Why the Pyramids are the Biggest Conspiracy Theory Magnets


Why the Pyramids are the Biggest Conspiracy Theory Magnets

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

Scientists may have just spawned a fourth part in the Mummy trilogy with the discovery of a “void” in Khufu’s Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt. While the people who made the discovery – using a shower of sub-atomic particles — are themselves tight-lipped on what the contents of the void could be, conspiracy theorists will have had a field day declaring what the void contains, how it is the last thing we possibly expected, and how it almost definitely will reveal how the pyramids were built in the first place.

The reason conspiracy theorists love the pyramids so much is that it has taken a thousand years to reach our current understanding of what they are – and our current understanding hangs somewhere between boring science-y things that we can’t be bothered to read, and the evergreen “Aliens, man!” There’s been no conclusive proof, but there have been several theories as to what these things were built for – ranging from as boring as storing grain, to as bizarre as calendar for the apocalypse. A leader of the early Jehovah’s Witness group went a step further and wrote about how the pyramids were most definitely built by the Egyptians under the direction of Satan the Devil.

Another theory, and this is a really popular one, is that there is a correlation between the location of the three largest pyramids of the Giza pyramid complex and the three stars that form Orion’s Belt. For this theory to work, the author claims the pyramids would have to have been built 12,000 years ago when they definitely didn’t have a Kentucky Fried Chicken at the gates of the complex. The theory has been debunked by a couple of noted astronomers since, but that doesn’t stop people from telling all their friends because of how cool it sounds.

The Egyptian authorities have not made it easy for most researchers to get permission to study the area

All these random conspiracies must be frustrating for scientists and researchers trying to actually find out more about the mystery, especially since Egypt is not the most willing to allow archaeologists to just come in and dig up what the country regards as its cash cow for various official reasons (that totally don’t involve putting another KFC at the back entrance). After the 2011 Arab Spring left the whole country without internet for a few days, and a leader for a while longer, archaeologists were forced to leave their work behind even when there was little to no fighting, since permissions were hard to come by. Meanwhile, the Egyptian authorities have not made it easy through the various blockades and media blackouts for most researchers to get permission to study the area. Plus once they do, they usually don’t allow people to drill holes through the centre.

The process remains slow for now, slow enough to ensure that researchers are not close to revealing the giant mystery behind the great pyramids any time soon. Since science has given up, the conspiracy theorists may as well take over. Bring on the next round of “Ancient Egyptian Mystery” documentaries, I say.