The Giza pyramids as geometric religious art

While many admire the technical achievement, most people today consider pyramids as the ultimately useless products of an autocratic state. Some Egyptologists think they were essentially a means of keeping idle workers busy during the annual Nile inundation. Even so, many aspects of pyramid design and meaning are rather interesting and are discussed on this site.

Pyramids are geometric forms so it follows that serious investigation of their purpose requires study of architectural proportion. Unfortunately geometry is not a popular subject, and so bewildering is the array of complex mathematical schemes applied to pyramids (some, I confess, proposed by the present writer) that most scholars have preferred to focus on the cult.

The situation changed in 1998 with the publication of H. R. Butler's Egyptian Pyramid Geometry (1). Firmly bedded within the Egyptological corpus, this work examined available pyramid data and identified numerical sets used to proportion monuments through many dynasties. It can well be taken as a standard reference against which to assess other geometrical ideas, and indispensable to anyone wishing to pursue their own investigations.

My own work has been somewhat speculative, producing a series of geometrical analyses that now look rather dubious (2). Nevertheless the fragments I found had enabled me to reach conclusions not dissimilar to Butler's : Giza was a work of religious art, a 'geometrical symphony' whose proportions must have had symbolic meaning. RJC.2002

(1) Butler, H.R. 1998. Egyptian Pyramid Geometry. Benben. Mississauga, Ontario.

(2) These appeared as articles in the journal Discussions in Egyptology and in a series of self-published books, the only one to see any kind of circulation being : Cook, R.J. 1992. The Pyramids of Giza. Seven Islands, Glastonbury. I regret that these works contained errors : this website will give me the opportunity to correct them, while excerpted illustrations will be appropriately dated.

Each page on this site is devoted to a particular topic. Readers requiring general background material are directed to the list of resources : RESOURCES.

This essay argues for the existence of a unified site plan : PLAN.

Data used in the above analysis : DATA.

Discussion of the plan and comparison with other proposals : COMPARISON.

A discussion of Egyptian religion and astronomy, the pyramid 'starshafts', and the Orion correlation : RELIGION.

At the time of writing  the famous shafts inside the pyramid of Khufu have become the subject of media investigation. Their geometry is discussed here : SHAFTS.

New pages and updates are listed here : UPDATES.

My area of study is the history of art and religion so, if I have made any serious errors in reviewing Egyptological material, I would appreciate feedback from specialists in the field to allow me to make the necessary corrections.

                                                                                                                                                                            RJC. 2002

NOTE 2008. Because of criticism that the argument for a unified plan is difficult to follow, I have added the page 'COMPARISON' which explores some of the relations in greater detail. Some have dismissed Butler's work because of the sea level relation, so my further aim is to show that Butler's plan can stand without it. This plan is then compared with other site layout proposals. 

The painting above was made about twenty five years ago, using various excavation reports. Consequently it contains a few errors - for example Khufu causeway, with an offset of 1 to 4 (the same as Khafre causeway to the south), probably made a bend to the north after leaving the plateau. Also, at the time the site was built, the geography would have been less arid. Notice the indentation of the limestone core masonry of Khufu and Menkaure, put in from personal observation and aerial photographs - Khafre core masonry shows no such indentation.

The title of this website is the generally accepted translation of Ahket Khufu, the name the Egyptians gave to Giza. A better translation of its meaning is discussed in the section on 'RELIGION'.



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