Is The Newly Released Book "Beneath The Pyramids" The Death Bell For Orion?

Orion proponents' hoaxes and false claims and new discovery in Egypt show possible collapse of Orion alignment at Giza belief system.

by Dr. Greg Little

On October 7, 2009, 4th Dimension Press released the long-awaited and controversial book Beneath The Pyramids coinciding with several lectures by science writer Andrew Collins at the Annual ARE Ancient Mysteries Conference in Virginia Beach, VA. Over 200 attendees heard Collins describe how he and his wife Sue (along with Egyptological researcher Nigel Skinner-Simpson) managed to gain access to a complex of caves that runs under the Giza plateau in Egypt. Collins' quest to find the long rumored catacombs under the pyramid field began many years ago, but the actual recent discovery and his physical entry into them can be traced to recognition that the star constellation Cygnus, also known as the "Northern Cross" is a better match for the pyramids' arrangement than is the Belt of Orion. The Orion Hypothesis was proposed by Robert Bauval in 1994 after a guide mentioned to Bauval that the three stars of Orion's belt were bent or slightly offset. Bauval used a timelapse photo of the three stars (which greatly enlarged them), reversed the photo, and laid the result over an aerial shot of the three main pyramids of Giza. Because the stars were made so large by the photography and were flipped, they appeared to cover the pyramids. Bauval's book failed to mention that the image of the enlarged stars had to be flipped or that the complex of Giza had to be flipped to make the match appear to work. While the idea was quickly embraced by many people, critics pointed out that the Belt of Orion didn't actually match the pyramids and the necessary flipping of the photo wasn't mentioned in the book. Dr. Ed Krupp related in a 2000 BBC documentary, “In the back of my head I knew that something was wrong with these pictures. ... To make the map of the pyramids on the ground match the stars of Orion in the sky you have to turn Egypt upside down and if you don't want to do that then you've got to turn the sky upside down.” One response by the Orion proponents was that the Egyptians saw north as south and south as north so they were making a "mirror image." Another nonbiased analysis of the Orion idea was published in 2000 by the meticulous British author Ian Lawton. Lawton found "incontrovertible proof that the Orion-Giza Correlation Theory is fundamentally flawed." Still, proponents of the Orion idea were unswayed by the preponderance of evidence showing that something else, other than Orion, was the key to understanding the Giza layout.

Despite the obvious problems with the idea, various Orion proponents have subsequently generated so many supposed "Orion coincidences" in Egyptian lore that many people have come to accept that the pyramids at Giza were built to mimic Orion, without really analyzing any of the actual claims. Many of these ideas have been demolished by skeptics with little notice taken by the proponents. For example, initially it was argued that the other stars of Orion were somehow represented in important structures in Egypt, a claim that was soon shown to be highly exaggerated. In fact, other than the idea that the pyramid complex at Giza was built to mimic 3 stars, the idea of Orion at Giza has led to no actual discoveries of significance. Book after book was generated by Orion proponents, all essentially making the same claim about Orion and many of these contrived intricate and often bizarre geometric alignments trying to make something else about Orion important. But oddly, few proponents of the Orion idea could find anything of genuine substance that used the supposed Orion alignment—no actual discoveries were made. In Bauval's latest book description on Amazon, it is related in the publisher's blurb of the book that "The Egypt Code" is unlike any other book ever published. It is unclear what that highly sensationalized claim means, but it seems in line with the way that Orion is inflated and made far more important than it really is by its proponents. The simple fact is that Orion doesn't fit the pyramids as well as does Cygnus and that everything else generated from the idea is utter speculation based on the false idea that the pyramids were built to mimic Orion—but reversed, or flipped, and enlarged, or with Egypt turned upside down.

Cygnus Wins The Pyramid Match

In earlier Collins' book The Cygnus Mystery the supposed pyramid alignments to Orion were again conclusively shown to be a non-match by an independent British engineer (Rodney Hale) who then reported to Collins that the three cross stars of Cygnus actually did fit the pyramids much better. Although the match of the non-enlarged Cygnus stars to the apex of one pyramid is not a perfect match, it is quite close, closer than that shown by Orion. A general and odd response by the Orion proponents to this fact has been that Orion was the "first" idea proposed and is thus correct. And diregarding the "trivial" fact that either Orion or Egypt has to be reversed to make it even close to fitting, it is said that Orion is"close enough" perhaps because the Egyptians were not capable of getting closer. Psychologically, so many people have invested so much into the Orion hypothesis that adjusting to new discoveries is simply not possible for them. But the facts are simple. Cygnus is a better fit to the pyramids and no "adjustments" to the alignments or photos have to be made for Cygnus to fit. Cygnus fits on the pyramids, Orion does not. That should end the argument, but of course it won't.

A Pattern of Hoaxes & False Claims By Orion Supporters

In May 2008, Bauval admittedly hoaxed the supposed discovery of a new pyramid in Egypt on Graham Hancock's website forum, which was actually preceded by a hoaxed "press release" he posted on the same forum regarding the controversy elicited by the Cygnus vs. Orion debate. In later admitting the pyramid hoax, Bauval described it as an "experiment." Many people were taken in by it and it caused a brief flurry of interest on Hancock's site. Some of the Orion supporters wrote on web forums that they resented the hoax. One could almost view Bauval's entire Orion correlation hypothesis as a hoax since he flipped a photo and enlarged the stars of Orion to make them seemingly fit—without detailing that important bit of information. It was initially said to be a perfect match and that the "other stars" of Orion were later said to correspond to important structures on the ground. Not true on the initial idea, and not true on the second one, either. Whether these claims were a misunderstanding, exaggeration, mistake, or deception isn't clear and it really doesn't matter. But the hype of such claims and subsequent lack of investigation by the believers has a cumulative effect on belief systems most people don't quite understand. There is a behavioral pattern in these events that bears scrutiny, however, such a psychological analysis would have little—if any—effect on the Orion believers. The arguments and ploys by the Orion proponents will continue. In fact, on November 1, 2009, a poster on Hancock's site subtly gave Bauval and Hancock credit for Collins' discovery of the caves by relating that Hancock and Bauval had written about those very caves in their 1997 book Message of the Sphinx!!

That assertion, of course, is not true, but Hancock's website isn't necessarily about accuracy. As of November 3, not a single person had disputed the claim. According to Hancock the forum is about free and open discussion, and there isn't anything wrong with that, unless outright fabrications and lies are involved. And that point could be taken much further, but at the moment is not relevant. The point of such an inaccurate claim on Hancock's site is to hype Bauval and Hancock's Orion idea and to diminish Collins' discovery of a cave system showing Cygnus is the more likely key to understanding Giza. As related a few sentences ago, the fact that the claim that Hancock and Bauval wrote (in 1997) about the caves Collins found and entered is completely false won't matter to most Orion supporters. What matters is the cumulative effect of such inaccurate claims on belief systems. It keeps the focus on Bauval and Hancock's Orion idea while diminishing what Collins found. Alternative history writers and those who write speculative theories on history probably have a lot of credibility issues to contend with, and hoaxing by central figures in that arena—and allowing completely false and misleading statements openly available on their websites—probably might not be viewed as increasing their credibility. The sad fact is that they might not really care about it, but time will tell.

Collins Actually Investigated the Cygnus Stars On The Ground At Giza

Three stars over apex In Beneath the Pyramids, what Collins has shown is that he actually investigated several of the other stars of Cygnus on the ground, coming from the assumption that if the 3 main stars of Cygnus were represented by the pyramids, all of the other major stars in the Cygnus constellation should also somehow be important at Giza. What Collins discovered is stunning and resulted from "crawling into and through the rocks and caves" to see what was actually there. Thus, the book isn't simply an armchair theory or speculative argument, it is genuine "getting dirty, hands-on" exploration. He has essentially found that the 2 main stars forming the long part of the Northern Cross of Cygnus are located near openings on the Giza Plateau—openings that may well connect to each other by a long complex of caves and tunnels. One of the openings is at a protected (closed to the public) and fence-enclosed well which is actually located off the right paw of the Sphinx. As detailed in Collins' book, according to locals, the well has tunnel extensions running from it. While his initial efforts to find the other opening, represented by the star Deneb, were frustrating, an obscure set of notes that languished unread in the British Museum for over 100 years led Collins to find something important that was completely unknown to modern Egyptologists. Following clues in these notes led Collins to a small crevace located at the far end of a dark and obscure tomb complex usually off limits to tourists. Moving through the crevace, he left the tomb and entered a vast cave complex that led under the Giza Plateau, located near the Deneb star spot. The book details and substantiates this discovery providing substantial photographic proof. He and his companions unfortunately did not reach the far end of the cave system (which may actually lead to the Deneb spot and actually beneath the pyramids), as they actually were surprised to find that it truly existed. In addition, Collins appears to have found the key viewing point at Giza from which the entire complex was designed and laid out, and this too was from his overlay of Cygnus on the Giza plateau. From this spot, engineer Rodney Hale calculated that the three main stars of Cygnus could be seen to set directly into the apexes of the three pyramids in 2600 BC. Collins believes that the Milky Way and Cygnus were thought to be intimately involved in why the ancient Egyptians made a tunnel system from one side of the plateau to the other and the Goddess Nut was being represented by the Giza Plateau structures. The book provides these details. In it, Collins also tells of how difficult it was to not only find and enter the caves, but the perils of entering areas of Giza that are typically not visited by tourists.

What's Next

While the major Egyptologist was initially skeptical (in public) of Collins' discovery, behind the scenes that has changed and plans are probably quietly being made for eventual formal exploration of the caves. But rather than such a discovery—by a writer and not an Egyptologist—being an embarrassment to Egyptology, it should be applauded and embraced. Something new and completely unexpected has been discovered under the Giza plateau—all because of Collins' efforts. And Collins continues to follow-up on this discovery by providing even more evidence. At his presentation in Virginia Beach, Collins showed a new satellite-based type of ground penetrating radar imagery showing that the cave complex he found appears to extend to and beneath the second pyramid at Giza along with more than 100 photos of the caves. Precisely when the complex will be formally explored has yet to be determined. But Collins now believes that the cave system may lead to the fabled Tomb of Hermes said to be located beneath the second pyramid.

The Orion hypothesis did serve two purposes. First, it made people look at ancient sites in a different way. It increased recognition that the ancients viewed stars and constellations in important ways that reflected religious beliefs and the construction of ground structures to reflect these ideas. But the Orion idea is wrong. Secondly, the Orion hypothesis is a classic study in the psychology of how false belief systems develop and how facts have no effect after beliefs become entrenched. Contrary facts can even increase the false beliefs and create even more assertions intended to perpetuate the basic falsehood.

Native American lore might assert that the idea that Orion fit the Giza pyramids came from a "trickster" force at work in the night desert, and the way that the stars were then made to seemingly fit certainly supports that a trickster element was involved. And the hoaxes perpetrated by Orion proponents can certainly reflect the trickster element. The misguided attempt to give Bauval and Hancock credit for Collins' discovery on Hancock's forum is an extension of that trickster idea.

Much to his credit, rather than asserting that he is right and the Orion proponents are wrong, Collins admits that the match of Cygnus' stars to Giza may be a coincidence. But he also relates that there are many, many possible matches of three important stars being similar to the Giza layout. All of his discoveries might be a happy and revealing coincidence. But, if so, it is a coincidence that directly led to one of the most important and stunning finds at Egypt in recent times.