Is there a throne made from meteorites hidden in a secret chamber of the Great Pyramid? That’s the headline that made worldwide news over the weekend, with stories in the Daily Mail, Russia Today and other major media outlets.
The story is based on a paper uploaded to arXiv.org in November 2017 (updated earlier this month), titled “A possible explanation of the void discovered in the pyramid of Khufu on the basis of the pyramid texts“, by Italian archaeoastronomer Giulio Magli. It should be noted that Magli is certainly not averse to putting forward rather speculative theories into the public sphere: we have covered a number of them previously here on the Grail (“Machu Picchu a Map of the Cosmos“, “Astronomical Alignments at Göbekli Tepe“, “Were Khufu and Khafre’s Pyramids Built at the Same Time?“).
And to be fair, Magli notes exactly this in the introduction to his paper, saying that is “a first, admittedly highly speculative, attempt at possible explanation” of the reason for the recently discovered mysterious ‘void’ in the Great Pyramid, “on the basis of the funerary beliefs of the epoch.”
In doing so Magli references architectural elements within the Great Pyramid “which are purely symbolic, related only to the ideas on the afterlife” – such as the four so-called ‘air shafts’ that emanate from two of the pyramid’s chambers – and the descriptions of the afterlife that can be found in the Egyptian funerary documents known as the Pyramid Texts.
Magli points out that one particular passage from the Pyramid Texts references an “iron throne” as being part of the pharaoh’s journey to the afterlife:
The doors of the sky are opened for you, the doors of Nut are thrown opened for you, the doors of the firmament are thrown opened for you. Endure, says Isis, in peace, says Nepthis, when they see their brother. Raise yourself, loose your
bonds, throw off your dust, sit on this your iron throne.
From this, Magli makes a rather large leap to the idea that this iron throne might sit within the ‘void’ found in the Great Pyramid:
Many other, similar utterances mention the same process, and some also specify that the king will sit on the throne after crossing specifically the northern doors and that a stairway gives access to the throne. For instance, again in PT536 we read “may the honoured ones clap their hands at the stairway of your throne”.
Observe now that it is not uncommon for objects mentioned in the PT to be documented in the archaeological records. An important example are the instruments mentioned in the opening of the mouth ceremony (a forked knife, an adze, a serpent-like knife) which are all known archaeologically. May the iron throne have been a real object in Khufu’s burial equipment?
…If Khufu’s Iron throne is really located in the newly discovered chamber, it was put in place during the construction of the pyramid and never accessed since. It may well be located at the central end of the void, which, according to the prospection, lies directly on the vertical axis from the apex of the pyramid, crossing the end of the Great Gallery, the so-called “big step” and the Queen’s chamber underneath. The chamber might thus be a non-functional copy of the Great Gallery, with an ascending staircase and the throne at the uppermost end.
Magli also suggests that Khufu’s spirit might have been meant to access the chamber, via the symbolic door found at the end of the northern lower ‘air-shaft’ first explored by Rudolf Gantenbrink, as it “may be connected with the lowermost end of the sealed chamber.”
As for perhaps the most eye-catching part of the headline, Magli notes that if the throne was made of iron, it would have been iron from meteorites that was used, as this was the source of iron in ancient cultures until the invention of iron smelting (for more on this topic, see our previous articles “Ancient Egyptians Mined Iron from Space“, and “King Tut was Buried with a Dagger of “Extraterrestrial Origin”). And he suggests that it might look similar to the gold-sheet throne of Khufu’s mother, Hetepheres, except lined with iron sheets.
A reconstruction of the gold-sheet throne of Hetepheres, mother of Khufu,
I am proposing that the void in the Great Pyramid might have been constructed to contain a similar throne, endowed with sheets of (meteoritic) Iron. The complete paper https://t.co/vQuPxcYh71 pic.twitter.com/oOUs0lklAJ
— giulio magli (@giuliomagli1) November 17, 2017
All in all, the paper is constructed out of a large number speculations piled on top of each other. A fun topic for sure, and one that I find extremely interesting and worth speculating about – but probably not publishing officially as a paper, and certainly not one that should have been used as the source for major media coverage.