In the summer of 1798, thirty thousand French soldiers landed in Egypt under the command of a barely 28-year-old Napoleon. I imagine that in that bold movement there were tons of what we now call geopolitical interests, but we are interested in something very specific: along with them were about 150 experts (mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers, archaeologists, geographers, historians, etc.). …) who thoroughly analyzed the mysteries of the country of the pyramidsthe hieroglyphs and the ancestral gods.
There “Egyptian fever” was reintroduced into modern Europe. There are many mysteries surrounding the pyramids. Since then, thousands of people have dedicated their lives to solving some of the greatest enigmas in ancient history. Most of the time without finding an answer. The perfect example is that of the alignment of the pyramids.
Today, aligning structures of that size may seem relatively simple. However, doing it without modern technology is a hell of a hassle. However, each of the sides of the Great Pyramid of Giza is almost perfectly aligned with the cardinal points. And when I say “almost perfectly aligned“, I mean with “a precision of better than four minutes of arc, or one fifteenth part of a degree”.
And it’s no coincidence: that happens with at least the three largest Egyptian pyramids. In fact, as Glen Dash explained in ‘The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture’, all three structures show the same type of error: “they are rotated slightly counterclockwise from the cardinal points”.
How were they able to do that? Well, like I said, it’s a mystery. A mystery in the sense that we have not found any codex or document that explains the methodology they followed. Therefore, guessing the mechanism has a lot of “reverse engineering“: trying to reproduce the same results with the technology that we believe was available at the time.
looking for an answer
Many explanations have been given: from the use of the polar star, the shadow of the Sun or aliens. But none of these explanations has had much popularity among experts: either they were too complex or they did not give good results. The one about the aliens is simple and explains the accuracy, of course; but, well, it needs aliens.
Glen Dash decided to explore another idea: What if the autumnal equinox allowed for that kind of alignment? Not that the idea was completely original, on the contrary. He had examined himself endlessly, but had found no clear way to achieve the required precision. His methodology used a gnomon (that is, a stick or stiletto stuck in a fixed position, either on the ground or on the wall).
Using the gnomon and recording the path of the shadow at regular intervals, Dash was able to create a nearly perfect line running from east to west.
The curious thing about this methodology is that, as Dash pointed out, it is not perfect: it generates a small error in an anti-clockwise direction. Just the same kind of bug that the pyramids have.. This is precisely what makes the system worth studying. And a lot of study that will be needed because, unless an architectural “Rosetta stone” appears, it is difficult to be clear. For now, we have a very good candidate.
In Xataka | We have spent centuries wondering how the pyramids of Egypt were built. These are the best theories
Image | Andres Dallimonti