Today I am doing something a little different. After writing about Sphinx mysteries yesterday, it reminded me that I never got around to creating an online version of James Bonwick's 1877 book Pyramid Facts and Fancies, which for better or worse remains one of the most important collections of viewpoints on the Great Pyramid every produced. While the book is a useful compendium, it has many, many flaws. In 2012 I published an annotated version as Pyramidiots, and I always meant to get around to making that available online but never did because it is such a pain in the neck to format. So, today I present an online version of my annotations to Pyramid Facts and Fancies, outlining the sources behind 47 of the most popular theories about the Great Pyramid. The fascinating thing about it is that since 1877, we have not really added anything to the initial list, just variations on the same. As I wrote in my introduction to the book in 2012:
... there is hardly any modern fringe theory about the Great Pyramid that is not derivative of one in place by 1877, the year James Bonwick wrote the overview of the 47 most popular theories about the pyramid that you are about to read. In 1888, Ignatius Donnelly suggested that pyramids worldwide were the work of men from Atlantis, but this was merely a variation of Bonwick’s theory No. 30, in which the pyramid was built before the Great Flood (the event Donnelly equated with the sinking of Atlantis). The ancient astronaut theory, similarly, draws on theory No. 30, No. 12, and nearly a dozen more, suggesting aliens purposely encoded this information the same way earlier theorists imagined God or the pre-Flood high civilization of the region had done. Even the supposedly highly original theory of Chris Dunn that the Pyramid was a high-efficiency power plant has a clear antecedent in Bonwick’s theories No. 4 and No. 36, updated from the mechanical age of hydraulics to the modern age of electricity. The more famous, but equally spurious, claims of Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock that the Pyramid was meant as part of a pyramid system connected to the stars and the mysteries of their motions finds its antecedents in theories Nos. 12, 25, and 40. That it supposedly dated to 10,500 BCE was yet another variation of the antediluvian No. 30.
You can find my annotated version of Bonwick's text here. Enjoy!
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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