The Descending Corridors of
Pyramids and the Narmer Stone:
and Theological Perspective
by Gabriele Venturi
Only to love, only to know does matter,
— P. P. Pasolini
Watching the profile section of Descending Corridors of a Pyramid you can often have had the feeling of sort of a family look: where have I already saw this? But no answer comes in your mind. So you would think: it certainly was a false impression. I never saw this thing in any other place in the world if not in another Pyramid. I must be wrong.
Well, this article is written to reassure you about your sixth sense: watch the photos that follow and you immediately understand where you have seen that profile, that seemed you so familiar
Well, now it’s clear where you saw those so typical profiles: and you know also where you saw other typical angles of Pyramids: you saw them in the sky. It is a common notion that the Old Egyptians adored Orion constellation as the God of Death and Resurrection: that’s the reason why they wanted to put its characteristic angles in the profile of their most important mortuary monuments. And there were deep and very clear reasons for Old Egyptians to do that. If you are acquainted with Jane Sellers’s theory that Old Egyptians begun to believe that Osiris was dead when his symbol-constellation begun to remain under the horizon during the Summer Solstice it is logical to think that the Descending Corridor must be at the same time the symbol of the descending of the Pharaoh into the abyss of Hearth as a dead and of his resurrection as Osiris-Sun and Osiris-Orion in the eternal lights of night sky. The Orion Shoulders were the last part of the constellation to remain out of hearth at the Summer Solstice sunrise, and the first to reappear when he begun to reappear in the sky. But this is only one reason, and maybe the less important.
If you watch the Tom Brophy’s documentary on Nabta Playa megalithic circle, you can see the images of the Orion Vernal Equinox Heliacal Rising in the old time in which, presumably, the oral tradition of Osiris-Orion was from long time already codified. You can notice that at the moment in which the constellation begins to appear at the horizon it stands in a clear horizontal position.
As in the old Egyptian theological thinking the constellation is a real, true and living God, you can interpret this kind of position as which of a passive, supine-dead one . In contrary, you can see that at the moment of the Summer Solstice, whatever year you take between 4900 BC and 16500 BC, always you see Orion in a vertical, proud, high-stand position.
So, in the oldest Egyptian theological thinking could have born an opposition between the state of Osiris-Orion in this two diverse but equally crucial moments of the year: low-supine, passive – as a dead man – at the moment of the Vernal Equinox; and then high-proud, like a man standing, or even as a warrior with a waddy in his right hand, as you can see in the Narmer Stone at the moment of the Summer Solstice
This yearly cycle of Osiris-Orion – I think – could stay at the oldest and deepest origin of Osiris death and resurrection myth, as he was identified with Orion at the least in that part of the Stone Age Era signed by the megalithic circle of Nabta Playa, that’s to say at 16.500 BC. But my personal hypothesis is that the oral tradition could be older of thousands of years, maybe the 20.000 BC or even older, as it’s to me spontaneous to think that a similar kind of theological thinking was typical of the entire Stone Age Era, from Paleolithic on. That’s because it’s from the night of times that – watching the horizon at the sunrise during the days between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice – in a place like Nabta Playa you can see Osiris-Orion changing slowly from an horizontal, dead-supine position to a vertical, active, alive, high-proud kind. Then, with the passing of the days, Osiris-Orion vanish anew from the horizon, symbolically dying to start his resurrection the following year in a date around the Vernal Equinox. Is it an intellectual scandal to think that our ancestors were night sky watchers from a so long period of time? Then, let’s prepare for a bigger scandal, watching the photos that follow
This kind of twin vessel has been found spread all over the world, in all the times and cultures. The first is Old Egyptian, but the second is Assyrian. Could you imagine were does it came the third? From a The first is of Egyptian vessel, but the second is Assyrian, the fourth, the fifth and the sixth are Pre-Columbian works, respectively from Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. Could you guess what is the provenience of the third work? I think it’s hard to believe: it’s a sculpture – not a vessel – coming from Dolni Vestonice, that’s to say from about 26.000 BC. In the following figure you will see an all series of figures coming from the oldest Paleolithic sites.
The twin form that we can find about three thousands of years before Christ was familiar practically to all the prehistoric culture in all the world: but what does this mean? After all we have already said the answer could be now clear, almost instinctive: this kind of form is an allusion to the two twin an opposite days of the year, that’s to say the Winter and the Vernal Equinox, in which night and day have the same length. Yes, in two of the cases we’ve seen that the head of two vessels is different. This difference symbolizes the opposition between winter and spring weather, between the death and resurrection moment of Nature. But the volume of the possible content is always the same: that’s the symbol of the same length of the day in the two opposite days. Time is conceived by the Stone Age Man as a river which pass from light to darkness, from darkness to light with a perfect moment of balance between two kind of forces but we can call Life and Death, as we don’t know how the Stone Age man would call it. Anyway, we can be sure that this kind of symbol has surely this kind of meaning: that man is an astronomer, or at least an horizon watcher from 30.000-32.0000 BC, that’s to say the Chauvet time.
But, as we say in Italy, “there’s no two without three”. So we can’t stop at the second scandal and we have to go on toward the third. It was conjectured by Rappenglueck that the strange painting that we find at the bottom of Lascaux Cave was the first zodiac of History.
As we now know that already at Chauvet time man was an horizon and night sky watcher, it’s easy to believe that this hypothesis corresponds with the truth. But it was believable in advance too because those figures have the typical characteristic of all the zodiac we see in the world, as the figures have no relation of action and seem to float in a sort a single space but made of different separate spaces. What a surprise, to find a similar symbol in a Neanderthal Cave used as a tomb: let’s put the two images together, so that we can clearly see the match
This simply can’t be a coincidence. Symbols – that’s to say a form of life – are something that exist only one time, and can’t be reinvented or reborn two times and be practically identical. They must have a common root. In Italy we have a word for “amber” that we write “ambra”. The sound is similar to the English word: and that is not a case. The two words derive both from the Babylonian “ambàr”, that means “marsh” or “place with water”: and amber is a mineral that we can find just in “place with water”. A symbol can change of meaning, but it’s impossible to reinvent it: those images are more than a clue, are almost a proof that there were a sort of astronomy also in Neanderthal culture, and that this astronomy got in touch with the following Sapiens.
Actually, the Neanderthal bison seems sort of a lunar symbol: the clear, almost white color and the strange resemblance of the back and of the head superior profile with that of declination of moon seems to indicate a relation with lunar cycle. The dying bison that watch at its back could be the representation of a an ending and therefore dying moon cycle blindly watching at a new beginning. In the Lascaux cave the lunar symbol could have been transformed in a stellar one, more or less in the same way in which the Babylonian word for “marsh” have become the name of a mineral.
Near to the dying bison in the Neanderthal Cave was found this strange object, up until today considered a sort of pendant, or of decoration of some kind
Actually we don’t know what this symbol is. But it seems that in a way we can recognize it: it seems a sort of very unusual calendar, with those animals in line, or better in a caravan, passing in front of our eyes as years, of maybe as centuries, or millennia. But it could be an allusion to the lunar cycle, as the dying bison seems to be.
Man was probably an astronomer already in abysses of time which we can’t even speculate. All kind of symbols we find in the world probably comes from the sky. Watch now at the Dragoon, the most classic of the Oriental symbols. How we can now to doubt about its meaning? How we can doubt that Oriental people, from immemorial time, had seen that the centre of the constellation is the Celestial Polo around which the terrestrial Polo wheels around?
As now we know that man is astronomer from tenth of millennia, now we have too to return to the Narmer Stone. Because at this point of our analysis it’s possible and maybe due to wonder if in the Narmer Stone itself the defeated one on his knees could be the same Osiris-Orion constellation at the Vernal Equinox, submitted by the triumphant Osiris-Orion at the Summer-Solstice, as you can see that the bust of the two figures are of the same Orion-kind form, and that the belt of the defeated one seems to have the form of the Orion Belt. So, we could make this mental experiment: to use the Narmer Stone as archaeoastronomical map. Imagine to be in the centre of the megalithic circle of Nabta Playa: let’s take the Stone and put it in front of our eyes watching the East part of the horizon at the sunrise. The day comes that the sun rise (the sun is represented in the Narmer Stone by the boat leaded by the hawk) and you begin to see the first star of Osiris-Orion rising shyly at the horizon. It’s a God in bad shape, so to speak: lying on his back, passive, as a dead one. But days pass, and the sun is going on in his way along the horizon to the North, in direction of the Summer Solstice (so, as you are watching East, from the right to the left: that’s the direction of the boat led by the hawk in the Narmer Stone!). At the Summer Solstice the triumphant, standing, alive Osiris-Orion has submitted the dead one, and so the Death. The Nile spread out his banks and life returns (this is true, I mean, at the time of Narmer Stone, that’s to say around the 3.200 BC or before: at the Nabta Playa time, or in the oldest era of the cult things were obviously different: but I believe that even in 16.500 BC what was fundamental in this religious thinking was Osiris-Orion death and resurrection in the night sky horizon). Do you want another connection between Osiris-Orion and the Summer Solstice? Watch the boat led by the hawk in the Narmer Stone: it has six feathers, that’s to say the six stars of Orion Belt and Shoulders also represented in the Nabta Playa megalithic circle. Another connection: watch the hawk body: it reminds to the form of the Bust of Orion, that’s to say the part between the Belt and the Shoulder. The Orion resurrection is the symbol and the divine cause of the resurrection of the sun. The sun is a boat that Osiris-Orion, the Hawk, lead every year from Death to Life. As Jane Sellers wrote, in the Old Egyptian thinking stars were sort of a divine guide of the sun cycle, so of the life cycle. And is it now impossible to hypothesize that the two bulls represented over the scene are the Taurus Constellation in the two different situations? It’s now impossible to think that all the Narmer Stone, and the Battle Stone and so on, must be interpreted in an archaeoastronomical way?
Anyway, this kind of archaeoastronomical scenario is obviously very important to support what I call the Descending Corridor theological theory. Because to represent the Descending Corridor with Osiris-Orion shoulders when the constellation-God is in a vertical position means that Death, which is symbolically represented by the descending into the stone grounds of the Pyramids, holds in itself a message of an imminent and glorious resurrection as a constellation in the eternal night sky.
Watching the photos at the begin of the article, it’s possible to remember that, for instance, the Red Pyramid, has a descending corridor with a very different inclination, that’s to say about 110 degrees: what has this to do with Orion Shoulders? That’s right: that has nothing to do with Orion Shoulders. But maybe the 110 degrees has something to do with the angle between the South-North and the Summer Solstice axis of the Nabta Playa megalithic circle: watch the photos and make the overlapping by yourself
Where can you find the eternal life promise in this case? It seems now even obvious: the South-North axis point to the immortal stars of the North Pole, and the Summer Solstice axis is the symbol of the triumphant Osiris-Orion, and of the life-bearer Nile flood.
There’s no reason at all to be astonished that certain angles, so certain numbers could have to the Old Egyptian thought all this kind of importance. There are philosophers and researchers that strongly believed that mathematic at all was born for religious meaning, and that’s surely reasonable to think this about Old Egyptian mathematic. Take the form they gave to divisions. They used only fractions of the 1 (for instance, they couldn’t write 5/18, but only 1/9+1/9+1/18). It’s clear that we can find here a clear theological sense. As the old Egyptian believed the Gods, the World and all the beings in the World all generated from the splitting of an original, unitary God, Atum-Ra, they reflected this part of their theology in the mathematics, renouncing to a much comfortable and obvious way in doing divisions to symbolize also in this side of their culture the deep relation they had with the divine side of the World. That seems very well in harmony with their way to use the most high stone technology we can find in history practically only for sacred buildings. The Pyramids builders could have transformed the Egypt in an invincible system of fortresses but enigmatically, even after defeats and invasions, they didn’t.
Copyright 2012 by Gabriele Venturi
Presented with authors permission.
PS Part 2
THE NABTA PLAYA MEGALITHIC CIRCLE: A DEVELOPPEMENT OF BROPHY’S ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE SITE
Copyright 2012 by Gabriele Venturi
The night here’s so sparkling
Maybe even dying it’s not so hurtful
What does it matter my wicked soul
And the lamplight on my back dangling.
— Medieval French Ballad
– – – – – – – –
You have to knee thousand times to dust
To see once in a lifetime the sky.
— The Author, watching the Khufu Horizon.
– – – – – – – – –
Before to get to the core of our reasoning we have to understand what happened in Nabta Playa Megalithic Circle about 7000 years ago, a site that was, as Brophy unquestionably demonstrated, what we can someway compare to our astronomical observatories. To do this, we have to stop to think in a Modern Western scientific way, and try to understand the way of thinking of a Paleolithic Old Egyptian one. But it is very difficult. Before to try to do this, we have to understand what is the way of thinking we adopt, so that we can get rid of it, at least for the few minutes we’ll need to end this not so long issue.
What see a Modern Western man – consciously or unconsciously – when he look at the night sky? He see a gigantic, dark ocean of space – that in a very, very strange way he defines “finished” – but despite this it is expanding to an unfathomable speed from billions of years, when all the matter which compose it was compressed because of gravity in a sort of football (soccer) ball. Then, one day, a day before the time was born – because to a western thinker time exist only in relation with space – there was a big explosion, the one that we call “the” Big Bang, and the Universe finally got the form that presently has: the immense dark ocean of four dimensions, curved space expanding out of itself, bound we don’t know where; a black infinity, dotted with stars. And what a star is to a Modern Western one? It’s an enormous amount of gas, burning in the almost infinite curved space with a temperature of hundreds of millions of degrees, madly and randomly spreading its light all around in the dark. That’s the way we think about the night sky and the stars, the way we need to get rid of to understand the Old Egyptian Paleolithic way of thinking in a site like Nabta Playa.
A man like this, it seems, watching at the night sky was constantly seeing powerful Gods, during the night and during the day. The form of the night Gods were so to speak “drawn” by the stars, gathered in constellation, like this which interest us in this very brief essay: we are obviously speaking about Orion, the constellation which to the Old Egyptian religious thinking was Osiris, the God of Death and Resurrection. In the photos that follow you will note surely how the icon of this God is in its way very similar to the geometrical figure drawn by the eight principal stars of the constellation, that’s to say: Beltegeuse, Meissa, Bellatrix – whose triangle make up the Orion-Osiris Shoulder – Alnitaki, Alnilam and Mintaka – whose a little bent line make up the Orion-Osiris Belt – and Saiph and Rigel that we will call the Osiris-Orion Feet. An Old Egyptian priest and so an “artist” and so the most normal one between Old Egyptian people, watching at the sky and seeing Orion (the first photo: Meissa is l, Bellatrix is g, k is Saiph, Alnitaki is z, Alnilam is e, Mintaka is d), at the Nabta Playa time would have seen that kind of figure that we can admire aside
So, they didn’t see a random collection of light dots, randomly scattered by pure Chance in the almost boundless Universe, but that kind of warrior-triumphant God. He was the Death and Resurrection God, resurrection that was complete at the Summer Solstice rising. Because, as stars in the horizon change position in the course of the year as the Hearth goes around the Sun, at the moment of the Equinox, you would see this God in the position of a dead one (an so like the Death itself)…
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