Subject: THE GOLDEN CAPSTONE CONTROVERSY
by Robert G. Bauval
Will the Egyptians scrap the millennium ceremony at the Giza Pyramids? By Robert G. Bauval
Amid accusation of 'Zionist' plots and 'Masonic' skullduggery, the Egyptian government is half minded to canceling the placing of a golden capstone on top of the Great Pyramid on the eve of the new millennium. It all began, strangely enough, in Paris in May 1998 when, after a golden capstone was ceremoniously placed on top of the Egyptian obelisk which stands at the Place de la Concorde, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, announced that a similar ceremony would take place at the Great Pyramid of Giza at midnight on the 31st December 1999:
"We cannot rebuild the pyramids stone by stone, so we have chosen a symbolic event like the ancient Egyptians did when they used to cap obelisks like what the French did at the Place de la Concorde".
Then in early October 1998, the minister announced that he had commissioned French composer Jean-Michel Jarre to organize an all-night opera for this event. Details were then released in due course by the official Egyptian Tourist Authorities. They announced that Jarre would compose a 12-hours opera titled "The Twelve Dream of the Sun" for the sum of 10 million US dollars and that,
"At midnight a helicopter will fly into the site and, hovering in a starburst of lasers and spotlights, will place a gigantic gilded capstone atop the Great Pyramid --all to the accompaniment of what is expected to be an unprecedented Jarre crescendo of electronic music. The gold cap, approximately 28 feet high (about the size of a two-story house) is being especially constructed to protect the pyramid structure. In place, it will catch the first light of the new millennium as the sun rises over Egypt. Capping pyramids with gold and timing important events to the setting and rising sun are very much part of the ancient Egyptian pharoanic tradition, making this piece of Jarre theatre particularly meaningful."
It appears that the idea originated with Dr. Zahi Hawass, Under-secretary of State for the Giza Monuments. Apparently Hawass had made a recent discovery at Abusir near Giza, where he unearthed two limestone blocks with ancient inscriptions and drawings depicting workers moving a golden capstone for a royal pyramid amid scenes of dancing and celebrations. Hawass suggested to his superior, culture minister Farouk Hosni, that this was the ideal way that Egypt should celebrate the millennium. Jean-Michel Jarre proposed that 3 million people should be allowed to attend the event. The Egyptian authorities, however, stipulated a limit of 250,000 for 'security reasons'. Huge promotional events were organised in various capitals of the Western world, including New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and various cities in Europe. Preparations then began for a huge stage in the desert south of the Great Pyramid, intended to have seating capacity for 25 000 people at the price of $ 400 per ticket. Cheaper tickets were also sold for 'standing' places. All was apparently going to plan until September 1999, when senior member of the Egyptian Parliament began to complaint of the costs and that in December was also the religious month of Ramadan, when all devout Muslims have to fast from dawn to dusk and foreigners in Egypt are asked to refrain from drinking alcohol or eating in public areas during the hours of fasting. To counteract such criticism, culture minister Farouk Hosni stated that a ban would be placed on alcohol during the celebrations and that no music would be played till after the official breaking of fasting was announced. To add fuel to this political fire, the radical Egyptian press, notably the newspaper Al Shaab (The People) found out that Jean-Michel Jarre intended to project the so-called 'eye of Horus' on the Great Pyramid with laser lights, and immediately denounced the organisers of staging a 'Zionist' and 'Masonic' stunt. The Al Shaab claimed that the 'eye in the pyramid' blatantly evoked the well-known symbol of Freemasonry which can be seen on the US one-dollar bill. These accusations were hotly denied by Farouk Hosni and Zahi Hawass. "The suggestion is groundless", said Hawass." The celebration has nothing to do with Masonic beliefs. The design on the US dollar is a faulty imitation of the Pyramids of the Middle Kingdom."
The Americans have been paying particular attention to the proposed millennium ceremony at Giza, with dozen of guided tours already fully booked by US and Egyptian travel agents. Others will watch the event on television with over sixty major networks already signed up to broadcast by satellite the placing of the golden capstone on top of the Great Pyramid 'live' to channels all over the world.
"I will wait in front of the TV to see this great moment. It is one in a lifetime. I am counting the days!" Said Julie Holmes, a lawyer from Los Angeles.
A high profile group in Washington DC calling itself The Millennium Society, with members such as ex-White House official, Edward McNally, and a list of guests including Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping, Bill Clinton, Bruce Springsteen, Elizabeth Taylor and Nelson Mandela apparently will,
"attend the World Millennium Charity Celebration, the 'Celebration of Civilisation' to welcome the Year 2000 at the Great Pyramid of Cheops and 23 satellite locations on New Year's Eve 1999’Ä¶The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt, will be the cornerstone site of the World Millennium Celebration, and sanctioned events will be held at selected locations around the world. These celebrations will be linked to create a round-the-globe, round the clock welcome to the Year 2000."
Adding to the growing hype is another strange twist involving the 'prophecies' made by American Psychic Edgar Cayce also known as the 'Sleeping Prophet'. Cayce, who died in 1945, foretold the placing of a gilded capstone on the Great Pyramid which, according to him, would act as a 'symbol' for the rediscovery of the legendary 'Hall of Records of Atlantis' under the Sphinx and the second coming of Christ:
"The apex, the crown or apex (or capstone) was of metal; that was to be indestructible, being of copper, brass, gold with other alloys’Ä¶ it became very fitting that there should be the crowning or placing of this 'symbol of the records' by one who represent the old and the new’Ä¶ Hence there has arisen from this ceremony many of the things that may be seen as present’Ä¶ the sounding of the New Year’Ä¶ 1998 from the death of the Son of Man’Ä¶"
Oddly, Cayce also associates the event with the establishment of a sort of New World order based on Masonic principles:
"For with those changes that will be wrought, Americanism with the universal thought that is expressed and manifest in the Brotherhood of man into group thought as expressed in the Masonic Order, will be the eventual rule in the settlement of affairs in the world. Not that the world is to become a Masonic Order, but the principle that are embraced in the same will be the basis upon which the new order of peace is to be established’Ä¶"
Even more odd, perhaps, is the bizarre claim by Cayce that Jesus and John the Baptist (the patron saint of Freemasons) "took those last of the Brotherhood degrees" in the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Edgar Cayce Foundation has, since at least 1973, been involved in various expeditions at Giza to find the 'Hall of Records'. Two of its senior members, Dr. Joseph Schor and Mr. Joseph Jahoda, cause a huge controversy in 1996 when, under the cover of a license to conduct a general survey of Giza to find and repair faults and chasms under the bedrock, they extended their mandate and explored the ground under the Sphinx and claimed to have located a large man-made cavity under the paws at precisely the place Edgar Cayce had indicated. In August 1999 during a conference at the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Dr. Zahi Hawass announced the release of a new license to Joe Schor to conduct more radar soundings to find the Hall of Records under the Sphinx. He also announced that a small trap door at the end of a narrow tunnel inside the Great Pyramid, which was discovered by a German team in 1993 using a mechanised robot, will be opened early next year by the National Geographic team. Unconfirmed reports state that the Schor expedition planned to be at Giza on the 7th December 1999 to start their search with hopes that the Egyptian authorities will allow them to 'go further' if the radar results prove to be conclusive. Over the years much controversy and rumours has surrounded the precise relationship of the Edgar Cayce Foundation and the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation. Other than the fact that the Edgar Cayce Foundation promotes psychic beliefs and Biblical prophecies of the Second Coming of Christ, the finding of the Hall of Records and the lost continents of Atlantis, a much more down to earth controversy has been generated in an official biography of Edgar Cayce's eldest son, Hugh Lynn, where it is alleged that the latter was responsible in some ways for arranging for the university education of two senior officials involved with the Giza monuments. Edgar Cayce is also known to have envisaged in his trance sessions (called 'readings') the establishment of a new world order based on Masonic ideologies for the next millennium and somehow connected to the 'missing' capstone of the Great Pyramid and the return of the Christ. Whether it is anything to do with this or rather the recent announcement that an 'eye of Horus' would be projected on the Great Pyramid during the millennium celebrations is not clear, but in November 1999 the radical Egyptian press began to make open accusations of "Zionist" and "Masonic" plots, claiming that the combination of the golden capstone with the 'eye' symbol, which also appears on the US one-dollar bill, evoked Freemasonic ideologies. This symbol is also seen on the Great Seal of the United States of America which many believe to be Masonic. In early December the Egyptian authorities showed signs of caving in by threatening to scrap the golden capstone for the Great Pyramid. A face saving decision has been deferred to a 'scientific committee' who will have to approve or reject the scheme. It does seem extraordinary, however, that at this 11th hour with thousands of visitors already booked on flights and at hotels in Cairo and with dozens of TV networks geared to broadcast the event 'live' to all parts of the world, that the Egyptians are now speculating such a move. With less than two weeks to go to the 31st December, such a move would be disastrous not only for the tourist authorities but for Dr. Hawass and those who conceived the event. Also Dr. Zahi Hawass has very recently announced that the capstone, which apparently is made of an 8 m high metal frame, will not be covered in gold sheets but in copper, a rather poor replacement for such an event. Furthermore Dr. Hawass confusingly stated that "we cannot put it up with a helicopter because it will hurt the pyramid. Therefore if we find out that that putting this capstone will hurt the pyramid, then, we will not do it." It is very hard to see how a light metal frame lowered gently on the summit of the 6 million tons pyramid could 'hurt' it. It would be like placing a feather on an elephant's back; and even harder to see how else Dr. Hawass proposes to take the capstone up the 200 plus courses of the Great Pyramid to a height of 145 meters above ground level. Anyone who has climbed the Great Pyramid will know that this cannot be an easy task. Also missing the point, Dr. Hawass also denied that the capstone has anything to do with 'some societies', meaning Freemasonry. The point is not whether the decision to place the capstone has anything to do with the Brotherhood or any other 'society' but rather that the very act of placing it and the alleged projection of the 'eye of Horus' on the monument evokes Masonic ideologies and principles. As yet no official announcement has been made by the Egyptian State Information Service to cancel this event, and it is so far presumed that they will still go ahead. For scrapping the capstone ceremony would almost certainly be a serious blow to the credibility of those who promoted the idea in the first place. It would also generate a backlash from the thousands of visitors who have already paid hefty prices for airline tickets and hotels in order to witness the event on location; and greatly disappoint the millions of viewers around the world who prepared to watch it on television. It seems that it is not the 6 million tons stone pyramid that is at risk of being 'hurt' but the Egyptians' reputation for the flop of the millennium. The eyes of the world are watching.