The Shape of the Great Pyramid

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Oct 20, 2000 - Architecture - 293 pages

Who has not seen a picture of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, massive in size but deceptively simple in shape, and not wondered how that shape was determined?

Starting in the late eighteenth century, eleven main theories were proposed to explain the shape of the Great Pyramid. Even though some of these theories are well known, there has never been a detailed examination of their origins and dissemination. Twenty years of research using original and difficult-to-obtain source material has allowed Roger Herz-Fischler to piece together the intriguing story of these theories. Archaeological evidence and ancient Egyptian mathematical texts are discussed in order to place the theories in their proper historical context. The theories themselves are examined, not as abstract mathematical discourses, but as writings by individual authors, both well known and obscure, who were influenced by the intellectual and social climate of their time.

Among results discussed are the close links of some of the pyramid theories with other theories, such as the theory of evolution, as well as the relationship between the pyramid theories and the struggle against the introduction of the metric system. Of special note is the chapter examining how some theories spread whereas others were rejected.

This book has been written to be accessible to a wide audience, yet four appendixes, detailed endnotes and an exhaustive bibliography provide specialists with the references expected in a scholarly work.


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Page 140 - AGNEW, HC A letter from Alexandria, on the evidence of the practical application of the quadrature of the circle, in the configuration of the great pyramids of Gizeh.
Page 114 - ... by nine. Nine, too, out of the ten Characteristic parts (viz. five angles and five sides) being the number of those parts which the sun shines on in such a shaped pyramid, in such a latitude near the equator, out of a high sky, or, as the Peruvians say, when the sun sets on the pyramid with all his rays.
Page 53 - The upright, therefore, may be likened to the male, the base to the female, and the hypotenuse to the child of both, and so Osiris may be regarded as the origin, Isis as the recipient, and Horus as perfected result.
Page 239 - I know not ; for they did not tell me this). She, they say, doing her father's bidding, was minded to leave some memorial of her own, and demanded of everyone who sought intercourse with her that he should give one stone to set in her work ; and of these stones was built the pyramid...
Page 98 - ... all of stone polished and carven with figures. The ten years aforesaid went to the making of this road and of the underground chambers on the hill whereon the pyramids stand ; these the king meant to be burial-places for himself, and encompassed them with water, bringing in a channel from the Nile. The pyramid itself was twenty years in the making. Its base is square, each side eight hundred feet long, and its height is the same ; the whole is of stone polished and most exactly fitted ; there...
Page 72 - They assumed the earth to be a perfect sphere, and as they knew that the radius of a circle must bear a certain proportion to its circumference, they then built a pyramid of such a height, in proportion to its base, that its perpendicular would be equal to the radius of a circle equal in circumference to the perimeter of the base.

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About the author (2000)

Roger Herz-Fischler teaches mathematics at Carleton University.

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