Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt, p. 20.

23 Ibid., p. 133.

The immediate predecessor to the Age of Aries was the Age of Taurus— the Bull—which spanned the period between 4380 and 2200 BC.24 It was during this precessional epoch, when the sun on the vernal equinox rose in the constellation of Taurus, that the Bull-cult of Minoan Crete flourished.25 And during this epoch, too, the civilization of dynastic Egypt burst upon the historical scene, fully formed, apparently without antecedents.


Readers must judge whether it is a coincidence that Egyptians at the very beginning of the dynastic period were already venerating the Apis and Mnevis Bulls—the former being considered a theophany of the god Osiris and the latter, the sacred animal of Heliopolis, a theophany of the god Ra.26

Why should an equinoctial marker have been made in the form of a lion?

I looked down the slope of the Giza plateau towards the great leonine body of the Sphinx.

Khafre, the Fourth Dynasty pharaoh believed by Egyptologists to have carved the monument out of bedrock around 2500 BC, had been a monarch of the Age of Taurus. For almost 1800 years before his reign, and more than 300 years after it, the sun on the vernal equinox rose unfailingly in the constellation of the Bull.


It follows that if a monarch at such a time had set out to create an equinoctial marker at Giza, he would have had every reason to have it carved in the form of a bull, and none whatsoever to have it carved in the form of a lion. Indeed, and it was obvious, there was only one epoch when the celestial symbolism of a leonine equinoctial marker would have been appropriate. That epoch was, of course, the Age of Leo, from 10,970 to 8810 BC.27

24 Sacred Science, p. 177.

25 As early as 3000 BC. See Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991, 3:731.

26 Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt, pp. 27, 171.

27 Skyglobe 3.6.

Why, therefore, should an equinoctial marker have been made in the shape of a lion? Because it was made during the Age of Leo when the sun on the vernal equinox rose against the stellar background of the constellation of the Lion, thus marking the coordinates of a precessional epoch that would not experience its ‘Great Return’ for another 26,000 years.

Around 10,450 BC the three stars of Orion’s Belt reached the lowest point in their precessional cycle: west of the Milky Way, 11° 08’ above the southern horizon at meridian transit. On the ground west of the Nile, this event was frozen into architecture in the shape of the three pyramids of Giza. Their layout formed the signature of an unmistakable epoch of precessional time.

Around 10,450 BC, the sun on the vernal equinox rose in the constellation of Leo. On the ground at Giza, this event was frozen into architecture in the shape of the Sphinx, a gigantic, leonine, equinoctial marker which, like the second signature on an official document, could be taken as a confirmation of authenticity.

The eleventh millennium BC, in other words, soon after the ‘Mill of Heaven’ broke, shifting sunrise on the spring equinox from Virgo into the constellation of Leo, was the only epoch in which the due east facing Sphinx would have manifested exactly the right symbolic alignment on exactly the right day—watching the vernal sun rising in the dawn sky against the background of his own celestial counterpart ...

Looking due east at dawn on the vernal equinox in 10,450 BC.

The Sphinx and the constellation of Leo.


Forcing the question

‘It can’t be a coincidence that such a perfect alignment of the terrestrial and the celestial occurs at around 10,450 BC,’ said Robert. ‘In fact I don’t think coincidence is any longer an issue. To me the real question is why? Why was it done? Why did they go to such lengths to make this enormous statement about the eleventh millennium BC?’

‘Obviously because it was an important time for them,’ suggested Santha.

‘It must have been very, very important. You don’t do something like this, create a series of vast precessional markers like these, carve a Sphinx, put up three pyramids weighing almost 15 million tons, unless you have some hugely important reason. So the question is: what was that reason? They’ve forced this question by making such a strong, imperative statement about 10,450 BC. Really, they’ve forced the question. They want to draw our attention to 10,450 BC and it’s up to us to work out why.’

We fell silent, for a long while as the sun climbed the sky south-east of the Great Sphinx.


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Where’s the Body?

Chapter 50 - Not a Needle in a Haystack

When I was only a few months into this investigation, my research assistant sent me a fifteen-page letter explaining why he had decided to resign. At that stage I hadn’t yet begun to put the pieces of the puzzle together and I was working more on hunches than on hard evidence.


I was captivated by all the mysteries, anomalies, anachronisms and puzzles, and wanted to learn as much about them as I could. My researcher, meanwhile, had been looking into the long, slow processes by which some known civilizations had come into global history.

It transpired that, in his opinion, certain significant economic, climatic, topographical and geographical preconditions had to be met before a civilization could evolve:

So if you are looking for a hitherto undiscovered civilization of great originators who made it on their own, separate from any of the ones we already know, you are not looking for a needle in a haystack. You are looking for something more like a city in its hinterland. What you are looking for is a vast region which occupied a land area at least a couple of thousand miles across.


This is a landmass as big as the Gulf of Mexico, or twice the size of Madagascar. It would have had major mountain ranges, huge river systems and a Mediterranean to sub-tropical climate which was buffered by its latitude from the adverse effects of short-term climatic cooling.


It would have needed this relatively undisturbed climate to last for around ten thousand years ... Then the population of several hundred thousand sophisticated people, we are to believe, suddenly vanished, together with their homeland, leaving very little physical trace, with only a few surviving individuals who were shrewd enough to see the end coming, wealthy enough and in the right place, with the resources they needed to be able to do something about escaping the cataclysm.

So there I was without a researcher. My proposition was a priori impossible. There could be no lost advanced civilization because a landmass big enough to support such a civilization was too big to lose.

Geophysical impossibilities
The problem was a serious one and it continued to nag at the back of my mind all the way through my own research and travels. It was, indeed, this exact problem, more than any other, which had scuppered Plato’s Atlantis as a serious proposition for scholars. As one critic of the lost continent theory put it:

There never was an Atlantic landbridge since the arrival of man in the world; there is no sunken landmass in the Atlantic: the Atlantic Ocean must have existed in its present form for at least a million years. In fact it is a geophysical impossibility for an Atlantis of Plato’s dimensions to have existed in the Atlantic ...1

1 Galanopoulos and Bacon, Lost Atlantis, p. 75.

The adamant and assertive tone, I had long ago learnt, was entirely justified. Modern oceanographers had thoroughly mapped the floor of the Atlantic Ocean and there was definitely no lost continent lurking there.

But if the evidence that I was gathering did represent the fingerprints of a vanished civilization, a continent had to have got lost somewhere,

So where? For a while I used the obvious working hypothesis that it might be under some other ocean. The Pacific was very big but the Indian Ocean looked more promising because it was located relatively close to the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent, where several of the earliest known historical civilizations had emerged with extreme suddenness at around 3000 BC.


I had plans to go chasing rumours of ancient pyramids in the Maldive Islands and along the Somali coast of East Africa to see if I could pick up any clues of a lost paradise of antiquity. I thought I might even work in a trip to the Seychelles.

The problem was the oceanographers again. The floor of the Indian Ocean, too, had been mapped and it didn’t conceal any lost continents. Ditto every other ocean and every other sea. There seemed to be nowhere now under water into which a landmass big enough to have nurtured a high civilization could have vanished.

Yet, as my research continued, the evidence kept mounting that precisely such a civilization had once existed. I began to suspect that it must have been a maritime civilization: a nation of navigators. In support of this hypothesis, among other anomalies, were the remarkable ancient maps of the world, the ‘Pyramid Boats’ of Egypt, the traces of advanced astronomical knowledge in the astonishing calendar system of the Maya, and the legends of seafaring gods like Quetzalcoatl and Viracocha.

A nation of navigators, then. And a nation of builders, too: Tiahuanaco builders, Teotihuacan builders, pyramid builders, Sphinx builders, builders who could lift and position 200-ton blocks of limestone with apparent ease, builders who could align vast monuments to the cardinal points with uncanny accuracy. Whoever they were, these builders appeared to have left their characteristic fingerprints all over the world in the form of cyclopean polygonal masonry, site layouts involving astronomical alignments, mathematical and geodetic puzzles, and myths about gods in human form.


But a civilization advanced enough to build like that—rich enough, sufficiently well organized and mature to have explored and mapped the world from pole to pole, a civilization smart enough to have calculated the dimensions of the earth—simply could not have evolved on an insignificant landmass.


Its homeland, as my researcher had rightly pointed out, must have been blessed with major mountain ranges, huge river systems and a congenial climate, and with many other obvious environmental prerequisites for the development of an advanced and prosperous economy: good agricultural lands, mineral resources, forests, and so on.

So where could such a landmass have been located, if not under any of the world’s oceans?

Library angels
Where could it have been located and when might it have disappeared? And if it had disappeared (and no other explanation would do) then how, why, and under what circumstances?

Seriously, how do you lose a continent?

Commonsense suggested that the answer had to lie in a cataclysm of some kind, a planetary disaster capable of wiping out almost all physical traces of a large civilization. But if so, why were there no records of such a cataclysm? Or perhaps there were.

As my research progressed I studied many of the great myths of flood, fire, earthquakes and ice handed down from generation to generation around the world. We saw in Part IV that it was difficult to resist the conclusion that the myths were describing real geological and climatic events, quite possibly the different local effects of the same events in all cases.

During the short history of mankind’s presence on this planet, I found that there was only one known and documented catastrophe that fitted the bill: the dramatic and deadly meltdown of the last Ice Age between 15000 and 8000 BC. Moreover, as was more obviously the case with architectural relics like Teotihuacan and the Egyptian pyramids, many of the relevant myths appeared to have been designed to serve as vehicles for encrypted scientific information, again an indication of what I was coming to think of as ‘the fingerprints of the gods’.

What I had become sensitized to, although I did not properly realize its implications at the time, was the possibility that a strong connection might exist between the collapsing chaos of the Ice Age and the disappearance of an archaic civilization which had been the stuff of legend for millennia.

It was at this moment exactly that the library angels intervened ...

The missing piece of the puzzle
The novelist Arthur Koestler, who had a great interest in synchronicity, coined the term ‘library angel’ to describe the unknown agency responsible for the lucky breaks researchers sometimes get which lead to exactly the right information being placed in their hands at exactly the right moment.2

At exactly the right moment, one of those lucky breaks came my way. The moment was the summer of 1993. I was at a low ebb physically and spiritually after months of hard travel, and the geophysical impossibility of actually losing a continent-sized landmass was beginning to undermine my confidence in the strength of my findings. It was then that I received a letter from the town of Nanaimo in British Columbia, Canada.


The letter referred to my previous book The Sign and the Seal, in which I had made passing mention of the Atlantis theory and of traditions of civilizing heroes who had been ‘saved from water’:

19 July 1993

Dear Mr. Hancock,

After 17 years of research into the fate of Atlantis, my wife and I have finished a manuscript entitled When the Sky Fell. Our frustration is that despite positive feedback about the book’s approach from the few publishers who have seen it, the mere mention of Atlantis closes minds.3 In The Sign and the Seal you write of ‘a tradition of secret wisdom started by the survivors of a flood ...’


Our work explores sites where some survivors might have relocated. High altitude, fresh-water lakes made ideal post-deluge bases for the survivors of Atlantis. Lake Titicaca and Lake Tana [in Ethiopia, where much of The Sign and the Seal was set] fit the climatic criteria. Their stable environment provided the raw materials for restarting agriculture.

We have taken the liberty of enclosing an outline of When the Sky Fell. If you are interested we will be pleased to send you a copy of the manuscript.


Rand Flem-Ath

2 See, for example, Brian Inglis, Coincidence, Hutchinson, London, 1990, p. 48ff.

3 When the Sky Fell, with an Introduction by Colin Wilson and Afterword by John Anthony West, is published by Stoddart, Canada, 1995.


I turned to the enclosure and there, in the first few paragraphs, found the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle I had been looking for. It meshed perfectly with the ancient global maps I had studied—maps which accurately depicted the subglacial topography of the continent of Antarctica (see Part I). It made perfect sense of all the great worldwide myths of cataclysm and planetary disaster, with their differing climatic effects.


It explained the enigma of the huge numbers of apparently ‘flashfrozen’ mammoths in northern Siberia and Alaska, and the 90-foot tall fruit trees locked in the permafrost deep inside the Arctic Circle at a latitude where nothing now grows. It provided a solution to the problem of the extreme suddenness with which the last Ice Age in the northern hemisphere melted down after 15,000 BC. It also solved the mystery of the exceptional worldwide volcanic activity that accompanied the meltdown.


It answered the question, ‘How do you lose a continent?’ And it was solidly based in Charles Hapgood’s theory of ‘earth-crust displacement’—a radical geological hypothesis with which I was already familiar:

Antarctica is our least understood continent [wrote the Flem-Aths in their outline]. Most of us assume that this immense island has been ice-bound for millions of years. But new discoveries prove that parts of Antarctica were free of ice thousands of years ago, recent history by the geological clock. The theory of ‘earth-crust displacement’ explains the mysterious surge and ebb of Antarctica’s vast ice sheet.


What the Canadian researchers were referring to was Hapgood’s suggestion that until the end of the last Ice Age—say the eleventh millennium BC—the landmass of Antarctica had been positioned some 2000 miles further north (at a congenial and temperate latitude) and that it had been moved to its present position inside the Antarctic Circle as a result of a massive displacement of the earth’s crust.4


This displacement, the Flem-Aths continued, had also left other evidence of its deadly visit in a ring of death around the globe. All the continents that experienced rapid and massive extinctions of animal species (notably the Americas and Siberia) underwent a massive change in their latitudes ...

The consequences of a displacement are monumental. The earth’s crust ripples over its interior and the world is shaken by incredible quakes and floods. The sky appears to fall as continents groan and shift position. Deep in the ocean, earthquakes generate massive tidal waves which crash against coastlines, flooding them. Some lands shift to warmer climes, while others, propelled into polar zones, suffer the direst of winters. Melting ice caps raise the ocean’s level higher and higher. All living things must adapt, migrate or die ...

If the horror of an earth-crust displacement were to be visited upon today’s interdependent world the progress of thousands of years of civilization would be torn away from our planet like a fine cobweb. Those who live near high mountains might escape the global tidal waves, but they would be forced to leave behind, in the lowlands, the slowly constructed fruits of civilization.


Only among the merchant marine and navies of the world might some evidence of civilization remain. The rusting hulls of ships and submarines would eventually perish but the valuable maps that are housed in them would be saved by survivors, perhaps for hundreds, even thousands of years. Until once again mankind could use them to sail the World Ocean in search of lost lands ...

4 See Part I.

5 Ibid.


As I read these words I remembered Charles Hapgood’s account of how the layer of the earth that geologists call the lithosphere—the thin but rigid outer crust of the planet—could at times be displaced, moving in one piece ‘over the soft inner body, much as the skin of an orange, if it were loose, might shift over the inner part of the orange all in one piece.’5


Thus far, I felt I was on familiar ground. But then the Canadian researchers made two vital connections which I had missed.

Section through the earth.

The crustal displacement theory envisages the possibility of periodic displacements of the entire crust in one piece.

Often less than 30 miles thick, the crust rests on a lubricating layer known as the asthenosphere.


Gravitational influences
The first of these was the possibility that gravitational influences (as well as the variations in the earth’s orbital geometry discussed in Part V) might, through the mechanism of earth-crust displacement, play a role in the onset and decline of Ice Ages:

When the naturalist and geologist Louis Agassiz presented the idea of ice ages to the scientific community in 1837 he was met with great skepticism. However, as evidence slowly gathered in his favour, the skeptics were forced to accept that the earth had indeed been gripped by deadly winters. But the trigger of these paralyzing ice ages remained a puzzle. It was not until 1976 that solid evidence existed to establish the timing of ice ages.


The explanation was found in various astronomical features of the earth’s orbit and the tilt of the axis. Astronomical factors have clearly played a role in the timing of glacial epochs. But this is only part of the problem. Of equal importance is the geography of glaciation. It is here that the theory of earth-crust displacement plays its role in unravelling the mystery.

Albert Einstein investigated the possibility that the weight of the ice-caps, which are not symmetrically distributed about the pole, might cause such a displacement. Einstein wrote: ‘The earth’s rotation acts on these unsymmetrically deposited masses, and produces centrifugal momentum that is transmitted to the rigid crust of the earth. The constantly increasing centrifugal momentum produced this way will, when it reaches a certain point, produce a movement of the earth’s crust over the earth’s body, and this will displace the polar regions towards the equator.

When Einstein wrote these words [1953] the astronomical causes of ice ages were not fully appreciated. When the shape of the earth’s orbit deviates from a perfect circle by more than one per cent, the gravitational influence of the sun increases, exercising more pull on the planet and its massive ice sheets. Their ponderous weight pushes against the crust and this immense pressure, combined with the greater incline in the earth’s tilt [another changing factor of the orbital geometry] forces the crust to shift ...

The connection with the onset and decline of ice ages? Very straightforward. In a displacement, those parts of the earth’s crust which are situated at the North and South Poles (and which are therefore as completely glaciated as Antarctica is today) shift suddenly into warmer latitudes and begin to melt with extraordinary rapidity. Conversely, land that has hitherto been located at warmer latitudes is shifted equally suddenly into the polar zones, suffers a devastating climate change, and begins to vanish under a rapidly expanding ice-cap.

In other words, when huge parts of northern Europe and north America were heavily glaciated in what we think of as the last Ice Age, it was not because of some mysterious slow-acting climatic factor, but rather because those areas of land were then situated much closer to the North Pole than they are today. Similarly, when the Wisconsin and Wurm glaciations described in Part IV began to go into their meltdown at around 15,000 BC the trigger was not global climate change but a shift of the ice-caps into warmer latitudes ...


In other words: there is an Ice Age going on right now—inside the Arctic Circle and in Antarctica.


The lost continent
The second connection the Flem-Aths made followed logically from the first: if there was such a recurrent, cyclical geological phenomenon as earth-crust displacement, and if the last displacement had shifted the enormous landmass we call Antarctica out of temperate latitudes and into the Antarctic Circle, it was possible that the substantial remains of a lost civilization of remote antiquity might today be lying under two miles of ice at the South Pole.

It was suddenly clear to me how a continent-sized landmass, which had been the home of a large and prosperous society for thousands of years, could indeed get lost almost without trace.


As the Flem-Aths concluded:

‘It is to icy Antarctica that we look to find answers to the very roots of civilization—answers which may yet be preserved in the frozen depths of the forgotten island continent.’

I hauled out my researcher’s resignation letter from the files and started to check off his preconditions for the emergence of an advanced civilization. He wanted ‘major mountain ranges’. He wanted ‘huge river systems’. He wanted ‘a vast region which occupied a land area at least a couple of thousand miles across’. He also wanted a stable, congenial climate for ten thousand years, to allow time for a developed culture to evolve.

Antarctica is by no means a needle in a haystack. It’s a huge landmass, much, much bigger than the Gulf of Mexico, about seven times larger than Madagascar—indeed roughly the size of the continental USA. Moreover, as seismic surveys have demonstrated, there are major mountain ranges in Antarctica. And as several of the ancient maps seem to prove, unknown prehistoric cartographers, who possessed a scientific understanding of latitude and longitude, depicted these mountain ranges before they disappeared beneath the ice-cap that covers them today.


These same ancient maps also show ‘huge river systems’ flowing down from the mountains, watering the extensive valleys and plains below and running into the surrounding ocean. And these rivers, as I already knew from the Ross Sea cores,6 had left physical evidence of their presence in the composition of ocean bottom sediments.


6 Ibid. See Part I and Chapter Fifty-one for details.

Last but not least, I noted that the earth-crust displacement theory did not conflict with the requirement for 10,000 years of stable climate. Prior to the supposed sudden shift of the crust, at around the end of the last Ice Age in the northern hemisphere, the climate of Antarctica would have been stable, perhaps for a great deal longer than 10,000 years.


And if the theory was right in suggesting that Antarctica’s latitude in that epoch had been about 2000 miles (30 degrees of arc) further north than it is today, the northernmost parts of it would have been situated in the vicinity of latitude 30° South and would, indeed, have enjoyed a Mediterranean to sub-tropical climate.

  • Had the earth’s crust really shifted?

  • And could the ruins of a lost civilization really lie beneath the ice of the southern continent?

As we see in the following chapters, it might have ... and they could.


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