Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sais, the Rosetta Stone, Champollion and Google Earth in the Context of the Alleged Four Corner Stones of Sais, Nabta Playa, Mecca, and Dumat Al-Jandal viz. Sakaka and Al Rajajil

In our most recent previous posting we presented the alleged Four Corner Stones of a Land Survey in Ancient Egypt and Arabia: Sais (Sa al Hajar, Rosetta Stone), Nabta Playa (Table Rock Stone), Mecca (Kaaba), Dumat Al-Jandal (Missing Stone).

In this posting we take a cartographic look at the ancient Egyptian site of Sais (Ancient Greek: Σάϊς, modernly Sa al Hajar viz. Şān al Hajar al Qiblīyah), a location at which some observers -- in our opinion correctly -- place the original location of the Rosetta Stone, prior to the alienated use of that stone by Ptolemy V of Egypt and the even later alientated use of the Rosetta Stone for construction purposes in the nearby town of Rashid ("Rosetta").

The Wikipedia article on Sais presents an image derived from a drawing made by Jean-François Champollion during his 1828 expedition to Egypt. Either Champollion himself in his drawing or those who later published that drawing made a mistake by turning the drawing 90° from the correct North-South orientation of Sais, as a quick view of modern Google Earth can confirm.

The Champollion source drawing can be viewed at Bibliothèque nationale de France via where the image, now in the public domain, is described as follows:
Title : Lettres écrites d'Égypte et de Nubie en 1828 et 1829 (Nouv. éd.) / par Champollion le jeune ; nouv. éd. [par Z. Chéronnet-Champollion]
Author : Champollion, Jean-François (1790-1832)
Publisher : Didier (Paris)
Date of publication : 1868
Contributor : Chéronnet-Champollion, Z. (fils de Champollion le jeune). Éditeur scientifique
Subject : Égyptien ancien (langue) -- Écriture hiéroglyphique
Subject : Égypte -- Descriptions et voyages -- 19e siècle
Type : monographie imprimée
Language : French
Format : II-397 p.-[4] f. de pl. : ill. ; in-8
Format : application/pdf
Copyright : domaine public
Identifier : ark:/12148/bpt6k103771z
Source : Bibliothèque nationale de France, 8-O3a-25 (A)
Relation :
Provenance :
Gallica online date :15/10/2007
Our images below show the directional correction that needs to be made.

Champollion's drawing turned 90 degrees
conforms to what we see at Google Earth for Sais.

It is thus probable that this is the original Sais location and that there are not other "older" locations, as some authors freely speculate. The "temple" dedicated to the geodetic survey of Egypt is right next to a water source, as are all of the locations of the four corner stones: 1) the "sinkhole" at Sais, 2) the now dry wadi oasis at Nabta Playa (with a cat-like figure formed by the wadis), 3) the perhaps not coincidental "cat-like" form of the man-made water at Dumat Al-Jandal, and, 4) as written at Sacred Sites for Mecca:
"[A]ncient Mecca [which] was an oasis on the old caravan trade route that linked the Mediterranean world with South Arabia, East Africa, and South Asia."
We say "not coincidental cat-like form"  because the four corner-stone near-water locations were in our opinion "worked" in shape by the ancients to create animal figures. Mau viz. maa was the term for either "cat" or "lion" in ancient Egyptian and, indeed, in ancient Egypt lions guarded each corner of the realm, as written at the Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies:
"In Egyptian drawings the "ends" of the earth are represented by lions...."
As written at the Wikipedia at Aker (god):
"In Egyptian mythology, Aker (also spelt Akar) was one of the earliest gods worshipped, and was the deification of the horizon. There are strong indications that Aker was worshipped before other known Egyptian gods of the earth, such as Geb.... Aker itself means (one who) curves because it was perceived that the horizon bends all around us....

As the horizon, Aker was also seen as symbolic of the borders between each day, and so was originally depicted as a narrow strip of land (i.e. a horizon), with heads on either side, facing away from one another, a symbol of borders....

As the Egyptians believed that the gates of the morning and evening were guarded by Aker, they sometimes placed twin statues of lions at the doors of their palaces and tombs. This was to guard the households and tombs from evil spirits and other malevolent beings. This practice was adopted by the Greeks and Romans, and is still unknowingly followed by some today...."
Diane E. Wirth and Steven L. Olsen of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University, write in Reexploring the Book of Mormon in Chapter 41, titled Four Quarters:
"[T]he ancient Egyptian determinative glyph for "city" was a circle divided diagonally into four quarters....

In Egyptian texts, four beings or creatures often depicted the four cardinal points of the earth."
This tradition of the four corners of the realm was maintained for at least 3000 years. László Török at page 4 in the Preface to The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meroitic Civilization writes:
"The term T -sty, "Nubia" occurs on the 4th century BC Nastase Stela as part of a remarkable definition of universal regency, in terms of which the ruler is granted the kingship "of the Bow-land (i.e. Nubia), Are, the Nine Bows (the Egyptian term for foreign countries), the Two Banks (of the Nile), and the Four Corners (of the Land)". [emphasis added]
Sir Ernest A. Wallis Budge in his An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary (Volume II viz. Part 2) refers to the "Nastasen Stele" and its use of the term qāḥ in connection with:
"the four quarters of the country or of the world".
In The Gods of the Egyptians, Volume 1, Studies in Egyptian Mythology, Chapter XV, The Horus Gods (here excerpted by us, also leaving out the hieroglyphic signs, for which see the original source) Budge writes starting at p. 466, (with thanks for the text to Wisdom Library at"
"It has already been stated that the hawk was probably the first living creature which was worshipped generally throughout Egypt, and that as the spirit of the heights of heaven, and as the personification of the god who made the sky he was called Ḥeru, [glpyhs], i.e., “he who is above,” or, “that which is above.” ...

[W]hether due to the similarity in sound between the name “Ḥeru” and the word for face,”Her or Ḥrȧ”, the idea which became associated with the god Ḥeru was that he represented the Face of heaven, i.e., the Face of the head of an otherwise unknown and invisible god.

[T]his view was an ancient one even in the time when the Pyramids were built, for several allusions are made in the funeral texts of the Vth and VIth Dynasties to the “hair” or “tresses,” [glyphs], of the Face of Ḥeru as the Face of heaven, and four gods who are called the “children of Horus,” [glyphs], are declared to have their abodes in these tresses.

The Face of heaven was supported by the four gods by means of the four sceptres which they held in their hands, and these four sceptres took the place of the four pillars, [glyphs], of the god Shu which, according to an older myth, supported the four corners, i.e., the four cardinal points of the great iron plate that formed the floor of heaven and the sky above the earth....

The forms of Horus mentioned in Egyptian texts are numerous, but the following are the most important: ...

[glyphs] "Horus the elder” (or the “aged”), the ’Αρωὴρις of the Greeks, so called to distinguish him from Ḥeru-pa-kharṭ, or, “Horus the younger.” He is depicted in the form of a man with the head of a hawk, and also as a lion with the head of a hawk; he usually wears the crowns of the South and North united....

There was also a Ḥeru-ur of the South ... the seat of whose worship was at Mākhenut, [glyphs] near El-Kâb in Upper Egypt, and a Ḥeru-ur of the North, the seat of whose worship was at Sekhemet [glyphs] or [glyphs] or Seshemet [glyphs], the Latopolis of the Greeks, and the [glyphs] of the Copts, which lay a few miles to the north of Memphis; other shrines of Ḥeru-ur were at Ombos, [glyphs, ancient Nubt], at Smennut, [glyphs], and at Apollinopolis.

The most important shrine of the god was at Sekhem
, where stood the sanctuary Pa-Ȧit, [glyphs]; in its shrine was preserved the shoulder, mākhaq [glyphs], of the god Osiris, and close by grew the famous Nebes [glyphs], and Shent [glyphs] trees. Ḥeru-ur of Sekhem is called “lord of the Utchati [glyph],” i.e., lord of the Sun and Moon. In the Book of the Dead (xviii.c) it is said that the sovereign princes in Sekhem are Ḥeru-khent-ȧn-maati and Thoth, but it is clear that locally the great gods of the city were Isis, Osiris, and Horus. The form in which Ḥeru-ur was worshipped at Sekhem and other places was a lion."
[emphasis added]
The Sekhem Scepter appears twice in the royal serekh of the calendric Pharaoh Khasekhemwy (qāḥ-Sekh-emwy), a name which could literally have meant "to the end(s) of the Earth (under the Sun)", since, according to Budge, one meaning of qāḥ was "Earth" and several meanings of sekh center on "breadth, width, to stretch out to the sky".

The standing stones of Al-Rajajil (Al Rajajeel) are located just to the East of Dumat al-Jandal and just to the South of Sakakah, "end of the realm", which may find its ancient Egyptian comparable in Budge as the hieroglyphic location Sakakhi "[allegedly] a district in Syria, situation unknown". The "Sekhkem Scepter" is found even today as a symbol together with a sun-like "Ra" symbol at various ground locations in Saudi Arabia via Google Earth (e.g. 27.275139 N, 37.262782 E). We think these were hermetic (as above -- so below) geodetic markers in an ancient land survey.

One must now ask in this geodetic context why there is a 10° inclination at the temple of Sais, rather than a simple East-West orientation. This would make sense if Sais represented one corner of the alleged ancient land survey of Egypt and Arabia, with four corner stones marking what the ancients calculated as 10° of the great circle of the Earth, with Sais being the stone at the northwest corner of that system.

Can we find "probative evidence" for such a four-corner geodetic land survey?

Our next posting suggests in fact that the standing stones of Al Rajajeel (Al Rajajil) in Saudi Arabia are an ancient record of that 4th millennium BC land survey, perhaps marking inter alia the calculation of those four corners of that land survey triangulation on the ground.

We must add here, because it is important, that in a later era, Al Biruni made a similar land survey to calculate 1° of the great circle of the Earth. See Alberto Gomez Gomez, Biruni's Measurement of the Earth at where Gomez writes:
"The story begins before Biruni, when Sultan al-Mamun ordered two teams of surveyors to measure the earth. They did so by departing from a place in the desert of Sinjad, nineteen farsangs from Mosul and forty-three from Samarra, heading north and south respectively,  and both determining that the length of one degree of latitude is somewhat between 56 and 57 Arabic miles (Biruni Tahdid, tr. Ali 1967:178-80). Among the several extant accounts of this survey, Habash  al-Hasib  (tr.  Langermann 1985:108-28) quotes at length from a direct account from Khalid: 
‘The Commander of the Faithful al-Mamun desired to know the size of the earth. He inquired into this and found that Ptolemy mentioned in one of his books that the girth of the earth is so and so many thousands of stades. He asked the commentators about the meaning of stade, and they differed about the meaning of this. Since he was not told what he wanted, he directed Khalid ibn Abd al-Malik al-Marwarrudhi, Ali bin Isa al-Asturlabi [from his surname, evidently an instrument maker], and Ahmad ibn al-Bukhturi al-Dhari [from his surname, the Surveyor] with a group of surveyors and skilled artisans, including carpenters and  brass makers, who were to maintain the instruments they  needed. He led them to a place, which he chose in the desert of Sinjar. From there, Khalid and his party headed for the North Pole of the Little Bear, and  Ali  and  Ahmad  and  their  party  headed  to  the  South  Pole. They  proceeded  until  they  found  that  the height of the Sun at noon had increased (or differed) by one degree from the noon height they had taken at the place from which they had separated, after subtracting from it the sun’s declination along the path of the outward journey. They put arrows there. Then they returned to the arrows, testing the measurement a second time, and so found that one degree of the earth was 56 miles, of which one mile is 4000 black cubits. This is the cubit adopted by al-Mamun for the measurement of cloths, surveying of fields, and the distribution of way-stations.’
Another report is given by Ibn Yunus (Hakimite Tables 2), based on the accounts of Sind ibn Ali and Habash al-Hasib:
‘Sind ibn Ali reports that al-Mamun ordered that he and Khalid ibn Abd al-Malik al-Marwarrudhi should measure one degree of the great circle of the earth’s surface. “We left together,” he says, “for this purpose.” He gave the same order to Ali ibn Isa al-Asturlabi and Ali ibn al-Bukhturi, who took themselves to  another  direction.  Sind  ibn  Ali said,  “I  and  Khalid  ibn  Abd  al-Malik  travelled  to  the  area between Wamia and Tadmor, where we determined a degree of the great circle of the earth’s equator to be 57 miles. Ali ibn Isa and Ali ibn al-Bukhturi found the same, and these two reports containing the same measure arrived from the two regions at the same time.”

‘Ahmad ibn Abdallah, named Habash, reported in his treatise on observation made at Damascus by the authors of the Mumtahan [Verified tables] that al-Mamun ordered the measurement of one degree of the great circle of the earth. He said that for this purpose they travelled in the desert of Sinjar until the noon heights  between  the  two  measurements  in  one  day  changed  by  one  degree. Then  they  measured  the distance  between  the  two places,  which  was  56¼  miles  of  4000  cubits,  the black  cubits  adopted  by  al-Mamun’.
Biruni’s take on the matter (tr. Ali 1967:178-80) is that the figure that eventually became generally accepted as the length of 1º of latitude is 56⅔ miles (111.747 km), which is quite close to the actual value (110.95 km) for the latitudes involved (35º to 36º N). 360 times this number yields the earth’s girth (20400 mls), and from it the radius is easily deduced (6402.612 km). Mamun’s teams had got a nearly perfect hit!" [footnotes omitted]
The modern-day value for the length of 1 degree of latitude is equal to
1 degree x 69.172 miles at the Equator. This does not vary significantly toward the poles.

The four corner stones of Sais, Nabta Playa, Mecca and Dumat Al-Jandal from North to South cover ca. 580 miles for ca. 8 degrees of latitude, which gives an ancient value (4000 years ago) by stone age astronomy of ca. 72.5 miles per degree of latitude. Some observers may expect more accuracy than that. We do not, for that era.

The modern-day formula for the length of 1 degree of longitude is equal to cosine (latitude) x length of degree (miles) at the Equator.

The four corner stones East to West give us separating distance values of ca. 570 miles (the distance between Sais and Al-Rajajil) for 10 degrees longitude at ca. 31 degrees North or a value of 57 miles for one degree of longitude,
and ca. 590 miles (the distance between Nabta Playa and Mecca) for 10 degrees longitude at ca. 23 degrees North or a value of 59 miles for one degree of longitude.

For comparison, the modern calculation is:

1° Longitude = cos (31 degrees North latitude) x 69.172 mi = ?? miles
1° Longitude = 0.8571673007 x 69.172 mi =  ca. 59 miles

1° Longitude = cos (23 degrees North latitude) x 69.172 mi = ?? miles
1° Longitude = 0.92050485345 x 69.172 mi = ca. 64 miles

Those are in our opinion very good values for stone age astronomy 4000+ years ago. Others may disagree.

Recall that Al-Biruni for ca. 35 to 36 degrees latitude obtained a value of 56.25 miles, and that was more than 3000 years later.

Our posting on the standing stones of Al Rajajil (Al Rajajeel) is next.

Crossposted at the Ancient Egypt Blog.

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  • Sky Earth Native America 2:
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    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
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