Critical Notes on Stecchini and Tompkins

Jim Fournier

Precisely because I am for the most part supportive of the geodetic method of investigation Stecchini advocated and demonstrated, I spent a great deal of time with both his appendix and with Peter Tompkins more accessible popular rendition of the same material. I have read them critically enough to reconstruct the model at the core of their argument in my own mind, and to identify inconsistencies and or typos. My own copy of their book is a first printing, but I was surprised to find that none of the errors were corrected in the paperback edition now back in print.
There seems to be a disturbing tendency of nature to smash the corners off the apex of the Pyramid every time one tries to resolve all the details in sharp focus. There are two instances of this I noticed in Tompkins where it seems as if the details were fudged or muddied just at the critical point. First, there is a bit of possible confabulation around the question of whether the perimeter is being related to the length of a degree of latitude or longitude at the equator. It seems that the numbers actually work for a degree of latitude, but conceptually one wants it to be a degree of longitude. This is covered over with a claim by Tompkins that the ancient Egyptians understood the earth to be a sphere at that point and therefore understood the two to be equal at the equator. But in his appendix, Stecchini goes into great detail explaining that the Egyptians actually understood the two to be equal at either 55* 06' or 55* 30'. Each of the two different geodetic centers of ancient Egypt are each located at half of one of these values. The predynastic center, used to establish the geodetic cubit, was reestablished at Akhaten, at 27* 45', by the pharaoh Akhnaten, while the center of the royal cubit was located at 27* 33'.

A deeper and far more arcane question revolves around the location of the center mark on the north edge of the Pyramid as measured by Cole. Stecchini makes a point of explaining how the existence of these two different partial dimensions, whose sum is two millimeters shorter than Cole's reported total length for the north side, indicate that Cole most likely made an error of two millimeters measuring against the pin marking this center point; thereby effectively over counting the length of the north side.

I am inclined to accept Stecchini's argument on this point. He also makes a good case that the whole Pyramid was rotated two and a half minutes counter clockwise, with the north and west sides being held square to each other. But then, he supposedly uses the data from the lengths of the two different ends of the north side to support his claim that the east side was rotated about its own center three minutes counter clockwise. While the east side clearly has been aligned in a way which may be explained by the additional three minute rotation he describes, the lengths from the mark do not appear to me to support the scenario in relation to the apex location he describes. Indeed the lengths of the two segments seem to be biased in the opposite direction from what they should be to support Stecchini's contention. In Tompkins treatment there is an (apparent) typo wherein it is stated that it is the west side which is rotated (rather than the east) yet it is clear from Stecchini's rendition, and from Cole, that it is the north west corner alone which is being held square. If the eastern side were being rotated counter clockwise about its own center point to make it face north east, then it would indeed make the north side shorter, but it would do so by reducing the length of the north eastern half segment of the north side. Instead, it is the north western segment which is in fact shorter according to Cole. I thought the error could be due to the reprinting or transcription of Cole, but I have checked the primary source myself. I have held a copy of Cole in my hand and transcribed it for myself. Cole's data is reproduced accurately by Stecchini in Tompkins. I find this discrepancy disturbing because Stecchini's assumptions about the respective sectional profiles of the north and west apothem would seem to hinge on this point. I would ask Stecchini for clarification, but he is dead. I hope Tompkins may be able to answer these questions.

My point here is only to articulate extremely subtle questions. I still feel overwhelmingly that the fact that it is even possible to debate such nuances is due to the overall coherence of this line of investigation. On the whole Stecchini and Tompkins seem to have achieved very close to a perfect explanation of the design, which makes it all the more frustrating when I do find flaws or mistakes in their explanation of the details.

It seems as if the best answer may be to construct an accurate model of the Pyramid and perhaps the entire Giza Plateau in Alias on the Silicon Graphics computer. I have now started modeling the Great Pyramid. Ideally, we would add a solar vector trajectory model as well. In this way we might even be able to model the reflections from the faces and address my other questions about the alignment of the east and south faces. If atmospheric refraction could also be modeled we might even be able to begin to test hypotheses about the behavior of reflections in the design. Even in the absence of answers to these dynamic questions it might be possible to straighten out the details of the design in three dimensions better than has previously been achieved. Especially since comparatively few seem capable of following the geometric arguments in sufficient detail to resolve the questions. Unfortunately, it looks as if this may even apply to Stecchini as well at least with regard to questions of geometry as opposed to measurement. I hate to say this of my hero and sincerely hope that it is I who am mistaken.