AGE OF THE PYRAMIDS



Egypt is a unique place. A strip of fertile terrain, crossed and vivified by the river Nile flowing in south-to-north direction, enclosed as far as its huge delta by rock embankments, which keep at bay a seemingly endless desert. The Egyptian state enjoyed a first period of extraordinary success and prosperity which lasted for some 350 years, during which the pharaohs were buried in some of the most astonishing masterpieces of architecture, the pyramids. The religion and the doctrine of power in Egypt was connected with the celestial cycles, and hence with the celestial bodies. As a consequence, the pyramids were built taking into account these cycles. The most clear and interesting example is the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, crossed by 4 narrow channels aimed to connect the deceased pharaoh with the stars, and perfectly oriented to the cardinal points by means of a careful observation the northern, circumpolar stars. The connection of the Giza complex with the sun God Ra was made explicit in two ways. One is topographycal, based on an axis which points towards the temple of Ra in Heliopolis, the other is based on a master use of sunlight to create (actually, to re-create once a year) a powerful image. This image is a hieroglyph, called Akhet (usually translated as horizon) and symbolising the sun setting between two paired mountains . The image of this hieroglyph is formed one time a year, at Giza, by the sun setting at the summer solstice and can be seen observing from the terrace in front of the Sphinx. The powerful image is completed by the Sphinx, which was called Hor-em-Akhet that is “Horus in the horizon”, Horus being the God whose incarnation on earth was identified with the Pharaoh.