Archaeology of Biblical Astronomy
THE PYRAMID'S ASTRONOMY
Nor are we any less impressed with the singular wonderfulness of this ancient pillar, when we come to look more directly at its astronomy. Figuring the framework of the earth as a triangle formed from a line of diameter, and referring to an axis for a basis for this triangle as well as a grand standard of measure, and that triangle being greater in vertical height by duplication than would equal the width of its base, the earth is necessarily contemplated as a spheroid—a globe thicker at the equator than at the poles just as all correct astronomy now represents it. Modern science ascribes the discovery of this spherity of the earth to Thales, six hundred years before Christ; but here it is more perfectly represented than Thales ever knew, more than fifteen hundred years before Thales was born. A fixed axis would also seem to imply the idea of rotatory motion. And the making of the sides of the pyramid to record an even fraction of the earth's axis of rotation just as many times as there are days in the year, proves that these builders had an idea of both motions of the earth, and a knowledge of the number of times it revolves on its own axis in making its annual revolution around the sun. This latter motion they also further symbolized by the inches or fractions of twenty-five in their great standard of length, just one hundred of which to a day, for the number of days in the year, are contained in the perimeter of the pyramid's base. If any one within historic times prior to Copernicus and Galileo really understood this feature of our globe, it. certainly was not well known nor much believed till after these men had lived; and yet, here it is distinctly and truly symbolized more than thirty-five hundred years before their time. These ancient architects also knew where to find the poles of the earth, since they were able to determine latitude and what degree of latitude marks the half-way of the world's surface between the equator and the poles. This they prove to us by having built their pyramid on that line of latitude, namely, on the thirtieth north. It is, in fact, a slight fraction south of that line as now estimated, but obviously intended to indicate that degree, since they built as closely to the northern brink of the hill as it was possible to go and yet secure a permanent foundation for their work. Nor is it much further from that line than the ranges of probable error in the best scientific calculations. By three distinct processes (by differences of zenith distance, by absolute zenith distances, and by transits in prime vertical) lately made to determine precisely the latitude of Mt. Agamenticus Station in Maine, each differed from the others, and the determination could not be made any nearer than somewhere within the fourth of a hundred parts of a second. This was close enough for all practical purposes, but shows that the best science cannot be precisely exact on the subject. And yet, here we have a determination made more than four thousand years ago, in fact almost within the limit of error of the best scientific possibilities, and with the plain intimation of a better knowledge which had to be sacrificed to the requirements for a fitting basis to a building intended to last to the end of time. These men have thus left us the memorial of a remarkable geodesy, which is further exhibited in the fact that they not only put their pillar in the very centre of Egypt, but on the pivotal balance-point of the entire land distribution over the face of the whole earth. A glance at any universal map makes this apparent, whilst we look in vain for another point on all the globe which so naturally and evenly marks the centre of equation for all inhabited land surface. There is here a measurement or consciousness of the extent and proportional relations and distribution of the earth's continents and islands, such as modern science has not yet furnished or even attempted to give.