The Sphinx and the Great Pyramids
of the Giza plateau
The most well known archaeoastronomical site in the world are the Pyramids in Egypt. Their age and who built them is still controversial, but most scholars agree that it has been almost 5000 years since the Egyptians built the largest stone monuments in the world.
The magnificent structure known as the Great Pyramid was constructed in the 27th century BCE, and it is the largest of the pyramids that sit on the Giza plateau on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. Though there has been considerable speculation about the Great Pyramid being an observatory or designed as a source of arcane prophecy, the only factual evidence of its true intended purpose is how and why it was connected to the heavens.
The first example is an obvious and common one for astronomically aligned monuments. The four faces of the Great Pyramid are oriented to the cardinal directions of the skies: north, south, east and west.
The second example lies within the pyramid. Deep inside dwells the supposed final resting-place of the Pharaoh. It is here, in the Kings’ Chamber, that two openings on opposite walls, one to the north and one to the south give testimony as to the true purpose of the Great Pyramid.
These two small holes lead to shafts that rise at an angle through many huge stone blocks and nearly exit out from the sides of the pyramid. These two points on the pyramid correspond to points in the sky were the dead pharaoh would take his place among the immortal stars as a god.
The southern shaft was aligned to the constellation of Orion and the northern shaft was directly aligned to the circumpolar region of the Northern Hemisphere and to Egypt’s former pole star. The Egyptian pole star is not the one we use today because the Earth's pole star is ever so slowly and constantly changing due to the “Grand Precession” or wobble of our planet.
Every few thousand years we get a new one. When the pyramid was built, the star Thuban in the constellation Draco was the closest object the Egyptians had to a pole star.
As the earth “wobbled” over the millenniums, the Great Pyramid moved under the skies and has aligned itself to our current pole star, Polaris the North Star.
In addition, a theory has suggested that the configuration of the pyramid complex on earth, precisely matches the three stars in the belt of Orion in the sky. And that the Nile river matches the position of the Milky Way so that the Giza plateau is a "mirror of heaven."
This is an entertaining hypothesis, but the most probable true astronomical connection that these three famous mammoth stone structures had was the imperishable circumpolar stars of their time. They were astronomically oriented as to connect the heavens to the earth so that the Pharaoh was able to ascend into the sky and take his place in heaven as a God upon his demise
The Sphinx is a gigantic enigma which faces the rising sun in the east and greets the new day as it sits silently in front of the three great pyramids of the Giza plateau in Egypt. When an why this great work was designed an constructed is still up for debate, but it's more than likely it was originally a statue of a great lion. Eventually the face was re-carved to resemble the reigning Pharaoh.
The Sphinx faces the equinox and divides the solstices on the horizon. Some archaeologists believe this sixty-foot high sculpted figure was built before the pyramids and represents Harmakhis, the Egyptian god of the morning. This may indeed be its purpose as it faces the east and greets the rising sun. With a sky chart and a little imagination, it is easy to see that the Sphinx has an uncanny resemblance of the constellation Leo.
Stone Circles of the Negev and Sinai Deserts
Negev Desert - Circa 10,000 BCE
Numerous standing stones have been found in the Negev and Sinai deserts. The Hebrew Bible calls them masseboth (mah-tseh-vot; singular massebah), which translates a "pillars" or "standing stones." Most are circular in nature and have been set vertically into the ground, individually or in groups, and are abundant in these desert regions. There are at least 142 independent masseboth sites and most face east, the direction of the rising sun.
They date back to the 11th and 10th millennia BCE. The most common period was the sixth to the third millennia BCE and were continually being erected through the Biblical period and beyond.
Oriented to the cardinal points they were ritual sites and sacred to the desert people. Here they connected the heaven and the earth to gain access to the sky, and in doing so, they were granted access to god. This was the same motivation for the construction of Stonehenge in England.
Desert of Syrian and Jordan - Circa 4,000 BCE
Approximately 16 miles east of the Sea of Galilee in the Golan Heights is situated the curious ancient monolithic structure known as Rujm el-Hiri, also known as Gilgal Rephaim. This huge complex of multiple concentric circles with a central cairn is unprecedented anywhere in the Levant.
The purpose of this inquiry is to suggest that the existence of Rogem Hiri can best be understood as a cultic site containing an ancient calendrical system utilized by the local pastoral population of the Early Bronze Age to help them predict time periods of agricultural significance. To explain this conclusion, we will begin with a general survey of Rujm el-Hiri and discuss who may have built it and when.
We will consider the suggested alternative functions of the site (especially the possible ritual functions), then finally focus on the prominent indications of a strong ancient awareness of the cosmos as reflected by Rujm el-Hiri alignment with natural phenomena.
Rujm el-Hiri is composed of five concentric stone rings surrounding a central cairn or burial site. The largest ring measures 145m from east to west and 155m from north to south with a circumference of 500m (88-91.1). The wall is preserved to up to 2m high and 3.2-3.3m thick. Two entrances penetrate it, one in the northeast and one in the southeast. Small extension walls, pointing to the north, west, and south extend from the wall in their respective locations.
Ring two measures 105m east to west and 115m north to south, 2.6m wide. Ring three is 70 m east to west and 90m north to south, up to 2m wide, and there is an unexplained bulge in the southern part of the ring. The inner two rings are semicircular and narrower, only reaching 1.5m maximum in thickness. At the center of the rings is a burial structure 20m wide and 4.5m high.
The rings are interconnected by a series of what are called radial walls, placed at seemingly random intervals and locations throughout the site, 36 in number. The building blocks of Rujm el-Hiri consist of uncut basalt stones. They range in size from smallish to medium-sized to huge boulders. The site is curiously shallow, located only 2.5m above bedrock at most, and why it was not constructed directly upon the bedrock for a more stable construction is undetermined. Evidence of paving with large flat stones was discovered in much of the site.
Ziggurat at UR
Iraq - Circa 3000 BCE
The city of UR (modern Muqayyar) lies 168 miles southeast of Baghdad and nine miles from the ancient Euphrates river that once flowed through the city. This was one of the great religious centers of Ancient Sumer and a great power in Mesopotamia. It was originally constructed by Ur-Nammu and at its summit sat the Temple of the Moon. Immediately southeast the ziggurat was a complex containing two temples of Nannar and Ningal. Nannar was the moon god "Sin" and Lord of the Calendar.
He held the chief place in the triad along with Shamash and Ishtar, both his children. His consort was Ningal "great lady" and the judge of mankind on the last day of every year.
Mirror of Heaven
Cambodia - Circa 800 CE
In the mid 1800’s, a French naturalist, Henri Mouhot, was exploring the jungles of northern Cambodia when he came across three tall stone structures. What he had stumbled upon was Angkor Thom. This temple was an entrance to a magnificent city that, according to Mouhot, was ‘grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome.’
The local inhabitants were asked who built the city and its incredible structures. Their responses varied from, it was ‘the work of Pra-Eun, the king of the angels,’ or ‘the work of giants,’ or that‘it made itself.’ What Mouhot discovered is a vast city complex called Angkor and this complex was the capitol of the Khmer region of Cambodia that covers an area of almost 400 square kilometers. It was founded by Jayavarman II, who declared himself a god king and reigned in the region from 770 to 850 CE. Angkor Thom was the royal, religious and administrative center of the kingdom.
It is so massive that there are four causeways that cross a moat two miles square and meet at the center of the complex. Within it sits two terraces, the Royal Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King and across from them sits the twelve Towers of the Cord Dancers. Throughout the complex were elaborately carved sandstone gods and giants supporting mythical creatures, and figures from Hindu religious epics.
One mile outside the main city sits “the city which is a temple.” Angkor Wat, and is the most famous of all monuments in the Khmer region of Cambodia. Suryavaraman II was responsible for producing this temple mountain with a shrine on top representing the framework and operation of the Hindu cosmos. The five central towers represent the peaks of Mount Meru, which in Hindu mythology dominates the universe and symbolizes the polar axis world.
As in other complexes throughout the world, the purpose of Angkor Wat is to harmoniously connect the earthly world of humankind with the heavenly realm of the gods. This is conveyed by the small heavenly deities carved in sandstone called asparas, which cover the walls of this huge structure. This massive complex is a series of inner galleries and large walls surrounded by a moat.
Angkor Wat is oriented to the four cardinal directions and is almost a mile square. The outer walls and moat of Angkor Wat represent the edge of the world and the ocean.
The main gate to this complex is open to the west and in the middle sits a 213-foot structure that represents Brahma’s celestial city. It is surrounded by four smaller mountains that represent the fourcardinal points and the smaller mountains that attend the real Mount Meru.
China - Circa 1420 CE
Now a complex of museums, the Forbidden City sits at the center of Peking. It is so called because for hundreds of years entry was forbidden to all but the emperor’s family and servants. Today it still stands as the largest palace complex in the world. Constructed in 1420 CE, it covers an area of about 250 square acres, contains 800 buildings with 10,000 rooms and has four gates and towers built at each corner of the city, each representing the cardinal directions.
The city is surrounded by a wall two and one half miles long and from the 15th century onwards, it contained the royal palace, residences and offices of the emperor’s servants and aristocracy. It was considered the most sacred of sanctuaries because it was the home of divinity.
The palaces within the walls became known as Zi Jin Cheng, or the “Purple Forbidden City,” the color being associated with the North Star. This was important because it was considered a sign that the emperor’s residence was the cosmic center of the world. To the peoples of China, the emperors were considered divine beings and were called the “Sons of Heaven” who lived inside the secluded Inner Palace at the center of the city. The title was taken so literally that yellow was the color exclusively used by the imperial household because it was the color of the sun.
The Chinese believed that the city was at the center of all things. To them it was the navel of the world and where the cosmos centers itself because the Son of Heaven resided within its walls. At the very center of this great city lies its focal point, the Hall of Harmony. It was here that at 45 minutes prior to sunrise in the east, the emperor would ascend the steps to sit upon his celestial throne. As the seat of the Immeasurable Power, the throne itself represented the very nucleus of the city and its heavenly connection.
Temple of Heaven
China - Circa 1420 CE
Nearby is another example of the cosmic theme. It is the Temple of Heaven and stands an impressive 123 feet high. The temple is constructed entirely of wood without any nails being used. This makes the temple one of the architectural wonders of the world. The Temple of Heaven has only has one door that opens to the south and inside there are 24 wooden columns arranged in a double circle around four central columns.
These four central columns are said to represent the seasons of the year, and the outer circle the twelve months of the years and the inner circle, the twelve hours of the Chinese day. Further south is the Round Altar where the emperor would come every year to make a sacrifice to heaven. Accompanying the emperor along the route were chanting priests, burning incense, banging of gongs, and other ritualistic music.
The Round Altar consisted of three levels surrounded by 360 white marble pillars supporting a handrail. The levels were thought to represent man, earth, and heaven. This was one of the most important ceremonies of the year because it was believed the fate of the entire nation depended upon these sacred rites.
As the “Son of Heaven” went along the journey from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven and its Round Altar to perform sacred rites, all windows, doors and gates had to be shut. No outside sound was permitted, and no outsider was even allowed to set eyes upon the heavenly precession, under penalty of death.
The Peoples Republic of China takes pride in exhibiting this glorious national treasure. The people now walk among secret gardens where they were once excluded, but the Forbidden City is showing the ravages of time. Pollution and heavy tourist traffic is taking its toll and it is literally falling apart. The Chinese say that they don’t have the resources to repair it. Hopefully the people of China will not forget their heavenly heritage that took so many centuries achieve.
Japan - Circa 1000 BCE
NONAKADO STONE CIRCLE
This stone monument is the best known of its kind in Japan. It sits in the Kazuno district of Akita with another group of stones called the Manza. On a 560 foot high terrace, the Nonakado consists of two concentric settings of close-set stones forming belts up to 33 feet wide. The entire configuration is about 140 feet in diameter.
From the center lying towards the northwest segment is the famous sun dial. It is made up of a standing menhir at the center surrounded by long stones placed on their sides and radiating out from the center. The sundial is about 36 feet in diameter and the standing menhir is 14 feet 9 inches high. Excavations at this site has produced stone axes, stone scepters, pottery and other stones vessels.
The purpose of this stone circle is still debated, but giving the similar structures in the Negev desert and other parts of the world its was probably used to connect the people with the heavens. Other similar sites in Japan are rare, but the one in the district of Hokkaido is venerated and offerings of sake are made to it