From My Bookshelf

Posted By on February 24, 2012

The Three Great Pyramids at Giza,

I was musing today about whether people read the books they own or just collect them. I was sitting across from the shelf that contains my philosophy books, and I decided to ask that question of myself. The philosophy shelf looks like it holds about 80-90 books. I went over and counted how many I had read, either wholly or at least enough to have a very good idea of what they contained. I got to about 36 — including all the books by Hannah Arendt and Suzanne Langer, Mary Midgley on “man and beast,” J. Glenn Gray on war, ¬†and most of the others I had at least consulted at some point or in the worst case bought because I knew I would be interested in someday.

In the course of this inquiry I came upon a few books that immediately attracted my attention as being from that last category — that of books I would be interested in someday.

These included Richard Parkinson’s Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment, the story of what would seem to be among the most significant “decoding” of linguistic signs in human history. Robert Lawlor’s Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice is a book I have read but still have not absorbed. But even more than these, I found myself drawn to Peter Tompkin’s magnificent 1971 Secrets of the Great Pyramids. I opened the book to page 159, where I read:

In his avant-garde book, The Dawn of Astronomy, written at the turn of the century, Sir Norman Lockyer minutely demonstrated how the Egyptians built and used their temples for astronomical observations from the very remotest antiquity. Lockyer shows how Egyptian solar temples were so arranged that at sunrise or sunset on the longest day of the year, a ray from the sun shot through a skilfully contrived passage into the dark interior of the inner sanctum of the temple. The illumination from the sun was cut off by means of pylon screens so that a concentrated shaft of light cut through the gloom.

Lockyer was the first English astronomer to conclude that Stonehenge had been accurately aligned in about 1680 B.C. to catch the first gleam of the midsummer sun at its solstice, a fact which was recently corroborated on the basis of computerized data by the astronomer Gerald F. Hawkins in Stonhenge Decoded.

Being just a little bit acquainted with who Gerald Hawkins is helps one to understand the seriousness of the implications that Tompkins is drawing from his survey of the essential literature.

According to Wikipedia’s account, when Hawkins claimed these astronomical dimensions of Stonehenge,

The archaeological community was [at first] skeptical and his theories were criticized by such noted historians as Richard Atkinson, who denounced the book as being “…tendentious, arrogant, slipshod, and unconvincing.” However, Atkinson later reversed his position in the face of intense research by A. Thom and associates, published in Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol 5, 1974.

But whatever the fate of Stonehenge, the astronomical features of the pyramids have not to my knowledge since first being proposed ever undergone any truly credible critique.

Experts disagree about the exact nature of the astronomical dimensions of the monuments — whether, for example, the locations of the three pyramids of the Giza plateau intentionally mirror the stars on Orion’s belt (I think they do) — but that they are carefully aligned according to geometric and astronomic coordinates is not generally disputed, nor to my knowledge has Lockyer’s original observation of the solstitial alignments ever been disputed. They were

so arranged that at sunrise or sunset on the longest day of the year, a ray from the sun shot through a skillfully contrived temple.

That brought me to this remarkable video.

Now, that is worth wondering at.


nota bene: Sorry, but the Youtube video has been cut, in the years since this essay was published. Once I can get to the wayback machine to find it, you’ll have to do without.

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, and renaissance literature, the latter a field in which he has published extensively


10 Responses to “From My Bookshelf”

  1. William Ray says:

    Regarding this important subject matter, I enthusiastically recommend http://greatpyramidmath/ The author, Anton Lignell, has seen into the great pyramids’ geometric representation of the world Mystery which is Spirit vis-a-vis Matter, by way of a multitude of precise correspondences between the intentional calculations embodied in the pyramids and that found in earth-moon-sun geometry. The author IS NOT A WRITER, yet by faithfully revising his descriptions thousands of times, has succeeded in reflecting inherent Number in pyramid structures in a way that any serious person can comprehend. In this sense, his work is comparable to Einstein’s description of material-energy relativity for the general reader. He is also an artist of a very high order, arguably the best rocking horse sculptor and harpsichord maker around. His fable, ‘The Last Lizard and the Language of the Great Pyramid’ should be illustrated as a film and given to the world. I would like to see this happen while he is still alive. He deserves our thanks.

    William Ray

  2. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hi William, thanks for the link. I tried visiting the site and the link seems to be messed up. So this one should work:

    I’m currently working my way through the Tompkins book, which is a very sober and persuasive treatment of the entire history of the study of the pyramids as astronomic/mathematical monuments. Fascinating stuff.

  3. William Ray says:

    Thanks, that works. The blog is a tour de force of explication. I shelve Stonehenge and pyramid studies near Hamlet’s Mill, de Santillana’s thesis that the progressing eras are affected by the luminaries as they change above. When the Egyptian temple did not point directly out its entry to Antares, they abandoned the structure. Perhaps the same with the dolmens. And Lignell’s children’s fable stands not far away, with its embedded primer on the marriage of heaven and earth, spirit and matter, as seen in the geometry of the Great Pyramids. If life weren’t so brief, we would know something.

  4. Roger Stritmatter says:

    *Hamlet’s Mill* is a remarkable book that I got on to a couple decades ago by the inspiration of my Evergreen State College prof Professor Beryl Crowe. It sits on a different shelf, but probably belongs on the same one now that you think of it. For some reason I have it up with the Renaissance studies books even though its actually of course far broader than that. Did you ever read or see Alexander Marshack’s *Roots of Civilization*?

  5. William Ray says:

    Super recommendation. Back at you with Marija Gimbutas’s ‘The Balts’. Almost by accident she discovered that the backwater, end of the continent, land of Lithuania retained many Sanskrit words and images, brought from the first Indo-European migrations after the Flood. (10-11 thousand years?) ‘God gave us teeth, He will give us bread’ is practically the same in both languages. Her description that the dead “rode their horses through the skies to the realm of the souls” resembles Cardan’s language, “There is nothing that doth better or more truly prophesy the end of life than when a man dreameth that he doth traveleth and wander into far countries..and chiefly if he imagineth himself to ride upon a white horse that is swift, and that he traveleth in countries unknown without hope of return.” This affected Shakespeare’s “…Something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns…”

  6. Roger Stritmatter says:

    I knew there was a reason you are my favorite postman. : ) Seriously, though, that’s fascinating to see such linkages over vast time and space. You would think that the ubiquity of flood legends would be a clue to their reality, especially given that the probable time frame for such legends is circa 10-12,000 BC, i.e. at the end of the last ice age when, of course, flooding happened all over the world, including of most of what is today the South China Sea, which was land at the end of the ice age. Atlantis? I think the biggest problem is that there are *too many* plausible locations, and it seems most likely that a number of sophisticated city building civilizations went under at that time. But in the war between science and religion, modern rationality thinks to triumph by reducing the wisdom of the ancients to superstition. Man, proud man, dressed in a little brief authority….

  7. William Ray says:

    I think Velikovsky avowed that there is a water-mark high on the Cheops pyramid, dated to 10,800 BC. If true, this jumbles the familiar chronology that makes the Pharaohs the giants of antiquity. Some did not believe there were giants, Diogenes for one. While he was sitting on a rock, Alexander approached, dismounted from his horse, and said, “I am Alexander, conqueror of the world. Ask anything of me and you shall have it.” Diogenes replied, “There is something I would ask of you. Get out of my sunlight.”

  8. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Aha. I’m glad you mentioned our old disreputable colleague, the bane of many disciplines and, allegedly, the master of none, Professor Velikovsky. He couldn’t possibly have been right about nearly anything, given how badly his projections on the temperature of Venus were off.
    : )

    That’s a very interesting rumor, however. I wonder if there are others who have endorsed this idea, like John Anthony West or Graham Hancock, for example.

    I know, I know, they are nearly as disreputable as Velikovsky, or as the Oxfordians for that matter (J.A. West being, for example, an avowed anti-Strat, maybe we should give him some reverse credit). Diogenes was a cynic. What did *they* know? Cheers,


  9. Roger Stritmatter says:

    ps — if you want to know how twisted modern science really is, recall that it was Carl Sagan, debating Velikovsky, who first came up with the by now pretty tattered idea that the reason Venus was so hot was not, as Velikovsky had predicted, because it was a young and recent planet, but because of all the “Greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere.

    Its only one small step from combating the Velikovskian heresy to earning a good living doing computer simulations of might happen in the future if we actually understood the models and assumptions controlling the analyses of predictive climatology.

    We don’t (having firmly rejected all that Farmer’s almanac superstition about the correlation between cycles of solar activity and climate as standing in the way of progress), but what the hey…..We’re “climate scientists.”

    We didn’t make it up, the computers did!

  10. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Here’s a good state of the debate synopsis of the future of the “greenhouse” theory of a hot Venus (and by extension a hot earth):

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