Great Pyramid and the Speed of Light

A recent video posting by Brien Foerster on his YouTube channel prompted me to post a reply on behalf of a friend, that included information on the many methods of stoneworking that Ancient Egyptians employed. This wasn’t really a comment to rebut Foerster directly–I think he’s well aware of the science behind it all. It just doesn’t sell. And mysteries make him money in tours and book sales. The comment wasn’t even for the die-hard ancient-civ crowd that is sure some sort of “high technology” existed long before the Egyptians (even though there’s no trace of them in the archaeological record). The comment was for the casual reader searching for information on ancient cultures in Egypt and elsewhere that really doesn’t know much about the topic. Included were several links to legitimate sources and videos.

Unfinished obelisk in an Egyptian quarry. Diorite balls were found in situ where they were used to carve out the rock.

Foerster’s only comment was a cryptic, “they did not make the megaliths.” I really don’t know what he meant by “they” (Egyptians?) and he didn’t care to elucidate. But another commenter derided the magnificent and wondrous craftsmanship of Dynastic Egyptian stoneworkers by accusing them of simply “bashing rocks together.” She also tried to appeal to numerology by implying that since the builders of the Great Pyramid were able to place the pyramid on a latitude that is the same as the speed of light in a vacuum, they must therefore….? She doesn’t say anything more. Just the implication that a primitive civilization couldn’t possibly have built that pyramid. Few if any genuine archaeologists and Egyptologists would characterize Dynastic Egyptians as “primitive” (and to be fair, the commenter did not use that word, specifically–it was all implied).

The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second (m/s). The decimal coordinate for the Great Pyramid is Lat 29.979; Long 31.134.

First “bashing rocks together” is a gross oversimplification. They often used harder materials to grind, scrape, and ultimately cut less harder materials. Chert, for example, has a higher hardness than, say, granite or basalt. They also used fire to heat the mediums they wished to cut

Light dispersion of a mercury-vapor lamp with a prism made of flint glass

or split. A good text to read on the topic is Denys Stocks’ “Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt.”

Second, we know the few digits in the speed of light that correspond to the digital lat/lon of the Great Pyramid is coincidental for a variety of reasons:

1) the speed of light value in question is in meters per second, both units not invented in the period of construction for the pyramid. So the corresponding value would be meaningless at that time.

The meter was originally 1 / 10,000,000th the distance from the North PoleĀ to the Equator as it passes through the Paris meridian. It was definedĀ in the 18th century–well after the construction of the Giza pyramids.

As a unit of measure, the second didn’t appear until around 1000 CE at the earliest and not until the 17th century for practical use.

2) only the latitude is used, and even this figure has a leeway of +/-230 meters. All the digits after the 4th decimal place are fuzzy when it comes to the pyramid. One might be tempted to argue that the latitude that corresponds to the digits of the speed of light represents the precise center of the pyramid. Others might argue differently. There is at least one source at GeoHack ( that says the decimal latitude of the precise center is 29.979175 which is decidedly *not* the value of 29.9792458.

3) Had the latitude or the longitude (or a combination of the two) equaled some variation of 655714037.62, this would have been interesting but still a coincidence. But it would have been a coincidence you might have an easier time convincing others of its significance since that would be the number of cubits / sec light travels in a vacuum.

What the ancient Egyptians did with stone work was a marvelous testament to human ingenuity and spirit. It’s a shame that there are those who would seek to disparage that by creating scenarios where it is thought to be impossible for them to have done what they so clearly did. Regardless of how many experimental studies are conducted and archaeological finds show contexts that corroborate their ingenuity, skill, and patience, someone comes along and invents a fanciful reason why it can’t be so–seemingly as a means to sell books, goods, and tours to unsuspecting lay-persons interested in ancient civilizations and heritage.

About Carl Feagans 373 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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