Star Knowledge from Ancient Egypt

Copyright  © 2013   -

Updat. from published in Swedano Journal, Feb. 2003 (No. 6, 2nd year, pp.47-59).


 With the star-gazers of the past, the world of stars was connected
to religion. But the ancient Egyptians’ knowledge and understanding
of astronomy proves to be more advanced than usually assumed - and
was even used also in more surprising ways.

Egyptian temple archives, and later the library of Alexandria contained
impressive astronomical records, - a knowledge combined with advanced
geometry to be integrated into the architecture of pyramids and temples. The

Egyptian culture’s astronomical area is large, thus only a survey for now.


 Egyptian star god (Horus). Late period: 300 BC. 
Page top:  Star map of Pharaoh Seti I, 1290 BC.

Early knowledge on the stars in Egypt

Traces more than 5,000 years old of celestial observations in the Middle East, are in existence. Together with observational astronomy the “knowledge of stars” was already known early in Babylonia, while it has been more difficult finding recognisable unambiguous traces of this in Egypt’s ancient times. At least 43 constellations were familiar to the Egyptians in the 13th century BC.

After the Persian conquest of Egypt in 525 BC, the Egyptians became interested in using also the Babylonian version of the zodiac. The special dividing in zodiacal images can in particular be seen under the Greek ruling of Egypt after 332 BC. It should be noted, however, what has been ignored by science that parts of this kind of astro-symbolism also seem to have been in existence farther back in Egyptian history.


The unique star map of Pharaoh’s Grand vezire Senmut, for instance, (will be mentioned later) from approx. 1500 BC has an image of Selkit (Serqet), the scorpion goddess, in the exact celestial place, where the constellation Scorpio is located according to Babylonian tradition. A similar situation applies for the Leo (constellation), and also a number of non-zodiacal constellations, which were also known by the Babylonians and can be found together with the Egyptians’ own constellations, which, outside the Egyptian culture, may seem quite exotic.

Compared to the considerable amount of material with Babylonian highly qualified celestial knowledge, only a few Egyptian records about astronomy and star knowledge is known to have been preserved from the rightly so esteemed Egyptian culture.

A compre­hen­sive survey can be found in Otto Neugebauer & Richard A. Parker’s “Egyptian Astronomical Texts” (vols. 1-3, London 1962-1969).

In these volumes everything essential known - up to the time of the publication - are all registered and debated of Egyptian astronomical records, star maps, and almanacs in inscriptions and manuscripts etc. - in total 131 cases including 50 star lists, of 2,000 years.


In ancient cultures all over the world also eclipses were considered extremely important phenomena. Among researchers frequent lack of finds of such material in Egypt has caused an understandable, but as we shall see, less justified doubt as to whether ancient Egyptians were able to calculate by precision the eclipses in advance - as well as the very exact course of the planets.


Star map with Egyptian constellations and planets on the exterior of the ceramic container of
an astronomic water clock - a clepsydra - from the time of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, ca. 1550 BC.

Egypt’s temple libraries with advanced astronomy

Almost one sixth of Ancient Egypt’s era of more than 3,000 years was dominated by a Greek (and in the latest part Greek-Roman) rule. The Greeks have preserved a lot about Egyptian circumstances also prior to Greek influence on the country and the culture.

The oldest known copies of an almanac date from 1220 BC at the time of Ramses the Great. And in 1100 BC a priest Amenhope wrote "Catalogue of the Universe" in which he identified major, known constellations.

Greek historian Diodorus Siculus stated (ca. 50 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.   .

The famous “Vienna Papyrus”, copied during the Alexandrian era, 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 (or 36, or 42 volumes) “of Thoth” - preserved by the priests of ancient Egypt - four of them treating astronomical subjects.
Their contents are expressed very precisely:  one book dealt with the “constitution of the Sun and Moon”, and another “the conjunctions and variations of the light (phases) of the Sun and Moon (and the syzergies)”; and ”On Risings”, and even one “On the Disposition of Fixed Stars and Stellar Phenomena”.

According to these books it was axiomatic that it was a valued skill of the ancient Egyptian astronomer-priests to predict eclipses.


More than a millennium after Senmut, the Egyptian King Ptolemy II around 280 BC had started collecting the ancient temple libraries and archives from all over Egypt for his new large library of Alexandria - actually two legendary libraries, "Serapeion" next to the Serapis temple, and "Mouseion" (Latin: Museum) in the large ground floor storey of the giant lighthouse at the harbour.

All of the library contents would contain "all knowledge of the civilized world", and several hundred thousand scrolls and books were stored there. - Thus it is important to notice that the contents of the books were often from traditions far more ancient than any early Greek influence.

This King Ptolemæus II’s Egyptian-Greek historian Manetho - had from 280 BC in the soon very huge Alexandrian library had also access to the collection of much older temple archives:
According to Manetho it could also be seen described in old Egyptian documents that Moses had plundered many temples for their treasures. These have inevitably included some particular things, namely the temple libraries’ protected documents with valuable, hidden knowledge of special kind.


By his access to similar ancient Egyptian sources and, of course, later Greek sources, the Egyptian-Greek historian, hieroglyph scholar, and stoic philosopher, Chaeramon of Alexandria - who from ca. 40 AD was the chief librarian of the Alexandrian Library in its Serapis-temple department - wrote several treatises on the stars and about comets. See also Pieter Willem van der Horst's  book “Chaeremon, Egyptian Priest and Stoic Philosopher, The frag­ments collected and translated” (publ. E.J. Brill, Leiden 1984).


Ceiling of Ramesses VI's tomb displays the Sun's night-route through the sky goddess.
19th dynasty, 1100's BC.


Astronomical tradition far back in time

A small temple from Debod - in an area of Lower Nubia (Sudan) since the 1960's permanently flooded - was originally constructed in 200 BC, conditioned to completely adapt the very old traditions of Egyptian temple architecture, however, today it is saved from the flooding and reconstructed in Madrid, Spain. Unlike most other buildings in Egypt the temples were built of stone "for eternity". In order to preserve what was a treasure of highest value also this temple had a special room, the temple library: pr mDAt, the 'house of books'.

Like other known similar temple libraries, for example in Denderah and Philae, the Debod temple library contained texts of sacred contents, as well as of astronomy, medicine, and administration papers, inventory lists, etc. On the walls of the room for the books ancient graffiti shows astronomical notes, diagrams and geometry, the golden ratio, etc. - a further physical proof of this culture's wide-spread organized astronomical knowledge.

The very existence of the precise planetary positions on what we now know as the world’s oldest star map established 1,500 BC by Senmut, the ancient Egyptian Grand Vezire, and on other star maps of that era, demonstrates an expertise concerning the knowledge of planetary positions.

It is a fact that Senmut’s star map also includes such details as a location for a solar eclipse. By modern astronomical calculations it turns out that it has occurred in the sky exactly as indicated on the map. All this eliminates possibilities of coincidence of the statements made on the map.

A thousand years before the time of Senmut the astronomer-priests were developing their methods and experience 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.

In 1930 some Italian archaeologists found an Egyptian temple library containing around 500 volumes, all beneath the 2,300-year-old temple ruins in Tebnutis (Umm el-Baragat) in the Fayum Oasis. Again, considerably many of the books concern astronomy and astrology.

Tebnutis is the only temple library of ancient Egypt of which substantial remains are preserved. (Today, most of the extensive literary material is preserved at the Berkeley and the Michigan Universities, British Museum, and the Carlsberg Collection in Copenhagen).

Decoding the Senmut map - dates back to the time of Moses

The knowledge of the ancient Egyptians has proved surprisingly more comprehensive than assumed hitherto. In this connection it can be mentioned that the present author had been able to disclose that the world’s oldest known star map contains information about a concrete event in the real celestial world. The map was produced by Senmut, the highly gifted “Grand Vizier” of Egypt, at approx. 1500 BC.


Thus, the earliest exact great records of accurate planetary positions are now documented as built-in on the star map. It is demonstrated in detail in the treatise by Ove von Spaeth: “Dating the Oldest Egyptian Star Map”, published in “Centarus International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology” (42:3, 2000, pp. 159-179).

The exact time, hereby disclosed by the Senmut map, is computed on a modern objective astronomical basis founded on approved Egyptology data.


In addition, consequences have appeared that corresponding information in a number of reports on ancient sources about Moses may be related to the mention of the sources of rare celestial events - in particular in rabbinical texts and by authors from Antiquity.

The result is especially decisive for the fixation of time, which may contribute to proving if Moses has been living in Egypt and to the establishment of his historical existence at all.

Observations of planets traveling backwards”

The very existence of the precise planetary positions on the vizier Senmut star map, and on other star maps of that era ca. 1500-1300 BC, demonstrates an expertise concerning the complex work of calculations of planetary positions in the sky.

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), excludes any possibility of coincidence.


A thousand years before the time of Senmut, the astronomer-priests were developing great 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” (line of stars moving during the night as timekeeper).

Records of complicated astronomical calculations do not seem to have survived in Egypt - yet, there are examples of very ancient calendars.

The vezire Senmut’s star map (ca. 1500 BC). -  Bottom: The world's axis.
- Top: Stars and planets in the decans, which are the slender columns with
hieroglyphs. Each decan is 10 degrees in the sky and are counted from right.


As have been documented by the descriptions on this and other maps from that epoch regarding that a planet "... travels backwards ..." - it was a well-known phenomenon with a so-called backwards, ‘retrograde’, movement of a planet. On Senmut’s map it is to be found placed opposite to the Sun which is exactly correct for the planet in question, Mars.

However, such could never be the case with Venus and Mercury because they have their orbits within the orbit of the Earth. Again, this shows no casual circumstances on the map.


One of the oldest known Egyptian presentations of a planetary position, places Jupiter close to the decan (ecliptical sector of 10-degrees) of the most bright star Sirius. This dates back some 4.200 years, and is recorded on a fragment of a star clock-diagram depicted inside a coffin-lid (on Heny’s coffin) - also one of the traditional methods of recording.


As have been documented by the descriptions on this and other maps from that epoch regarding that a planet "... travels backwards ..." - it was a well-known phenomenon with a so-called backwards, ‘retrograde’, movement of a planet. On Senmut’s map it is to be found placed opposite to the Sun which is exactly correct for the planet in question, Mars.

However, such could never be the case with Venus and Mercury because they have their orbits within the orbit of the Earth. Again, this shows no casual circumstances on the map.


One of the oldest known Egyptian presentations of a planetary position, places Jupiter close to the decan (ecliptical sector of 10-degrees) of the most bright star Sirius. This dates back some 4.200 years, and is recorded on a fragment of a star clock-diagram depicted inside a coffin-lid (on Heny’s coffin) - also one of the traditional methods of recording. 


Sight line of the World-axis on Senmut’s star map leads from the stars Canopus via Sirius
 to Lyra at the north.
The Senmut map's “mast” with the revolving constellation Meskethiu
(Great Bear) which is connecting with Horus and his harpoon.

Above is placed the star goddess of the Scorpion stars (which in the real sky also is
placed exactly here, and thus being near the exposed constellation Cygnus-Swan).

The World-axis

The oldest known Egyptian image of the World-axis is on the exceptional star map from ca. 1500 BC - the time of Queen Hatshepsut - in the tomb of the vizier Senmut in Thebes.

The latest known World-axis image in Egypt is dating from ca. 45 AD - the time of Emperor Claudius, and it can be seen - although still unknown or un-identified by science - on the famous 2.5 metres wide star map on the Denderah-temple’s ceiling (the original is now in the Louvre in Paris).

It has been an enigma why this star map is positioned obliquely in relation to the corners of the world, and so far it has not been noticed that:  its bearings are exactly according to the World-axis, shown here as an Egyptian pillar - a mooring post for the travelling celestial  bodies depicted as placed in small boats - placed correctly in relation to all the constellations.

The Egyptian text collection titled “The Book about Day and Night” dating from the time of Ramses IV, calls the axis menit (mnj.t), the ‘mooring post' of the celestial boats for the planets’ travelling. Another text, “Papyrus Harris”, calls it:

          “... a column from the Earth up to the sky ...”.

This version of the axis as mooring post is so far unknown to the Egyptologists. In the 4,500 years old texts, called the “Pyramid texts”, this pole is hailed clearly in its role as the World-axis:

          “... Heaven’s gates are open for you, the mooring woman is called for as Isis. ...”

Here the coherence is very obvious, as the goddess Isis was always identified with the Sirius-star at the World-axis’ root or lower end.


Left:  The Denderah-temple’s relief with a zodiac is orientated to the World-axis:
“the mooring post”, the perch on which the Horus-falcon is placed. - Right:  the details.


Forgotten in history

In the ancient Egyptian religious tradition the highest god Amun(-Re) was considered as being the father of the king, and the king himself was seen as a god. The religious doctrines presented one god of creation, Amun in the Thebes in Upper Egypt - and in Memphis in Lower Egypt this god was Ptah.

Concerning its aspects of cosmology the Egyptian religion was like, in principle, all the other major, ancient religions - and thus it also included a special knowledge of the stars.

A certain concept appears again and again in ancient religious cults - “the World-axis”. From cultures simultaneous with the Egyptian culture there are several traditions of which some can refer to it as a certain pillar - often in a temple where it represents the World-axis in a cultic form.

Early in ancient Egypt the World-axis is referred to in the world's oldest known star map - made by Queen Hatshepsut’s famous vizier Senmut.

Although Senmut's star map contains history’s oldest known picture anywhere of the World-axis, it is merely called “a mast” by the few Egyptologists who have at all noticed it. But otherwise this axis has so far not actually been described.

Possibly the first person hitherto known to have recognized or identified the tall mast as the World-axis on the Senmut star map was Ernst Zinner, the German astronomer, astronomy historian, and the director of the Bamberg Observatory.    


The Horus, here as the sun-related sacred falcon, is connected to the World-axis
which (now as the Horus' perch) is the very mooring post for Isis' celestial barge
(to the left, and carrying the sky-cow goddess Hathor) - all of Egyptian tradition.

The Denderah temple's celestial relief showing a mixture of ancient Egyptian
tradition and Babylonian-Greek influence from late part of Egyptian history.


In his treatise, “Die Sternbilder der alten Ägypter” in the “Isis” Science Magazine (1933, Vol. 16, pp. 92-101), Ernst Zinner mentions it directly as “the World-axis on the Senmut star map” - few years after the finding of the Senmut tomb containing the map.

The World-axis can be observed by plotting the celestial positions of the said three most brilliantly shining stars of the sky - Canopus, Sirius, and Lyra/Vega (cf. “The Suppressed Record” by Ove von Spaeth, the chapter 10 is dedicated to these facts).

Still, this axis phenomenon should not be mixed up with another factor, the axis of the Earth. When together the mentioned three stars establish the straight line along the shining Milky Way across the sky, this line of sight was used as a stabile factor, for example, by measuring stellar mutual distances.

The World-axis is thus a forgotten item in works of present-day research literature on world history as well as the history of astronomy. The latest known use in practice of this celestial phenomenon was carried out by Danish astronomer Ole Roemer, discoverer of the speed of light.

Around the year 1700, by means of a measuring technique for certain star relations, Roemer used this distinctive axis - but only from the star Lyra to Sirius because Canopus in the south cannot be seen from north of the Mediterranean area.

A so far almost complete lack of knowledge of circumstances relating to the World-axis has created many enigmas and often naive interpretations among researchers concerning cosmology in ancient religion, ways of thinking, and perception of the world.


The ancient Egyptian temple from Debod (rescued in the 1960's
from the artificial flood at Wadi Debod in modern Sudan, the building
now re-established in Madrid, Spain). In one of the most safe or
protected rooms, it contained a library, a true treasury in any temple. -

It is known from finds in other temple ruins that the books, i.e. scrolls and
documents, were considered as a real treasure including, especially, the
many books on astronomy, mathematics and geometry
. On the walls of the
 library room old graffiti with mathematics and astronomy is still to be seen.


                                              *  *  *



The Starry Sky as the Area of Knowledge


The world's oldest known ”horoscope”?

Regarding both place and time - around 1500 BC - Senmut lived in focus of an expansion in many levels within religion, especially a version emerging from the Thebes.

The concept of religion included also a special celestial relation of the cosmology and its arrangement - again in many levels - with which Senmut has been very much acquainted.

However, even if Senmut also in this field showed much intelligent ability, he has not himself invented the division system of the celestial maps - they are known to be a result of a long tradition of star based chronometry known as the “star clock”. But apparently he has invented decisive improvements with extensions.

For details, see Ove von Spaeth's book, “The Enigmatic Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter“, where the entire Appendix 2 is dealing with this star map.

The text is from Ove von Spaeth's above mentioned treatise “Dating the Oldest Egyptian Star Map”, published in “Centaurus’ International Magazine…”, 2000  (vol. 42;3, pp. 159-179).

This first, complete star map installed in Senmut's secret tomb had set a fashion of which in principle was copied during the following 1,500 years in Egypt.

However, a special motive - which on other star maps in the tombs of later pharaohs and in the temples was gradually less emphasized and sometimes being disappeared completely - is originally the most dominant in the Senmut map version: the World-axis.

Senmut's star map is constituting a veritable celestial portrait and is in fact the world's oldest known 'horoscope' in original understanding of this term expressing to “read the sky” - especially in order to determine the time based on stellar figurations in the horizon.


Left:  Senmut, Grand Vizire, architect, chief of the national and religious calendar, - the mightiest
person in Egypt next to Pharaoh. The graffiti showing his portrait by an ink-drawing.


Right:  Quarry with modern entrance to Senmut’s secret tomb, TT353, - from where its hidden, long
tunnel continues through the deep underground beneath Hatshepsut's temple, at Thebes near Luxor.
The ceiling of the tomb is adorned with the incredibly accurately prepared star map with a celestial
 diagram. Establ. ca. 1495 BC.


A close analysis of the inscriptions of Senmut's star map reveals that almost all planets are gathered around the Sirius star at the World-axis. This indicated a certain date:

      - The position of the planets and their special succession at the Sirius section of Senmut's star map is such a rare combination that this individual form has only appeared four times in several thousand years in the celestial sector in question - e.g. in the case of Senmut: in May 1534 BC.

The arangement concerns all the years between 2200 BC and 200 AD having been examined (cf. analysis in the big table in Ove von Spaeth's treatise about the star map, or in his book-series' vol. 2, in its Appendix 2 on Senmut).

Research, however, has not noticed this ability in the Senmut map so far. The very planets have long ago been identified by the Egyptologists, but apparently nobody has examined if the said arrangement concerning the planets on the map has existed - although such a special group of planets in fact could be seen in the sky exactly at the era of Senmut.



Left:  Some Egyptian traditional constellations on a star map of Ramses III’s time.
The World-axis is shown with the Scorpion constellation’s goddess at top, and the
 constellation Great Bear (“oxen thigh”), and the Lion below.
Right:  Egyptian constellations on the sky, e.g. the hippopotamus with the
crocodile on its back which is the Draco constellation


Concept of the Senmut map copied on many later star maps

With the discovery of the Senmut map’s message concerning its own dating, some precise chronological tracks have been uncovered which may also contribute to shed light on that Senmut probably had also a more unknown, extra status.

First a further discovery: several other Egyptian star maps exist with hitherto undiscovered information of the same kind of dating.

By Ove von Spaeth’s researching a number of very precise studies of other Egyptian star maps has revealed that in the 1,500 years to follow, the versions of star maps were made according to the Senmut map as a model in those later cases where most of the planets in a similar way, often with only small differences, were gathered around Sirius.

These differences show in what way the planets were individually placed in the sky at the exact times to which these later star maps were made. Only in the more late periods of Egypt's history, circumstances as regards time may seem a bit more incidental.


Star gods before Horus, in Tuthmosis III's tomb, ca. 1450 BC. Tiny characters
are copied directly from illustrations in The Book of the Death, and first time
used in a royal tomb as a religious mural, thus being of the book's style.

From the huge star map in Pharaoh Seti I's tomb, ca. 1290 BC. - A series of star gods
and the planet gods in small boats. The gods are here depicted in the beautiful classical
form like earlier on the Senmut star map.

However, the time correspondence in each of the earliest maps is exact. Consequently, the dating of the Senmut map might be able to establish more correctly the period of Senmut and his contemporaries: Hatshepsut and the Tuthmosis-kings.

These maps’ different dating determined in different ways by different researchers, however, seems also passing trends. Cf. that in the more than 200 years of 'history' of Egyptology (from when the special, scientific part of Napoleon's staff starting off their task in 1799) it has often been tried to improve the dating which have thus been moved and redefined after intervals of approx. twenty years.


For a long time it turned out that every time twenty years had passed and a new generation of researchers has arrived, a new dating was suggested - but still without a confident result in terms of enhanced precision.


Star gods for the 12 zodiacal constellations, from a big relief in the ceiling of
the Hathor temple at Denderah. Of the late period with Greek influence. From the 200’s BC.


Evidently this period in Egyptian history of the 18th dynasty is often determined with a dating being 20-30 years too late in many of those cases as well in the works of many Egyptologists, where the so-called low-dating have been used.

According to this method, Tuthmosis III only ruled from the year 1479 BC - instead of the real time of his coup d'état in 1486 BC (also in relation to dating based on the star map).

Other differences among these later maps show that the visual appearance in later times of the World-axis, as already noted, was not so much emphasized as in the case of the original Senmut map.

It is understandable that the eternal stars were regarded with great awe. Cosmos was connected with temples and pyramids and shrines by letting major celestial lines of sight integrate into their designs.

Such conditions were included in the religiously philosophical ideas widespread in the mystery cults - many showing interrelated, amazing matches - and were considered as signs of a special cosmos-order of a synchronicity connection with heaven and earth, both concerning all living creatures and physical conditions. In contrast to later time several important parts of the ancient religions were intimate connected with the celestial world.



Left:  So-called star-clock sectors on mummy coffin. Meshkitu, constell. Great Bear, is recognized. 1600 BC.

Right:  The god Osiris as constellation Orion on the starry ceiling of the Hathor temple, at Denderah.
The Horus-falcon is perched on a lotus-pillar which - from other star maps - is known as the World-axis.


Ancient astronomical observations from a well shaft - is no myth

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

It has been doubted - under the modern time's drawback of historical knowledge - and has even been called “a myth” that the astronomers of ancient times used wells/shafts at all, in order to make observations from them.

Eratosthenes’ arc measuring method: the shadow of the Pharos, the famous, tall Alexandrian lighthouse,

was ca. 7 degrees of arc and was compared to no-shadow at Syene’s (Aswan’s) well, from where the exact vertical position of the sun was measured. - Right:  Nilometer, catching the sun, here at Kom Ombo.


Plato (428-348 BC) mentions that the philosopher Thales of Miletus (c. 640-547 BC) had fallen down into a well while observing the stars. - And the Greek author Aesop (6th century 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 learned and respected Greek scholars, Eratosthenes (276-194 BC), director of the great Alexandrian Library, calculated the circumference of the Earth by also using a huge well shaft to observe the true lack of shadows by the sun's meridian passage at summer solstice at a particular geographic location. This well, with a staircase to the bottom - is a still existing Nilo-meter for water level observation, from ancient pharaonic times, situated on the Eleph­antine Island in the Nile at Syene (Aswan) in Upper Egypt.

However, today this event and the method are being claimed a myth by some academics. But on the contrary, the main thing is that a very ancient knowledge existed regarding the existence of the measure of the Earth’s circumference. Eratosthenes was thus able from the said temple depots of knowledge to catch the information on the concept and the method to prove it, as the measuring of sun-shadow angles was a very old practise in Egypt.


Nilometer-wells are situated over thousand kilometres along the Nile, often near the temples where priestly astronomers knew the data of such shadow angles in the well at their local latitude. Shadows in the many wells were always known to be less and less the more to the south the well is located.


The Gebel Barka stela informs about enigmatic sky phenomenon


A very old astronomically related inscription appearing on an a granite stela (a flat stone with inscriptions) erected by Egyptian Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, ca.1470 BC at the Amun temple in Gebel Barkal near the kingdom's southern border in Nubia (today’s Sudan).  The visually not insignificant stele is 173 cm high, 97 cm wide and has a thickness of ca. 15 cm.

On this stela he listed a number of his campaigns and victories in the north and south. With one of these war expeditions that went to Asia (Syria) an astrological omen is mentioned.

The upper part of the Gebel Barka stela, erected by Pharaoh Thutmosis III, ca. 1470 BC,
is describing an observation of an enigmatic phenomenon in the sky.



Prior to a battle, where he then won one of its most important victories, a star appeared miraculously in the sky. The stela’s lines 34 and 35 referring that:

     "... the guards were about to arrive to meet in the night and perform the regulations (shift) of the guard. There were two watchmen (seated facing each other), and a star came out to the south of them. Nothing similar has ever occurred. It went down again - in the direction opposite to them - directly "opposite to themselves" (i.e. descending in the north) ...".

This almost 3,500 years old record is history's hitherto oldest known showing a mysterious celestial phenomenon.

When the inscription on the Gebel Barka Stele also mentions that during the Syrian wars "a star appeared from the south and did some harm to the enemy, so that nobody was able to stand on his foot," - researchers speculate that the star may have been a meteor that fell or a bolide that shot across the sky, "throwing the enemy into a panic."


It was assigned a special power since the word for the star here, as often, is written with the sign for a god as determinative.


Fra Gebel Barka stelen, her med her med linjer fra Tuthmosis III’s indskrift om astronomisk fænomen.

What is frequently forgotten now is the fact that through the entire era of antiquity much of the important knowledge was, quite normally, conveyed and preserved by presenting the very facts and data of the information as a dialogue or a mythically formed narrative.

Astronomical data proved extremely important for not least the calendar, and it was important to be in possession of them.

A great civilization, like the Egyptian culture, had natural­ly accumulated a huge knowledge. If it wasn’t so, then we should be surprised instead of some­what arrogantly claiming that things we, in the present, do not fully understand are just mythical - as in the case of accounts about the great knowledge of the ancients. Even their mathematical and astronomical skills may only represent a fraction of what they really could have known.



Egyptian priest astronomers, reconstruction.

Everything was about stars, cosmos, and life cycles. At Saqqura is found a 4,500 years old statue of
Pharaoh Djoser found in a ritual observation post, a Serdab, the construction being tilted so that the
 king's line of sight leading through the wall is precisely directed to an important North Star, Alkaid.



*  *  *


Ove von Spaeth

Copyright 2013 (backtrack © 2003, 1998 & 1984) -

The text includes data from the author’s  books, “Enigmatic Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter”
 - & “The Secret Religion”.


Copyright © 20013 (backtrack © 1978) by: Ove von Spaeth - - All rights reserved.