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HomeGreek PhilosphyIs there More to the Antechamber Blocking System of Khufu’s Pyramid?

Is there More to the Antechamber Blocking System of Khufu’s Pyramid?

At the starting of March, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities (MOTA) introduced a newly found chamber above the essential entrance to the Pyramid of Khufu, AKA the Great Pyramid of Giza outdoors Cairo. This 9 meter by 2 meter chamber sits straight above the North entrance, and why it was there presently stays unknown. Could or not it’s half of a protracted since dismantled locking system? Another cavity exists between the Grand Galley and the King’s chamber, and much more is understood about this space, with 3 blocking stones in place. however it’s nonetheless considerably enigmatic. Here, with an evaluation of what is understood of the development of the blocking mechanism of this Antechamber, a thriller of the complete of the pyramid’s design is explored.

From the time of the early archaeologists, the Antechamber of the North entrance to Khufu pyramid has been supposed to be a blocking machine with three granite blocks in a row. The empty sarcophagus in the King’s chamber, the majestic Grand Gallery main to it and this elaborate closing machine led everybody to settle for blindly that this was Khufu’s burial chamber. Three blocks have been clearly meant to seal this chamber off.

The Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers, p. 93 (detail), John & Morton Edgar, 1910.

The Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers, p. 93 (element), John & Morton Edgar, 1910.

This stays the accepted interpretation of the Antechamber. However, it’s the creator’s opinion that a number of particulars in the Antechamber name for a greater clarification. He thinks this falls into the entice of offering a superficial clarification. With this clarification, the antechamber has a one-time-use perform.

But additional evaluation of the options of the chamber hints this won’t be the case. Instead of for one-time use, the Antechamber might be a wonderful development meant to be used many times. It might be a gap and shutting machine, not simply closing.

This article affords another view on its goal and performance. One that comes with conveniently uncared for particulars like the 4 vertical grooves on the southern wall, small alterations of the ground stage, and extra. A view suggesting that the King’s chamber wasn’t his burial chamber, however had a unique perform.

Challenging Some Assumptions

The archaeologists centered solely on discovering the burial chamber, taking the sarcophagus in the King’s chamber as proof. Not least as a result of the two chambers decrease in the pyramid appeared unfinished, it was simple for them to conclude that these two chambers have been deserted throughout the constructing course of. One chamber wasn’t dug out correctly, they thought, and the second was lacking a half a meter thick layer of ground tiles.

They have been so flawed.

Let us do some architectural detective’s work and start with a vital view on the three-stone-block concept.

The blocking is assumed to have worked this way. Maragioglio & Rinaldi: L’archittura delle piramidi Menfiti, parte 4, tavole (tav. 8 detail).

The blocking is assumed to have labored this fashion. Maragioglio & Rinaldi: L’archittura delle piramidi Menfiti, parte 4, tavole (tav. 8 element).

The vertical protruding “ribs” on the east and west partitions appears like guiding strains for blocks. Fair sufficient. But why three, when one greater one could be enough? Is it symbolic?

This manner of blocking the entrance shouldn’t be utilized in different pyramids we all know of. Cylindrical rollers over the blocks appear to have been used to decrease them into sealing-off place. Accurately measured drawings of Maragioglio & Rinaldi present how the blocks, of their view, have been merely held up briefly by wood logs. So, whereas others bashed the supporting logs away, the blocks have been held again by staff holding ropes, after which slowly lowered into their closing place.

I’ve calculated the weight of one such stone block to be roughly 1.5 -2 tons, (1.2m x 1.2m x 0.5 m = approx.0.8 m 3 x 2.5 t (common weight of 1 m 3 granite) = approx. 2 t). So it could have taken the weight of 20-30 Egyptians weighing 70 kg every simply to maintain one block. They should have been standing in the Grand Gallery. But why have good rollers above the blocks after which a pointy – not even rounded – edge on the hall’s ceiling. It doesn’t appear effectively deliberate.

The ropes must have gone out under a sharp edge. (Guardian's Egypt - Copyright © 1995-2014 Andrew Bayuk. All Rights Reserved/

The ropes should have gone out underneath a pointy edge. (Guardian’s Egypt – Copyright © 1995-2014 Andrew Bayuk. All Rights Reserved/ Guardian.internet)

And what about the open shaft in entrance of the closing blocks? If the blocks have been supposed to be lowered by step by step slacking the ropes over the cylindrical rollers, it leaves this “pre-Antechamber” open to intruders afterwards, who would shortly understand that solely the interior of the three blocks would have to be damaged to acquire entry to the supposed burial chamber. Not very good, although I admit that the injury to the southern wall (repaired) might recommend an assault from above.

But why use rollers in any respect?

This was a really sophisticated system for a one-time use. Ropes would simply slide over rounded edges of usually sq. blocks – the friction would even assist the cautious reducing, giving an argument in opposition to the curler concept – and with simply slender gaps or holes in the masonry, grave-robbers would have had a a lot more durable job.

The rollers led me to conclude that they could have been acquainted with pulley programs. Also, as a result of I consider in Australian Paul Hai’s principle: that they rolled large stone blocks, even up the pyramid sides, with the assist of convex wood “sleighs” mounted to the blocks. Models of such sleighs or “rockers” are discovered.

Images from Paul Hai’s book, illustrating his wonderful idea. (Author provided)

Images from Paul Hai’s ebook, illustrating his fantastic concept. (Author offered)

Gods and Chambers

In an earlier article I’ve proposed that the closing system was designed to be used time after time and was made as a counterweight opening and shutting system. It is the most sensible purpose for utilizing rollers to remove friction.

The concept fits my primary principle that each one the chambers in the pyramid have been equally essential.

I consider that every chamber honored one of the cosmological gods of the space. The Giza pyramids are solely 30 km from Heliopolis. The 5 first listed gods there have been gods for nature parts – earth, water (really rain and mist = water shifting vertically), and air, for some, and the three chambers we all know have been shaped to swimsuit one god’s ingredient every. The gods in query have been Geb, Tefnut and Shu respectfully.

And sure, I do consider that two different chambers existed: one on prime of the pyramid honoring the sky goddess Nut, simply lined by the pyramid’s casing stones till they fell off in an earthquake, which additionally loosened many of the casing stones from the sides; and a hidden chamber honoring the sun- and creator god Re-Atum. These 5 have been the gods who had created the world.

Built vertically into the pyramid the chambers have been steps on a ladder serving to the deceased king ascend to heaven.

Khufu’s pyramid, including the two missing chambers higher up. I believe the chambers honored local element gods. (Author provided)

Khufu’s pyramid, together with the two lacking chambers larger up. I consider the chambers honored native ingredient gods. (Author offered)

All the Chambers Display Symbolism

I consider that Khufu was buried in the subterranean chamber. The chamber was not unfinished and deserted. This was the earth god Geb’s chamber, and so much of the bedrock was left, deliberately giving the impression of a quarry. We can think about how stone masonry was extremely revered in historical Egypt – a divine craft related to Geb, I presume. Looking fastidiously you will note that there is a flat stage space sufficiently big to home a sarcophagus, wood, assembled on the spot.

When the Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt two thousand years after Khufu lived, clergymen informed Herodotus that the king lay buried underneath the pyramid, on an island surrounded by water coming from a man-made canal.

With a wooden tube and some water, the words of Herodotus are brought to life in a symbolic tableau. (Author provided)

With a wood tube and a few water, the phrases of Herodotus are introduced to life in a symbolic tableau. (Author offered)

Now watch how a lot distinction just a little creativeness may end up in: All it takes to make us understand that Herodotus’ phrases could also be a somewhat exact description of an unbelievable authentic tableau is a sq. wood tube. Placed vertically in the effectively, with two sides resting on the cut-out ledge and tightened with clay or silt you’d have a correct water effectively (it has been dug out deep sufficient to conclude that it reached floor water stage at the very least in flooded intervals).

Why have they dug the effectively so deep? Because they wanted so much of water. Pouring water onto the ground would end in a tableau like the one I’ve drawn. And extra water was wanted larger in the pyramid.

The Queen’s chamber and the Grand Gallery. Maragioglio tav. 7, partly cleaned for clarity. (Author provided)

The Queen’s chamber and the Grand Gallery. Maragioglio tav. 7, partly cleaned for readability. (Author offered)

Water in Tefnut’s (the Queen’s) chamber. (Author provided)

Water in Tefnut’s (the Queen’s) chamber. (Author offered)

The Queen’s chamber and the Grand Gallery have been fantastic gems too and name for consideration, however they’re solely briefly referred to on this article. The Queen’s chamber had water on the ground and water in the closed canals.

Details reveal that the Grand Gallery shouldn’t be my lacking chamber for the solar god – the sloping Gallery is clearly not a chamber – and anyway his chamber ought to be nearer to the sky/the prime chamber. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Gallery is linked to the solar anyway, in the respect that it represents the solar’s rays, bringing heat, mild, warmth, hearth and life to the decrease world. It represents the hearth ingredient on earth, whereas the solar god’s precise chamber is larger up.

Counterweight System Details

After a vital examination of the system I beforehand proposed for the opening and shutting system: a wood tube, balanced by a stone block in the first shaft, I’ve realized it was a hasty thought. A wood tube, even 3 times the dimension of one blocking stone, wouldn’t steadiness the weight of a heavy stone counterweight. A wood tube, even 20 cm (8 inches) thick and having a base space of approx. 1×2 meters – 2 sq. meters, would solely weigh as a lot as 600 kg, having the common weight of e.g. cedar wooden.

The stays of the counterweight stone from the shaft in entrance might very effectively be the damaged stone block with drilled holes on show outdoors the pyramid’s entrance. From the appears of it (I haven’t measured) it’s as thick as the different assumed stone blocks, subsequently probably weighing 1.5-2 tons.

The wooden tube idea. (Author provided)

The wood tube concept. (Author offered)

I remorse having to hand over the wood tube concept. The aspect partitions’ ribs of stone would perform as positive guides stopping the tube from getting caught (from tilting forwards or backwards). I do understand {that a} tube might be made heavier by placing further stones on prime of it or inside the tube, however an entire further ton?

Another counterweight possibility: a stone basin, closed and open. The grill (see below) still waits for someone to pull the rope. (Author provided)
Another counterweight chance: a stone basin, closed and open.
The grill (see beneath) nonetheless waits for somebody to pull the rope. (Author offered)

A Low Stone Basin

To steadiness a stone block, “the wooden tube” should as a substitute have been made of stone. A basin nearly shaped as a sarcophagus, open in each ends, would work. With aspect wall thicknesses like the sarcophagus inside the chamber, which is c. 15 cm (6 inches), the aspect partitions of a stone basin might have had about the top of the hall, and contained some water.

Alternately the basin might have had somewhat low sides and a backside thickness of about the half of the counterweight, c. 25 cm (as a result of the vertical counterweight space is roughly half that of the ground space underneath the three rollers). The low aspect model is proven right here, however larger sides would higher stop it from being caught by tilting.

The vertical grooves with a grill. The grooves continue all up to the ceiling. (Unknown photographer)

The vertical grooves with a grill.  The grooves proceed all up to the ceiling. (Unknown photographer)

Grooves for ropes or a grill?

The fascinating vertical grooves on the south wall, over the final bit of hall main to the King’s Chamber, might have given room for the ropes holding the interior block, in the common three-block model. But why, in that case, have been the grooves chiseled in all the manner up to the ceiling? Even although the large wall stone with the most of the grooves ends just a little beneath the ceiling, the grooves proceed on one other stone. That wouldn’t be mandatory, if these grooves have been for ropes round the curler.

The grooves might as a substitute have guided a grill, blocking the entrance. It might be lifted with a rope going round the closest curler. It is the finest use I can see for these grooves. The grill will be held shut to the wall with a wood beam or two, crossing from wall to wall. An clarification to why it ought to be there is proposed beneath.

Temple Functions

Rites have been carried out in the grave temple outdoors the pyramid. Could the pyramid itself be a temple? The later roman author Apuleius describes in his ebook The Golden Ass his personal initiation into the Isis cult. He wrote that he got here to the boundaries of loss of life after which returned, going by way of all the parts . The Greeks had (re-) invented the parts by then, with out gods, however his important phrases about parts give which means to speculations of whether or not Khufu’s pyramid with its ingredient chambers functioned as an initiation temple in addition to grave for a king.

In such a context the Ante-chamber’s structure could be very fascinating. Coming to this stage the provoke would have descended to the backside chamber, had seen the sarcophagus, had seen the bedrock linking this chamber to the earth god Geb, had seen the water seemingly floating in from the sq. canal on the reverse wall, and seen the hole higher finish of the wood tube, seemingly a gap to the underworld. To him, this was the boundaries of loss of life.

From right here he went up, visited the Queen’s chamber (Tefnut’s watery ingredient), and had handed by way of the stylized solar beams of the Grand Gallery. Now he stood on the touchdown in entrance of the final earthbound ingredient’s chamber, the air god Shu’s chamber. He was the god who had lifted the sky from the earth and was nonetheless holding it up by his palms, standing on the earth.
The provoke discovered the entrance closed.

Natural vertical order of elements. Sky goddess Nut held up by air god Shu. Earth god Geb lying on the ground. The sun sailed below the sky. (Author provided)

Natural vertical order of parts. Sky goddess Nut held up by air god Shu. Earth god Geb mendacity on the floor. The solar sailed beneath the sky. (Author offered)

A Test

Standing in entrance of a closed entrance should have felt like being examined. Now what? He ought to in all probability exhibit that he mastered manipulation of the parts he had handed on his manner.

One of the earth ingredient’s most evident powers is its weight. Could he overcome that?

The blocking stone didn’t relaxation completely on the ground. A one-centimeter hole gave him no different alternative than to strive to carry the stone by palms, if he wished to enter Shu’s chamber. So he tried – and the block moved (due to the low-friction rollers)!

The subsequent factor he noticed was glowing and burning charcoal (or dried camel dung) in the subsequent three to 4 meters (the ground is depressed right here, and the air channels in the chamber conveniently ventilated out most of the smoke). Fire… how might he cross this hearth with out getting grave pores and skin burns? Furthermore, a grill blocked his manner, and a a lot bigger stone block was coming down as he lifted the entrance door.

Lifting the door stone all the manner up revealed that the descending stone was a stone basin, protecting the first half of the burning path. The basin contained water.

Having stood in water in Tefnut’s chamber he would now depend on her assist to extinguish (management) the hearth in a slender path. Having moist ft would additionally assist him to a protected passage.

Just the grill remained. Either it had gone up mechanically when he lowered the basin, or higher, a dangling rope gave him the remaining alternative to exhibit resolution and can to enter Shu’s chamber.

Maragioglio & Rinaldi, tav.4, detail. (Author provided)

Maragioglio & Rinaldi, tav.4, element. (Author offered)

In line with later initiation symbolism the sarcophagus in Shu’s chamber implies that the provoke now had to symbolically die by coming into the sarcophagus and effectively, possibly die “the small dead”- go to sleep, or in one other manner open his thoughts to the afterlife : he was spoken to by heavenly voices, coming from someplace (above the ceiling)! This was in all probability the purpose for the narrow-dug tunnel main from excessive over the Gallery touchdown into the lowest of the so-called weight-relieving chambers above the King’s chamber.

This completed his job – now he was reborn, having been useless, having been spoken to by gods.
Having realized that the parts and their chambers have been steps in the pyramid’s stairway to heaven – he was now initiated.

And we’re too, having understood and refurnished the Antechamber.

Top picture: Khufu pyramid from the northeast view. Source: dynamofoto/Adobe Stock

By Niels Bjerre Jorgensen


Hai, P 2006, Raising Stone: Racks & Pinions Theory Paul Hai Publications.

Lehner, Mark. 1997. The Complete Pyramids: Solving the Ancient Mysteries. Thames & Hudson.

Maragioglio, Vito and Celeste Ambrogio Rinaldi. 1965.  L’Architettura delle Piramidi Menfite 4. Le Grande Piramide di Cheope.  Tavole. Tipografia Canessa: Rapallo.


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