The Great Pyramid, Part 12

The Great Pyramid, Part 12

The entrance or – if we take the view of the pharaoh – the exit of the pyramid of Khufu doesn’t lie in the exact middle of the northern pyramid flank but is offset by about 24 feet to the east on what used to be the 19th course- a specially thick stone layer, today it is the 16th course and several feet back from the pyramid face. At one time it was entirely covered with White Tura casing blocks, until those blocks were taken away for the purpose of building houses in Cairo.

The exact point in time when the actual entrance was found is not clear. There is an entrance underneath; probably cut by grave robbers but perhaps by the Caliph Al Mamoun when he supposedly forced his way into the pyramid in 820 AD. It is interesting, that the tunnel connects directly to the descending corridor, circumventing the large granite stones blocking the way in. This could signify that someone had previously dug the tunnel, who knew quite well about the system of passages inside the pyramid, and that Al Mamoun only enlarged the tunnel to suit his own purposes.” (“Building the Great Pyramid”)

According to the description of the ancient historian Herodotus, the original door of the Great Pyramid was hinged at the top, and swung outward. According to the accounts of Al Mamoun, who supposedly created the forced entrance into the Pyramid and then followed the Descending Passage back up to the original door, the door was so well balanced that a single man could open it from the inside, but when shut was nearly invisible and impossible to open from the outside.

Strabo (a Greco/Roman geographer/historian) expressly states that in his time (63 B.C. to 24 A.D.) the subterranean parts of the Great Pyramid were accessible: “It has on its side, at a moderate elevation, a stone which can be moved, [—Greek phrase—], which when it has been lifted up, a tortuous passage is seen which leads to the tomb.” The meaning of Strabo’s statement had not been mastered until Mr. Petrie showed, what we may still see, at the entrance of one of the pyramids of Dashur, arrangements which bore witness to the existence of a movable stone mounted on a pivot to serve as a door. It was a method of closing of the same kind as that described by Strabo, perhaps after he had seen it himself, or had heard of it from the guides, and like that which Mr. Petrie had reinstated, with much probability, at the entrance of the Great Pyramid.

The section concerning the “moveable stone” has been variously translated. The following is a modern translation, which seems to support the idea that the stone “door” was similar to the mechanism found in the “South pyramid of Dashur”.

The Greater (Pyramid), a little way up one side, has a stone that may be taken out, (Greek, exairesimon, exemptilem) which being raised up (Greek, arqentoV, sublato) there is a sloping passage to the foundations.”

“Strabo seems to be describing a door made of stone that is movable in some way; it can be moved upwards and outwards at the same time. This sounds like a hinged flap arrangement, with the hinge at the top of the stone. Strabo was clearly familiar with the internal layout of the lower portions of the pyramid, he calls the rough hewn hole there the ‘foundations‘ rather than the more obvious term of ‘chamber‘ and he is also familiar with the form that the entrance stone took.

Sir Flinders Petrie backed this quotation up with a detailed study of the entrances to the Vega (Bent) pyramid, the only pyramid that still has the doorways around the entrance intact. He found that on either side of the entrance, there were holes cut opposite each other, about 3 ½ inches in diameter by 5 ½ inches deep. These holes were just inside the entrance and only 6 inches from the top of the passage. Petrie, not unreasonably, interpreted these as being the hinge sockets to swing the stone door from. Behind these sockets, the passageway contained more door sockets. These were smaller vertical sockets, for a very lightweight door, perhaps made of wood and presumably to keep out the wind-blown sand.”

“The diagrams above were developed by Petrie and based on his analysis of the Vega (Bent) pyramid entrance. The hinged stone door is clearly marked as the large shaded stone. It needs to be this shape, with a long top extending backwards, in order to counterbalance the weight of the stone. The amount of counterbalance at the top would have been judiciously arranged by the architect, so that the force required to open the stone was within normal human limitations, say about 55 lbs of force.”

(Tunnel Vision by Ralph Ellis and Mark Foster

The design of the entrance passage as well as its door to the Great Pyramid must have been meticulously worked out prior to its assembly. Specially cut “Casing Stones” would have been needed in order to maintain the prescribed height and width of the Descending Passage as it reached the outer face of the Pyramid.

Figure 1 is an example of what may have been the cut and configuration of the 19th course of masonry (specifically the outer casing stones), note especially the particularly large central passage stone (which we have purposely highlighted in Petrie’s diagram for reference), this stone would have been especially designed and cut in order that the next course, which would contain the two hinge blocks supporting the door, might maintain the proper cross webbing necessary to the stability of the Pyramid. Now at first it might seem near impossible for the builders to have fashioned such an elaborately cut stone, but as can be seen in the picture below it does not appear as though this would have been impossible, note the precision in the cut of the stone below.

Figures 2, 3 and 4 below illustrate the possible hinge design of the door with its two supporting hinge stones on the left and the right. The pivoting mechanism (the two rods shown imbedded into the hinge stones) may have been constructed of granite or possibly some type of metal, possibly copper, these would have been first inserted into the door and then the door would have been carefully lowered into place once the hinge stones were in place. Once this was accomplish another specially cut stone which would comprise the ceiling of the Descending Passage would be laid, this stone would also prevent the door from pivoting up to high and chipping the course above. Likewise the rear upper portion of the door when closed would rest against the ceiling stone, this would keep the door in line with all the rest of the casing stones and prevent the door from being pushed in, thus concealing its location.

In our next post we will take a closer look at a particular aspect of the Great Pyramid which has always appeared to me to be somewhat of a mystery. I’m speaking specifically in regards to the masonry found bordering around the entrance passage, you note it often in various diagrams and charts of the pyramid and yet nothing is ever said as to why or for what purpose it was constructed the way it was. The highlighted area below is the specific area in which we refer.

Continued with next post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *