Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilisations in the world, the pyramids are some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history and the Great Pyramid of Giza is particularly eye-catching. What is perhaps less known, is that the structure’s “most amazing characteristic” is its geographical orientation, according to Amazon Prime documentary “Aliens in Egypt”. The documentary claims: “Its sides are almost perfectly placed, from north to south and east to west.
“Being almost perfectly oriented on Earth’s True North.”
The narrator then questions how a civilisation from the quasi-Stone Age was capable of determining True North.
True North is calculated on a map by using the longitudinal lines, and it differs from the magnetic north indicated by a compass.
It is located in the arctic regions of Canada and continuously changes its location depending on the Earth’s magnetic field.
The construction of the Great Pyramid shows extraordinary astronomy knowledge because the constructors would measure the day, the year and could precisely determine the equinox.
They “knew the Earth is a sphere and knew how to accurately calculate it’s longitude and latitude”, according to the documentary.
The Ancient Egyptians may have aligned the Great Pyramid of Giza along the cardinal points – north, east, south and west – by using the autumn equinox.
Glen Dash, an engineer who studies the Giza pyramids, wrote in a paper published in The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture in 2018.
He said: “The builders of the Great Pyramid of Khufu aligned the great monument to the cardinal points with an accuracy of better than four minutes of arc, or one-fifteenth of one degree.”
The pyramid of Khafre – also located at Giza – and the Red Pyramid – located at the site of Dahshur – are also aligned with a high degree of accuracy.
Mr Dash said: “All three pyramids exhibit the same manner of error: they are rotated slightly counterclockwise from the cardinal points.”
Owen Gingerich, astronomer and science historian, claims the “ancient Egyptians used two bright stars in the Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellations to align their pyramids in a north-south direction”.
A fixture of the northern sky, the Big and Little Dippers swing around the north star Polaris like riders on a Ferris wheel.
They go full circle around Polaris once a day – or once every 23 hours and 56 minutes.
Speaking to New Scientist in 2000, Mr Gingerich said: “It’s an “ingenious solution to a long-standing mystery.”