Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 14, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
Wedne.day, Morth 14, 1773 THE LETHflHIDGE HERALD St When the pyramids were built Was north then, not north now? New York Times Service NEW YORK Highly accur- ate surveys of the great py- ramid of Cheops at Giza have shown that the ancient Egyp- tians built it with extraordin- ary precision. But, while its sides are oriented almost exact- ly north, south, east and west, the entire structure is twisted slightly to the west. This has led to a theory, in the current issue of The Jour- nal Science, that north, as ob- served from Giza when the pyramid was built 45 centur- ies ago, was not the same as today. Either, it Is suggested, the spin axis of the Earth has changed sufficiently to account for the error by displacement of the North Pole, or Africa has rotated as a conseqence of continental drift. ARTICLE These possibilities are ex- plored in an article by G. S. Pawley of Edinburgh Univer- sity in Scotland and N. Abra- hamsen of Aarhus University in Denmark, They argue that, while the pyramid, said to be the most massive structure ever built by man, is twisted only about for mlnuUs of arc from exact north, the deviation is too great to be accidental. At the time the pyramid was built, because of the precession of the equinoxes, Vega was the North Star, some 30 degrees above the horizon and thus ideally situated for sighting by surveyors. In building so large a struc- ture, distant reference points were needed by the surveyors. Stars were the obvious answer and, according to the two au- thors, "there is no way of aligning to a point just off true north." Hence it is assumed that celestial objects were used to establish a north south east- west orientation. They point out that while the spin axis of the Earth is sub' ct to a very slow shift, as no understood this is not enough to account for the error. Likewise the new theory of slow movements by plates of th% Eartlis crust in which the continents are embedded does not seem adequate, as. now formulated. THEORY According to this theory the North All antic is spreading from Its central ridge, pushing Europe and North America apart, and Africa, in a counter movement, is swinging away from the Arabian peninsula and into the South Atlantic. Perhaps, say the two scien- tists, other ancient structures oriented towards celestial tar- gets can be used to explore the possibility that the spin axis of the world, or its geography, have changed in ways as yet unsuspected. None of the Egyptian monu- ments seem sited to this pur- pose, they add, apart from the neighboring Chephren pyramid, built in the same period and likewise twisted slightly to the The entrance shaft of the Great Pyramid of Cheops is also very precisely aligned a little to the west of north. However, there are many monuments in Britain and Brittany which are thought to have been aimed to record sea- sonal changes in moonrise and moonset. They include, for ex- ample, great fan-shaped fields of stone rows in Caithness, the northernmost part of Scotland. Likewise the authors cite the "extremely accurate yet unex- plained plateau made apparently by the Nuca people of Peru. Some are ani- mal-like figures of great ex- tent, but others are entirely geomelrical. Although the Great Pyramid is roughly 756 feet on a side, the maximum discrepancy in lengths of it four faces Is than eight inches. The plat- form on which it was built has been leveled to within a half inch. OCULT The dimensions and other characteristics of the pyramids have, for many years, excited speculation of 'an occult, Hi well as scientific nature. One proposal has been that this height symbolized the polar flattening of the earth's shape. Likewise it has been said that ratios between var- ious dimensions of the pyra- mid showed familiarity with such numerical constants as the initial term of a mathe- matical series known as the Fibonacci Sequence. The dominant view, however, is that the pyramids were built, for geometric simplicity, as monuments to the phar- oahs whose tombs they were. SIMPSONS oears 20% off custom draperies that will give your home an exciting decorator look! Your windows will take on a beautiful new outlook with elegant custom draperies... now at unaccustomed savings, In the comfort of your home, our decorator consultant will gladly shqwjwi an exuberant collection of antique satins, damasks, acrylics, sheers...almost an unlimited choice of fabrics... in a broad spectrum of the newest colours, textures and patterns. Let us help you select a custom drapery treatment of extraordinary beauty. 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They don't want what he used to have so they go on to his competitor, who told them of the new shiny wares on his shelves through his local newspaper. You the corner might be familiar but the people aren't! It's just like the old church that stood on the corner for 75 years. was well-estabiished but the minister still rang the bell every Sunday Why not ring your beil EVERY WEEK through an ad in The Lethbridcje Herald Phone 328-4411 and ask to have a Lethbridge Herald Display Advertising Representative Call on you!