by R. G. Bauval R. Cook
1. The ‘Osiris’ Sons of Ra
It was J. H. Breasted who, in 1912, saw in the Pyramid Texts (c. 2300BC) a solar religion which had ‘absorbed’ an older, and thus quasi-defunct stellar religion during the Pyramid Age.1 This view, unfortunately, became Egyptological dogma and was adopted by many scholars till this day.2 In 1966 R. O. Faulkner saw in the Pyramid Texts a strong stellar element but, like Breasted before him, he, too, regarded this as an older and subordinate aspect of the Pyramid Age cult which was, as Breasted had deduced, dominantly solar.3
Such a position, however, was challenged in 1964 when A. Badawy and V. Trimble proved that the so-called air-shafts in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid were orientated to the stars of Orion’s Belt (Osiris) in the south and to the circumpolar stars (Alpha Draconis) in the north.4 Further evidence of a strong stellar correlation of Orion’s Belt and the Giza pyramids came with the studies of R. Bauval in 1989–90, a contributor to this article.5
26. The Heliacal Rising of Orion’s Belt and the 26.5 degree alignment
Yet seeing the issue as J. H. Breasted did, it always appeared that a ‘religious conflict’ existed in the Pyramid Age between the state’s religious factions of the Pyramid Age, where one faction supposedly favours a ‘solar destiny’ and the other a ‘stellar destiny’ for the soul of the departed king. Clearly this is not an acceptable stance to look at the powerful rebirth cult of the Pyramid Age; we do not think that such a religious conflict as imagined by Breasted ever existed. What is more likely the case is that the Pyramid kings saw themselves not as reincarnations of Ra, but rather as the living ‘Sons of Ra’; and, as such, they were identified to the divine progeny of Ra in the person of ‘Horus’ when they were alive, and in the person of ‘Osiris’ when they died. Because Osiris was an astral god identified to the constellation of Orion, then the kings expected to undergo an Osirian rebirth which ensured them a stellar destiny with Osiris-Orion and, also, as ‘Sons of Ra’, in the same way the original ‘Osiris’ was regarded. This view, which is compatible with the beliefs found in the Pyramid Texts and all other religious texts of other epochs, has the distinct quality of removing the supposed ‘conflict’ between the solar and stellar ideas of the Pyramid Builders or make us consider a ‘solar take-over’ of an ancient astral religion during the Pyramid Age.
2. The Heliacal Rising of the ‘Horizon of Khufu’
It can easily be shown that the heliacal rising of the Belt of Orion, and more specifically the star Zeta Orionis (Al Nitak), occurred a few weeks before the Summer Solstice in the epoch c.2450BC, when the Great Pyramid was built.6 This meant that the rising point of the sun on this day was at Azimuth 63.5 degrees, that is 26.5 degrees North of East.
3. The ‘Cook’ alignment of the satellite Pyramids of Giza
The contributor to this article, Robin Cook, an independent researcher on the geometry and layout plan of the Giza Pyramids, has previously shown that the angle 26.5 degrees North of East is the key alignment of the whole Giza complex and especially relates to the three so-called satellite pyramids of Cheops, found on its east side. In short, this alignment directs the whole attention of someone observing the eastern sky to Azimuth 63.5 degrees and also the heliacal rising of Zeta Orionis at the epoch the Great Pyramid was built i.e. c. 2450BC. This angle, in view of its cultic links with the ‘rebirth’ of Osiris-Orion, is unlikely to be coincidental. Furthermore, 26.5 degrees is found also within the Great Pyramid interior design, this being the slope of the descending and also the ascending passages leading to the Chambers of the pyramid. It is well known that the angle of 26.5 degrees is formed by the so-called diagonal of the double-square and was much used by the Ancient Egyptians in the design of monuments. Cook’s work has shown, for the first time, that it was also used for the general layout of the Giza Necropolis. This, needless to say, is of enormous interest as it strongly implies a unified master plan for the necropolis as a whole.
4 The Circumpolar Star-Clock
In a previous article by R. Bauval, it was shown how the rising of the star Zeta Orionis in the east coincided with the meridian passage of the star Kochab in Ursa Minor, the target of the northern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber.7 This, it was suggested, explained the name of Cheops’s pyramid: ‘The Horizon Of Khufu’; furthermore it allocated this pyramid a stellar name, which conforms with the general trend of names of pyramids given by the contemporaries of Cheops such as Djedefra and Nebka.8
It follows, therefore, that for the heliacal rising, i.e. rebirth, of Zeta Orionis, the ancient builders could predict this all important event – the ‘rebirth’ of the star – by observing both the approach of the sun to Azimuth 63.5 degrees (26.5 degrees North of East) and the upper culmination of Kochab. This would strongly suggest that the heliacal rising of stars were not merely determined by waiting impatiently for their rising at dawn – which could be frustrated by haze over the horizon, clouds and excessive refraction – but by cleverly using the circumpolar stars as markers on a sort of ‘star clock’, with a given meridian upper or lower culmination of specific circumpolar star ‘marking’, as it were, the time of heliacal rising of another, non-circumpolar star in the east.