Excerpt ( pp. 95-103) from

Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past
by Erich Von Daniken

(© G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1st Amer. Edition, 1970)

See also Data on pyramids (not from Von Daniken!)

To the north of Damascus lies the terrace of Baalbek--a platform built of stone blocks, some of which have sides more than 65 feet long and weigh nearly 2,000 tons. Until now archaeologists have not been able to give a convincing explanation why, how, and by whom the terrace of Baalbek was built. However, Russian Professor Agrest considers it possible that the terrace is the remains of a gigantic airfield.

If we meekly accept the neat package of knowledge that the Egyptologists serve up to us, ancient Egypt appears suddenly and without transition with a fantastic ready-made civilization. Great cities and enormous temples, colossal statues with tremendous expressive power, splendid streets flanked by magnificent sculptures, perfect drainage systems, luxurious tombs carved out of the rock, pyramids of overwhelming size--these and many other wonderful things shot out of the ground, so to speak. Genuine miracles in a country that is suddenly capable of such achievements without recognizable prehistory!

Fertile agricultural land exists only in the Nile Delta and on small strips to the left and right of the river. Yet experts now estimate the number of inhabitants at the time of the e building of the Great Pyramid at 50,000,000. (A figure, incidentally, that flagrantly contradicts the 20,000,000 considered to be the total population of the world in 3000 BC.)

With such enormous estimates a couple of million men more or less does not matter. But one thing is clear--they all had to be fed. There were not only a host of construction workers stone masons, engineers and sailors, there were not only hundreds of thousands of slaves, but also a well equipped army, a large and pampered priesthood, countless merchants, farmers, and officials, and last but not least the Pharaonic household living on the fat of the land. Could they all have lived on the scanty yields of agriculture in the Nile Delta?

I shall be told that the stone blocks used for building the temple were moved on rollers. In other words, wooden rollers! But the Egyptians could scarcely have felled and turned into rollers the few trees, mainly palms, that then (as now) grew in Egypt, because the dates from the palms were urgently needed for food and the trunks and fronds were the only things giving shade to the dried-up ground. But they must have been wooden rollers, otherwise there would not be even the feeblest technical explanation of the building of the pyramids. Did the Egyptians import wood? In order to import wood there must have been a sizable fleet, and even after it had been landed in Alexandria the wood would have had to be transported up the Nile to Cairo. Since the Egyptians did not have horses and carts at the time of the building of the Great Pyramid, there was no other possibility. The horse-and-cart was not introduced until the seventeenth dynasty, about 1600 BC. My kingdom for a convincing explanation of the transport of the stone blocks! Of course, the scholars say that wooden rollers were needed....

There are many problems connected with the technology of the pyramid builders and no genuine solutions.

How did the Egyptians carve tombs out of the rock? What resources did they have in order to lay out a maze of galleries and rooms? The walls are smooth and mostly decorated with paintings in relief. The shafts slope down into the rocky soil; they have steps built in the best tradition of craftsmanship that lead to the burial chambers far below. Hordes of tourists stand gaping in amazement at them, but none of them gets an explanation of the mysterious technique used in their excavation. Yet it is firmly established that the Egyptians were masters of the art of tunneling from the earliest times, for the old rock-cut tombs are worked in exactly the same way as the more recent ones. There is no difference between the tomb of Tety from the sixth dynasty and the tomb of Rameses I from the New Kingdom, although there is a minimum of 1,000 years between the building of the two tombs. Obviously the Egyptians had not learned anything new to add to their old technique. In fact the more recent edifices tend increasingly to be poor copies of their ancient models.

The tourist who bumps his way to the pyramid of Cheops to the west of Cairo on a camel called Wellington or Napoleon, depending on his nationality, gets the strange sensation in the pit of his stomach that relics of the mysterious past always produce. The guide tells him that a pharaoh had a burial place built here. And with that bit of rehashed erudition he rides homeward, after taking some impressive photographs. The pyramid of Cheops, in particular, has inspired hundreds of crazy and untenable theories. In the 600-page book Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid, by Charles Piazzi Smith, published in 1864, we can read about many hair-raising links between the pyramid and our globe.

Yet even after a highly critical examination, it still contains some facts that should stimulate us to reflection.

It is well known that the ancient Egyptians practiced a solar religion. Their sun god, Ra, traveled through the heavens in a bark. Pyramid texts of the Old Kingdom even describe heavenly journeys by the king, obviously made with the help of the gods and their boats. So the gods and kings of the Egyptians were also involved with flying....

Is it really a coincidence that the height of the pyramid of Cheops multiplied by a thousand million--98,000,000 miles--corresponds approximately to the distance between the earth and sun? Is it a coincidence that a meridian running through the pyramids divides continents and oceans into two exactly equal halves? Is it coincidence that the area of the base of the pyramid divided by twice its height gives the celebrated figure pi=3.14159? Is it coincidence that calculations of the weight of the earth were found and is it also coincidence that the rocky ground on which the structure stands is carefully and accurately leveled?

There is not a single clue to explain why the builder of the pyramid of Cheops, the Pharaoh Khufu, chose that particular rocky terrain in the desert as the site for his edifice. It is conceivable that there was a natural cleft in the rock which he made use of for the colossal building, while another explanation, though only a feeble one, may be that he wanted to watch the progress of the work from his summer palace. Both reasons are against all common sense. In the first case it would certainly have been more practical to locate the building site nearer the eastern quarries in order to shorten transport distances, and second, it is hard to imagine that the pharaoh wanted to be disturbed year alter year by the din that filled building sites day and night even in those days. Since there is so mach to be said against the textbook explanations of the choice of site, one might reasonably ask whether the "gods" did not have their say here, too, even if it was by way of the priesthood. But if that explanation is accepted, there is one more important proof of my theory of the Utopian past of mankind. For the pyramid not only divides continents and oceans into two equal halves; it also lies at the center of gravity of the continents. If the facts noted here are not coincidences--and it seems extremely difficult to believe that they are--then the building site was chosen by beings who knew all about the spherical shape of the earth and the distribution of continents and seas. In this connection let us not forget Piri Reis' maps! It cannot all be coincidence or be explained away as fairy stories.

With what power, with what "machines," with what technical resources was the rocky terrain leveled at all? How did the master builders drive the tunnels downward? And how did they illuminate them? Neither here nor in the rock-cut tombs in the Valley of Kings were torches or anything similar used. There are no blackened ceilings or walls or even the slightest evidence that traces of blackening have been removed. How and with what were the stone blocks cut out of the quarries? With sharp edges and smooth sides? How were they transported and joined together to the thousandth of an inch? Once again there is a wealth of explanations for anyone to choose from: inclined planes and tracks along which the stones were pushed, scaffolding and ramps. And naturally the labor of many hundreds of thousands of Egyptian slaves: fellahin, builders, and craftsmen.

None of these explanations stands up to a critical examination. The Great Pyramid is (and remains?) visible testimony of a technique that has never been understood. Today, in the twentieth century, no architect could build a copy of the pyramid of Cheops, even if the technical resources of every continent were at his disposal.

Of course one must not even suggest that this theory, so seriously advanced, is ridiculous. Yet who is so ingenuous as to believe that the pyramid was nothing but the tomb of a king? From now on, who will consider the transmission of mathematical and astronomical signs as pure chance?

Today the Great Pyramid is undisputedly attributed to the Pharaoh Khufu as inspirer and builder. Why? Because all the inscriptions and tablets refer to Khufu. It seems obvious to me that the pyramid cannot have been erected during a single lifetime. But what if Khufu forged the inscriptions and tablets that are supposed to proclaim his fame? That was quite a popular procedure in antiquity, as many buildings bear witness. Whenever a dictatorial ruler wanted the fame for himself alone, he gave orders for this process to be carried out. If that was the case, then the pyramid existed long before Khufu left his visiting card.

In the Bodleian Library at Oxford there is a manuscript in which the Coptic author Mas-Udi asserts that the Egyptian King Surid had the Great Pyramid built. Oddly enough, this Surid ruled in Egypt before the Flood. And this wise King Surid ordered his priests to write down the sum total of their wisdom and conceal the writings inside the pyramid. So, according to the Coptic tradition, the pyramid was built before the Flood.

Herodotus confirms such a supposition in Book II of his History. The priests of Thebes had shown him 341 colossal statues, each of which stood for a high-priestly generation over a period of 11,340 years. Now we know that every high priest had his statue made during his own lifetime; and Herodotus also tells us that during his stay in Thebes one priest after another showed him his statue as a proof that the son had always followed the father. The priests assured Herodotus that their statements were very accurate, because they had written everything down for many generations, and they explained that every one of these 341 statues represented a generation. Before these 341 generations the gods had lived among men, and since then no god had visited them again in human form.

The historical period of Egypt is usually estimated at about 6,500 years. Then why did the priests lie so shamelessly to the traveler Herodotus about their 11,340 years? And why did they so expressly emphasize that no gods had dwelt among them for 341 generations? These precise details would have been completely pointless if "gods" had not really lived among men in the remote past!

We know next to nothing about the how, why, and when of the building of the pyramid. An artificial mountain, some 490 fect high and weighing 6,500,000 tons, stands there as evidence of an incredible achievement, and this monument is supposed to be nothing more than the burial place of an extravagant king! Anyone who can believe that explanation is welcome to it...

Mummies, equally incomprehensible and not yet convincingly explained, stare at us from the remote past as if they held some magic secret. Various peoples knew the technique of embalming corpses, and archaeological finds favor the supposition that prehistoric beings believed in corporeal return to a second life. That interpretation would be acceptable if there was even the remotest evidence of a belief in a corporeal return in the religious philosophy of antiquity! If our primitive ancestors had believed in only a spiritual return, they would scarcely have gone to such trouble with the dead. But finds in Egyptian tombs provide example after example of the preparation of embalmed corpses for a corporeal return.

What the evidence says, what visible proof says, cannot be so absurd! Drawings and sagas actually indicated that the "gods" promised to return from the stars in order to awaken the well preserved bodies to new life. That is why the provisioning of the embalmed corpses in the burial chambers took such a practical form and was intended for a life on this side of the grave. Otherwise what were they supposed to have done with money, jewelry, and their favorite articles? And as they were even provided in the tomb with some of their servants, who were unquestionably buried alive, the point of all the preparations was obviously the continuation of the old life in a new life. The tombs were tremendously durable and solid, almost atom-bombproof; they could survive the ravages of all the ages. The valuables left in them, gold and precious stones, were virtually indestructible. I am not concerned here with discussing the later abuses of mummification. I am only concerned with the question: Who put the idea of corporeal rebirth into the heads of the heathen? And whence came the first audacious idea that the cells of the body had to be preserved so that the corpse, preserved in a very secure place, could be awakened to new life after thousands of years?

So far this mysterious reawakening complex has only been considered from the religious point of view. But supposing the pharaoh, who certainly knew more about the nature and customs of the "gods" than his subjects, had these possibly quite crazy ideas? "I must make a burial place for myself that cannot be destroyed for millennia and is visible far across the country. The gods promised to return and wake me up (or doctors in the distant future will discover a way to restore me to life again)."

What have we to say about that in the space age?

In his book The Prospect of Immortality, published in 1965, physician and astronomer Robert C. W. Ettinger suggests a way in which twentieth-century men can have ourselves frozen so that our cells can go on living from the medical and biological point of view, but slowed down a billionfold. For the present this idea may still sound Utopian, but in fact every big clinic today has a "bone bank" which preserves human bones in a deep-frozen condition for years and makes them serviceable again when required. Fresh blood‹this too is a universal practice can be kept for an unlimited time at minus 196° C, and living cells can be stored almost indefinitely at the temperature of liquid nitrogen. Did the pharaoh have a fantastic idea which will soon be realized in practice?

You must read what follows twice to grasp the fantastic implications of the result of the next piece of scientific research. In March, 1963, biologists of the University of Oklahoma confirmed that the skin cells of the Egyptian Princess Mene were capable of living. And Princess Mene has been dead for several thousand years!

There have been finds in many places of mummies which are preserved so completely and intact that they seem to be alive. Glacier mummies left by the Incas survived the ages and theoretically they are capable of living. Utopia? In the summer of 1965 Russian television showed two dogs which had been deep-frozen for a week. On the seventh day they were thawed out again and--hey, presto!--they went on living as cheerfully as ever!