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A Beacon in the Land of Pharaohs: What the Great Pyramid Looked Like More than 4000 Years Ago

Though I’ve never had the pleasure to visit Egypt and contemplate the massive splendor of the Great Pyramid (yet), modern tourists will never truly grasp why sheer size and geometric perfection weren’t the only things that made this monument the biggest wonder of the Ancient World.

That’s because what remains of the pyramid attributed to the pharaoh Khufu is now almost completely devoid of its outer layer of highly polished limestone blocks, which would have made it look shiny white to the naked eye, and easy to spot for many miles around – a vision Egyptologist Dr. Jacquelyn Williamson has tried to recreate using the magic of CGI for a documentary produced by the Smithsonian channel.

I hope the documentary remembers to mention an oft-forgotten aspect in the mystery of the Great Pyramid: that of the missing capstone, which some believed was made of pure gold — and which was supposedly going to be replaced as part of a grandiose ceremony at the start of the current millennium.

Seeing how the structure was covered in a bright material such as limestone, it makes sense the top portion of the pyramid, which would have been hit first by the ray of the rising sun, should have been made of an equally-reflective or more reflective substance, in order to turn it into a beacon presiding over the land of the pharaohs, bringing forth illumination from the realm of the gods.

[H/T Fast Company Design]

  1. Gold Capstone
    It was the native Egyptian (and alternative researcher) Ahmed Osman that wrote an article published by the Cairo Press that put a stop to the gold capstone event. Osman argued that there was no actual evidence that the Great Pyramid had been crowned in such a way. He also exposed the motivations for wanting to place a gold capstone as less than pure, although I don’t recall now exactly what those were.

    1. Motivations
      “Less than pure”? Maybe he was referring to the fact that the whole thing was a giant spectacle using the famous –yet frail– archeological site as background.

      Or maybe it was just part of the ‘cultural wars’ over there. It seems that among certain prominent Egyptian authorities (or former ones), to question the authorship of the Pyramid and the Sphinx is evidence that you’re a ‘Free Mason’ or a ‘Zionist’

      1. “Over-the-Top” New Year’s Celebration
        Ahmed wrote a book with another native Egyptian, Robert Bauval, in 2012 called “Breaking the Mirror of Heaven”, in which they discuss the capstone cancellation in some detail. Here’s a quote:

        “We were convinced that this kind of symbolism [laser-projecting an eye on the capstone, etc.] using the Great Pyramid on the night of the millennium would surely be regarded as flaunting the Masonic vision, intentionally or not, in the most extravagant manner … We felt compelled to warn the Egyptian journalists of this potential public relations fiasco if the Egyptian authorities went ahead with it.” (Chap. 2, p70)

        So it really wasn’t Hawass was raised the red flag, despite his own sensitivities to foreign influence/manipulation.

        1. Confused o_____0
          Well, I’m truly confused now. I’ve heard Bauval speak twice on the Paradigm symposia (last year and last October) and although he mentions the cancellation of the capstone ceremony during Jarre’s concert in his presentations, he never mentioned any personal involvement in dissuading the Egyptian authorities!

          I also linked to an article on his official webpage, which is an excerpt from his book Secret Chamber (1999), detailing more information on the matter:

          It would appear that the idea of a new golden capstone for the Great Pyramid originated with Dr. Zahi Hawass, Under-secretary of State for the Giza Monuments. In early 1998 Dr. Hawass unearthed two limestone blocks with ancient inscriptions and drawings depicting workers moving a golden capstone for a royal pyramid amid scenes of dancing and celebrations and proposed that Egypt should celebrate the millennium in a similar way.

          Further below:

          To add fuel to this political fire, the radical Egyptian press, notably the newspaper Al Shaab (The People) found out that Jean-Michel Jarre intended to project the so-called ‘eye of Horus’ on the Great Pyramid with laser lights, and immediately denounced the organisers of staging a ‘Masonic’ stunt. The Al Shaab claimed that the ‘eye in the pyramid’ blatantly evoked the well-known Masonic symbol on the US one-dollar bill. Freemasons are also known to harbour ancient Hebrew Rituals related to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which also fired accusations of ‘Zionist’ infiltration in the Arab newspapers. These accusations were hotly denied by culture minister Farouk Hosni. “The suggestion is groundless”, also stated Dr. Hawass, the official in charge of the Pyramids. “The celebration has nothing to do with Masonic beliefs. The design on the US dollar is a faulty imitation of the Pyramids of the Middle Kingdom.”

          No mention of Ahmed, and no updates.

          As for Hawass, and how at the beginning of his career he was more friendly toward trying to discover the ‘Hall of Records’ –after all, his scholarship was paid by the Edgar Cayce foundation– yet he became much more conservative as he grew older, I suspect it was due to the fact that he managed to amass a lot of enemies and jealous colleagues who wanted to have his job; add to it the fact that the Arab world turned much more radicalized after the 1st world war, and perhaps this influenced his change of heart and his determination to disprove anyone who would dare to suggest the pyramid and other monuments had not been built by the Egyptian pharaohs…

          1. The Capstone Cops
            Some of the text is found here:


            Unfortunately, page 70 is omitted from the Google Books sample.

            I have the book, and here’s another excerpt from that same page:

            “A few months before the millennium Robert Bauval had met in Cairo, at the Nile Hilton, two Egyptian journalists, Samir Refaat and Walid Wissa, both of whom had written articles on Freemasonry in Egypt before it was banned in 1964. Oddly, both men did not agree that the symbolism used for the millennium at Giza would be seen as evoking Masonic ideas, even though it may have been unintentional.”

            “In November 1999, we wrote about our concerns to several newspapers and magazines, including Asharq Al-Awsat, Akhbar al-Adab, Al Shaab, and Al Arab. We also faxed extracts of our book Secret Chamber to Sekina Fu’ad … Fu’ad published an article in Al-Ahram on December 2, 1999, under the banner “Why Are the Egyptians Angry about the Capstone?”

            On pages 68-69, they write:

            “Let us note in passing that in July 1989, Jean Michel Jarre had also been commissioned by Jacques Chirac to organize a similar allegedly ‘Masonic’ event in Paris for the bicentennial of the French Revolution. For this event Jarre raised a huge metal-framed pyramid in front of the Grande Arche de la Fraternite (Grand Arch of the Brotherhood) … and projected curious occult symbols on the adjacent building with laser lights. Let us also note that a few years later another show by Jarre took place at London’s Canary Wharf where the centerpiece was the glowing glass pyramid on top of a skyscraper apparently having the same geometrical proportions as the Great Pyramid of Giza. As usual, Hawass claimed that the original idea for the millennium ceremony at Giza was his own and proudly announced to the Egyptian press that before the May 1998 ceremony in Paris he had unearthed two ancient limestone blocks in Abusir near Giza, which contained inscriptions and drawings depicting workers moving a capstone for a royal pyramid amid scenes of dancing and celebrations.”

            “It so happened that during 1999, we had been busy writing a book, Secret Chamber, due for publication in November that same year. The opening chapter of the book reviewed the planned celebrations at Giza and raised some pertinent questions as to a possible more occult motive behind this event.”

            Bauval and Osman conclude the matter with this statement:

            “Were Hawass and Hosni victims of a widespread xenophobia of Freemasons or naïve in their choice and timing for an extravaganza show for the millennium at Giza? Or were they the victims of something else – something more covert and much more sinister? Perhaps we will never know.”

            The idea that Hawass and Hosni were victimized by a “widespread xenophobia” doesn’t really make sense. The Egyptian public eventually got worked up over it (thanks to Bauval and Osman), which forced Hawass and Hosni to abandon the capstone idea. If anything Hawass got caught up in Jarre’s theatrics that had Freemason overtones, and which may have been employed for artistic or dramatic effect only. Anyway, it may have been an overreaction by Bauval and Osman that resulted in a public backlash against the ceremony. Evidently Bauval and Osman didn’t want to risk a greater embarrassment to their country if Masonic connections later proved to be real. In other words, better safe than sorry!

          2. Jarre
            I’m still confused. Surely someone could have asked Jarre not to beam any ‘controversial’ iconography to the pyramids with his lasers? After all, it really was a good touristic opportunity for the Egyptian people.

            Maybe something else was going on behind the scenes.

          3. So, can we assume that the
            So, can we assume that the capstone was made of some extraordinary material perhaps of sufficient value that it was finally dismantled and stolen? What might that have been other than gold or a framework covered in gold?

          4. “The Capstone Mystery”
            The capstone seems to have been toppled or removed deliberately. Not sure when or why. Much of the limestone facing was removed and used to build Cairo, however if I recall correctly some of the limestone facing at the very top of Great Pyramid is still in tact. So, why wouldn’t the capstone still be there?

            There likely was a capstone made of limestone or some other material, but the point seems to be that we know nothing about any gold plating or any special purpose. And I suppose it is a little ridiculous to place a gold capstone on top of an otherwise completely unrestored structure. It only invites controversy and who knows what else. Perhaps the Great Pyramid is still not something that should be trifled with, even as a publicity or entertainment stunt.

          5. There are other theories
            There are other theories claiming the capstone was a giant piece of quartz which is not that improbable considering what huge quartz ceremonial vessels can be found today at Abu Garab, Egypst.

            It is not at all unreasonable to assume that there were immense energetic effects within and on the surface of the pyramids. Geological limestone formations and buildings made of limestone blocks are often good predictors of paranormal activity, and silicon based lithic materials under high pressure create strong electrical polarity. The pyramids were certainly generators of immense etheric energies whether the builders understood the mechanism or not. There is also evidence that the ancients knew how to disaggregate gold to its more energetic monatomic state – the so called white powder of gold. all of this is by way of saying that the capstone – whatever it was – most likely likely had energetic qualities. It wasn’t just decoration.

          6. Limestone
            You know, I’ve thought about that as well, especially when I listened to Barry Fitzgerald talk about all these cave formations in his homeland of Ireland which were used in ancient times to commune with ‘the other side.’ Then you have the Maya ‘cenotes’ which were also perceived as tunnels or ‘portal’ into the underworld. At that moment I remembered how the great Pyramid used to be completely covered with limestone.

            Like you say, maybe it wasn’t just for looks.

          7. Ancient Capstone Story
            [quote=Charles Pope]I have the book, and here’s another excerpt from that same page:

            “A few months before the millennium Robert Bauval had met in Cairo, at the Nile Hilton, two Egyptian journalists, Samir Refaat and Walid Wissa, both of whom had written articles on Freemasonry in Egypt before it was banned in 1964. Oddly, both men did not agree that the symbolism used for the millennium at Giza would be seen as evoking Masonic ideas, even though it may have been unintentional.”

            “In November 1999, we wrote about our concerns to several newspapers and magazines…”[/quote]

            Imma let you finish, but I wrote about my concerns here on the Grail back in November 1998… ;P

            Lulz at the different vibe of the internet 16 year ago…me apologising for a 2 paragraph post, hah!

            O.K. Excuse the length of this post, but here’s a little food for thought aimed at all the conspiracy people out there. I wouldn’t include myself, but this passage I found certainly raised my eyebrows in regards to the story below about Zahi Hawass wanting to place a gold capstone on top of the GP for the new millenium. The following passage is from ‘Temple of the Cosmos’ by Jeremy Naydler, and relates the story explaining the GP design on the dollar bill with the motto ‘A new order for the ages’.

            ‘There is a story behind this mysterious design. Originally, the GP of Khufu had its capstone in place. It was gold-plated, and on each of its four sides a blue eye of Horus was painted. When the sun struck the pyramid, a beam of light was reflected from this golden blue eye that could be seen for miles around. As the age of Egypt came to a close, the priesthood removed the capstone and buried it secretly. No one knows where. But, according to the story, it will one day be rediscovered, and will be replaced on top of the pyramid. When that day comes, a ‘new order of the ages’ will be established, which will correspond to a general spiritual reawakening.’

            Interesting, wouldn’t you say….

          8. Masonic Bonic BS?
            Here is the actual quote in context from Naydler’s book:


            (you’ll have to cut and past the above link into your browser)

            It is interesting that Bauval mentions the “story” of the buried capstone in Secret Chamber, but not in the later book, Breaking the Mirror of Heaven (2012):


            (this takes awhile to load for some reason)

            If you scroll down and click on the sub-thread titled,
            “GP Apex (Pyramidion) has been found”, there is discussion of a reconstructed Khufu pyramidion that was made from a base and broken blocks found at the site. Note that it belonged to the “satellite” pyramid of Khufu and not the Great Pyramid. However, since Hawass supposedly discovered it in 1991 (see below quote), he obviously knew about it before the millennium ceremony. As one blogger notes, it indicates that the top of the Khufu pyramid was essentially the same as the other Giza pyramids, but of course that can’t be proven.

            Here is the image from the book.


            “The second oldest pyramidion was only recently (in 1991) discovered by Dr. Zahi Hawass east of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, near the also recently discovered satellite pyramid of Khufu which it once surmounted. It was actually found to the south of the satellite pyramid, and though its top and base had been destroyed, it has also been reconstructed and is now set up just to the north of the satellite pyramid of Khufu.”


            “Recent excavations at the south-east corner of Khufu’s pyramid have revealed a destroyed satellite pyramid with T-shaped inner chambers and a descending corridor ending in a rectangular vaulted burial chamber. A large limestone block with three sloping sides was found on the satellite pyramid’s south side which proved to be the base of its pyramidion. Other stones of the pyramidion were found a year later on the northern side of the pyramid.”


            In this book, David Silverman claims that he discovered the Khufu satellite pyramidion:


            There are nice pics of the satellite pyramid and pyramidion on this page (last two images of the article):


            I don’t really have an opinion about this question. However, suspicions of a link (faulty or not) between the gold capstone idea and Masonic tradition appear to be justified. The $10M they paid Jarre might have been better spent on researching this issue (haha!).

          9. We Weren’t Meant to Understand Giza, We Were Meant to Ignore It
            In myth, there is some indication that the capstone of the Great Pyramid symbolically represented the “Eye of Horus (the Elder)”, however the literal meaning (substance/appearance) is much more difficult to determine. To infer from Myth that a blue eye was painted on the faces of the capstone seems totally inadequate. An embedded “eye” of some kind makes a little more sense. Invisible but focused energy makes the most sense. The Great Pyramid was certainly special, even when compared to the other Giza pyramids. It may very well have called for a special capstone to perform its intended purpose. Egyptology is of course ill-equipped to do this type of study, and no one else has access. We spend millions on movies like Interstellar, but nothing on the most alien feature of our own planet, the Great Pyramid.

          10. Mark Lerner, not Zawi
            Confused 0 0 – I think you are probably thinking of the American Egyptologist Mark Lerner who’s education was financed by A.R.E., the Edgar Cayce organization.

            To my knowledge Zawi Hawass has never been involved with ARE except as an invited speaker for an Ancient Mysteries conference.

          11. That’s what Bauval claims

            Cayce Foundation recruits Hawass and pays for Hawass’ Ph.D in the US

            Hawass studied Egyptology in the US and according to Robert Bauval; it was the Cayce Foundation, [as in – Edgar Cayce] who paid for Hawass’ Ph.D.

            ‘I got him a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania in Egyptolgy, to get his Ph.D. I got the scholarship through an ‘ARE’ person who happened to be on the Fullbright scholarship board’ – Cayce.’

            ARE is the, ‘Association for Research and Enlightenment’ A tool to ensure that Cayce and his affiliates, [to the exclusion of everyone else] keep the secret knowledge, secret.


          12. Capstone ceremony, Freemasons and Zahi Hawass
            I read at the top here that Ahmed Osman -not R. Bauval, with whom later he’d co-author a book- had pointed out that the Capstone ceremony, as planned for the Milennium celebrations, would not suit historic accuracy, as there is no proof that the G1 Pyramid ever had a golden or gold-colored capstone.
            Further, it’s likely that Osman warned about “political correctness” in mostly Islamic (anti-Masonic) Egyptian society, so as not to regret things later: when the golden capstone idea may be (accurately or not) associated with Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, or such clubs. At least, in the eyes of Dan Brown’s readership!
            In fact, this feature, as a symbol, along with the famous “eye in the pyramid” of the dollar bill, are much older than any of the modern illuminist movements and -so very likely- Ancient Egyptian.

            Some branches of Freemasonry have “borrowed” the Pyramid and associated symbols (e.g. All-seeing Eye and hovering Capstone), desiring to associate themselves with all things Egyptian. Among other authors, precisely Bauval has touched on these symbolisms in Talisman and The Master Game, writing about 18th Century Masonic movements such as that of Cagliostro, popular in France. But Bauval was tracing the symbols and the traditions of certain knowledge, certainly not tying these in with any conspiracies of world domination, or “political correctness” with regard to Egypt.

            However, in Egypt, a country with a none too liberal Muslim majority, today Freemasonry and its similes are largely perceived as evil or instruments of Western expansion politics. Freemasonry is outlawed there (I believe since Nasser’s days). Masonic obediences exist, but very underground or in exile.
            It has persistently been rumored that Zahi Hawass himself is secretly a Mason, possibly having been initiated in the US -or even, clandestinely, in Egypt. It’s often said that Zahi dealt with American and French senior Freemasons, to do with the planned Capstone ceremony, in the capacity of a true and lawful Brother.
            If he were proven to be one, likely there’d be a lynch mob waiting outside his door. For all his money and relations, his image in Egypt wouldn’t recover from that one!

          13. Modern perceptions of ancient symbols
            First of all, welcome to the Grail 🙂

            Secondly, I agree with your observations, which reminds me of the problems that arise with the modern interpretations of ancient symbols. The clearest example of this, is of course how the Swastika is today considered to be a symbol of racism and fascism, when in reality it was used and venerated by many cultures of thousands of years.

            So nowadays we have this biased interpretation of the ‘eye of Horus.’ But as you pointed out, that does not negate the antiquity of the symbol, or the fact that it was used by ancient Egyptians.

          14. Much Ado About Nothing?
            It was actually Osman AND Bauval that alerted the Egyptian media to the potential downside of the capstone ceremony. Obviously both Osman and Bauval understand the very ancient symbolism associated with the Great Pyramid. However, neither wanted it to be hijacked for some ulterior agenda. And since the Masons don’t tell us the sources of all their esoteric knowledge, it’s not possible to know what distortions (deliberate or not) there may be in whatever knowledge they have preserved related to the capstone.

          15. Like I said…
            It’s still unclear to me why Bauval first alerted the authorities about the ceremony, and now mentions it on his presentations with a clear nostalgic tone, as if he was in support of it.

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