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REVIEW: The Egypt Code, by Robert Bauval

The Egypt Code is available from Amazon UK. You can learn more about the book at theegyptcode.co.uk.

It has been twelve years since ‘The Orion Correlation Theory’ (OCT) was announced to the world in The Orion Mystery, by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert. During that time, Robert Bauval has expanded on his theory with Graham Hancock in Keeper of Genesis, and has also been met head-on by an Egyptological orthodoxy not willing to accept that the pyramids of Giza may have been laid out to mimic the stars of the constellation Orion.

It is a little difficult to understand why the OCT has been rebuked so ferociously by not only Egyptologists, but also astronomers such as Ed Krupp. The likeness is quite apparent, and there is much to suggest that the ancient Egyptians revered the Orion constellation in particular – even if one day it is ultimately proven incorrect, it still seems a topic well worth some serious discussion. In all likelihood, the orthodox opposition to Bauval’s research comes not so much from that core theory, but from the other subjects associated with him from the ‘alternative history’ genre throughout the 1990s – the Age of the Sphinx controversy, the 10,500 BCE date given by Bauval for the perfect mirror image of the Giza layout to be present in the sky, and the confluence of this date with theories of a lost civilisation (notably the big ‘A’: Atlantis).

It seems that in The Egypt Code, Bauval has set himself the task of re-establishing his core theory – and the wider gestalt of the Ancient Egyptian cosmology being firmly rooted in events happening in the sky – to the academic establishment. And while he still sits firmly on the fringe, in this book he stays within arms-length of orthodox Egyptology. So, while he cites Colin Reader’s ideas on an earlier dating for the Sphinx, there is no mention of Robert Schoch or John Anthony West. Similarly, when he raises the ‘Zep Tepi’ alignment of the Giza pyramids to 11,541 BCE, he is very careful not to suggest a civilisation being present in Egypt at this time…instead, the Egyptian priests of the third millennium were just trying to mimic the sky at the ‘first time’ with their layout. As such, if anybody buying this book is expecting a New Age look at Egypt, they will be sorely disappointed. As Bauval points out in the Introduction:

‘The Egypt Code’, contrary to what Egyptologists will surely be quick to claim, is not a New Age book that regurgitates wild speculations and theories that cannot be verified or tested. My thesis is entirely verifiable, testable and ultimately falsifiable if need be.

Bauval’s research on this ‘lost’ Egyptian cosmology can be separated into three main areas: the ‘as above, so below’ theme, in which pyramids were built on the ground as representations of Orion and the Pleiades; that changes in temple sitings and orientations can be put down to the slow changes in star alignments caused by precession; and that the ‘meshing’ of the Egyptian calendars (the ‘civil’ and ‘stellar’) were the cause of momentous events in Ancient Egypt.

Bauval begins the book with a quick recap of his previous work, and then introduces the new book in earnest with a visit to the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. Here Bauval gives his opinion the inclined serdab holding a sky-watching statue of Djoser, before moving on to an analysis of the Heb Sed festival and the peculiarities of the Egyptian calendar, in particular the ‘Great Year’ of the Sothic cycle (based on the rising of the star Sirius) which has a span of 1460 years. Funnily enough, even at this early point in the book it is quite clear that the Ancient Egyptians had a fixation with the starry heavens and their cycles, and one wonders why Bauval has had to fight so hard to get his theories debated seriously.

Chapter 3 marks the return of the area most associated with Bauval – the Giza necropolis. But Bauval goes further, pointing out probable alignments and correspondences in the centers of Heliopolis, Letopolis, the Sun Temples of Abu Ghorab and the pyramids of Abusir. Perhaps the most controversial part of the book is when Bauval then states that this hermetic model is matched exactly only by a date in the 12th millennium BCE.

Chapter 4 details the many references – modern and ancient – to the Egyptians being sky-watchers. Some of these are extremely effective, such as Bauval’s citing of Proclus, who wrote “that the Egyptians had already taught Plato about the movements of the fixed stars…they did not speak just a single time, but many times…of the advance of the fixed stars.” He even finds a positive mention on Egyptian knowledge of precession from a former nemesis, astronomer Ed Krupp!

The following two chapters move into Upper Egypt, cataloguing the varying alignments of temple complexes and beginning to outline another of Bauval’s assertions – that the ‘return of the Phoenix’ was related to the meshing of the civil calendar with the long ‘Great Year’ of the Sothic cycle. Bauval then goes on to suggest that the Amarna period under Akhenaten was inspired by this ‘return of the Phoenix’, based on the dating of one of these moments by Censorinus, as was a construction program at Karnak.

And all of a sudden, the book concludes. It’s an excellent summary, concisely explaining the numerous points made in the rest of the book. But it does surprise you, as the book proper finishes at under 200 pages, being followed by 84 pages of relevant appendices. Despite the well written conclusion though, the reader is left feeling like they have read some very interesting, diverse theories on Egyptian astronomy, without it ever amounting to something conclusive. It’s as if Bauval has pointed out numerous items of interest, and then just concluded the book. In his favour, he does gather them under the theme of the Egyptian need to live in cosmic balance – the concept of Ma’at – but these separate theories on mirroring the stars, meshing calendars and changing temple alignments never seem to fit into one cohesive philosophy. Perhaps that can just be put down to the obscure nature of most Egyptian philosophy, hidden by the mists of four millennia.

However, it must be said that each of these various astronomical theories are very interesting to read about. Bauval finds good references to support his ideas, such as the paper by Arielle Kozloff on star-gazing in Ancient Egypt. He also points out interesting pieces of information which could be relevant, such as number of panels in the wall of the Saqqara complex being 1459 and 1461, in comparison to the Sothic cycle of 1460 years. Bauvals’ writing style is his best thus far, with lovely descriptions of the Nile flood and what it would have meant for the people of Ancient Egypt.

However, the inherent nature of the book – discussing meshing calendrics, changing alignments of stars and the movement of the Sun – results in difficult reading in some sections. For instance:

In 2500 BC 1 Tybi would not have fallen on 19 October but, because of the drifting calendar, rather on 28 December. The position of the Sun at that date would have been about 26 degrees south-of-east and thus way off the alignment of the causeway, which is 14 degrees south-of-east. In other words, for the causeway to align with the sunrise on 1 Tybi, it had to have been aligned in c. 2781 BC and not c. 2500 BC.

I’m sure this all makes very good sense when you understand the concepts properly and can sit down and study the passage properly. But the casual reader may well find themselves struggling to keep up with Bauval at these moments. Certainly, some more diagrams illustrating these sorts of passages would probably have made things more understandable.
But this book appears to be about putting Bauval’s theories out there in a serious manner, while ultimately allowing for a popular read. As such, there is some give and take to both readers – Bauval explains things in enough detail for academics, while at the same time keeping things concise and reasonably simple for the majority of the book.

It would be wrong of me to comment on the validity of Bauval’s theories. While I’m more conversant than most ‘general readers’ on the subject of Egyptian astronomy, I certainly defer to more authoritative analysis of the book’s exposition of an ‘Egypt Code’ which I’m sure will be forthcoming. What I do hope though, is that these authoritative analyses are done in the spirit of science with some objectivity, rather than with an eye to dismissing it all because of Bauval’s previous clashes with orthodox Egyptology. It will certainly be interesting to see how things pan out over the coming months.

Ultimately, The Egypt Code offers a glimpse into Ancient Egyptian culture and architecture which suggests that they attributed an immense significance to living in tune with the cosmos, in particular the cycle of the stars. In Bauval’s words: “I believe that I have been able to make visible an ancient ‘code’ that can help Egyptology to shed more light on the greatest and most spiritually enlightened civilisation the world has ever known or is likely to know again in the future. Our present civilisation is in dire need of this ancient model of wisdom.” That is about as New Age as Bauval gets in this book – readers seeking an adventure into the Hall of Records, replete with Atlantean civilisation should stay away. However, for those wishing to revisit Ancient Egypt and the OCT with Bauval, it is definitely a stimulating read.

Editor
  1. The Egypt Code.
    I’ve always been impressed by Robert Bauval’s books, yet i have always thought that you need an understanding of how astrologers use the horoscope wheel, and fully understand how they use the four angles that are displayed on an astrology wheel, but please note that you dont have to be an astrologer to understand the tools they use.
    Having just astonomy software can lead you to miss very interesting points.
    Please remember that i’m not saying astrology works, i’m more interested in how religion and astrology work hand in hand, one method of faith or religion is elected astrology, which is waiting for planets or stars to align to one of the important angles, being mostly the Ascendant Angle (Asc.), and the Mid-Heaven angle (M.C.) although the Descendant and I.C. angles are fairly important.
    Now for any given day during the year, at midnight it will take over 20,000 years for a star to re-align itself again to the Mid-heaven (M.C.) angle, this is the Longitude angle, and without time zones will apply to time so whatever latitude a location is, it wont matter, before we introduced time zones.
    Latitude as expressed by the Asc./Desc. angle means that a star is fixed to that latitude, and cannot work in line with time.
    In fact the astrology wheel is a very effective clock, even minutes and seconds are used in both.
    Waiting for a star to be within one degree of either the M.C. or Asc. happened many times during our history, that goes hand in hand with the beliefs, faith and desires of the astrologer, so he waits till certain stars align before acting out his desires.
    In my studies i have found what i would call deliberate astrology that follows the Egyptian, Julian and Gregorian calendars, it looks like intended opening and closing ceremonies involving calendars that are obviously connected and the fixed star SIRIUS.
    In the Quran there is a verse that starts “He who is the Lord of Sirius”, and many faiths seem to regard Sirius as heaven, I wonder if this belief is hidden within Western religions, as i have found many strange alignments concerning calendars!
    Obviously ancient Egyptians were interested in the rising of Sirius with the Sun which corresponds to latitude and the Ascendant angle, we would also agree that they followed this at least five thousand years ago, for as Sirius rose with the Sun, this was the start of their New Year.
    During those times when the Sun set, this was valued as the end of the day.
    Yet our perceptions in 1582 were influenced by the emergence of the clock, early in the 14th Century, large clock towers were put up in Italian cities, another advance was the invention of the spring powered clock, between 1500 and 1510, by Peter Henlein of Nuremburg, and by 1582, some clocks even had second hands, and although cutting edge technology, we were beginning to look at “Mid-Night” as the beginning and ending of a day, and not as the Egyptians valued the day by the rising and setting of the Sun.
    I have numerous astrology programmes that track stars as the ancients did by what astrologers call a paran, but in 1582 the more widely used measurement was a projected measurement…when this is applied to 1582, (Start of Gregorian Calendar), we have a continual process that lasts 5,000 years and exactly explains why Sirius is directly overhead conjunct the M.C. at Cheops Pyramid at Mid-night during the Millennium by the paran measurement.
    A) The Egyptian Calendar has been used for at least 5,000 years, new year was when Sirius rose with the Sun.
    B)I have to now explain what i would call complex intended opening and closing ceremonies, which i think is connected to the Egyptian calendar, so that the Julian Calendar could start on 1st Jan 0045 B.C.
    I would be looking for a closing ceremony for the Egyptian Calendar where the Sun sets while Sirius rises on 31st Dec. 0046 B.C., but to find this would be difficult.
    A lot of the arguments in looking at the Sothic (Sirius) cycle is knowing exact latitude of observation, but i may have found where Sosigenes (father of the Julian Calendar), did this, which may explain some of the reasons why 1st Jan. become the start of New Year that we follow today.
    There is only one spot where the Sun sets while Sirius is rising on 31st Dec. 0046 B.C. by the paran measurement, which is Thebes, but as it sits on top of Luxor we can use lat. and long. of Luxor which is 25*N41′, 32*E39′, Sunset happens at approx. 17:19pm. with Sirius rising in paran with the Ascendant angle. Thebes was the capital of ancient Egypt, so an obvious choice for Sosigenes who was a student at the Great Library at Alexandria, where much of the wisdom of the Egyptian priests was held, before it was burned to the ground in the early centuries A.D.
    C)The last minute of the Julian calendar was ordained by Pope Gregory XIII in Rome, Italy, which was 23:59pm on 4th Oct. 1582….ten days were taken out of the Julian calendar as it gained 11 minutes each year from 0045 B.C.
    But perceptions on the end or start of a new day had changed by 1582, by the invention of the clock, so Sunset wasn’t a factor, but 23:59pm was!
    Again the Egyptian paran comes into play, and may explain why 4th Oct. 1582 was chosen, as at 23:59pm. we find the only day that Sirius would rise at this time, the same in effect as Sunset in Thebes under different circumstances….was this a closing ceremony on the Julian Calendar?
    D)The next part may need a little bit of research for yourself, to know what i’m talking about, which is the most widely used measurement for a fixed star in 1582 against an angle (M.C. or mid-heaven)was a projected measurement, not an Egyptian paran, which didnt need to be exact, an orb of 1 degree was common.
    Yes, the Egyptian Paran was still used as in the Coptic and Ethiopian calendars that align New Year in this era to 11th September which relates to the ground breaking ceremony of the Pentagon, being 11th Sept 1941, and the Terrorist attack on the Pentagon at 09:37am 11th Sept 2001, which should have been valued as the New Millennium as 2000 was the wrong date to celebrate New Year/Millennium
    The blazing star of masons that signify Sirius is a five pointed star or PENTAGON, i think religions are constantly mixed!
    The trail now is the first New Year in the Gregorian Calendar at Mid-Night between 31 Dec. 1582, and 1st Jan. 1583, remember that ten days were taken out the calendar so this effects what happens at Mid-Night at New Year.
    Now the M.C. is related to time and longitude, so before time zones, if a star was within a degree of the M.C. at mid-night on 1st Jan. 1583, it would show up at all locations at New Year in the western hemesphere, if you followed the Gregorian Calendar, thus we find Sirius within a degree of the Mid-Heaven angle for every New Year till 1703 by the projected mesurement, after which it begins to fade for some years, last year being 1781 by 1* degree measurement!
    It is possible that Pope Gregory also knew, as luck would have it, as the projected measurement faded, that the Egyptian paran measurement would take over.
    What he didnt know was that the Greenwich Meridian would mean large chunks of the Earth would be put under the same time, this confuses the issue, as midnight at New Year, as he would value wouldnt align to Sirius, everywhere at New Year.
    So to look at what he was trying to do, we must set our location to Greenwich,Kent (London)U.K. for the next part, as this will show how this would have worked out without time zones brought in with the railways for every location.
    E)Measurement taken from Greenwich, London….By early 1800, Sirius was in paran with the Mid-Heaven angle at New Year on some years, but on a continual basis from 1818 till 1904.
    Although fading Sirius is still present today at New Year for London for some years, the next being 2009 and 2010, but because of time zones, if daylight saving rules are observed, which isnt always the case, places/locations that are slightly out of the longitude of London by a degree as valued by every 15* degrees (15*, 30*, 45*, etc. from Long. 00*W00′)will have Sirius chiming in New Year on a continual basis, as New York will, or Cheops Pyramid…remember every 15* degrees from 00W00′ Long. give or take a degree should show Sirius at New Year if the location hasnt messed with daylight saving rules.
    Obviously it is interesting as the next Pope was Sixtus V, who in 1586 moved an obelisk to the centre of St. Peter’s Square.
    I know Mr Bauval is interested in Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka, being the central stars of the Orion, so i think he would be very interested that alnilam was rising at the moment that England adopted the Gregorian Calendar….religions within religions!
    Warm regards, Monk.

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