Enquête sur les pyramides de Bosnie et quelques autres cas de pseudo-archéologie
Article published on 4 April 2013
Film "The Revelation of the Pyramids", Jacques Grimault and Patrice Pooyard:
53 mn 27 s
Giza is the very centre of the world
The idea of Giza as the "centre of the world", or "centre of the landmass", is hardly confined to this film. It is also to be found on Jacques Grimault’s blog, and frequently crops up in articles by other authors. Questions such as this one, for example: "How is it that this déifice [sic] (possible misprint for “edifice” – Translator) is in the middle of landmass") or this one: "The centre of the Earth: why?" are perennial favourites amongst pyramid fans. The way in which it is expressed may vary slightly ("intersection of the 30th parallel and the meridian that divides dry land into two equal parts", "intersection of the longest latitude and longest longitude" (sic!); "Centre of gravity of the landmass"; "geographical landmass centre"; "The meridian and latitude - sic! again - passing through the apex of the pyramid cross the widest extent of land and the smallest extent of sea", etc.), but the basic idea remains the same: namely, that Giza is centrally located, not with respect to the world - a meaningless concept in the context of the terrestrial sphere - but with respect to the entirety of the terrestrial landmass.
However, this leaves us still looking for a definition of the concept of the "centre of the landmass." This question was addressed in an article entitled "Where is the centre of the world?", published in 1998 in the magazine Mappemonde, by Roger Brunet, an eminent geographer and inventor of the concept of "omphalomania,” the obsessive search for the navel of the world. Brunet demonstrated that there are numerous definitions of "centre”, and numerous ways of calculating the "centre of the landmass."
Some of the examples suggested include:
the zero point (lat 0 °, long. 0 °), at sea off the coast of Africa;
the most central quadrangle, which is located at the intersection of the most continental “zone" (between meridians 20° and 30°E), and the most continental "area" (between parallels 40° and 50°N); this quadrangle is in Europe, located principally in Romania;
the "midpoint", marking the cross-point where the parallel (23° 05 N) and meridian (28° 03 E) divide the terrestrial landmasses into two equal parts. This crossing-point therefore marks the spot where there is "as large an area of land to the north as there is to the south, and as large an area of land to the east as there is to the west”, and is situated south-west of Egypt (and not Giza). Roger Brunet noted, however, that the opposite point on the sphere, northeast of Hawaii in the Pacific, might equally qualify as the "centre" or "midpoint", as it, too, has "as large an area of land to the north as to the south, and as large an area of land to the east as to the west” ...
the "centre of gravity" or continental barycentre: " If all landmasses [...] were represented as heavy plates made of the same material and measuring the same depth, fixed onto a support of consistent form, flat and very light, the centre of gravity would be the pinpoint on which the entire structure is balanced." This centre of gravity is located in the Sahara, northeast of N’Djamena.
the most "continental" point of the world, that is to say, the furthest away from any ocean, located in the extreme west of Mongolia.
Another possible definition that Roger Brunet does not mention is the "geographic centre" itself, namely, the point "least distant from any other," which requires finding the point whose average distance to all other points on the planet is the lowest. This calculation was performed by Andrew J. Woods in 1973 at the request of the Institute for Creation Research, a Creationist organization which wanted to prove that the "centre of the Earth" was located somewhere in the Holy Land, the "centre" of the Biblical world. The result of this calculation, subsequently confirmed by an independent researcher, located the central point in Turkey, somewhere southeast of Ankara.
A final possible definition of "centre of the world" might be "pole of the continental hemisphere”. This refers to the distribution of terrestrial continents and oceans in such a way as to define a quasi-oceanic hemisphere centred on the Pacific, and a continental hemisphere consisting of 85% of the terrestrial landmass. This terrestrial hemisphere is centred on the island of Dumet, off Piriac (Loire-Atlantique), thus entitling the island to the claim of being "navel of the world". But, according to a slightly different calculation, the village of Montfaucon-Montigné in Maine-et-Loire can also lay claim to the same title ... “Omphalomania”, did I hear you say?
The fact remains that, no matter what the method applied, none of these calculations points to Giza as marking the "centre of the world". The one that comes closest is Roger Brunet’s "midpoint", which is still over 800 kilometers away. So where does this theory of Giza as the "centre of the world" come from?
Jacques Grimault’s source is revealed in the film:
1 h 22 min 19 s
The abbé Moreux, a 20th century astronomer, observed that the meridian passing through the great pyramid separated the landmass of the terrestrial sphere into two equal areas, yet another indication that Giza was the centre of the world.
The book in question – whose cover can be briefly glimpsed in the film - is "The mysterious science of the Pharaohs," by Theophile Moreux, published in 1926 and reprinted a dozen times. The abbé Moreux was an eccentric; although a well known astronomer and prolific popular writer, he was, like his friend and colleague Camille Flammarion, also very interested in fields that might be described as less scientific: astrology, alchemy, esotericism, Atlantis ...
In this book, he explains: 1) that "the Great Pyramid meridian crosses the greatest number of continents"; and 2) that it "also divides the land area in the East and West into two equal parts":
He also explains that the Great Pyramid meridian "divides [the Nile delta] into two equal parts," and that "if the diagonals of the Great Pyramid are extended, they precisely define the Nile delta."
But nothing of this was abbé Moreux’ own invention: these theories, and the accompanying maps, are exact copies of material in the works of Charles Piazzi Smyth, who, together with John Taylor, was the true "father" of "pyramidology":
These pages are taken from page xxii/xxiii of Piazzi Smyth’s book "Our inheritance in the Great Pyramid," published in 1864 and available here. This is the true origin of the idea that Giza "marked the centre of the terrestrial surface" subsequently seized on by countless "pyramidologists." This is what Piazzi Smyth has to say on pages 67 and 68:
For, proceeding along the globe due north and due south of the Great Pyramid, it has been found by a good physical geographer as well as engineer, William Petrie , that there is more earth and less sea in that meridian than in any other meridian all the world round [...]. Again, taking the distribution of land and sea in parallels of latitude, there is more land surface in the Great Pyramid’s parallel of 30°, than in any other. And finally, on carefully summing up all the dryland habitable by man all the wide world over, the centre of the whole falls within the Great Pyramid’s territory of Lower Egypt.
Unfortunately for Abbé Moreux, Jacques Grimault, and all the “alternative” authors who have repeated Piazzi Smyth’s claims without checking, there is no proof of any of these pronouncements. Even without recourse to complicated calculations, it is easy to see, as noted here and here, that neither the Giza meridian nor the Giza parallel crosses the "greatest land surface":
Note that, using a “rule of thumb” approach, the hypothetical lines on the Piazzi Smyth map above (the meridian marked in blue, and the parallel marked in orange to show the lines "crossing over the more land surface") , fall right over the area identified above by Roger Brunet, on a more scientific basis, as "the most central quadrangle," located in Eastern Europe. As we have seen, no matter what method is used, Giza does not match any of these centres of landsurface.
What are we to conclude from this apparently rather anecdotal case?
1) That Jacques Grimault proceeds to repeat various outmoded theories beloved of the pyramidologists, without taking any more trouble than any of his predecessors to check anything.
2 ) That the sources on which he places reliance do not seem to have any basis in present day science. Without even mentioning his use of a source like Zecharia Sitchin, it is clear that he is relying primarily on outdated authors: the Abbé Moreux and Piazzi Smyth on the geographical location of Giza, Champollion on hieroglyphs, as if the science of Egyptology had been in cryogenic hibernation since the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
3) That many "facts" on which the film is based (see the introduction to the documentary: "Everything that follows is based on facts") are mysteries only by dint of ignoring much of what has been published, particularly in English, for decades (see, for example, stone vessels) and by relying predominantly on works that are grossly outdated.
 The father of the founder of scientific archaeology, William Matthew Flinders Petrie. William Petrie senior shared the "pyramidological" ideas of his friend Piazzi Smyth; his own son was later to demonstrate the futility of these theories.
 To be precise: this "rule of thumb" assessment is not made directly on the Piazzi Smyth map, which is an equivalent cylindrical projection. An equivalent cylindrical projection retains surfaces, but not distances and angles. The only way to produce a reasonably correct estimate without going into complex considerations is to work on a globe, avoiding distortions resulting from the selected map projection.