This review also appears at Earthpages.org
Title: Egypt Exposed: The True Origins of Civilization
Genre: Egypt, Conspiracy, Ancient Origins, Occult
Director: Philip Gardiner
Production Company: Reality Films
And you can’t take it with you… no matter what you do
–Alan Parsons Project, Pyramid
Another cutting edge film by Philip Gardiner, Egypt Exposed: The True Origins of Civilization explores the idea that current archaeological perspectives on the Great Pyramids in the Giza Necropolis are way off.
Egypt Exposed features the controversial author, Robert Bauval. Bauval has coauthored several books with Graham Hancock, and his original theories have been aired on primetime BBC television. He’s no stranger to strange ideas. But Bauval’s obvious intelligence makes him quite unlike some other New Age enthusiasts.
The film begins with a Bauval candidly telling of his work as a construction engineer and how he practically stumbled onto Egyptology, now a passion and, so he says, an area where his expertise is unmatched, even among leading academics and other “heavyweights,” as he puts it.
That’s quite a claim, to be sure. But in a sense, one can understand where he’s coming from. Not everyone may necessarily agree with everything this film has to say, but many serious thinkers have considered the idea that, as Bauval says, “truth is not democratic.”
In other words, the truth of a given situation might not always be present in the majority opinion, political correctness, or the latest academic trend.
This isn’t a new idea, of course. Plato discarded the whole idea of democracy as did some ancient Chinese sages who talked about “the enlightened ruler” and “the superior man” living in blissful accord with the flow of the Tao. In addition, several Jewish prophets and Jesus Christ, himself, found that being right with the truth didn’t always mean keeping the people happy.
I get that. But I have a harder time agreeing with Bauval when it comes to the importance of dialogue. Bauval seems a bit too sure he’s absolutely right and that all other critiques of his work are just expressions of camouflaged anger or, perhaps, the ignorance that comes with regimented thinking.
His ideas “just make sense,” he says. But, in fact, a rival position may also “just makes sense” to some other person.
The Catholic writer Hans Urs von Balthasar once said truth is symphonic. And because none of us are perfected beings, it’s reasonable to say we can, at least, try to get at truth through well-intentioned dialogue. Even our worst critic can sometimes, in the long run, be our best friend.
To return to Bauval’s argument, it hinges on his beliefs about three pyramids at Giza, specifically, two of near equal size and a third of smaller size, all constructed in a straight line. Within these structures, Bauval says he found a shaft pointing up to the constellation Orion.
The idea here, Bauval says, is that the Pharaoh was not an egomaniac, as commonly thought by some archaeologists and mythographers. Instead, he had a uniquely spiritual understanding of the cosmos and, upon his Earthly death, planned to return to his origin in the stars.
Among specialists, however, the contentious point arises when Bauval says the three Giza pyramids were intentionally laid out to geographically mirror the constellation of Orion. That is, the locations of the three main pyramids match the relative positions of the three stars that make up Orion’s Belt. And for this to happen, he continues, the pyramids must have been erected some 12,500 years ago and purposely lined up with Orion’s Belt as it appeared then.
Why 12,500 years ago?
Well, this is a complicated question best left to astronomers but, in a nutshell, the tilt of the Earth’s axis changes over time, as does the relative position of the stars in the nighttime sky, due to their constant movement through the universe.
Astronomers disagree over Bauval’s claims about the alignment of the pyramids with the position of Orion’s Belt some 12,500 years ago, which gives us precious little evidence for or against his so-called Orion Correlation Theory.
But here’s the catch.
Most leading Egyptologists say the Giza pyramids were somehow built (nobody knows how) about 4,500 years ago, and not 12,500 years ago as Bauval contends.
Before one writes Bauval off as a fringe theorist, in all fairness we should note that no one can say when these pyramids were built. And two respected geologists, Robert M. Schoch and David Coxill, suggest a date of around 7,000–5,000 BC for the construction of the Sphinx, which formerly was thought to be carved around the same time as the Giza pyramids (i.e. about 2,500 BC).
If all this leaves you scratching your head in disbelief, wonder, or confusion, not to worry. This isn’t easy stuff. But that’s the whole point. Can one person really say they’ve settled these vexing questions once and for all? Either Bauval is an inspired prophet of Egyptology or, on the other hand, might benefit from being more open to informed dialogue.
To his credit, Bauval forwards the interesting notion that the ancients were just as smart as we are. Their brains were just as big, he says, but they used them differently. And instead of seeking truth through empirical observation and experiment, they looked inside.
On this point I might tentatively agree, with certain reservations.
For instance, isn’t it also true that, in the 21st century, we’ve developed some invaluable new technologies, methods, and degrees of reflective analysis?
Instead of drawing a sharp line between the ancient inner seer and contemporary researchers who objectify external stimuli, as Bauval seems to, couldn’t we intelligently synthesize the best of both worlds?
Might a mystic seer also strive to be scientific and consider today’s relevant research and theories? This may seem a tall order but RSS feeds make it a realistic option for anyone with internet access.
I personally do not believe that the debate between intuition and science must be limited to a dialectic of this or that. It’s just not that cut and dried.
Along these lines, leading archaeologists like Richard H. Wilkinson recognize that the Egyptian Pharaohs lived in a deeply symbolic universe, with many spiritual beliefs and practices.
In Wilkinson’s own words:
Ancient Egypt was symbolically oriented to a degree rarely equaled by other cultures. It was through symbols that the Egyptians represented and affirmed many of their ideas, beliefs, and attitudes regarding the nature of life and reality…This is not to say that symbols were employed only in the representational forms of art and architecture, for symbolism was manifested in many other areas of life…The symbolism inherent in a given work is often an expression of underlying religious or magical beliefs that give the work, life, meaning and power.¹
Are the majority of Egyptologists really, as William James once put it in the context of experimental psychology, just a bunch of “spying and scraping” empiricists?²
I’m not entirely sure about that one. But from what I’ve seen so far, not just a few experts are open to the possibility that the ancient Egyptians held profound spiritual beliefs.
These issues aside, Egypt Exposed is an intriguing film. Accept, reject or partly agree with Bauval’s innovative ideas, viewers should come away from this feeling like they’ve just taken a journey into the heart of an ancient mystery, one which might forever remain unsolved.
¹ The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, ed. Donald B. Redford, 2003, p. 340.