Swedish Pyramidologist

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Pyramidology“, says Wikipedia, “is a term used, sometimes disparagingly, to refer to various pseudoscientific speculations regarding pyramids, most often the Giza Necropolis and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.” The encyclopedia goes on to explain that there are several kinds of pyramidology that do not necessarily correspond, one of which is the metrological kind, where the dimensions of these great edifices are studied. In the archaeological trade, we sometimes (uncharitably) refer to writings of this kind as “pyramidiocy”.

In late March I got a call from Lars Lison Almkvist who has self-published a book titled Cheopspyramidens nyckel, “The Key to Khufu’s Pyramid”. Almkvist explained that he contacted me in my capacities as skeptic and archaeologist, and offered to send me a copy of the book. I emphasised that I know very little about Egypt, but accepted his kind offer. And now I have studied the book and come to some conclusions.

Before I say anything about the book I must underline that Lars Almkvist has been unfailingly courteous and friendly to me. He has also shown great courage and good scientific sense in sending his work to an avowed skeptic instead of preaching only to the choir. When I criticise his book, this is in no way intended as comments on him as a person. We may disagree on points of archaeological fact and interpretation, but we share an interest in the distant past and a will to find out about it.

Approaching the book, I immediately reacted to the title, the subtitle and the first sentence of the preface. I translate:

The Key to Khufu’s Pyramid
The solution of the geometrical riddle

As a lone interpreter of the ancient geometrical language, I must be strictly scientific.

I asked myself, “Why does Almkvist believe that the Great Pyramid hides a geometrical riddle that awaits its solution or a message that awaits decoding?”

As regular readers will know, I have helped my dad on and off to build an octagonal sauna. A considerable amount of 3D geometry went into its design. But I am quite sure that my dad and the architect have hidden no riddle in the sauna. Sadly, the Rundkvist lineage does not perpetuate any ancient tradition of sacred geometry. The sauna’s design conceals no message. And sauna or pyramid, it’s all architecture. So I entered into the book with this question foremost in my mind.

We learn in the preface and introduction that Almkvist’s pyramid geometry is actually a recent outgrowth of his interest in an Early Iron Age cemetery at Gettlinge in the Swedish island province of Öland. This is a standing-stone cemetery of the same kind as the one in Ravlunda, Scania, that Bob G. Lind has been seeking alignments in. Almkvist applied his results from Gettlinge to Bronze Age rock art sites in nearby parts of the Swedish mainland, found correspondences with Babylonian mathematics, and only then took up pyramidology by way of the Fibonacci series. He finds the same mathematical relationships in all of these sites though separated by centuries or millennia and thousands of kilometres. In his reading, he has come across ideas that he has felt a need to accommodate about an Early Iron Age settlement hiatus on Öland. (This interpretation has long been abandoned by archaeology – we have found that the hiatus is one of furnished burial only, not of settlement.) To explain how the geometrical knowledge survived this purported abandonment, Almkvist suggests in a true Bob G. Lind fashion that the Gettlinge cemetery actually dates from the Bronze Age.

With these preliminaries out of the way, Almkvist launches into 40 pages of geometrical operations on the dimensions of the pyramid, explicated by over 50 schematic drawings. In his own words (p. 3, my transl.), “The very detailed scientific account is only comprehensible if one devotes a very long time to all of the drawings, c. 50 of them.”

I have not devoted a very long time to all of the drawings. But I have looked them over in the light of my high-school geometry, and I have tried to find the answer to my first question. I have failed. Nowhere does Almkvist tell his readers why he assumes a riddle or hidden message in the Great Pyramid’s geometry. And it is also unclear what the answer he has found to the riddle is. We are never told the hidden message. All Almkvist gives us is a series of geometrical relationships that he finds significant. His main argument can be summarised as “Coincidence? I DON’T THINK SO!”.

To my mind, Almkvist’s pyramidological studies are a classic case of geometrical pareidolia, apophenia or patternicity. They are akin to the Kabbalah, to the Bible Code, to the Rorschach Test, to the meanings people find in hallucinations. Our brains are not very willing to accept that anything is random or meaningless. We seek meaning in any noisy signal – and often we find it. Watch a cloud for long enough and it will start looking like Ramesses II.

So as a friendly challenge to Lars Almqvist, I have sent him the designs of my father’s octagonal sauna, and a question. We know that the builders of the sauna are counting in base-10 and using a standard metre as their main unit of measurement. Is it impossible or very difficult to find geometrical relationships in the sauna of the same kind as those Almkvist operates with on the Great Pyramid? If it turns out that it is equally hard or easy, then this would to my mind suggest that the relationships Almkvist has found in the pyramid are quite fortuitous.

Comments

  1. #1 armillary
    July 18, 2011

    Building a pyramid is more difficult than you might think. After all, all four sides have to meet at the top!

  2. #2 Thinker
    July 18, 2011

    Your link between a sauna and pareidolia conjures up memories of my own childhood: in the sauna, we would make it a sport to find as many faces as we could in the wood paneling and then also suggest who each face resembled. This was often either some celebrity or a schoolteacher. I don’t recall any of us claiming that this meant there was any kind of hidden message — we all knew this was our imaginations at work, and instead were rather proud of that!

  3. #3 Martin R
    July 18, 2011

    We had a grotesque man’s profile in the damp ceiling spots in the old house at my parents’ summer place. Then my dad replaced the old house with a new one whose softwood ceiling has many dark branch cross-sections. I used to imagine a thin silver wire extending from each dot to every other dot on the ceiling, wondering how much silver that would make all in all and whether the ceiling would fall down.

  4. #4 Nomen Nescio
    July 18, 2011

    if the silver wires were thin enough then there wouldn’t be much silver involved at all, and the ceiling wouldn’t fall down. in fact, you could probably replace the wire network with a thin silver sheet and make no real difference.

    on topic, i might be interested in a purely architectural and/or structural engineering analysis of the pyramids’ design. do you happen to know if anyone’s produced such a thing? i vaguely recall hearing about some odd load-distributing features in the structure above the larger chambers, but the source was not very detailed and is now lost to my memory.

  5. #5 Sili
    July 18, 2011

    I used to love this stuff well out of my teens.

    Do you have an opinion on Erling Haagensen?

  6. #6 Martin R
    July 18, 2011

    N.N., I’ve also seen “odd/ingenious load-bearing features” referred to in the popular literature about the pyramids, but I know nothing about the research behind those claims. In fact, I’m not sure if I have ever read a piece of academic Egyptology.

    Sili, I believe Haagensen is most likely a conscious prankster. Either way, there’s nothing to his wild hypotheses.

  7. #7 Mu
    July 18, 2011

    In the mid 90’s I was asked to review an article of that kind that reduced all of the pyramid’s geometry to the use of three different versions of pi (the number, not the dish). Unfortunately the message of the three pi was equally mystic as the one in your case, so it did somehow lead to a discussion on the Apollo landings being a hoax. Being more at home in the area of space research I was able to debunk that part, where upon the author retreated into a cloud of burning cannabis sativa on a Mexican beach.

  8. #8 Martin R
    July 18, 2011

    Haha! What journal was it?

  9. #9 Bob O'H
    July 18, 2011

    A propos of not much really, & pi ; (without the spaces) will give you π.

    Here endeth your totally useless lesson of the day.

  10. #10 Anthea Fleming
    July 19, 2011

    Who can doubt the secret hid
    Under Cheops’ pyramid
    Is that the contractor did
    Cheops out of several millions…

    Rudyard Kipling

  11. #11 Martin R
    July 19, 2011

    A propos of not much really, & pi ; (without the spaces) will give you π.

    Holy crap, what are the chances of that? Coincidence? I DONT’T THINK SO!

  12. #12 Birger Johansson
    July 19, 2011

    Reality is way cooler than any mysticism. Here is a good example:
    “Hacking the genome with a MAGE and a CAGE” http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/07/14/hacking-the-genome-with-a-mage-and-a-cage/

  13. #13 Phillip IV
    July 19, 2011

    There was an article in the Skeptical Inquirer once, in which a Dutch astrophysicist demonstrated how many physical constants and astronomic figures he could derive from four randomly chosen parameters of his bicycle. The square root of the pedaling distance times the cube root of the bell’s diameter divided by the diameter of the lamp corresponded exactly to the distance between Sun and Earth – that must mean something!

  14. #14 Alec
    July 22, 2011

    In my experience I have found pyramids to be one of the simplest structures to design and build and have found they contain certain untaped energy sources due to the perfect geometrical shape, it’s a fractal and a fractal comes in the shape of chaos but deep down it’s a mathematical equation which in turn can be seen as a geometrical shape so a pyramid is a perfect example of order out of chaos in my view we can attach this example to ourselves we are a fractal and our goal is to find order out of chaos in every second of the day until we are one with the source…..I think !?

  15. #15 Martin R
    July 22, 2011

    If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

  16. #16 Sandgroper
    July 22, 2011

    Why do people who want to find order out of chaos not use punctuation?

  17. #17 judi donahue
    crescent city ca
    March 25, 2013

    Ancient races predicted end of world by solar…they spoke using pictogram*pictionary*… there is a science which cools the planet + is ONLY thing to stop a solar flare..aerosols aka VOLCANIC MIRROR….stand way back….loook at pyramid … now re add the missing mirror stones…the mirror of heaven is actually…the VOLCANIC MIRROR of heaven….in future youd never know what language people would speak but no matter the time or place all people who see SEE the same + in any language super volcanic mirror is only ONE science + done only ONE way …making CHEOPS original visual not only the science,,but the instructions to save a world….should it become imperative…SO2 + OH + 3H2O -> H2SO4 (l) + HO2 the volcanic aerosols science……judith woolworth donahue

    the PROOF? add the mirrors long gone back + you can SEE it !

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