History's Greatest Mysteries (2020) s04e10 Episode Script

The Puzzling Pyramids of Egypt

impressive and mysterious,
they are among the wonders
of the ancient world.
These are the monuments
that define innovation
and technology that were meant
to last forever.
But to this day,
no one fully understands
how they were built or why.
Despite how much we've learned
from the writings
on the pyramids,
it's not always
very complete or specific.
Now, we explore the top theories
surrounding these
4,600-year-old puzzles.
The pyramids really have nothing
to do with the afterlife at all.
Are these markers
left for aliens
arriving to Earth from space?
The pyramids
could have been built
to provide a roadmap
to paradise.
Can we ever decipher
the true purpose
of Egypt's astonishing pyramids?
Saqqara, Egypt,
2650 B.C.
Workers serving under
Pharoah Djoser
are nearing completion on one
of the ancient world's
largest construction projects,
a pyramid.
We can't definitively say
which was the very first
Egyptian pyramid,
but Djoser's is certainly
one of the first.
It's 205 feet tall
with a base of 358 by 397 feet,
the size of two football fields
side by side,
and it's an amazing feat
of engineering and technology.
Many others are built
in the same area.
There are probably even more,
but we know of at least
118 Egyptian pyramids
that still exist today
with extensive ruins.
Most of them have been intact
almost perfectly preserved
over the millennia.
Including the largest
ever built,
the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The Great Pyramid is equivalent
to the Empire State Building
of its day.
It reaches 480 feet tall,
and for about 4,000 years,
it is the tallest manmade
structure on the planet,
until it's finally dethroned
by England's Lincoln Cathedral
in the year 1311.
It's composed of an estimated
2.3 million blocks of stones,
weighing an estimated
six million tons.
And some of these stones
are 50 to 80 tons each.
The workforce that was needed
to lift these stones
must have been massive.
According to ancient Greek
and Roman historians,
it is suggested that
it was a labor workforce
of around 100,000
enslaved people.
And it's not just
the size that's impressive.
The Great Pyramid is probably
one of the most unique
and most precise buildings
that has ever been built.
It is aligned to true north
within 1/20th of a degree.
That is remarkable
when you consider
the time period when
the Great Pyramid was built.
The entire base
of the Great Pyramid
is nearly a perfect square,
with the western side
being only 5.5 inches longer
than the eastern side.
This is .01% difference.
This is an amazing
amount of accuracy
for a structure this big
this long ago.
The Great Pyramid dates back
to the year 2570 B.C.
Within a span of 100 years,
ancient Egyptians have gone
from the seemingly modest
Pyramid of Djoser
to this stunning masterpiece.
But soon after,
the period of pyramid building
in ancient Egypt just stops
right around 2500 B.C.
And we're not sure
really why that is.
Eventually, the knowledge
of how these buildings
were built is lost.
Also lost,
the reason why they were built.
Starting thousands of years ago,
people were already
trying to find out
the purpose of the pyramids.
You can imagine
the first explorers
crawling in by torchlight.
The first thing they would see
in these narrow chambers
would be these
thousands of lines
of hieroglyphic inscriptions
carved into the stone.
Can you imagine?
You go in to solve the mystery,
and all of a sudden,
you're given a brand-new mystery
that you have to work on.
What is all of this?
At this point,
no one understands
what these hieroglyphics mean.
But there's more than just
writing inside.
There are these
sarcophagus-shaped stones
that are cut right into
the central chambers,
and they're also the right size
to hold a human body.
Now, the bodies are not there,
and that's because
maybe they were stolen
at a certain point in time.
We do know that this evidence
has been found
by the 5th century B.C.,
because it's at this time
that we get the very first
written theory
about the pyramids.
Because in the 5th century B.C.,
Greek historian Herodotus
describes the sarcophagi,
and he writes
that the pyramids
are burial chambers.
Other pyramids
provide more clues.
Herodotus visits Egypt
and speaks with many
of the local guides
who have been taking people
to the pyramids for years.
And they describe
seeing mummified remains,
sarcophagi, wooden coffins
enough evidence to support
the theories of Herodotus,
that these are tombs.
For centuries,
this remains the accepted theory
on why the pyramids were built.
But without understanding what
the hieroglyphics say,
this is all
somewhat speculative,
because they might describe
these buildings
as something totally different.
Then, a visit to Egypt
by a famous emperor
changes that.
In a way, we have
Napoleon Bonaparte to thank
for our current knowledge
of the pyramids.
The emperor
has a great appreciation
for art and culture.
During his campaign in Egypt,
he orders a team of scholars
to take possession
of key artifacts
for the glory of France.
In 1799, you've got
Napoleon's soldiers
that are digging out
the foundation of a fort
near the Egyptian town
of Rosetta.
And they come across
this four-foot-long black stone
that's just embedded
right into the wall.
It's completely smooth
on one side
and covered with three
different languages
ancient Greek,
an ancient Egyptian
Demotic script,
and hieroglyphics.
But this time, we have
two accompanying languages
telling the same story.
The Greek
and Demotic texts are the same.
Translations of a royal decree
from Egyptian King Ptolemy V
in 196 B.C.
The message is
essentially royal propaganda,
and it's declaring how wonderful
and how generous
the newly coronated king was.
But that's not
the real importance.
What is important is that
we have the same story
written in three
different languages.
All of a sudden, after thousands
of years of wondering,
we finally have the ability
to translate
Egyptian hieroglyphics.
We can use
the ancient Greek inscription
to finally understand
what they had to say.
It is not an overstatement
to say that this is probably
one of the most important
historical finds of all time.
The Rosetta Stone,
as it's called,
becomes the key
to unlocking ancient Egypt,
and perhaps the secrets
of the pyramids.
Jean-Francois Champollion
is able to crack the code
hidden within the hieroglyphs,
and it took him
20 years to decipher
what the Rosetta Stone
actually said.
Champollion published
his findings in 1822,
and he had actually created
a decoder ring
for Egyptian hieroglyphics.
According to
the hieroglyphic texts,
the pyramids are indeed tombs.
But we get a lot more insight
into the nature of the tombs.
Finally, for the first time,
we know who the tombs
were built for.
As the hieroglyphics describe,
these buildings are meant
to be much more
than just a burial place.
They're massive monuments
built to the power
of the Egyptian kings.
The hieroglyphics
identify each one
of the pyramids with
the pharaoh who commissioned it.
And according to these
each pyramid is given
a boastful name
like "Enduring are the Places
of Nyuserre,"
"Great is Khafre,"
or "Menkaure is Divine."
These were designed
to be big boastful monuments
to each of the pharaoh's
power and permanence.
But could there be
more to the pyramids?
Despite how much
we've learned from the writings
on the pyramids, it's not always
very complete or specific.
That's the reason
why some suspect
we don't really have
the full picture.
This has been suspected
since long before
hieroglyphics were translated.
In fact,
during the 10th century A.D.,
the Arab historian al-Masudi
theorizes that these pyramids
are more than likely tombs.
However, he also posits
that they could contain
a wealth of scientific,
and astrological knowledge.
One of the greatest minds
of the late 17th
and early 18th century,
Sir Isaac Newton,
also believes that the pyramids
had additional secrets
hidden within.
Newton was really
only speculating in his day,
but thanks to modern research
and technological advances
we now have available,
we're still uncovering
new information about
these incredible buildings.
And as it turns out,
Newton may have been right.
There's in fact a lot more
to the pyramids
than meets the eye.
When hieroglyphics are
first translated in the 1820s,
it unlocks a trove
of new information
about the pyramids of Egypt
and why they were built.
They were long suspected
to be tombs for pharaohs,
and the hieroglyphics
confirm this.
But as more of these
hieroglyphics are translated,
we find out that maybe
these pyramids
had another function as well.
There's a group of hieroglyphics
that line
the subterranean chambers
of the pyramids at Saqqara,
and these date to around 2300
or 2400 B.C.
And they've become known
as the Pyramid Texts.
They're written
in vertical lines,
and they cover the walls
of almost every single room
of these pyramids.
Most Egyptian hieroglyphics,
even the ones
inside the pyramids,
they're offering you names,
they're offering you dates.
They're offering you
legacies of the pharaohs,
who the rulers were.
They're talking about
the afterlife a little bit.
But in terms of why these
pyramids were built,
we don't seem
to have that information.
But these
particular texts are different.
These hieroglyphics suggest
a potential purpose
for the pyramids, and it starts
with a fundamental
ancient Egyptian belief.
Like many other
world traditions,
these texts reveal
that they believe
in an eternal soul,
which the Egyptians
call the ka.
The hieroglyphics suggest
that the Egyptians
believe that the pharaoh's ka
travels to the starry heavens,
where he'll live in eternity
amongst the gods.
To some, that means the pyramids
could have been built to provide
a roadmap to paradise.
In 1994,
Belgian engineer Robert Bauval
and British historian
Adrian Gilbert
publish their book
"The Orion Mystery,"
which becomes an international
The central crux of the book
is what is known
as the Orion correlation theory.
The authors propose
that the pyramids of Giza
are designed to match
a star alignment
in the belt constellation
of Orion.
If you look at an overlay
of the Giza pyramids,
and line them up with stars
in Orion's belt,
they almost line up.
It's uncanny.
According to Bauval and Gilbert,
this alignment isn't accidental.
It could also help answer
a long-running question
about the pyramids' design.
Inside the Great
Pyramid of Giza,
there are four
long, narrow shafts
that lead out from the King's
and the Queen's Chambers
up towards the sky.
Now, that's a strange
design element,
supposedly for ventilation.
But why would the tomb
need ventilation?
If that was the goal, there are
much easier ways to achieve it.
These shafts required a much
more intricate construction
in engineering techniques.
The Egyptians went to a lot
of extra trouble to build them.
Bauval, Gilbert, and a few
other authors propose the idea
that these aren't
ventilation shafts at all,
and instead,
that they're windows
that align specifically with
the stars in Orion's belt
Sirius, Alnitak, and Kochab.
According to references
in ancient Egyptian texts,
those stars are where
the pharaoh's ka
is supposed to join
the father of the gods,
known as Sah, in the afterlife.
In addition to being
the home for the gods
and for the pharaohs
that make it to the afterlife,
Orion's appearance
in the night sky
serves another very important
purpose for Egyptians.
Every year when the stars of
Orion would appear in the sky,
the Nile River would overflow,
bringing life-renewing
irrigation to the crops.
So, through the hieroglyphics,
we actually have
a written record
that the Egyptians
believe their pharaoh
is traveling to Orion
after his death.
And then, we also have
a potential correlation
between a pyramid's design
and the stars
in that constellation.
So, it's as if the pyramid
was specifically built
to aim to that region
in the night sky.
However, some think it's more
than just souls that travel.
In 2012, Belgian author
Philip Coppens takes the idea
of the Orion correlation theory
and expands on it.
He supports the idea that
the builders of the pyramids
may have aimed
their pyramid shafts
directly at Orion.
But rather than transport
the ka of the pharaoh
to the heavens, he suggested
they could have actually been
the physical bodies.
I mean, it's a pretty
fantastical interpretation.
How do the bodies levitate
and stay up there in the sky?
Coppens doesn't explain that,
but he does cite
what he claims is evidence
that the pharaohs' bodies
were somehow transported.
As Coppens describes,
a great many of the sarcophagi
inside the pyramids
are found empty.
This is true, and Egyptologists
generally attribute that
to graverobbers.
But Coppens cites
multiple examples
of completely untouched
burial chambers inside pyramids.
No graverobbers
have accessed them,
and yet, when modern
finally open these chambers,
bodies are nowhere to be found.
Coppens states
that after the pharaohs
are laid to rest,
their sarcophagi
and burial chambers
are sealed up,
and then the pyramid somehow
moves their actual bodies,
and you're left
with an empty tomb.
Coppens also points
to another ancient Egyptian
burial practice
as further proof.
As we've seen inside
many pyramids,
along with the pharaoh's body,
the ancient Egyptians
often left thousands
of physical objects as well.
Egyptian burial chambers
are large
because they need to be able
to hold quite a few things.
Inside of these chambers
we have found all of the things
that a pharaoh would need
to be happy in the afterlife.
His pets were often mummified.
His slaves were often killed
and mummified along with him,
because he's gonna need servants
in the afterlife.
It's not uncommon to find
large quantities
of beer and bread
so that the pharaoh
can have something to eat
and drink
in the afterlife as well.
Coppens asks,
if the journey to the afterlife
is only a metaphorical trip
by one's soul,
then why pack up all this stuff?
You know, why leave it there
to be wasted?
Again, to him, this could prove
that the Egyptians intended
the voyage to be literal.
This of course fails to account
for all the many mummies
that we have found
inside the pyramids.
Is it likely
that physical bodies
were actually being shot up
to the stars?
Probably not.
But what we can see though,
is that these pyramids
were designed
with the afterlife in mind,
specifically a journey
to the afterlife.
Whether it's the ka
or something else entirely,
the Egyptians believed
in the pharaoh's ability
to make it to their place
in the heavens
with the help
of these buildings.
For thousands of years
scholars have debated
why the pyramids were built.
But few questioned
how they were built,
assuming vast numbers of slaves
were forced to construct them.
The ancient Greeks estimated
that the Egyptians had used
a labor force of 100,000 slaves
to build the Great Pyramid.
Then, in the late 1990s,
a surprising archaeological find
upends that notion.
Egypt's chief
archaeologist Zahi Hawass
is responsible for countless
amazing discoveries
in the country.
But starting in 1990,
he embarks on a 20-year-long dig
at the Great Pyramid.
He makes an incredible discovery
that makes us rethink
how the pyramids
were constructed.
He locates the tombs
of the people
who built the Great Pyramid,
and he learns two things.
First, they weren't
enslaved people.
And secondly,
it wasn't 100,000 people.
It was more around 10,000.
The evidence he finds
is that these men were buried
according to Egyptian
religious burial customs
meaning that the men
who built the pyramids
were from working-class
Egyptian families.
The tombs are built right
next to the king's pyramid.
Now, the workers are buried
more modestly,
but they're entombed with beer
and bread for the afterlife,
an honor not provided to slaves.
The tombs also have
graffiti on their walls
calling them "friends of Khufu,"
the pharaoh.
According to Hawass,
there's no way
that would have happened
if these were slaves.
Hawass also finds evidence
of how well these people lived.
They were given
a great quantity of food,
and luxurious food like meat.
So here, we have a labor force
that is skilled,
they're well taken care of,
they're not enslaved,
and there's only 10,000 of them.
How does this make any sense?
How exactly
do 2.3 million
gargantuan stone blocks get cut,
moved, and fit together
so precisely
that it's literally impossible
to slide even a credit card
between 'em,
all by 10,000 people?
Did the Egyptians use ramps?
That seems implausible,
since a ramp
with a low enough slope
would have to be
over a mile long.
It would be bigger than
the Great Pyramid itself.
Had the Egyptians built canals
capable of raising water levels
high enough to allow some
of these massive stones
to float to the top?
Again, at the very least,
that would take
many more
than 10,000 individuals.
According to author
Erich von Däniken,
there's only one possible
In his bestselling 1968 book
"Chariots of the Gods?",
Erich von Däniken writes
that the Egyptians didn't build
the pyramids all on their own.
They might have had help
from extraterrestrials.
So, if we can't
figure out how 100,000 Egyptians
built the pyramids,
then we certainly have an issue
with trying to figure out how
10,000 could have done it.
In that regard,
maybe von Däniken has a point.
He calls it the Ancient
Astronaut hypothesis.
It states that extraterrestrials
came to Earth in ancient times
and helped human beings
build these various
architectural marvels.
In this case, they taught
advanced engineering techniques
to the ancient Egyptians
and instructed them on how
to build the pyramids.
According to this theory,
the pyramids were built
as a navigational tool,
not to help the pharaohs
reach heaven,
but to help
extraterrestrials reach Earth.
With the help
of modern photography
from satellites and the
International Space Station,
we know that
the Pyramids of Giza
are indeed visible from space.
And if you look at the pyramids
from that vantage point,
I mean, you can't help
but wonder if that's how
they were intended to be seen.
Could they be markers for aliens
visiting from outer space?
This could also explain
why the pyramids
may be aligned
with certain stars.
It's the final stop
of a landmark-based
navigational system
helping aliens
reach our planet
from their home world
somewhere beyond
the constellation of Orion.
These theorists
also point to alleged evidence
of alien encounters.
According to von Däniken
and many other authors
who followed this hypothesis,
at the time of their arrival,
extraterrestrial beings
would have been considered gods
by the ancient Egyptians.
This notion actually mirrors
what we see
in the ancient
hieroglyphic texts.
Many hieroglyphic inscriptions
do tell us
that the ancient Egyptians
believed that their gods
came from the stars.
The story sounds a lot
like what von Däniken
is writing about.
According to Egyptian mythology,
the gods lived among them
on Earth
and had a great impact
on their daily life.
Then, after a time,
the gods left Earth.
Where did they go?
The hieroglyphics
are pretty clear.
They went back beyond the stars.
Some also believe
this Egyptian encounter
wasn't an isolated incident.
It may have been one
of the first visits from aliens,
but it wouldn't be the last,
because Ancient Astronaut
believe this has happened
all over our planet.
Now, to date,
you have 118 pyramids
that have been found
all across Egypt.
But you can double that number
for Sudan.
They've been found all across
China, the Middle East.
And the Americas
contain more pyramids
than all other parts
of the world combined.
There's another
great pyramid complex
at Teotihuacan in Mexico.
Just like at Giza,
these pyramids
are astronomically aligned
to certain stars.
There are three main temples.
You've got the Pyramid
of the Sun,
the Pyramid of the Moon,
and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl.
Just like at Giza,
these pyramids appear
to align with the stars
in Orion's belt.
And here again, just like Giza,
the smallest temple,
the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl
is offset from the others
and aligned with Mintaka,
the faintest star
in Orion's belt.
They're mapped according
to the very same principles,
and display the same
astronomical message.
So, it's easy to wonder,
were these pyramids
designed by the same beings,
the same alien civilization
based somewhere around
the constellation Orion?
If these structures were
designed by extraterrestrials
and of course, I'm not saying
that they were
but if so, it's easy
to see the parallels.
And you could see
how some people
might believe
they are connected.
Most Egyptologists,
however, reject this theory.
There's simply no real proof.
It is all speculation.
See, for me, the alien theory
detracts from something
that's way more awe-inspiring.
The ability of human beings,
especially at such an early time
in our history,
to come together, and to design,
and to build these
architectural marvels,
is a wonder.
When it comes to solving
the mysteries of the pyramids,
the biggest challenge
is the lack
of recorded evidence.
But in 1947, new writings
are discovered
that suggest
a surprising purpose.
There are two primary
sources of information
about the pyramids.
First, there are the Greeks.
But when you read
their histories,
you can see that they're just
as mystified as we are.
They're mostly guessing.
Then we have the hieroglyphics,
which have taught us
a tremendous amount
about the ancient Egyptian
cosmology and their myths.
But there's nothing in these
nowhere that says why
they had to build the biggest
and most durable structures
anywhere on the planet.
There is, however,
one ancient text
that may provide an explanation.
In the spring of 1947,
an amazing trove
of Hebrew scrolls
is discovered
on the northwest shore
of the Dead Sea.
A Bedouin shepherd boy
is out tending his sheep,
and one of his sheep
walks up into a cave.
And he's trying to get his sheep
out of the cave,
so he throws a rock.
And instead of a sheep
coming out, he hears a crash.
The noise scares him,
and he runs away.
But later, he comes back
with a friend,
and both of them enter the cave.
They find a number
of long clay jars.
But then, they look inside,
and they see this dark object.
They bring the jars out
into the light,
and they see
that the objects are wrapped
in a layer of fine linen,
and they're covered in wax.
And when they start
unrolling them,
they find long pieces
of parchment covered in writing
that have been sewn together.
They have just stumbled upon
the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Dating back
to the 3rd century B.C.,
they're the oldest surviving
biblical texts.
It's an archaeological
and religious revelation
beyond compare.
Some would even say
it's the most important
archaeological find in history.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
expand our knowledge
of the ancient world
in countless ways.
One of those ways
has to do with Egypt.
Among these scrolls
is a very old version
of the Book of Genesis.
This ends up, of course,
being the first book
of the Jewish Torah
and the Christian Bible.
And in it is the story of Jacob
and his son Joseph.
According to Genesis,
Jacob has 12 sons
whose descendants
eventually become
the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Jacob favors
his most beloved son Joseph,
which causes tremendous friction
with his brothers.
In a fit of jealousy,
they sell him into slavery.
Where is he taken?
To Egypt.
There in Egypt, Joseph is able
to turn his luck around
by interpreting a dream
for the pharaoh
about an approaching famine.
And Joseph warns the pharaoh
to start stockpiling grain
as soon as possible.
Some biblical scholars
believe that this grain
ends up being stored
in the pyramids.
There are two versions
of this theory.
Some theorists believe
that the pyramids
were always meant
to be used for grain storage.
That was one of the reasons
why they were designed.
Others believe that they weren't
built for that purpose at all,
but got enlisted to store grain
because of the impending famine.
Religious historians
have long proposed
that the pyramids were built
by Joseph as grain silos.
In the 5th century,
Julius Honorius,
a renowned Christian grammar
and rhetoric teacher,
creates a geographical manual
to help his students
understand the world.
His research is compiled
into a book
called the "Cosmographia,"
and it explicitly references
the pyramids of Egypt
as the horrea Ioseph,
or the granaries of Joseph.
In the 6th century,
this theory pops up again,
and this time it's found in
the work of Gregory of Tours.
He's a historian
who also becomes
a saint in the Catholic Church.
In the first volume
of his master work,
"Decem Libri Historiarum,"
Gregory of Tours explains,
quote, "Joseph built granaries"
"of wonderful workmanship made
of square stones and cement.
"They're constructed
in such a way
"that they are very broad
at the base
"but narrow at the top,
"so that corn
could be poured into them
"through a small aperture.
These granaries are still
to be seen to this day."
Gregory of Tours has to be
talking about the pyramids.
He's even referencing
those enigmatic shafts
that appear at the top
of the Great Pyramid.
Now, due to the degree
of incline,
it is plausible
that these kernels of corn
could have been poured in
from above.
You can see that this theory
is represented visually
in Christian artworks as well.
The pyramids are very clearly
depicted as grain silos
in a prominent
12th century mosaic
in St. Mark's Basilica
in Venice.
What's more, the granary idea
does not just exist
in European circles.
In fact, we find it both in
Islamic and in Byzantine texts.
The "Etymologicum Magnum,"
the Byzantine Empire's
largest encyclopedia,
explicitly references
the pyramids
as royal granaries
constructed by Joseph.
As further proof
of the alleged theory,
some authors cite the fact
that grain has been found
inside Egyptian pyramids.
Now, to an outside observer,
you can kinda see
how this theory makes sense.
Think about it, the pyramids
sort of have a shape
similar to, like the salt domes
that you'll see
on the side of the highway
when you're driving, right?
The idea is that these grains
will be poured in from the top,
and as they go in, they'll form
like a mound-like
shaped structure,
similar to like sand
in an hourglass.
Modern Egyptologists, however,
find a glaring flaw
in this argument.
If the pyramids
were hollow inside,
this theory would fit
like a glove.
But unfortunately, they're not.
They're mostly solid rock,
so there's very little
storage room inside.
But there is evidence
that the pyramids were used
to provide sustenance
to the community,
just in a different way.
The Nile River
couldn't always be relied on
to flood and irrigate crops.
As it says
in the Book of Genesis,
it references times of both
feast and famine.
In times of famine,
a pharaoh doesn't want
his subjects to starve.
But he also wants
to keep them busy
because they're not working
out in the fields.
So, in exchange for payment
in the form of grain,
he puts them to work
on government projects.
And one of these projects
may have been
building the pyramids.
So, the pyramids
did provide grain,
but in a different way
than what early
Christian theorists thought.
The fact that a theory
is widely believed
doesn't mean
it's actually feasible.
We assume the Egyptians
had many better options
for storing their grain
than the pyramids,
which included
actual grain silos.
There is no more
iconic representation
of the might of ancient Egypt
than its famed pyramids.
The pyramids might be
the most famous
and remarkable aspect
of the Kingdom of Egypt.
But they were only being built
for a relatively short time.
You have a civilization
that's around
for about 2,000 years,
yet they only spent
about 300 to 400 years
designing these magnificent
So, among the many mysteries
surrounding the pyramids,
one important question is,
why did they stop being built?
In the late '90s
and early 2000s,
an all-new theory emerges
that attempts to explain
what might have happened.
And according to this theory,
the pyramids were built with
a very specific purpose in mind.
And once this purpose
was fulfilled,
the Egyptians didn't need
to make any more.
In 1998,
engineer Christopher Dunn
publishes a book,
and in that book,
he posits that the pyramids
really have nothing to do
with the afterlife at all.
They're there to serve
the everyday life
of the people of Egypt
living throughout the kingdom
by providing electrical power.
Dunn's theory starts
with one significant word.
When you consider
the word "pyramid,"
you've got "pyra,"
which is fire,
and then "mid,"
which is the middle.
So, when you bring
the two together,
you got "fire in the middle,"
and that is essentially
what I'm proposing
for the Great Pyramid,
except that it's not a fire
of combustion,
but it's an energetic
With that in mind,
modern-day engineers like Dunn
start to examine the layout
of the pyramids'
internal structures.
Inside of
the Great Pyramid of Giza,
you have three chambers.
You have a subterranean chamber.
You've got a chamber
that's been named
the Queen's Chamber,
and one that's been called
the King's Chamber.
Traditional Egyptologists
have been long focused
on this building as a tomb.
So, they've taken
the conventional view
that the pharaoh's body was
placed in the King's Chamber,
and the other two
could have been used
if the pharaoh died before
the pyramid was finished.
However, no human remains
or funerary objects
have ever been found inside
of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
But that might be the point.
When you look at these chambers
through the eyes of an engineer,
you see that they might
be serving a different function.
American engineer John Cadman
also supports this theory.
Cadman is looking
into this problem
at the same time as Dunn
in the late 1990s,
and he really seizes
upon the idea
that this building
has a mechanical function
as some kind of pump.
Water would flow in
via the tunnels
from an ancient lake
at a higher elevation.
The water would then flow
through a duct
up into the Queen's Chamber,
and then exit through
an outflow tunnel
to the Nile River.
The next question is,
why a water pump?
To find out,
Cadman makes his own model
of the pyramids'
subterranean chambers.
In the year 2000, Cadman uses
a 500-pound block of cement
to carve out a smaller replica
of the Great Pyramid
to study the fluid dynamics
that were happening
inside the chambers.
when he runs water through,
the block actually
starts shaking
with long,
and then short pulses.
Now, if you scaled up
this experiment
to the full size of the pyramid,
Cadman believes the system
would have created
a heartbeat-like vibration
that shook the entire structure.
Eventually Dunn
further expands on this idea.
He outlines that
the Great Pyramid
is actually a coupled oscillator
which transforms vibrations
into energy,
and that generates power.
Dunn's hypothesis
also could account
for findings
in the Queen's Chamber
that have never been
fully understood.
Those twin shafts
diagonally extending upwards
from this chamber were once
thought of as airducts.
And others have hypothesized
that they target certain stars
in the night sky.
Now, early explorers
reported that the walls
and the ceilings
of the Queen's Chamber
were covered with up
to about an inch of salt,
and that there was gypsum
coming out of the cracks
in the limestone.
Nobody knew what to make of this
at the time.
According to Dunn,
it's evidence that the pyramid
served as a chemical reactor.
My theory on the Queen's Chamber
is that chemicals
were delivered to the chamber
through shafts.
Those solutions
were dilute hydrochloric acid
and a hydrated zinc solution.
Those two chemicals
brought together
would boil off hydrogen.
This hydrogen would cause
a chemical reaction
with the chamber's limestone,
which would explain the presence
of salt and gypsum.
The hydrogen reaction compounds
the pyramid's vibrations
It's now really moving
and can generate a lot of power.
Dunn believes
all of these vibrations
charge up the quartz
and granite stones
in the center of the pyramid.
This is why they're putting
these stones
that weigh 50 to 80 tons
in the center.
They're almost like batteries.
And with that, you have yourself
an energy source.
Just how would
the Egyptians use that energy?
According to a 1996 book
by Austrian writers Peter Krassa
and Reinhard Habeck,
the ancient Egyptians may have
actually had electric lights.
Their theory is based
on a relief sculpture
that was found
in the 2,000-year-old
Temple of Hathor
in Dendera, Egypt.
It shows what they believe
to be a massive light bulb
with a socket, a cable,
and a filament.
These so-called light fixtures
appear prominently
in several other
Egyptian artworks as well.
Krassa and Habeck also cite
a 1982 experiment
by Austrian engineer
Walter Garn.
He sees the so-called
Dendera light
and decides to test
if such a device
could have been built
using the materials
to the ancient Egyptians.
He was able to make
a working model of the device,
but his used traditional
not pyramid power.
Did the Egyptians
actually have electricity?
According to this theory,
they did.
And once they had built
enough pyramids
to light and power
their civilization,
they could stop.
It's it's out there,
but hey, it's a theory.
In the late 1990s,
two American engineers
make headlines when they suggest
that the Egyptian pyramids
were used to generate power.
But they may not be the first
to propose this.
There are reports
of a declassified KGB operation
known as Project ISIS.
It allegedly takes place
in the 1960s,
and the purpose
was to take a look
at these ancient Egyptian
artifacts and knowledge
to see if they would be of use
to the Soviet Union militarily.
One alleged KGB report
from scientists
on the Giza plateau stated
that, "during inspection"
"of the wall segment, we noted
"an odd sensation.
"A magnetic repulsive force
"seemed to be emanating
from the rock.
We were unable to find
any scientific explanation."
In the 1960s,
you have the Cuban
Missile Crisis happening.
And right around the same time,
the KGB scientists
are walking around Giza.
In the late 1980s,
as the Cold War rages on,
the Russian Academy
of Medical Scientists
funds additional research
into the power of the pyramids.
These studies are performed
by Ukrainian scientist
and defense contractor
Alexander Golod.
According to his research,
the pyramids do indeed have
the ability to harness energy.
But he doesn't think
it's electrical power
the Egyptians
were trying to use.
He thinks it was used
for healing.
As part of his research,
Golod builds a series
of pyramids
across the Soviet Union.
Golod builds
over a dozen pyramids,
each one is bigger
than the last.
And inside,
he does various tasks
measuring their
vibration frequencies,
and their ability to focus
and direct energy.
Golod finds that the shape
and size of the pyramid
dictates its energy field.
He builds his 17th
and largest pyramid
25 miles north of Moscow.
It's a whopping 144 feet tall
and weighs about 55 tons.
Golod conducts
a research experiment
in conjunction
with the Russian Air Force,
which shows that the pyramid
creates an energy field
about a mile high,
easily detected
by the censors on the aircraft.
Golod next sets out to test
the energy field's effect
on humans.
Golod brings all sorts
of test subjects
into his pyramids,
but he's not yet sure
why the Egyptians built theirs,
or what the pyramid energy
is supposed to do.
What he finds is that
after spending time
at the center of the pyramid,
people will actually have
a marked improvement
on their health.
So, he publishes
report after report
about the pyramid's energy
promoting growth,
health, and longevity.
He claims that
the subjects' blood tests
prove that standing
at the center of the pyramid
would actually boost
the immune system.
Over the years
Golod shares his research
with a select few.
Russian athletes are known
to visit these pyramids
prior to major competitions
to boost their energy
and endurance.
Russian cosmonauts
are even reported
to have brought water
from Golod's pyramids
up with them to
the International Space Station
to maintain their health.
Golod's pyramids still regularly
draw visitors
from across the country
who are eager to experience
their alleged healing energy.
And Golod is happy
to provide access
to pyramid-charged water
or healing pyramid trinkets
for a small fee.
Could the very same
health-inducing properties
have also been sought
by ancient Egypt's pharaohs?
According to this theory, yes.
Golod believes that
the Egyptian pyramids
were used for much
of the same reason
that he's using
his pyramids today.
In fact, he thinks
they could have been used
while the pharaohs
were still alive.
This could explain a few things,
like why each pyramid was built
as soon as the pharaoh
was crowned.
Perhaps the building was meant
to be used during his lifetime,
even before it was finished,
to help grant him
health and longevity.
It also potentially explains
why there are a few other
chambers in most pyramids.
Like, why is there
a Queen's Chamber
while we don't actually have
that a queen was buried there?
Maybe she was allowed to receive
the pyramid's healing
in her own chamber,
but during her lifetime.
But in death,
all that power is reserved
for the pharaoh himself.
Everything focused
on his mummified remains
to protect and preserve him
for all eternity.
Ultimately, that's the one thing
we know for sure
the pyramids represent
permanence, strength.
Whether they're actually sending
immune-boosting energy,
or electrical power,
whether they're storing grain
or serving as alien landmarks,
none of this can be proven
at the moment.
But what we can say confidently
is that the pyramids were built
to last the test of time.
And that, they have.
Archaeologists in Egypt
have no shortage of work
ahead of them.
Over 100 active dig sites
are currently being
with many more to come.
As new evidence is pulled
from the desert sands,
new truths may be revealed.
I'm Laurence Fishburne.
Thank you for watching
"History's Greatest Mysteries."
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