Can The Alignments of the Giza Pyramids be Explained from Moundville, Alabama Artifacts?—Part 2
By Dr. Greg Little
In part 1 of this article a general description of the massive mound complex at Moundville, Alabama was presented.
It was in 1905 that the American “archaeologist” Clarence Bloomfield Moore (1852-1936) began excavations at Moundville where he gradually uncovered some of the most impressive and intriguing artifacts ever dug out of mounds. Starting in the 1890s until about 1920 Moore excavated (or obliterated as many early archaeologists had a tendency to do) literally a couple thousand mounds throughout the south. Moore found stone disks, pipe effigies, axes, pottery, and thousands of other artifacts at Moundville. Inscribed on some disks and painted on pottery were curious symbols and creatures that have also been found at several other mound sites in the south, including in Georgia (Etowah), Memphis, Tennessee (Walls) and in Arkansas. The artifacts are stunning and have been intriguing to archaeologists and even modern Native Indian tribes. They are considered to be integral to a culture now known as the “Southern Ceremonial Complex,” which was earlier called the “Southern Death Cult” because the symbols clearly were related to death and burials.
In the 1800’s ethnologists wrote up a variety of tribal legends and stories gathered from shaman and tribal storytellers that sometimes mentioned some of the symbolism contained on the Moundville and similar artifacts. (Many of these extensive reports are in the voluminous and massive Bureau of Ethnology reports.) In recent times a group of archaeologists have slowly unraveled the meaning of the symbols and essentially correlated them with tribal stories and directly linked them to beliefs about the origin of humans as well as the ultimate destiny of souls. It is a stunning set of complex beliefs that point to two separate portals in the celestial world, a path traveled by all souls, and a series of choice points on the soul’s journey. The story that has emerged is supported by nearly every Native American tribe as well as tribes from many other areas of the world where similar legends are preserved. The two celestial portals are in Orion’s Belt and in the constellation of Cygnus. Curiously, both of these constellations are touted to be the pattern used for the construction of the three main pyramids at Giza.
The Five Main Symbols
While there have been dozens of articles about the Moundville symbols published in professional journals, two recent books summarize the bulk of the evidence: “Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand” (2004) and “Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms” (2007). Both books were cooperatively authored by nearly 25 different academic archaeologists who are in the mainstream of American archaeology.
One focus of the research was a cataloging and statistical analysis of the most frequently-found symbols but only a few will be briefly discussed here. One symbol, known as the “Feathered Serpent” or “Winged Serpent,” is found on some 33 artifacts.
Another symbol is known as the “Eye in Hand” and it has been found on 31 artifacts. In many cases the symbol is depicted in books and representative paintings as being with the fingers pointed up, but the reality is that it is meant to be shown as the fingers pointed down.
Other important symbols associated with this complex set of ceremonial objects include a skull, a bone, a raptor bird, and a cross. The cross is sometimes shown with an encircling set of rays and other times with a circle around the cross. (The text with the picture incorrectly calls the portal M-41, it is actually M-42.)
The meanings of these symbols is as follows, in brief, “The artistic cluster illustrates a complex of beliefs regarding the death of human beings … At a crucial point in the dying process, the ‘free soul,’ the one that is self-aware and has an identifiable personality in relation to the deceased, separates from the body, leaving behind the life-soul, a mindless force which can be dangerous to the living, trapped in or near the physical remains. The free-soul remains present in the vicinity for a brief time, then gathers the spirit version of various tools given to it by the living and sets off toward the west on its final journey.” (pp. 175-6; Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms) The free-soul and the life soul are represented by the skull and bone symbols.
The path traveled is to the west toward the setting sun and according to the now understood legends, the trip lasts four or more days. During the trip there are some choice points where the soul can decide to return to its body. But when it reaches the edge of the disk of the earth it stands at a watery shore, with the underworld below the watery surface and the upper realm above in the night sky. If the soul chooses to go to the realm of the dead (located through the sky above) it must make a journey across the sky but must first make a leap of faith from the earth into the sky into a small portal located in an area Native tribes called the “Hand Constellation.” “The portal in the hand must be entered by a leap at the optimum time, which is a ten minute window which occurs once each night from November 29, when the hand vanishes into the water (the underworld) in the West just at dawn, to April 25, when the hand sinks at dusk not to be seen again for six months. During that winter period the portal is on the horizon for a breathless few minutes each night, and the free-souls must enter at that time or be lost.” (p. 177)
The Hand Constellation is actually the bottom half of the Orion Constellation. The three belt stars represent a severed wrist. A host of Native tribal legends and practices discuss the severed hand and how it happened. Legends say that an attempt was made to catch souls entering the portal and the hand was cut off. The actual portal is a fuzzy galaxy known as Messier 42. After entering the portal the soul gains access to the “path of souls” which is known as the Milky Way.
On the Milky Way the soul must travel to the south, which is explained by the movements of the Milky Way. Over the year the Milky Way swings and becomes oriented more to the north and south. As a sidenote, the symbol of the winged serpent enters here. It is actually the Constellation Scorpio with the star Antares serving as its eye. It is the ruler of the realm of the dead, however, the final destination of the soul is found near the Dark Rift of the Milky Way. Here, the Milky Way splits into two parts and at its far end lies the Constellation of Cygnus and the star Deneb sitting right at the point where the two splits come close together. The split in the Milky Way, the two sides of the Dark Rift, is referred to as the “Fork” and at this point a guardian Raptor is encountered. (The iconographic symbol of the “forked eye raptor” represents this spot.) One side of the fork leads to a dead end where the raptor is found, known as “the brain smasher” a fitting term for what this guardian’s function is. For it causes “memory loss for the dead souls” and “deprives them of their existence altogether.” (pp. 208-9) At this choice point a judgment of the soul takes place and the soul is either obliterated or it moves through the Deneb portal into the realm of the dead where it is reunited with its ancestors.
Certainly there is a enormous amount of additional information that could be addressed here, however, it is now clear that nearly all ancient American mound building cultures shared this overall view. Even some mound sites’ physical arrangements seem to have depicted the journey. For example, the massive Newark, Ohio complex, which is the most complex set of earthworks in existence in the world, probably symbolically represents the soul’s journey through the sky. http://www.mysterious-america.net/cygnus-gizatonew.html
Orion & Cygnus at Giza
The beliefs shared by Native American tribes have strong similarity to afterlife ideas expressed by ancient Egyptian beliefs. There is a journey to be made to the stars, a judgment of the soul, dangers on the path and tools to be used, and the alignment of one of shafts in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid to Orion is generally accepted as a genuine fact. However, more controversial is the idea that the ground layout of the three large Giza pyramids was done to reflect Orion. In brief, Orion does not really fit the pyramid layout well at all, despite arguments to the contrary. On the other hand, British writer Andrew Collins found that the main stars of Cygnus actually presented a near perfect match. http://www.mysterious-america.net/cygnus-orion.html
In addition, Collins found and explored a previously unrecognized cave complex that apparently runs under the Deneb spot. Zahi Hawass even dubbed the complex “Collins Caves.” Collins has suggested that the caves running under Giza represented the watery underworld, another curious similarity to the Native American beliefs.
In summary, what this enormously complex belief system may infer is that the Giza pyramids reflect both Orion and Cygnus as portals. Incredibly, the complex may well have been constructed in such a way that the soul of the Pharoah would go first to the Orion portal, and then travel the path of souls where it ends the journey at Cygnus, just as Collins speculated. The three pyramids may well reflect both Orion and Cygnus.