Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00

Geodetics and Science of Ancient Egypt

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Nick Kollerstrom on Capricorn TV with James Swagger — Summer 2014

Nick Kollerstrom is historian of science, a former honorary research fellow in Science and Technology Studies at University College, London (UCL).

Strong national pressure from the Egyptian government promotes the age-old concept that three Egyptian pharaohs were responsible for constructing the pyramids at Giza. Notions of 'scientific' rationality argue that the pyramids 'must' be tombs, after all they have sarcophagi in them don't they? Thus notions of pharaonic burial as the only 'reasonable' explanation combine with national sentiment for claimed ownership. Against this consensus are theories that may sound airy and vague, concerning some unknown builders using methods lost forever in the mists of prehistory.

I here argue for the latter view, and suggest that two publishing events of 2007 are relevant: documentary evidence for Howard Vyse's forgeries in the Relieving Chambers above the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid, published, plus a history of ancient mathematics which endorses the integrated (mathematical) ground-plan for the three Giza pyramids, by John Legon.

Non-Egyptian Maths?

While composing the 'Geometry of the Great Pyramid' for the Graham Hancock Forum , I found myself (unexpectedly) growing more and more incredulous that ancient Egyptians could have done maths like that. For a start they did not have angular measure. How could they have appreciated the amazing properties of the Great Pyramid's unique pi/phi slope angle without that? Instead, they had gradients for measuring slope, i.e. the 'sekhed'. I found that slopes of the descending passages were related to those of the first and second pyramids as precise angle bisections, within an arcminute – which could surely not have been done using ancient Egyptian mathematics. Bisection of a one-seventh angle is far from being a common concept, and what would it have meant to anyone confined to sekhed measure?

The Third Pyramid of Giza has a descending passage slope angle of 26° 2' identical within a single arcminute with that of the Great Pyramid ascending passage angle – suggesting that the same construction company built both, and that the exact angle within an arcminute was intentional. This was a moderately precise angle bisection, of the outer slope angle, within about four arcminutes, and lacks a straightforward Seked value. The 2nd pyramid's descending passage slope angle, generally agreed to be 25° 55,' bisects that special angle within an arcminute.

Read 256 times Last modified on Thursday, 24 July 2014 23:32
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