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Beneath the Giza plateau lies a secret tomb, cunningly contrived, that has remained undisturbed for nearly five thousand years. In the darkness and stillness of an eternal night-time, the mummy of an Egyptian king lies in splendid isolation, adorned with gold and gemstones, and surrounded by his burial treasure. If our eyes could penetrate the primeval darkness, we might well imagine the king smiling at the thought that he had cheated the tomb raiders of his own day, as well as the archaeologists of modern times. But perhaps he will not be smiling for much longer.

I am convinced that I have pinpointed the precise location of the tomb of the greatest of the pyramid builders, Khufu - the legendary king who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. If I am right, we may soon witness one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in history - far surpassing that of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. It would be the first ever discovery of a pyramid builder's intact tomb, and would open a unique window on the mysteries of the pyramids, from a time 1,200 years before the birth of Tutankhamun.

Before we can make this discovery, however, we have to pass a test - a test of confidence in the hypothesis. We have to grasp the significance and purpose of the pyramids and of the roles played by the mummies for whom they were built. In short, we have to be initiated into the secrets of the pyramid builders1 religion.

Egypt's great age of pyramid building began circa 2600 BC when an unknown genius mastered the seemingly impossible feat of assembling a pyramid with smooth sides and an apex - a 'true pyramid' as it is called today. Until that momentous breakthrough, the Egyptians had built step pyramids, whose multiple stages gave the semblance of a stairway to the heavens.

The first king to take advantage of the new design was Sneferu, the founder of the 4th dynasty, who had two huge pyramids built at Dahshur, each with a height of 345 feet. One of these pyramids was presumably his tomb and the other a cenotaph, though no-one can say for certain which was which.

Sneferu was followed by his son Khufu, who is credited with building the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is the largest true pyramid in Egypt with a height of 481 feet and a volume of 91 million cubic feet. Its complicated system of internal passageways culminates in an elegant granite chamber which contains a broken and empty sarcophagus. It is here that Khufu's body was supposedly interred - a theory that this author does not share, for reasons that will shortly be explained.
The Giza plateau is home to two further pyramids, those of Khafre and Menkaure. The former stands as high as the Great Pyramid, but a steeper angle causes it to have a lesser volume of 78 million cubic feet, while the latter is much smaller, with a height of just 213 feet. Both these pyramids were found to contain empty sarcophagi.

Together, the three pyramids of Giza contain a staggering 178 million cubic feet of stone, and weigh an estimated 12 million tons. They are testimony to a profound belief in the afterlife. But what exactly do these pyramids signify?

It is a remarkable fact that Egyptologists cannot agree on the precise meaning of the pyramid. Various theories have been proposed: that the pyramid symbolised the sun's rays sloping down through the clouds, that it symbolised the newly emerged earth of the creation myth, or that it symbolised a star. But none of these theories has proved satisfactory in itself since all appear to have some validity. This confusion has persisted despite the fact that detailed inscriptions - the so-called Pyramid Texts - are contained on the internal walls of eight pyramids of the late-5th and 6th dynasties - enough magic spells to fill a 300-page book.

The real problem lies deeper - in modern conceptions of the ancient Egyptian religion. Their religion was nothing like ours, on the surface at least. They worshipped One God under many different names. They also worshipped 'him' as a Goddess, or as a 'he-she', i.e. a God and Goddess merged in a single being. And they worshipped God as a collectivity of gods - a multitude of beings that had issued from him and were united in him. Moreover, unlike the Supreme Being of modern religions, the God of the Egyptians was both transcendent and immanent in his creation. He was not only invisible, but also visible - in the sun, the moon, the stars, indeed in all of nature.

Early Egyptologists struggled to comprehend the Egyptian religion. To them, it seemed like a mishmash of beliefs, most of which belonged to a semi-savage past. In order to make sense of it, they focused on the most prominent cult - that of the sun - which some regarded as the world's first monotheism. A consensus then developed that Egyptian religion was a sun cult - a conclusion that has coloured all subsequent studies of this mighty civilisation.

According to Egyptology, the sun cult came to prominence during the 4th dynasty - the exact time when the first true pyramids were conceived and built. The giant pyramids of Dahshur and Giza are thus believed to be solar symbols and monuments to the sun-god.

But this view of Egyptian religion hardly does justice to the incredible achievements of the 4th dynasty kings. Was Sneferu inspired to erect 7.5 million tons of stone by an epiphany of the sun's rays falling through the clouds in the shape of a pyramid? Did his successors at Giza erect 12 million tons of stone because of their awe of the sun? Surely there has to be more to it than that.

I believe that there was indeed more to it than that.

The hypothesis presented in this book is that Egyptian religion was not a cult of the sun but a 'cult of creation', i.e. a cult whose primary aim was to celebrate and re-enact perpetually the myth of the creation of the cosmos.

According to this myth, the original cosmos had fallen into a state of darkness and chaos, and would have died had it not been revivified by a supernatural power that may best be described as 'the magic of creation'. As a result, the old cosmos had been reborn as a new cosmos of light, in which the sun, moon, and stars orbited the earth.

The aim of the Egyptians was to prevent this cosmos from reverting to its former state of chaos. Or, to put it another way, their abiding task was to ensure that the cosmos would endure for ever.

To do this, the king was initiated into the magic of creation and tasked with re-creating the magic spells which had brought the earth, sun, moon, and stars into being.

Creation had involved death and rebirth, and the Egyptians saw this as a template for the continuance of life. On earth, they imagined the river Nile to die and be reborn every year, while in the sky they imagined the sun and stars to die and be reborn every day, and the moon to die and be reborn every month.

The king's magic was aimed at making every rebirth a re-enactment of the original rebirth of the cosmos. When the Nile came forth in its annual flood, it was born anew as it had been in the beginning, and when the sun rose from the eastern horizon, it was born anew as it had been on the day of creation. The entire cosmos was thus made to endure by rejuvenating itself.

The king's role did not end with his death, but instead continued in the afterlife. And it is here that we find the key to the meaning and purpose of the pyramids.

The king did not die as an ordinary human being. He died as a god, just as he had once lived as a god. And this guaranteed that he would be reborn as a god.

A central element of my hypothesis - which will undoubtedly prove controversial - is that the god in question was the creator-god, and that his death and rebirth personified the death and rebirth of the cosmos. By dying in the image of this god, Osiris, the king re-enacted the myth of creation. His mummified body became one with the primeval earth and waters in the netherworld, while his soul went forth to become the sun, moon, and stars in the sky.

The death of the king was thus the life of the cosmos.

Once he became a part of the cosmos, the reborn king was tasked with rejuvenating it, to ensure that it - and he - would endure for ever. To this end, he became the director of the stars in their orbits or the rower of the sun-god in the barque which encircled the earth. Every day, like the sun and the stars, he was reborn and rejuvenated. It was thus said of the king 'his afterlife is for ever and eternity'.

The pyramid was designed to resurrect the king in accordance with the creation myth. But its role did not end with the funeral, for this was not the rebirth of a man but a god, whose continued rebirth was necessary for the sake of the cosmos. The magic of creation was thus repeated at the pyramid every day, to ensure that the king would circulate in the cosmos for ever.

In order to carry this off, the king's body had to be mummified so that it would endure for eternity, and buried in the earth beneath the pyramid so that it became one with Osiris. The mummy then became the locus of the soul's rebirth each night. Having traversed the sky with the sun and the stars, the soul would pass into the earth through mysterious doors and unite with its body in the tomb. It would then be recharged by the magic of creation, and would go forth at dawn to bring a new and rejuvenated light to the world.

The endurance of the mummy was therefore pivotal to the continued survival of the soul - and to the survival of the cosmos.

The pyramid was built to protect the mummy and it too was created to last for eternity. A spell in the Pyramid Texts beseeches the creator-god to 'set your protection over this king, over this pyramid of his... prevent anything evil from happening against it for ever'. Much of the pyramid's power seems to have derived from its smooth, flowing shape, which was probably intended to symbolise the cosmos in its moment of coming-into-being.

This brings us back to the Great Pyramid and to an anomaly that can no longer be ignored. Since the earliest days of Egyptology it has been assumed that Khufu was laid to rest in the granite chamber which houses the broken sarcophagus. However, this chamber is located at a height of 140 feet in the pyramid's superstructure - in contravention of the custom, and indeed the fundamental rule, that the mummy should be buried in the earth. According to Egyptologists, Khufu broke with convention in order to thwart the tomb raiders, who would never have conceived of searching for an elevated tomb chamber. This is permissible under the theory that Egyptian religion was a sun cult and the pyramid a monument to the sun-god.

However, if Egyptian religion was a cult of creation and the pyramid a monument to the creation, as I believe it was, then it is inconceivable that Khufu would have had himself buried anywhere but in the earth - below the Great Pyramid - in accordance with the axiom 'the body to earth, the spirit to the sky'.

This approach requires us to abandon all previous notions of the Great Pyramid's passages and chambers, and explore the possibilities of a sub-pyramid burial. When we do so, a pattern emerges which is suggestive of a burial in the most remote recess of the monument - a small cave which has been almost totally neglected by archaeologists.

Today, this cave stands empty and there are indications that something was dug up and removed by tomb raiders in antiquity. But this may be exactly what Khufu wanted us to think. For when we cast our eye around this cave, we find a number of perplexing anomalies, which suggest the presence of further, hidden caves nearby. It is in these caves, I believe, that Khufu has lain in peace for more than four thousand years, sealed behind a 'door' whose position I have pinpointed.

This all hinges on the cult of creation hypothesis, which is the primary focus of this book. In one sense, this theory is not so controversial: the importance of the creation myth is well known to scholars. In another sense, however, it is controversial. The problem is that the creation myth is a muddle. It does not exist as a coherent narrative but as a collection of fragments, drawn from several different traditions which appear in some respects to be inconsistent. Scholars have thus developed a jaundiced view of the creation myth, and do not consider it worthy as the basis for a religion.

I have therefore devoted much of this book to a reconstruction of the creation myth - joining together the known fragments, discovering new fragments, elucidating the key principles, ironing out the inconsistencies, and filling in the gaps - to the extent that it can plausibly bear the burden of the cult of creation that I wish to place upon it. The resulting picture is a surprisingly sophisticated 'physics of creation'.

But there is more to this book than reassembling a creation myth and discovering a hidden tomb. It is also about reuniting us with our religious heritage and opening our eyes to some simple but profound truths. There is much for us to learn from the religious philosophy of the Egyptians, and if this book helps to bring this perennial wisdom to a wider audience then - archaeological discoveries notwithstanding - the effort involved in writing it will have been absolutely worthwhile.

Important Reading Note
In writing this book, I have tried to strike a balance between satisfying the requirements of the academic specialists - at whom the argument is primarily directed - and keeping things accessible for the general reader. The latter may find the detailed arguments to be beyond his immediate needs, in which case he may pick up the gist of the hypothesis from this preface, and chapters one, fifteen and sixteen, together with the key point summaries for the chapters in between. If he feels a little more ambitious, he could also read chapter seven, which provides a detailed interpretation of the rituals and spells performed at the pyramids. Then, if he wishes to mix it with the specialists, he can go for the whole deal.

ALAN F. ALFORD, Walsall, England, October 2004.

Copyright Notice

'These pages are the copyright of Eridu Books 2004. The images and diagrams are the copyright of Alan Alford or of other photographers, where indicated. Eridu Books welcomes the reproduction and dissemination of these pages, in original, unaltered form, for non-commercial purposes, but permission must be sought for any other usage, other than 'fair dealing' quotations.'

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