The Entrance Into the Knowledge
of All Existing Things

copyright  © 2000  &  © 2004   -

The ancient Egyptians’ astronomical skills and ability to calculate positions of celestial bodies and eclipses has been seriously underestimated.
          Because the Babylonians have left us far more astronomical records than the Egyptians, it became a modern myth, that the Ancient Egyptian celestial science could not compete with the elaborated astronomy of the Babylonians.
          But to all these learned sky watchers of the past it was a sacred science.


Egyptian star gods. Late period.

Ancient Egyptian ability to calculate positions of celestial bodies and eclipses

Greek historian Diodorus Siculus stated (c. 20 BC) categorically that the ancient Egyptian astronomers possessed the ability to predict solar eclipses. Greek author and scholar Plutarch (46-125 AD) related that the ancient Egyptians explained solar eclipses by the passage of the Moon between the Sun and the Earth in daylight hours. Further, the famous “Vienna Papyrus” describes lunar and solar eclipses and their implications and presents great knowledge of astronomy.

More so, Greek-Egyptian scholar and Father of Church, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), relates to temple libraries containing a 50-volume book-series “of Thoth” preserved by the priests of ancient Egypt - four of them treating astronomical subjects. One book dealt with the “constitution of the Sun and Moon” and another “the conjunctions and variations of the light of the Sun and Moon”. In these books it was axiomatic that it was a valued skill of the ancient Egyptian astronomer-priests to predict eclipses.

The books were collected by the founder of the Alexandrian library, king Ptolemy II, c. 300 BC, from all of Egypt's ancient temple libraries - texts far more ancient than any early Greek influence. Later, by his access to these valuable sources the Egyptian-Greek historian, hieroglyph scholar, and stoic philosopher Chaeramon of Alexandria, who was the chief librarian of the Alexandrian Library, c. 40 AD wrote several treatises on the stars of heaven and on comets, etc.

Part of the vizier Senmut’s star map, c. 1500 BC.


Observations of planets “travel backwards”

The very existence of the precise planetary positions on the Senmut star map, and on other star maps of that era c. 1500-1300 BC, demonstrates an expertise concerning the calculations of planetary positions. The fact that these maps include such details as a retrograde planet - Mars - and a solar eclipse position (proven to be exactly as stated on the Senmut map), exclude any possibility of coincidence.

A thousand years before the time of Senmut, the astronomer-priests were developing such skills by constant observation of the firmament, which necessitated the keeping of accurate records, especially with regard to calculating celestial positions and cyclic phenomena. The data were used for the sun- and star-related calendars as well as the “star clock”. Records of such astronomical calculations, however, do not seem to have survived, although there are examples of very ancient calendars. But as documented by e.g. inscriptions - a planet “...travels backwards...” - a retrograde movement of a planet placed opposite to the sun was a well-known phenomenon.

The precise positioning of planets by observing them, even in bright daylight, from the bottom of deep wells or shafts directly (and probably less by oblique mirror-reflection in a water surface in the well), was a widely known practice in all ancient cultures.

Furthermore, one of the oldest known Egyptian presentations of a planetary position, places Jupiter close to the decan (celestial sector of 10-degrees) of Sirius. This dates back some 4200 years, and is recorded on a fragment of a starclock-diagram depicted inside a coffin-lid (on Heny's coffin) - one of the traditional methods of recording.


 Babylon, 721 BC,  the hitherto oldest finding of recorded lunar eclipse.


 Ancient astronomical observations from a well - is not a myth

It has been doubted - under the modern time's drawback of historical knowledge - and has been called “a myth”, that astronomers of ancient times used wells/shafts at all, in order to make observations from them. Plato (428-348 BC) mentions that the philosopher Thales of Miletus (c. 640-547 BC) had an accident in a well while observing the stars. - And the Greek author Aesop (6th c. BC) tells similarly concerning another astronomer in a well-shaft.

An ancient apocryphal text, c. 100 AD, from Syria which at that time was influenced by Christianity, tells about the magoi, i.e. some Babylonian astronomers and astrologers, who by observing a certain star (later called “the Bethlehem Star”) by the mirroring water surface in a well in Northern Palestine, were able to calculate and find a certain local direction. None of these events would be understood by contemporaries, if this practice was not well known.

One of the most respected Greek scholars,  Eratosthenes (275-195 BC) calculated the circumference of the Earth by using the great well to observe the lack of shadows by the sun's meridian passage at summer solstice. This well from ancient pharaohnian times is placed the Elephantine Island in the Nile at Syene (Aswan) in Upper Egypt. The measuring of shadow angles was a very old method in Egypt.

Eratosthenes’ arc measuring method: The shadow of the Pharos, the famous Alexandrian
lighthouse, was c. 7 degrees of arc and was compared to no-shadow at Syene’s well, from
 where the exact vertical position of the sun was measured.


 Pi - and the Papyrus Rhind

The application of geometrical calculations to the numbers in use by the astronomy implies a highly sophisticated stage of mathematic-geometrical skills by the ancient Egyptians. Indeed, this is confirmed by the mathematical (and geometrical) Papyrus Rhind, c. 1650 BC. Egyptian knowledge was famous - and at later times, Pythagoras coined his theorem of the right-angled triangle c. 550 BC, after having studied 22 years in Egypt. And Plato defined the Platonic solids c. 400 BC, after 13 years in Egypt, according to his pupil Eudoxus.

The concept of pi was known in Ancient Egypt. Much later, around 250 BC, Archimedes of Syracuse found that pi is somewhere about 3.14 (in fractions, Greeks did not have decimals). The digits of pi never end, nor has anyone detected an orderly pattern in their arrangement. Furthermore, pi is a transcendental number, i.e. a number which can't be expressed in any finite series of either arithmetical or algebraic operations. Pi transcends them. And pi is indescribable and unfitted to all rational methods to locate it.

 Moreover, a precise knownledge of pi was existing even before the pyramids more than 4,500 years ago. An important Egyptian measuring-unit is the cubit, which has an exacte pi-relation to another Egyptian measuring-unit, the remen. Here, 1 remen constituates the radius of a cubit-square's circumscribed circle. Thus, these two standard mesuring-units were more easy and correct in use than calculating by fragments.


Papyrus Rhind demonstrating pyramid-angle calculation. Written copy, 15 century BC, from older text.

Religious-mystical perspectives

We don’t know to what extend this knowledge was conceived by the ancient Egyptians. When pi was applied to the more practical works all the conditions was not necessary to bring about. Earliest known Egyptian written reference to pi occurs in the afore-mentioned Papyrus Rhind, a scroll by the scribe Ahmesis of 15th Dynasty reign (Middle Kingdom era) of the Hyksos Pharaoh, Apepi I. (Found in Thebes/Luxor in the ruins of a small building near the Ramesseum).

The advanced levels of studies by the ancients were connected to the religious-mystical tradition, and the scroll’s opening words state about its own text that it is: “The Entrance Into the Knowledge of All Existing Things”.

 Egyptian calendar.

 The Rhind Papyrus scroll consists of about 90 various mathematical problems and their solutions. The 50th problem concerns the area of a circle to be found by using - probably for practical reasons - a rough sort of pi. Ahmesis remarks that he has composed the scroll “in likeness to writings made of the ancients” - in this case: the time of pharaoh Amenemhet III (1842-1797 BC). But there exist several indications for the knowledge going much further back in time, e.g. the 4th dynasty, 2500 BC, when integrated into the construction of the pyramids and their manifest star-positions-related orientation.


Ove von Spaeth

Copyright © 2000 & © 2004

Author, hi
storian, independent researcher -


This text includes a number of extracts from “Den Hemmelige Religion” (The Secret Religion)
 - by Ove von Spaeth - which is volume No 4 in his series “Assassinating Moses”

( C.A. Reitzel, Publishers and Book Shop, phone (+45) 33 12 24 00 & )


The Dendera Temple zodiac - a mixture of ancient Egyptian and late Greek constellations.


Star map on the side of the water-clock’s container -
a clepsydra - from the time of Amenhotep I, c. 1550 BC.



Copyright © 2007 (& © 1978) by: Ove von Spaeth   -   -   All rights reserved.