I found this and thought you guy's may find it interesting......
Was It An Iron Meteorite?
© Robert G. Bauval 2002
Published in Discussions in Egyptology, Volume 14, 1989
The prevailing theory on the design of monumental true pyramids is that their shape was modelled on the Benben: a conical-shaped stone venerated in the ‘Mansion Of The Phoenix’ at Heliopolis (pyr. 1652). The ‘Mansion Of The Phoenix’ was presumably within the precinct of the Great Sun Temple of Heliopolis, but there is evidence, however, that the Benben was worshipped there well before the sun cult of Ra (Baines, Orientalia 39, 1979, p.391). The stone was probably originally associated to Atum, a much older deity who was mainly identified with the act of Creation via his masturbation (Baines, ibid., p.391, fn.2). Atum was later assimilated to Ra, as Ra-Atum. Though it is often recognised that the older, step pyramid design is the product of a predominant star cult (Edwards, p.292; Badawy, p.205), it is nevertheless widely advocated that the ‘true pyramid’ design which succeeded the ‘stepped pyramid’ design reflects the solar ideas induced by the powerful sun cult favoured in the Pyramid Age. The solar ideas supposedly dominated the stellar and Osirian cults from the 4th Dynasty, when the true pyramid design was introduced (Breasted, pp.101-2). Many have therefore claimed that the Benben stone was symbolic of the sun. James H. Breasted, an instigator of such claims, noted the similarity of the word ‘Benben’ with the word ‘Benbenet’ (the pyramid-shaped apex of an obelisk) and accordingly declared that “an obelisk is simply a pyramid upon a lofty base which has become a shaft.” Breasted also speculated that because “the obelisk, as is commonly known, is a symbol sacred to the Sun-god…[it followed that] the king was buried under the very symbol of the Sun-god which stood in the holy of holies in the Sun-temple at Heliopolis” (Breasted, pp.70-3). This, perhaps too hasty, conclusion inevitably extended the solar symbolism to the whole bulk of the monument below the pyramidion/capstone. Breasted’s ideas were later supported and expanded by I.E.S. Edwards, who also proposed that the occasional sight of an immaterial triangle afforded by the sun’s rays striking downwards through the clouds at sunset could have been the origin of the Benben’s shape “and its architectural derivative, the true Pyramid” (Edwards, pp.290-1). Edwards looked for textual evidence in the Pyramid Texts, and quoted passages 1108 and 1231: “I have laid down for myself this sunshine of yours as a stairway under my feet…” and : “May the sky make the sunlight strong for you, may you rise up to the sky…” (I have used Faulkner’s more recent translation here). Edwards thus added that “the temptation to regard the true Pyramid as a material representation of the sun’s rays and consequently as a means whereby the dead king could ascend to heaven seems irresistible.” True, the sun’s rays are said to be a means for the dead pharaoh to ascend to the sky; but several other ‘means’ for precisely the same purpose are also mentioned in the Pyramid Texts. These are: On a ladder ( R.O. Faulkner titled Utterance 304 ‘The king climbs to the sky on a ladder’); on the wind: “the king is bound for the sky on the wind” (pyr. 309); on a storm-cloud/thunderbolt: “The king is a flame (moving) before the wind…there is brought to him a way of ascent to the sky” (Ut 261); on a hailstorm: “the hailstorms of the sky have taken me” (pyr. 336); on a reed-float/boat: “the reed-floats of the sky are set in place for me…I am ferried over to the eastern sky” (Ut. 263); by climbing a rope: “set the rope aright, cross the Milky Way…” (Ut. 254); on the thighs of Isis: “I ascend [to the sky] upon the thighs of Isis” (pyr. 379).
Evidently, climbing on the sun’s rays was not the only means, but yet another cosmic one made available for the celestial ascent of the departed king. Giving preference to any one of them for having influenced the shape of the true Pyramid/Benben is unwarranted, especially when neither are specifically mentioned in the passage in question. There is, however, a passage which does directly equate the pyramid construction to Osiris: “This king is Osiris, this pyramid of the king is Osiris, this construction of his is Osiris, betake yourself to it, do not be far from it in its name of pyramid…” (pyr. 1657). Osiris in the Old Kingdom was primarily a star-god, whose soul was identified to the constellation of Orion: “Behold Osiris has come as Orion” (pyr. 820). Furthermore the dead king was mostly identified with Osiris, and his star-soul is usually paired with Orion: “O king, you are this Great Star, the companion of Orion” (pyr. 882). On account of this, it would seem apt to examine the possibility of a stellar symbolism for the Benben and, consequently, the true pyramid’s shape.
Though the ‘Mansion Of The Phoenix’ in which stood the Benben many have been linked to the Sun Temple of Ra in the latter part of the Pyramid Age, an association of the Benben with the sun does not necessarily follow. For one, no satisfactory explanation has yet been given why a conical stone would be venerated as a solar symbol (the solar symbol is often a disc, as would normally be expected). Supporters of the Benben solar symbolism offer, as one explanation, that the Benben was representative of the Primeval Mound on which the first sunrise took place. This would imply that the pyramid also had a similar correlation. This hypothesis is justifiably rejected by Edwards (Edwards, p.287), for though the Primeval Mound is perhaps indirectly linked to the much older ‘Mastaba’ tomb structure of the first three Dynasties, extending this association to the pyramidal-tomb is certainly stretching this possible correlation too far. In any case, the Mastaba tomb ideology may not only be solar, for A. Badawy seems to have found strong stellar symbolism in its orientation and design (JNES, vol.xv 1956, p.183). The radical change of the tomb design into monumental pyramids is likely due to a new interpretation by the clergy for the skyward ascent of the departed pharaohs, and possibly on new ‘evidence’ of his posthumous form which was, for some hitherto unexplained reason, now believed to be conical or pyramidal.
It is also often argued that the phoenix, a mythical bird which was said to appear at dawn perched on a pole extending from a Benben, was representative of the sun-god’s self-creating power (Breasted, p.72). But the phoenix’s cosmic identification was by no means exclusive to the sun. In the Middle Kingdom, for example, the phoenix was also said to be the soul of Osiris, as well as the moon and sometimes the ‘morning star’ i.e. Venus (Rundle Clark, p.246-9). The phoenix thus was symbolic of the rebirth at dawn not only of the sun-god but of cosmic beings in general. In The Book Of The Dead, Chapter 83 entitled ‘Spell For Becoming The Phoenix (Bennu) Bird’, the phoenix claims: “I am the seed corn of every god…” (Rundle Clark, p.249). His power of self-creation clearly symbolised the emerging (rebirth) of celestial bodies (gods) at dawn from the underworld, the tenebrous land of the dead below the horizon.
It is known that a sacred pillar was worshipped at Heliopolis before the Benben (Edwards, p.24). The phallic symbolism of a pillar is of course obvious, and its association to the phallus of Atum seems almost a certainty, for in the Pyramid Texts we read: “Atum is he who once came into being, who masturbated in On (Heliopolis). He took his phallus in his grasp that he might create orgasm by means of it…” (pyr. 1248); “O Atum-khoprer (as the Beetle or rising sun), you became high on the heights (pillar/mound?), you rose as the Benben stone in the Mansion Of The Phoenix in On…” (pyr. 1652). H. Frankfort suggested that the combination of the Benben with a pillar -later stylised perhaps into an obelisk with a Benbenet- may thus represent the semen or seed being ejaculated from a cosmic phallus associated to Atum (Frankfort, p.153,380 & note 26). Later, this fetish was probably considered sacred to Ra or Atum-Ra. In the Pyramid Texts, it is said: “O Ra, make the womb of Nut pregnant with the seed of the spirit which is in her”. (pyr. 990). “Pressure is in your womb, O Nut, through the seed of the god which is in you; it is I [the king] who am the seed of the god which is in you…” (pyr. 1416-7). “…the king is an imperishable star, son of the sky-goddess…” (pyr. 1469). “The king was fashioned by his father Atum…” (pyr.1466). “O Ra-Atum, this king comes to you, an imperishable spirit (star?)…your son comes to you, this king comes to you” (pyr.152). Judging from these passages, it is evident that Nut was imagined to be the mother of the king in his star form, the latter sired by Ra/Atum. A pillar surging skywards atop of which is placed a fetish representing a star-seed and offered to the sky-goddess for gestation in her womb, very much appears to be the intended symbolic function of the Pillar/Benben combined fetish at Heliopolis. In consideration of the above, it is indeed significant to note that the word ‘Benben’ means ‘to copulate’ (to seed a womb?) when followed by the determinative of an erect phallus ejaculating semen (Wallis Budge, p.217). Several words containing the root ‘Ben’ also have sexual meanings (Baines, Orientalia 39, 1970, p.389-395).
In the Pyramid Texts, the astronomical/mythological scenario which must be considered is that the departed pharaoh becomes a ‘seed’ to be reborn as a star. This ‘seed’ is sired by Ra/Atum and gestated in the womb of Nut: “The king is your seed, O Ra” (pyr.1508). “the king comes to you, O mother of the king, he has come to Nut, that you may bring the sky to the king and hang the stars for him…” (pyr.1516). “the sky conceives you with Orion…” (pyr. 820). “Recitation by Nut, the greatly beneficent: the king is my eldest son who splits open my womb…” (pyr.1). “…O King, you are this Great Star, the companion of Orion…the sky has borne you with Orion…” (pyr.882-3). “The King is a star brilliant…the King appears as a star…” (pyr. 262-3). “For you belong to the stars that surround Ra” (pyr. 412). “You [Nut] have set this King as an imperishable Star who is in you…” (pyr. 782). “The King is a star” (pyr. 1470). “The King is a star in the sky among the gods” (pyr. 1583). “I [the king] am a soul …a star of gold…” (pyr. 887-9). “I sit among you, you stars of the Netherworld" (pyr. 953). “I am a star which illumines the sky…” (pyr. 1455). “I am a nhh-star, the companion of nhh-star, I become a nhh-star…” (pyr. 909). “O Ra, for which you have said, O Ra, O for a Son!...he having a soul and being mighty and strong…Here I am, O Ra; I am your Son, I am a soul…I row Ra when traversing the sky, even I a star of gold” (pyr, 886-9). “I row Ra to the West…I am a Nhh-Star” (pyr.Ut. 469). “my star is set on high with Ra…” (pyr. 698)
In consideration of this, it is justified to assume that the predominant symbolism for the pyramid would be stellar, for this monument undoubtedly was considered the agency of the king’s astral rebirth. The contemporary names of several monumental pyramids indeed attest to such a stellar symbolism: ‘Djedefra is a Sehetu star’; ‘Nebka is a star’; ‘The soul (ba) of Sahura gleams’; ‘Sneferu gleams’; ‘Neferirkare has become a soul (ba)’ (Edwards, The Pyramids. pp.295-8; Badawy, JEA 63, p.58). The compounding of the pharaoh’s name with that of his pyramid is also significant, for it implies that the monument (or mainly its capstone, as we shall later see) was regarded as being the transfigured form of the departed pharaoh viz. a star-soul. Retaining the hypothesis that the Benben did inspire the designers of the true pyramid, then in what manner can this sacred stone’s conical shape be related to the imagined shape of a star? Taking into account the stellar destiny of the dead pharaoh and his astral ‘iron-bones’ (see below), the Benben stone’s supposedly cosmic origin and most particularly its ‘conical’ shape, it is justified to conjecture that this sacred stone was an ‘oriented’ (conical) iron-meteorite.
The idea in antiquity that meteorites were ‘shooting stars’ or ‘falling stars’ needs no further emphasis. Factually, meteorites are debris from space- mostly from broken up asteroids- which fall on our planet, and which can be recovered (as opposed to meteors which completely burn up during atmospheric transit). Meteorites are classified into three main groups: iron-meteorites (usually 90% iron/10-12% nickel), stony/iron-meteorites, and stone-meteorites. The largest known are the iron-meteorites as these tend to survive the impact with the ground more easily than the others types for obvious reasons. Most meteorites are in fact very small. Occasionally, however, a large meteorite enters our atmosphere. If it is very large (the famous 1.2 km. wide Arizona meteor crater was caused by a lump of iron 25 meters across), it will retain most of its original velocity and usually explodes with dramatic effect just before hitting the ground, its mass breaking up into thousands of minute fragments (the Arizona meteor caused a blast equivalent to a 4-megaton nuclear explosion). Not all large meteorites, however, break up so easily. The largest single known meteoritic mass is the ‘Hoba’ iron-meteorite, and still lies in the place where it fell near Grootfontein farm in Southwest Africa. This meteorite is estimated to be a 60 ton chunk of iron. Most meteorites with a mass of 1000 to 15000 kg. usually have their velocity dampened by the atmosphere, causing them to free fall for the last 20 km. and thus strike the earth at about 0.1 km. per second. In the case of an iron-meteorite, the odds of survival with minimal damage in such cases is good. Also, many meteorites often retain their orientation in the direction of flight; this causes the front part to melt and flow toward the rear. The result -especially for the iron variety- is a meteorite having the characteristic shape of a rough cone. These are known as ‘oriented’ meteorites. Several oriented iron-meteorites weighing from 5 to 15 tons are known (Buckwald, chap.6). The best examples are ‘Morito’ (10 tons) and ‘Willamette’ (14 tons) -the names are usually of the places the meteorites were found. Morito is a well-preserved conical iron-meteorite, and is displayed in Mexico City. It measures about 110 cm. in height and the base is about 150 cm. and does indeed look eerily like a pyramidal-cone. Willamette is displayed in the American Museum Of Natural History, New York.
There was a widespread belief among ancient Mediterranean people -including the Egyptians- that iron actually came from heaven; clearly here an allusion to its meteoritic origin. Today, the average number of meteorite finds is only 5 meteorites per year. Such scarcity is in spite of our sophisticated communication systems and greater scientific interest. A low number such as this could hardly have caused the widespread belief in antiquity that iron came from the sky, and many scientists are of the opinion, therefore, that meteorite falls occurred more frequently in the past - an hypothesis apparently supported by astrophysics research. The probability, therefore, of observing the fall of a large iron-meteorite and also recovering it was higher in our remote past than it is today. Indeed many sacred stones which were believed to have ‘fallen from heaven’, and accordingly worshipped in temples or shrines, were surely meteorites. The Ephesians (Acts xix-35), for example, are said to have worshipped in the temple of Diana ‘that symbol of her which fell from heaven’. In the temple of Apollo in Delphi a stone (Roux, p.130), probably shaped like an ovoid/cone (later to be replaced by the well-known Omphalos) was believed to have come from Cronnos the sky-god, and was the object of much veneration. This ‘stone of Cronnos’ was most likely a meteorite (Wainwright, Annal, Serv.xxviii, p.185). A conical iron-meteorite is said to have also been worshiped by the Phrygian in the 7th century BC (McCall, p.17). The conical black stone known as Elagalabus was worshipped in Emessa and was a meteorite (Daremberg & Sangrio, p.529). Not far from Emessa, in the temple of Heliopolis-Baalbek, were venerated black, conical stones (Hitti, p.312). The Nabataean god, Dushara, was worshipped in the form of an obelisk or ‘an unhewn four cornered blackstone’ (ibid. p.385). Indeed, a modern example of such stone-worship is the much venerated blackstone kept in the Ka’aba shrine in Mecca, Western Saudi Arabia, which is thought by geologists to be a meteorite recovered in antiquity (A further discussion on sacred meteorites will be found in my forthcoming article “The Fetish Of Ammon and Alexander The Great: an investigation on the meteoritic connection”).
British Egyptologist G.A. Wainwright has convincingly argued that iron in the Old Kingdom Period was mostly obtained from iron-meteorites (Wainwright, JEA 18, p.3). It seems that man-made iron from terrestrial ores rarely contains nickel, whereas meteoritic iron contains a high proportion of this element, on average 12 percent. Wainwright states that ornamental beads made of iron dating as far back as Pre-Dynastic times have been analysed and shown to contain high levels of nickel, confirming their meteoritic origin (for a counter view see Dunham, JEA 28,p.57). Significantly the word ‘Bja’ meaning iron in ancient Egyptian also meant the ‘material of which heaven was made’ . It is therefore highly likely that meteoritic-iron was also imagined the stuff from which were made the reborn kings as star-gods (Wainwright, JEA 18, p.11). Certain passages in the Pyramid Texts are indeed very suggestive of such a concept: “The king’s bones are iron and the king’s members are the imperishable stars…” (pyr.2051). “I [the king] am pure, I take to myself my iron bones…my imperishable limbs are in the womb of Nut” (pyr.530) “my bones are iron and my limbs are the imperishable stars” (pyr.1454).
It is also likely that chunks of iron-meteorite -which generally have a lustred, black appearance-were associated or even confused with black hard stones such as diorite, basalt and dark-grey granite found in Upper Egypt. To a primitive mind unfamiliar with iron and its chemical properties, the resemblance can be uncanny. Not surprisingly, black basalt was called ‘Bja-Kam’ meaning ‘black iron’ (Wallis Budge, p.210), suggesting that basalt, and possibly similar black hard stones viz. diorite and dark granite, were associated to meteoritic ironstone, and consequently to the ‘bones’ of star-gods. Most capstones of monumental pyramids were probably made of granite (Edwards, pp.118,151). The almost-black granite capstone of the pyramid of Amenemhet III in the Cairo museum is a fine example of this. It was discovered in 1902 by Maspero, who remarked that its surface had been ‘mirror’ polished (“poli a miroir…” -Maspero, Annal.Serv. iii, p.206). Such a description is typical for the appearance of a freshly fallen iron-meteorite. Amenemhet III’s capstone could well be the stylised man-made version of an oriented iron-meteorite symbolising his materialized star-soul. The two lines of carved hieroglyphic inscriptions ornating the base of the capstone were first discussed by Maspero (Maspero, Annal.Serv. iii, p.206), and later by Breasted (Breasted, p.73) and Piankoff (Piankoff, p.5). In the inscriptions several deities are evoked, among them supposedly the sun-god (as ‘The Lord Of The Horizon’) and Orion-Osiris, the great star-god of astral rebirth, depicted as a striding man holding a staff in one hand, and cupping a large star in the other. On one side of the capstone are carved two large eyes surmounted by a disc with feathered-wings; the inscription below states that “the face of Amenemhet is open, he sees the Lord Of The Horizon as he sails in the sky” (incidentally, this curious winged-face/head is also depicted in the Pyramid Texts in conjunction with ‘iron’: “He has appeared upon the Stone (?), upon his throne, he has sharpened the iron by means of it…raise yourself, O king, gather your bones, take your head…O king, raise yourself as Min [the Phallic/fertility God], fly up to the sky and live with them, cause your wings to grow with your feathers on your head…” (pyr.1945-8). Another inscription on the Amenemhet III capstone states: “…the soul of King Amenemhet is higher than the heights of Orion…” Breasted’s view that the inscriptions proves the solar symbolism of the capstone is surely incorrect, for it is fairly evident from such inscriptions that we are to consider the capstone not as the material representation of the sun-god but rather that of the king’s star-soul, a progeny of Ra, not Ra himself. It is in this capacity that the soul of the king, now established as a star-object high above the base of the pyramid, does indeed participate in the eternal cycles of the sun-god and the ancestral star-gods as they sail across the sky each day.
The hieroglyphic sign for the word ‘pyramid’ was sometimes depicted as a pyramid with a yellow apex, suggesting that the granite capstones of pyramids may have been gilded (Edwards, p.276). An inscription found by Jequier at the pyramid of a queen called Udjebten supports this hypothesis, for it speaks of the gilded capstone of her pyramid (ibid.). A quasi-black granite capstone, the stylised representation of an oriented iron-meteorite, finely polished and covered with a gold skin would certainly bear potent symbolism associated to a primitive concept of a ‘living star’ i.e. a star-soul shining in the sky, the bones of which were imagined to be made of iron or bja-kam, and the ‘flesh’ of gold. Evidence of this idea may be in these passages: “O King, raise yourself upon your iron bones and golden members, for this body of yours belongs to a god… may your flesh be born to life and may your life be more than the life of the stars in their season of life…” (pyr. 2244). “I [the king] row Ra when traversing the sky, even I a star of gold…” (pyr. 886-9); and (pyr. 904) instructs the dead king to “be a soul like a living star”.
Summary and Conclusion
Similar to many other cases of meteoritic worship by ancient peoples, it is also likely that the Benben stone once worshipped in the ‘Mansion Of The Phoenix’ was a meteorite. Its conical shape and its association with the pyramid’s capstone -the latter a likely symbol of the star-soul of the departed pharaoh made of ‘iron bones’- is very suggestive of an oriented iron-meteorite, possibly a mass within the 1 to 15 ton range. Such objects fallen from heaven were generally representative of ‘fallen stars’, and likely provided the Egyptian clergy with a tangible sample of a star-object, a ‘seed’ of Ra-Atum. It is recognised by many that the whole business of the rebirth rites performed for dead pharaohs was intensely, if not mainly, stellar. The well-known archeoastronomer E.C. Krupp rightly noted that “the language of the stellar cycles appears to be interchangeable with the language of funeral rites” (Krupp, P.216). It is also generally accepted that the essence of the royal funerary rites was the re-enactment of the resurrection of Osiris, the latter having been revived after death by magical rites of ‘mummification’ performed by Isis, thus becoming the first royal mummy. But this resurrection of Osiris as a ‘mummy’ is but an initial, partial stage of the magical rites, for the second and final stage was his self-transfiguration into a star-god, Sahu-Orion, in the form of which he becomes ruler of the Duat, a star-world for the souls (Hassan, p.286; Mercer, p.34). This second cosmic transfiguration is not often appreciated (Rundle Clark, p.122), nor is its stellar implication properly understood. All the rituals, ceremonies and litany for the royal funeral, however, are implicit of such a two-step transfiguration of the dead king. The fundamental point to be appreciated here is that both transfigurations i.e. corpse to ‘Osiris’, and ‘Osiris’ to ‘star-god’, were deemed to be materially possible. Firstly the dead king was made into a ‘dead Osiris’ (Champdor, p69), then followed his transfiguration into a ‘star-soul’. To achieve the first transfiguration i.e. a ‘dead Osiris’, the corpse was actually ornated in the image of Osiris via a complex preparation which today is somewhat loosely termed ‘mummification’. Then the ‘Osirianized’ corpse i.e. the mummy, through its own latent power, and also aided by magical spells recited by the clergy, was expected to self-transfigure into a ‘Sahu’, or spiritualised body (pyr. 1716; Wallis Budge BOD,lix; Hassan, p.314). That no connection or word-play was intended between Sah (Orion, soul of Osiris) and Sahu (spiritual body of the dead Osiris-king) appears very unlikely. In the Pyramid Age, this second stage viz. the self-transfiguration into a ‘star’, was conveniently left in the charge of the pyramid itself, the latter proclaimed by the clergy as a monument endowed with the power to induce the metamorphosis of a ‘dead Osiris’ into a ‘living star’ (Bauval DE 13). This was probably imagined to happen by the upwards transmittal of the soul of the entombed Osiris-king into his star-soul ‘seed’ i.e. the capstone/star-object crowning the pyramid. Thus the ‘seed’ of Ra-Atum was thrust skywards into the custody of the cosmic mother, the sky-goddess Nut, to be gestated and reborn at dawn as an ‘established’ star in the firmament. In the Pyramid Texts we read: “Nut has laid her hands on you, O King, even she whose hair is long and whose breasts hang down; she carries you for herself to the sky, she will never cast the king down to earth. She bears you, O King, like Orion…” (pyr. 2171-2) “The King has come to you, O Mother of the king, he has come to Nut, that you may bring the sky to the king and hang up the stars for him, for his savior is the savior of your son who issued from you, the king’s savior is that of Osiris your son who issued from you” (pyr. 1516). If we link up these passages with passage 1657 “this king is Osiris, this pyramid of the king is Osiris” then much sense is made of, and modality given to this esoteric litany.
Isn't it most beautiful!