It is not surprising that there have been many myths and legends about the purpose of the Great Pyramid of Giza.


Even though we may not be able to distinguish which ones are true and which ones are false, it is always interesting to read about some of them. Many times we find that there was an actual event that occurred in history and different myths originate from this actual event. Thus if we look at enough myths, there may be a common denominator that we can distinguish, and find that bit of factual truth embedded within the myths and legends.

It is interesting that no description of the Great Pyramid has come down to us or survived from any known Egyptian text or description. It is possible that some day we may find a papyrus or inscription somewhere, but for now we must rely on the earliest writings and legends.

The first eyewitness, Thales, the father of Greek Geometry in the 6th Century B.C. supposedly calculated the height of the Great Pyramid by measuring its shadow at the same time when the length of his shadow was equal to his height.

The earliest written record of the Great Pyramid comes from the Greek Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century B.C. and visited the pyramids in 440 B.C. He was the first known person to write about the Great Pyramid. Known as the “Father of History”, he traveled widely and visited Egypt.


He conversed with the priests who told him about the history of Egypt and he included what he learned from these priests in his books called the Histories. We must keep in mind that much of his writings are not considered accurate, but are still interesting from an historical point of view. At the time he visited the pyramids, they were still covered in their beautiful casing stones.


Regarding the construction of the Great Pyramid and surrounding complex he writes in his Histories:

“...One hundred thousand men worked at a time and were relieved every three months by a fresh party. It took ten years arduous toil by the people to make the causeway for the conveyance of the stones, a work, in my opinion, not much inferior to the Pyramid itself, for its length is five stadia and its width ten orgyae and its height where it is highest, eight orgyae; it is built of polished stone with carvings of animals on it. It took ten years then to make this causeway, the works on the eminence where the Pyramid stands and the underground apartments which Cheops had made as a burial vault for himself, in an island formed by drawing water from the Nile by a channel.


The pyramid itself took twenty years to build. It is square, each side is eight plethra and the height is the same: it is composed of polished stones and jointed with the greatest exactness; none of the stones are less than 30 ft. This pyramid was built thus: in the form of steps which some call crossae, others bomides. When they had laid the first stones in this manner, they raised the remaining stones by machines made of short planks of wood: having lifted them from the ground to the first range of steps, when the stone arrived there, it was put on another machine that stood ready on the first range; and from this it was drawn to the second range on another machine; for the machines were equal in number to the ranges of steps; or they removed the machine, which was only one, and portable, to each range in succession, whenever they wished to raise the stone higher; for I should relate it in both ways, as it is related.


The upper portion of the Pyramid was finished first; then the middle and finally the part that is lowest and nearest to the ground. On the pyramid there is an inscription in Egyptian characters which records the amount expended on radishes, onions and garlic for the workmen: which the interpreter, as I well remember, reading the inscription, told me amounted to one thousand six hundred talents of silver. And if this be really true, how much more must have been spent on iron tools, on bread and on clothes for the workmen, since they occupied in building the work, the time which I mentioned and in addition, no short time, I imagine, in cutting and drawing the stones and in forming the underground excavation.”

Herodotus also wrote that Khufu was a bad King since he shut down all the temples throughout Egypt and oppressed his people.

Next, Manetho, who lived in the 3rd century B.C. was an Egyptian High Priest and historian who lived in Heliopolis. Contrary to what Herodotus wrote, Manetho was more favorable and said that Khufu:

“built the largest Pyramid… was translated to the Gods and wrote the Sacred Book”

Other classical writers like Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Pliny mention the Great Pyramid in passing.

Diodorus Siculus, who lived in the 1st Century B.C., was born in Sicily and wrote the history of the world in 40 books. He described the pyramids casing stones at that time as being “complete and without the least decay.”


This is what he said:

“Although these kings (Khufu and Chephren) intended these (pyramids) for their sepulchers, yet it happened that neither of them was buried there.”

“…The largest (Pyramid) is quadrangular; each side at its base is 7 plethra and more than 6 plethra high; it gradually contracts to the top where each side is 6 cubits ; it is built entirely of solid stone, of a different workmanship, but eternal duration; for in the thousands of years said to have elapsed since their construction.


… the stones have not moved from their original position, but the whole remains uninjured. The stone is said to have been brought from a great distance in Arabia and raised on mounds, for machines, in those days, had not been invented.”

Strabo, the Greek Geographer, visited the Great Pyramid in 24 A.D. He wrote 17 books called Geograhia and this is what he had to say regarding the entrance to the Great Pyramid:

“A little way up one side, has a stone that may be taken out, which being raised up, there is a sloping passage to the foundations.”

The location of this entrance on the north side of the pyramid comprised of a hinged stone which one could raise to enter the pyramid and was indistinguishable from the surrounding limestone blocks when closed, was lost during the first centuries A.D.

A Roman writer, Pliny the Elder, who was born in 23 A.D., describes the Great Pyramid in his 37 books called Historia Naturalis. He wrote that the 3 Giza pyramids were built in a span of 78 years 4 months.

Josephus the Hebrew Historian of the 1st century A.D. gives a very interesting account in his Antiquities.


Josephus states

“the descendants of Seth, after perfecting their study of astronomy, set out for Egypt, and there embodied their discoveries in the building of “two pillars” (i.e. monuments), one in stone and the other in brick, in order that this knowledge might not be lost before these discoveries were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction that the world was to be destroyed by a flood... and in order to exhibit them to mankind...Now this pillar remains in the land of Siriad (the Siriadic, or Dogstar, land of Egypt) to this day.”

Is this pillar in Egypt the Great Pyramid?

There is a similar tradition ascribed to Enoch.

“Enoch, foreseeing the destruction of the earth, inscribed the science of astronomy upon two pillars.”

The Arab Caliph, Al Mamoun, was the first to break into the Great Pyramid in 820 A.D. and this is discussed in Chapter 2. This event is so important historically that I would like to quote Piazzi Smyth in his Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid published in 1880.

“Caliph Al Mamoun directed his Mohammedan workmen to begin at the middle of the northern side; precisely says Sir Gardner Wilkinson, as the founders of the Great Pyramid had foreseen, when they placed the entrance, not in the middle of that side, but twenty-four feet and some inches away to the east, as well as many feet above the ground level. Hard labour, therefore, was it to these masons, quarrying with the rude instruments of that barbarous time, into stone-work as solid almost before them as the side of a hill.

They soon indeed began to cry out,

“Open that wonderful Pyramid! It could not possibly be done!” But the Caliph only replied, “I will have it most certainly done.”

So his followers perforce had to quarry on unceasingly by night and by day. Weeks after weeks, and months too, were consumed in these toilsome exertions; the progress, however, though slow, was so persevering that they had penetrated at length to no less than one hundred feet in depth from the entrance. But by that time becoming thoroughly exhausted, and beginning again to despair of the hard and hitherto fruitless labour, some of them ventured to remember certain improving tales of an old king, who had found, on making the calculation, that all the wealth of Egypt in his time would not enable him to destroy one of the Pyramids.


These murmuring disciples of the Arabian prophet were thus almost becoming openly rebellious, when one day, in the midst of their various counsel, they heard a great stone evidently fall in some hollow space within no more than a few feet on one side of them!

In the fall of that particular stone, there almost seems to have been an accident that was more than an accident.

Energetically, however, they instantly pushed on in the direction of the strange noise; hammers, and fire, and vinegar being employed again and again, until, breaking through a wall surface, they burst into the hollow way, “exceeding dark, dreadful to look at, and difficult to pass,” they said at first, where the sound had occurred. It was the same hollow way, or properly the Pyramid’s inclined and descending entrance-passage, where the Romans of old, and if they, also Greeks, Persians, and Egyptians, must have passed up and down in their occasional visits to the useless, barren subterranean chamber and its unfinished, unquarried-out, floor.


Tame and simple used that entrance-passage to appear to those ancients who entered in that way, and before the builder intended; but now it not only stood before another race, and another religion, but with something that the others never saw, viz. its chief leading secret, for the first time since the foundation of the building, nakedly exposed: and exhibiting the beginning of an internal arrangement in the Great Pyramid which is not only unknown in any and every other Pyramid in Egypt, but which the architect here, carefully finished, scrupulously perfected, and then most remarkably sealed up before he left the building to fulfill its prophetic destination at the end of its appointed thousands of years.


A large angular-fitting stone that had made for ages, with its lower flat side, a smooth and polished portion of the ceiling of the inclined and narrow entrance-passage, quite undistinguishable from any other part of the whole of its line, had now dropped on to the floor before their eyes; and revealed that there was just behind it, or at and in that point of the ceiling which it had covered, the end of another passage, clearly ascending there from and towards the south, out of this also southward going but descending one!

But that ascending passage itself was still closed a little further up, by an adamantine portcullis, or rather stopper, formed by a series of huge granite plugs of square wedge-like shape dropped, or slided down, and then jammed in immovably, from above.


To break them in pieces within the confined entrance-passage space, and pullout the fragments there, was entirely out of the question; so the grim crew of Saracen Mussulmans broke away sideways or round about to the west through the smaller, ordinary masonry, and so up again (by a huge chasm still to be seen, and indeed still used by all would-be entrants into the further interior) to the newly discovered ascending passage, at a point past the terrific hardness of its lower granite obstruction.


They did up there, or at an elevation above, and a position beyond the portcullis, find the passage-way still blocked, but the filling material at that part was only lime-stone; so, making themselves a very great hole in the masonry along the western side, they there wielded their tools with energy on the long fair blocks which presented themselves to their view.


But as fast as they broke up and pulled out the pieces of one of the blocks in this strange ascending passage, other blocks above it, also of a bore just to fill its full dimensions, slided down from above, and still what should be the passage for human locomotion was solid stone filling. No help, however, for the workmen.


The Commander of the Faithful is present, and insists that, whatever the number of stone plugs still to come down from the mysterious reservoir, his men shall hammer and hammer them, one after the other, and bit by bit to little pieces at the only opening where they can get at them, until they do at last come to the end of all. So the people tire, but the work goes on; and at last, yes! at last! the ascending passage, beginning just above the granite portcullis, and leading thence upward and to the south, is announced to be free from obstruction and ready for essay.


Then, by Allah, they shouted, the treasures of the Great Pyramid, sealed up from the fabulous times of the mighty Ibn Salhouk, and undesecrated, as it was long supposed, by mortal eye during all the intervening thousands of years, lay full in their grasp before them.

On they rushed, that bearded crew, thirsting for the promised wealth. Up no less than 110 feet of the steep incline, crouched hands and knees and chin together, through a passage of royally polished white lime-stone, but only 47 inches in height and 41 in breadth, they had painfully to crawl, with their torches burning low. Then suddenly they emerge into a long tall gallery, of seven times the passage height, but all black as night and in a death-like calm; still ascending though at the strange steep angle, and leading them away farther and still more far into the very inmost heart of darkness of this imprisoning mountain of stone.


In front of them, at first entering into this part of the now termed “Grand Gallery,” and on the level, see another low passage; on their right hand a black, ominous-looking well’s mouth, more than 140 feet deep, and not reaching water, but only lower darkness, even then; while onwards and above them, a continuation of the glorious gallery or upward rising hall of seven times, leading them on, as they expected, to the possession of all the treasures of the great ones of antediluvian times. Narrow, certainly, was the way - only 6 feet broad anywhere, and contracted to 3 feet at the floor - but 28 feet high, or almost above the power of their smoky lights to illuminate; and of polished, glistering, marble-like, cyclopean stone throughout.

That must surely, thought they, be the high road to fortune and wealth. Up and up its long-ascending floor line, therefore, ascending at an angle of 26°, these determined marauders, with their lurid fire-lights, had to push their dangerous and slippery way for 150 feet of distance more; then an obstructing three-foot step to climb over (what could the architect have meant by making a step so tall as that?); next a low doorway to bow their heads most humbly beneath; then a hanging portcullis to pass, almost to creep, under, most submissively; then another low doorway, in awful blocks of frowning red granite both on either side, and above and below.


But after that, they leaped without further let or hindrance at once into the grand chamber, which was, and is still, the conclusion of everything forming the Great Pyramid’s interior; the chamber to which, and for which, and towards which, according to every subsequent writer (for no older ones knew any fragment of a thing about it), in whatever other theoretical point he may differ from his modern fellows, - the whole Great Pyramid was originally built.

And what find they there, those maddened Muslim in Caliph Al Mamoun’s train? A right noble apartment, now called the King’s Chamber, roughly 34 feet long, 17 broad, and 19 high, of polished red granite throughout, both walls, floor, and ceiling; in blocks squared and true, and put together with such exquisite skill that no autocrat Emperor of recent times could desire anything more solidly noble and at the same time beautifully refined.

Ay, ay, no doubt a well-built room, and a handsome one too; but what does it contain? Where is the treasure?


The treasure! yes, indeed, where are the promised silver and gold, the jewels and the arms?


The plundering fanatics look wildly around them, but can see nothing, not a single dirhem anywhere. They trim their torches, and carry them again and again to every part of that red-walled, flinty hall, but without any better success.


Naught but pure, polished red granite, in mighty slabs, looks calmly upon them from every side. The room is clean, garnished too, as it were; and, according to the ideas of its founders, complete and perfectly ready for its visitors, so long expected, and not arrived yet; for the gross minds who occupy it now, find it all barren; and declare that there is nothing whatever of value there, in the whole extent of the apartment from one end to another; nothing, except an empty stone chest without a lid.

The Caliph Al Mamoun was thunderstruck. He had arrived at the very ultimate part of the interior of the Great Pyramid he had so long desired to take possession of; and had now, on at last carrying it by storm, found absolutely nothing that he could make any use of, or saw the smallest value in. So being signally defeated, though a Commander of the Faithful, his people began plotting against him.

But Al Mamoun was a Caliph of the able day of Eastern rulers for managing mankind; so he had a large sum of money secretly brought from his treasury, and buried by night in a certain spot near the end of his own quarried entrance-hole. Next day he caused the men to dig precisely there, and behold! although they were only digging in the Pyramid masonry just as they had been doing during so many previous days, yet on this day they found a treasure of gold; “and the Caliph ordered it to be counted, and lo! it amounted to the exact sum that had been incurred in the works, neither more nor less.


And the Caliph was astonished, and said he could not understand how the kings of the Pyramid of old, actually before the Deluge, could have known exactly how much money he would have expended in his undertaking; and he was lost in surprise.


But as the workmen got paid for their labour, and cared not whose gold they were paid with so long as they did get their wage, they ceased their complaints, and dispersed; while as for the Caliph, he returned to the city, El Fostat, notably subdued, musing on the wonderful events that had happened; and both the Grand Gallery, the King’s Chamber, and the “stone chest without a lid” were troubled by him no more.

In 850 A.D., the first written version of the Arabian Nights was translated into Arabic. This was a book of Persian tales called Hazar Afsanah (A Thousand Legends). In these tales, the Great Pyramid was imputed to have magical powers and contain magnificent treasures.

The Arab writers of the Middle Ages, Abd Al Hokim, Masourdi, Abd Al Latif (1220 A.D.) and Makrizi told of fanatical stories about the pyramids. These have been reprinted in Resource C at the back of the book but some of the more interesting statements from Arab legends are recounted here.

Arab historian, Masoudi (died A.D. 967) wrote that the three pyramids were built as a result of a dream that appeared to King Surid, in which the flood was foretold 300 years before it occurred. It is told that he ordered the priests to deposit within the pyramids written accounts of their wisdom and acquirements in the different arts and sciences... and of arithmetic and geometry that they might remain as records for the benefit of those who would afterwards be able to comprehend them.

One of the earliest legends about the Great Pyramid came from an early Arab writer, Ben Mohammed Balki, who stated that the pyramids (the three Giza pyramids) were built as a refuge against an approaching destruction of mankind either by fire or by water.

Arab writer, Ibn Abd-al-Latif, said that the Second Pyramid was,

“filled with a store of riches and utensils... with arms which rust not, and with glass which might be bended and yet not broken”.

It is interesting to note that Masoudi also stated,

“the Great Pyramid was inscribed with the heavenly spheres, and figures representing the stars and planets in the forms in which they were worshiped. Also the position of the stars and their cycles, together with the history and chronicles of time past, of that which is to come, and of every future event which would take place in Egypt.”

Another source says that written upon the walls of the pyramid were,

“the mysteries of science, astronomy, physics, and such useful knowledge which any person understanding our writing can read.”

Is there any evidence that confirms the Great Pyramid was once covered with the above writings?

Since the original casing stones were destroyed and removed for the building of mosques after an earthquake in 1301 AD, we do not know if there was any original writing upon them. It does not seem likely since there still remains some casing stones at the pyramids lowest level and they do not have any inscriptions on them.

There is another possibility to explain this. The legend of the writings on the exterior of the Great Pyramid got confused with the writings in the Book of the Dead. That is they wrote the above not on the pyramid, but on papyrus to preserve it, which became the Book of the Dead.


Is the Book of the Dead what remains of this writing in a corrupt fashion?


Basil Stewart states,

“We know that it (the Great Pyramid) contains no such hieroglyphic inscriptions or representations of the heavenly stars and planets such as these traditions infer. It is only when we turn to the Book of the Dead that we find the passages and chambers of its “Secret House” inscribed with such hieroglyphic texts and formulae, and adorned with mythical figures and stars. That is to say, Coptic and Arab traditions have erroneously identified the inscribed passages of the allegorical Pyramid of the Book of the Dead with the actual passages and chambers of the Great Pyramid itself.”

There is an interesting story as told by Murtadi in 992 AD at Tihe, in Arabia.

“There was a king named Saurid, the son of Sahaloe, 300 years before the Deluge, who dreamed one night that he saw the earth overturned with its inhabitants, the men cast down on their faces, the stars falling out of the heavens, and striking one against the other, and making horrid and dreadful cries as they fell. He thereupon awoke much troubled. A year after he dreamed again that he saw the fixed stars come down to the earth in the form of white birds, which carried men away, and cast them between two great mountains, which almost joined together and covered them; and then the bright, shining stars became dark and were eclipsed. Next morning he ordered all the princes of the priests, and magicians of all the provinces of Egypt, to meet together; which they did to the number of 130 priest and soothsayers, with whom he went and related to them his dream.

“Among others, the priest Aclimon, who was the greatest of all, and resided chiefly in the king’s Court, said thus to him: - I myself had a dream about a year ago which frightened me very much, and which I have not revealed to any one. I dreamed, said the priest, that I was with your Majesty on the top of the mountain of fire, which is in the midst of Emosos, and that I saw the heaven sink down below its ordinary situation, so that it was near the crown of our heads, covering and surrounding us, like a great basin turned upside down; that the stars were intermingled among men in diverse figures; that the people implored your Majesty’s succor, and ran to you in multitudes as their refuge; that you lifted up your hands above your head, and endeavored to thrust back the heaven, and keep it from coming down so low; and that I, seeing what your Majesty did, did also the same.


While we were in that posture, extremely affrighted, I thought we saw a certain part of heaven opening, and a bright light coming out of it; that afterwards the sun rose out of the same place, and we began to implore his assistance; whereupon he said thus to us:

“The heaven will return to its ordinary situation when I shall have performed three hundred courses”. I thereupon awaked extremely affrighted.”

“The priest having thus spoken, the king commanded them to take the height of the stars, and to consider what accident they portended. Whereupon they declared that they promised first the Deluge, and after that fire. Then he commanded pyramids should be built, that they might remove and secure in them what was of most esteem in their treasuries, with the bodies of the kings, and their wealth, and the aromatic roots which served them, and that they should write their wisdom upon them, that the violence of the water might not destroy it.”

Another early Arab historian adds to the story:

“And he filled them (the pyramids) with talismans, and with strange things, and with riches and treasures and the like. He engraved in them all things that were told him by wise men, as, also, all profound sciences. The names of alakakirs, the uses and hurts of them, the science of astrology and of arithmetic, of geometry and physics. All these may be interpreted by him who knows their characters and language. ...”





Cyriacus, in 1440 A.D. visited the Great Pyramid and climbed to the top.

Breydenback, who in 1484 visited the Great Pyramid stated that it was built by the Biblical personage, Joseph, who built them for the purpose to store grain for the 7 years of coming famine.

Martin Baumgarten, a German, in 1507 visited the Great Pyramid and said:

“For the magnificence and art that is displayed upon them, they may justly be reckoned one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and irresistibly breed admiration in all that behold them … the greatest of these pyramids (Great Pyramid) is so large still, that the strongest man that is, standing and throwing a dart straight forwards can scarcely reach the middle of it; which experiment has been oftentimes tried.”

Dr. Pierre Belon, a Frenchman visited the Great Pyramid in 1546. He reported seeing inside “a vast tomb of black marble” which most likely he was referring to the coffer in the King’s Chamber.

Jean Chesneau, also in 1546, who was secretary to the French Ambassador, climbed to the top of the Great Pyramid. He said that

“near it (Great Pyramid) are two others, not so large, and not thus made in degrees (steps) and they are without openings.” Thus it appears at this date the Great Pyramid was the only one of the 3 stripped of its casing stones.

In 1549, Andre Thevet Chaplian, cartographer to the King of France, reported seeing “a great stone of marble carved in the manner of a sepulcher”. He was obviously referring to the coffer in the King’s chamber.

In 1565, Johannes Helferich, said that the courses of the stones were very high and it was accessible only on one of the corner angles and there was a very welcome resting place half-way up where he climbed. It is interesting that almost everyone who has climbed to the top mentions this resting place or chasm half way up. He is probably referring to the Northeast side of the Great Pyramid.

In 1581, Jean Palerme, who was the brother of Henry III of France, wrote of his visit and said “the Great pyramid surpasses the others in magnificence and is superior to the antiquities of ancient Rome.” He climbed to the summit and claimed to have a caught a white bird on the top (known as Pharaoh’s hens). He also mentions the numerous bats in the Grand Gallery and observed the coffer had no lid and was composed of the same stone (red granite) and it sounded like a bell when struck. He took a piece away with him and this may be partially the cause of the damage at the corner of the coffer.

In 1586, Laurence Aldersey visited the Great Pyramid and said “The monuments bee high and in forme four-square and every one of the squares as long as a man may shoote a roving arrowe, and as high as a church.”

In 1591, Proper Alpin, a physician from Venice, stated that the well shaft in the subterranean chamber did not contain any water. He went down for a distance of 70 feet. He also observed that the coffer in the King’s Chamber “upon being struck, it sounded like a bell.”

In 1605, Francois Savary, Seigneur de Breves Ambassador of France, visited the pyramids. On entering the King’s Chamber, he remarked that “the joints between the huge stones are so marvelously trimmed that one could not insert the point of a needle without difficulty.”

In 1610, the famous traveler, George Sandys visited the Great Pyramid. Noted for his writings Sandy’s Travells, he wrote:

“The name (Pyramid) is derived from a flame of fire, in regard to their shape; broad below, and sharp above, like a pointed diamond. By such the ancients did express the original of things; and that formless form-making substance. For as a Pyramid beginning at a point, and the principal height by little and little dilateth into all parts; so Nature proceeding from one undividable fountain (even God the Sovereign Essence), receiveth diversity of forms; effused into several kinds and multitudes of figures; uniting all in the Supreme Head, from whence all excellencies issue.”

He climbed to the top and he also recorded that “During a great part of the day, it casteth no shadow on the earth, but is at once illuminated on all sides.”

In 1616 Pietro della Valle from Italy visited the Great Pyramid and remarked that the sarcophagus in the King’s Chamber was made of so hard a stone that he tried in vain to break it with a hatchet and that it sounded like a bell and had not any cover.


He also observed some Turks shot several arrows from the top of the pyramid but none reached the ground beyond the base.
In 1618, M. de Villamont climbed to the top of the pyramid and also reported that his guide “could not shoot an arrow beyond the base.” He observed that the sarcophagus was made of “black marble” which he believed had been built into the chamber.


He was told an interesting story. It seemed that a man who had been condemned to death was given the opportunity by the Pasha in Cairo to be let down into the Well Shaft to look for treasure. As he was nearing the bottom, the rope broke and his light went out. The next day, he crawled out and made his way up the descending passage and received the Pasha’s pardon.

The first scientific work to be written on the pyramids was that by John Greaves. He first visited the Pyramids in 1638. He was Professor of Astronomy at Oxford and his book was published under the title Pyramidographia in 1646. He believed that the Great Pyramid was built during the reign of Khufu and was built as a tomb for the pharaoh.

In 1647, when M.De Monconys visited the pyramid, he observed that the Well Shaft was very deep and had no other opening than the top. He believed it was meant to connect to the Sphinx.

In 1650, Sieru de la Boullaye-le-Gouz of Angers visited the pyramid and claims to have measured it “inside and out, down to the nearest inch.”

In 1655, M. Trevenot brought ropes with him and describes the experience of a Scotsman who was lowered down the Well Shaft. He said

“The Well was not entirely perpendicular; it went down about sixty-seven feet to a grotto, from whence it again descended to a depth of one hundred and twenty-three feet, when it was filled up with sand. It contained an immense quantity of bats, so that the Scotsman was afraid of being eaten up by them, and was obliged to guard the candle with his hands”

In 1661, the British traveler Melton visited the pyramids and said that the Arabs called the pyramids “The Mountains of Pharaoh”. He climbed to the summit and also explored the interior. At that time, when anyone had decided to enter the pyramid, they shot their gun into the entrance to drive away snakes and other creatures, like bats, before entering. There were many bats inhabiting the pyramid at that time.


Melton also attempted to break off a piece of the coffer using a hammer he specially brought for that purpose. He was not able to break even a small piece off since he said the stone was so hard. He could not even make an impression. He did note that when he struck it, it gave out “a sound like a bell which could be heard at a great distance.”

In 1664 Vausleb remarked that the Grand Gallery was lofty and well built, but so dark. He observed a small aperture in one of the walls of the King’s chamber (the southern airshaft) and said he could not understand what its purpose was.

In 1666, Kircher visited the Great Pyramid. He believed that obelisks and pyramids have mystical and hidden significances. He was the first, as far as we know, to propose this view of the hidden or symbolic significance of the Great Pyramid.

The Frenchman Benoit de Maillet, Consul-General in Egypt from 1692-1708, was one of the first to make a serious study of the Great Pyramid. He believed that the Pharaoh was interred in the King’s Chamber and passages were sealed up and the workman than left through the well shaft.

In 1693, De Careri visited the Great Pyramid and was one of the first to suggest that the Great Pyramid in addition to being used as a tomb was used for astronomical purposes.

In 1699, Paul Lucas traveled to the pyramids a treasure hunter. He voyaged “to collect gems, coins and curios for sale.” As far as we know, he found nothing.

In 1701, Veryard a Medical Doctor from London, climbed the Great Pyramid and describes his adventure as thus. “The exterior was in the form of steps, by which we ascended, but not without some difficulty and danger, from the irregularity and decayed state of the stones. At about half of the ascent, we found a place, which seemed expressly made for a resting place for travelers, capable of holding nine or ten persons.


After remaining here for some time, we proceeded to the top; which, although when viewed from below, it appears to end in a point, can nevertheless contain forty persons with great ease. From thence, we had a prospect on one side of the barren sandy deserts of Africa; and on the other, or Cairo, the Nile, and the adjoining country, with all the towers and villages.”

In 1709, Egmont climbed the pyramid and called the half way resting chasm an “inn”.

In 1711, Perizonius in his History of Egypt, wrote about the traditions and legends of who built the Great Pyramid.

In 1714, Paul Lucas proposed that the pyramid was a giant sundial and would indicate the solstices.

In 1715, a Roman Catholic, Pere Claude Sicard visited the Great Pyramid. His account is interesting in that he describes an unusual feature of the empty coffin in the King’s chamber. He states:”It was formed out of a single block of granite, had no cover, and when struck, sounded like a bell.” He also notes and describes the ramps on each side of the Grand Gallery.

In 1721, Thomas Shaw observed that the core masonry contained fossil shells and is the first to record that the blocks are composed of nummulitic limestone. He believed that interior passages and chambers were intended for mystical worship of Osiris. Thus the Great Pyramid was essentially a temple used for initiation into the mysteries.

In 1737, the famous Dane traveler, Frederick Lewis Norden, went to Egypt for the purpose of making drawings and sketches of the monuments.

In 1737, Richard Pococke visited Egypt and in 1743 published his famous works Pococke’s Travels which had an account of his visit to the Giza Plateau.

In 1743, Dr Perry visited the Great Pyramid and also believed that the pyramid was built to be used in religious rites and mysteries.

In 1753, Abbe Claude-Louis Fourmont, published in his book his account of his visit to the Great Pyramid. He described the Grand Gallery as “very magnificent both in workmanship and materials…There were ramps on each side and quadrangular holes over them and it was constructed with slabs of marble (limestone) so finely put together that the joints could scarcely be perceived and the walls became gradually narrower towards the top by the overlapping of the courses of masonry.” He also remarked that the coffer gave off a sonorous sound and did not have any inscription on it.

In 1761, Niebuhr observed that the Great Pyramid was oriented to the four cardinal directions (North-South-East-West).

Between 1763-65, Nathaniel Davison, British Consul at Algiers explored the Great Pyramid and was the first to discover the 1st relieving chamber above the King’s Chamber, which was named “Davison’s Chamber” after him.

The French invaded Egypt in 1798 under General Napoleon Bonaparte and there was a large battle at Embaba, located about 10 miles from the Great Pyramid, which he won. Historians refer to this as “The Battle of the Pyramids.” General Napoleon addressing his troops before the big battle said, “Soldiers, from the height of these pyramids forty centuries are watching us”.

He took with him a group of 175 civilians, known as “savants”, who were archaeologists, engineers, surveyors, artists, scholars, etc. and they remained in Egypt until 1801. They studied and surveyed the pyramids and archeological monuments in detail recorded their research.

Eventually large volumes were published of their research about Egypt from 1809 to 1822 by order of the than Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. One of the main savants, Edme-Francois Jomard wrote,

“Above all, in the First Pyramid (Great) the funereal purpose is far from being the primary object and it has not even been proved that any king was ever placed therein after his death.”

Dominique Vivant Denon also said that neither Cheops nor Chephren were actually interred in their pyramids.

It should be mentioned that the Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1798 by an officer of the Engineers of the French Military.
In 1801, Dr. Clarke, M. Hamilton, and Dr. Whitman from England climbed to the summit and recorded it to be 32 square feet, and that it was comprised of 9 stones, each weighing about a ton. Dr. Clark thought that the pyramid was the repository for the bones of Jospeh and were removed at the time of the Exodus.

In 1817, an Italian seaman, Giovanni Battista Caviglia cleared the Well Shaft of the Great Pyramid. He demonstrated that the end of the Well Shaft ended in the subterranean section of the descending passage.

At the same time Caviglia was in Egypt, another Italian, Giovanni Belzoni, famous for his adventures and archeology, focused his attention on the second pyramid. He discovered the lost entrance on the northern side. Caviglia cleaned out the bat dung from Davison’s Chamber and turned it into an apartment in which he resided.

In 1833, Thomas Yeates said,

“The Great Pyramid soon followed the Tower of Babel, and had the same common origin. Whether it was not a copy of the original Tower of Babel? And, moreover, whether the dimensions of these structures were not originally taken from the Ark of Noah? The measures of the Great Pyramid at the base do so approximate to the measures of the Ark of Noah in ancient cubit measure, that I cannot scruple, however novel the idea, to draw a comparison.”

In 1837, the famous Colonel Howard Vyse began his work at the pyramids. He used drastic means to explore the pyramids and this can be seen today in the large gash on the southern face of the Great Pyramid, which was caused by blasting with gunpowder. Colonel Vyse is most famous for his 3 volume work Operations carried on at the pyramids of Gizeh in 1837. Unfortunately this is very rare and very expensive to come by. Colonel Vyse also worked with the civil engineer, John Perring. Perring eventually wrote a 2 volume The Pyramids of Gizeh published in 1839-40. They discovered the remaining 4 upper relieving chambers above the King’s Chamber.

In 1842, Mr. Wathen said, “The offerings of the Queen of Sheba are now beheld in the indestructible masses of the pyramids.”

Thus they were the Queen of Sheba’s gifts.

In 1845, M. Fialin de Persigngy expressed the opinion that the purpose of the pyramids was to act as barriers against the sandy eruptions of the dessert in Egypt and Nubia. Thus its purpose was a barrier against the desert sands.
Here are some other novel ideas from individuals around the mid 1800’s.

A Swedish philosopher thought that the pyramids were simply contrivances for purifying the water of the muddy Nile, which would pass through their passages.

This one is really unique.


A Mr. Gable said that,

“it appears not that the founders of them had any such laudable design of transmitting to posterity specimens, as some had supposed; hence they appear to have been erected for no geometrical purpose. They were erected by those, who after their intermarriages with the daughters of men, became, not only degenerate despisers of useful knowledge, but altogether abandoned to luxury”.

Thus he felt they were built to please these women, who had requested that the sons of God employ their leisure after that fashion.

Rev. E. B. Zincke had a practical suggestion.

“In those days, labor could not be bottled up. Egypt was so fertile, and men’s wants were then so few, that surplus labor was available, and much food, from taxes in kind, accumulated in royal hands.”

So, the pyramid was built to employ workers who had no job and to use up the excess money in the treasury.

In the 1840’s, the famous Egyptologist, Sir Gardner Wilkinson was the first to question and dispute the tomb theory of the Great Pyramid.

In 1859, John Taylor of London published the first book on what we know call “Pyramidology” and marks the beginning of that study. He was the first person to discover that the ratio of the height of the Great Pyramid to the perimeter of its bases equals the value of PI, just like the ratio of the radius of a circle to its circumference. He believed that the Great Pyramid was built under divine inspiration and this idea was carried through by Rober Menzies and Piazzi Smyth.

Robert Menzies in 1865 was the first to propose the chronological significance of the passages, which later Piazzi Smyth took up.

In 1864-5, the Edinburgh Professor, Piazzi Smyth explored and measured the Great Pyramid in great detail. His books were very popular brought much attention to the Great Pyramid at this time. He first published Life and Work at the Great Pyramid in 3 volumes and than Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid. He is credited to taking the first photographs ever in 1865 inside the Great Pyramid. He also believed the Great Pyramid was divine and a gift from God.

He believed that the Coffer in the King’s Chamber was a standard of linear and cubic measurement and it remained at a constant temperature and barometric pressure. Smyth also confirmed Taylor’s measurements that the value of Pi was built into the pyramids dimensions. Smyth measurements showed that the perimeter of the pyramid was 36524.2 Pyramid inches and this value corresponds to a year of 365.2 days. Thus, the number of days in a year was built into the Great Pyramid
Smyth and Menzies both believed that the passageway system in the Great Pyramid was a chronological representation of religious and secular events in human history.


These dates also supported the Bible and Menzies felt that the Pyramid was in fact, a bible in stone. The basis of this is that the various passages were constructed according to a chronological scale of a geometric inch to a year. For example, if you start at a certain point in the descending passage and this is represented by a certain year, then every inch you move represents one year forward. Major landmarks in the pyramid seemed to correlate with major historical dates. For example, let us start in the descending passage at the location the scored lines. (These lines were carved in the walls in the upper part of the descending passageway and were placed there intentionally. No one knows their purpose.)


We will assign this location a date of 2141 BC (we will explain later why this date was arbitrarily chosen) and move down the passage. For every inch we move we move forward in time one year (one inch equals one year theory). When we get to where the ascending passage intersects with us, we are at the year 1453 BC, which is thought to be the date of the exodus. If we move up the ascending passage, we finally come to a place where it opens up into the grand gallery. At this juncture, the date is 33AD, the assumed date for the crucifixion of Jesus.


Thus Pyramiologists have correlated major locations in the pyramids passageways with important biblical and secular dates.

In order to have a chronology, you must have a starting point. Let us see how this was determined in the Great Pyramid. If we start from the outside of the north entrance and move down the descending passage about 40 feet, we come to series of so-called “scored lines”. These are straight knife-edge lines cut into the blocks from roof to floor. They are on each side of the passage and directly opposite each other. Also the descending passage is in exact alignment to true north. It can be shown that in the last 5,000 years, only at one time did the north star line up exactly with the descending passage and shine directly down.


This occurred in 2141 BC and the North Star at that time was Draconis, also called the dragon star. The North star changes gradually over long periods of time because of the precession of the earth on its axis (like a spinning top). Also only at that time, the star cluster known as the Pleiades in the constellation Taurus was in alignment with the scored lines. Thus this is the date that pyramidologists accept as the starting date at the scored lines. Measurements in inches from the scored lines represent chronology in years. Thus we count one year for every inch we move from the scored lines, starting at 2141 BC.

Now, if we move down the descending passage to the beginning of the ascending passage, we have moved a distance of 688 inches. If each inch represents one year we are at (2141 BC – 688 = 1453 BC). This year 1453 BC is accepted as the date of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. It symbolizes now the ascent of man towards god. If we move up the descending passage to a distance of 1485 inches, we come to the opening of the grand gallery.


This year, 33 AD (1453 BC – 1485 = 33 AD) is considered to be the date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. If we move up the grand gallery to its end, we move 1881 inches. This year 1914 ad (33 AD – 1881 = 1914 AD) was the date of the beginning of the First World War. We can continue moving in the different passages and come up with different dates. Some of the Pyramidologists attempted to predict future events, like the second coming of Jesus, the millennium, etc. But these events did not come to pass.

Why did the pyramidologist choose the inch as the standard unit of measurement? The pyramidologists believe the linear unit used in the design of the great pyramid is the sacred cubic of 25.0265 British inches. The sacred cubit divided into 25 equal parts results in the sacred inch (also called pyramid inch), which equals 1.00106 British inches. Thus the pyramid inch is very close to our standard geometric inch.


The derivation of this unit comes from measurements in the high central section of the King’s chamber passage, called the “antechamber”. It has been found that the length of the antechamber is equal to the diameter of a circle having a circumference, which measures as many pyramid inches as there are days in the solar year, 365.242.

Pyramidologists also have discovered many other scientific values in the pyramid. They include the mean density of the earth, the weight of the earth, mean temperature of the earth, the values of the solar, sidereal, and anomalistic years, and many others.

The Study of Pyramidology continues to this day and one of the most famous of all is Adam Rutherford who we will be discussing later in the chapter.

As mentioned in Chapter 1, in 1874, astronomers Gill and Watson erected a steel mast on the summit of the Great Pyramid to indicate where the apex would have been if completed.

In 1881, Flinders Petrie did a complete survey of the pyramids. He measured all 203 courses (see Resource B). His work was published in 1883 in a book called The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh.

In 1883, British astronomer, Richard Proctor, put forth his theory that the Great Pyramid was used as an observatory before its completion. Proctor goes into a detailed analysis on how the Great Pyramid was used as an observatory. We will see this idea pop up again and again in recent times. It is interesting that one of Bonaparte’s scientists said that,

“It is very remarkable that the opening of pyramids are all to the north. The passage seemed fitted for an observatory, as it formed a true tube, at the mouth of which it would be possible, to see the stars during the day.”

In 1895, Marsham Adams first proposed that the Great Pyramid of Giza is the Egyptian “Book of the Dead” symbolized in stone.. He said that the Egyptian Book of the Dead refers to an “ideal structure and to the passages and chambers therein, and that these passages and chambers followed precisely the order and description of those of the Great Pyramid “.

In 1909, two brothers, John and Morton Edgar explored in detail the Great Pyramid and published their work with excellent black and white photographs in their well known books, Great Pyramid Passages in 2 volumes. The Edgar brothers also supported the idea of Pyramidology and that the Pyramid was of divine inspiration.

An interesting event occurred in 1939 when an American Egyptologist, George Reisner, made the first radio broadcast from inside the King’s Chamber.

Adam Rutherford, one of the most famous explorers and writers of the Great Pyramid of the 20th century, visited the Great Pyramid for his first time in 1925 and made subsequent visits in 1950 and1963-5. His four volume set Pyramidology, which was published between 1957-1972 is considered a classic with tons of reference materials and photographs. It is one of the best reference sources available. He probably did more to promote the study of Pyramidology than anyone else in the 20th century. He explored the pyramid in detail, made some of the most accurate measurements, and also took some of the best photographs ever of the interior of the Great Pyramid.

Another famous Pyramidologist of the 20th century was a Scottish engineer, David Davidson. In 1924 he published his monumental volume The Great Pyramid: Its Divine Message. His book concentrated on chronological prophecy and the detailed mathematics of the Great Pyramid.

In 1936, the founder of the American Rosicrucian Order (AMORC) and Grand Imperator, H. Spencer Lewis, published a book The Symbolic Prophecy of the Great Pyramid. He proposed that there were numerous underground chambers throughout the Giza Plateau. He believed in the symbolic and ritual importance of the Great Pyramid. He had traveled to Egypt and performed rituals in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid.


An interesting not well-known story is that on one of his visits to the Great Pyramid in the 1920’s with a group of Rosicrucian’s from all over the world, he performed some supernatural phenomena. I have tried to find out what this was from other Rosicrucian’s but no one seems to know, but it had been known that this event did indeed occur. The symbolism of the Great Pyramid plays an important role in Rosicrucian studies and principles.

In the mid 20th century, Edgar Cayce, the well known psychic and sleeping prophet, stated that there was a Hall of Records located somewhere on the Giza Plateau and this would be found by the end of the century.

It should be interesting to note some of the famous people who have visited the Great Pyramid during the 20th Century include Winston Churchill, Chiang Kai-Shek, Mao Tse-tung and even Richard Nixon.




  • Pyramidology, Rutherford, Adam, 4 Volumes 1957-1972

  • Pyramid Facts and Fancies, James Bonwick, 1877

  • Giza: The Truth, Lawton, Ian and Ogilvie-Herald, Chris, 1999

  • History and Significance of the Great Pyramid, Basil Stewart, 1935

  • Pyramidographia, Greaves, John, 1646, 1736

  • Pyramid Passages, Edgar, John and Morton, 1912-13

  • The Great Pyramid: Its Secrets and Mysteries Revealed, Smyth, Charles Piazzi, 1978

  • Secrets of the Great Pyramid, Tompkins, Peter, 1971