How Ancient Egyptians Used Astronomy to Build the Pyramids

The construction of the pyramids in ancient Egypt is one of history’s most impressive mysteries. And I really mean mysterious — because to this day, it isn’t completely clear how ancient Egyptians were able to make such incredible architectural structures. But one thing is certain — it was astronomy that helped them. Yup, you’ve read that right, they used their skills in astronomy to help them design and align these monumental objects. But how exactly did they do that? Well, we’re going to explore how ancient Egyptians used astronomy to build the pyramids in today’s article.

Astronomical Alignment

Let’s take the most famous and well-studied example of astronomical alignment that can be found in Egypt — the Great Pyramid of Giza, built for Pharaoh Khufu. The pyramid’s sides are closely aligned to the four cardinal points of the compass. This alignment is so precise that the pyramid’s north-south axis is only 3 minutes and 6 seconds off true north. And don’t be fooled — there’s no chance that this was a coincidence. Such precision is sheer proof that the builders had a sophisticated understanding of astronomy.

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Researchers believe that the ancient Egyptians used the circumpolar stars, which never set and were known as “imperishable” to the Egyptians, to align their monuments. The method likely involved using a plumb bob and sighting along the line to a specific star to ensure the sides of the pyramid ran straight north-south or east-west. And considering how limited their resources and knowledge about the Solar system was — this is incredibly impressive.

The Giza Complex and Orion’s Belt

Now, let’s take a look at one of the most compelling theories about astronomical alignment in pyramid construction — the Orion Correlation Theory. This theory, proposed by Robert Bauval, suggested that the layout of the three main pyramids on the Giza plateau is astronomically aligned with the belt of the constellation Orion as it would have appeared in 10,500 BC. This alignment matches the pyramids’ placement to the stars Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka that make up Orion’s belt. And this just perfectly aligns with the Egyptians’ religious belief in the stars as eternal resting places for their pharaohs.

The solstices and equinoxes also played a crucial role in Egyptian astronomy and pyramid construction. There are shafts within the Great Pyramid that extend from the main burial chamber towards the sky, which archaeoastronomers believe were aimed at key stars in the sky at the solstices and equinoxes. This is another great example of the deep religious beliefs that Egyptians had. If the theory is true, they believed that aligning the pyramids like this would help connect their pharaohs with the divine in the sky.

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Solar Alignments

In addition to stellar alignments, solar alignments were also important in ancient Egypt. The most famous solar phenomenon associated with Egyptian pyramids is the “double sunset” observed at the Pyramid of Khafre in Giza. During summer, from a certain viewing point, the sun sets exactly between the Great Pyramid and the Pyramid of Khafre. Needless to say, this creates a visually striking spectacle that underscores the importance of the sun in the planning and construction of these monumental structures. So, looking at the pyramids from this perspective, it’s pretty clear that they are the perfect blend of architecture, astronomy, and spirituality.

Kanita is a wanderlust-fueled traveler with an inclination for unraveling the mysteries of history, the paranormal, and the bizarre world of medicine. As a true crime buff, Kanita's nights are often spent delving into the depths of chilling mysteries. Yet, it's not just the paranormal that captivates her—her background in medicine fuels a fascination with the weird and wonderful world of medical oddities, from twisted historical practices to the myths and legends that shroud the field. From exploring haunted locales to uncovering the strange and morbid tales of medical history, Kanita is your guide to the unconventional, the unexplained, and the downright eerie.

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