The Tomb of the
Giants of SakkaraResearch Report by Gregor Spörri
In the first half of the 19th century, explorers had few scruples about achieving their goals. To be respected by fellow scientists and popular with the general public, it was a must to bring home as many treasures as possible from one’s expeditions. How one got it was secondary. Dynamite as a door opener was part of the standard equipment of every explorer at that time. It was no different for the French treasure hunter, excavator and Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.
A valuable treasure
In 1851 Auguste Mariette discovered the entrance to a tomb near the Djoser pyramid, in which he suspected precious treasures. For 3000 years, tomb robbers had searched in vain for this access. Mariette’s assumption seemed to be confirmed, because just behind the entrance he was greeted by a statue of Apis the bull. Next to it were other statues and stelae with the bull’s likeness.
The Apis bull was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians as the embodiment of Ptah, the chief creator god, who is said to have once formed man from clay.
Mariette assumed that it was located in the so-called Serapeum – a millennia-old cult and burial site for the sacred Apis bulls, of which Greek scholars had already reported around the year 25 BC. The Frenchman examined the widely ramified plant and came thereby as the first on the intact grave of Chaemwaset – a son of Pharao Ramses II. Mariette had the precious treasure, consisting of approximately 7000 grave goods shipped to Paris, where until today much of it can be admired in the museum Louvre. After clearing out Chaemwaset’s tomb in the so-called small gallery, Mariette devoted himself to the deeper vault.
The Tomb of the Giants
In the so-called great gallery he came across 24 walled-up niches. Stone tablets covered with hieroglyphics were embedded in the walls. Mariette had the walls torn down and solidified. 22 of the 24 niches contained stone sarcophagi as huge as anyone had ever seen at that time. Several layers of stone were piled on top of the coffin lids. It looked as if the lids were to be additionally weighted down with them.
Two more coffins were parked in side aisles. Each container was made of a single granite block. There were coffins made of rose granite, grey granite, diorite, syenite, granodiorite, etc. All very hard and difficult to process materials. Mariette’s companion Linant de Bellefonds measured one of the sarcophagi and calculated a weight of at least 65 tons. In another container, he even calculated more than 70 tons.
The find was an absolute sensation, but something astonished Mariette: All coffin lids, at over 20 tons as heavy as the vault doors of Fort Knox, were slightly displaced and stood open a crack. A quick look inside the coffins was enough to determine: They were empty. Mariette and his companions were quite irritated, because there was no indication anywhere that the facility had been looted.
Only one sarcophagus seemed untouched. Mariette and his assistants tried unsuccessfully to push the ton-heavy lid to one side. So they put dynamite on the coffin. After they had blown a hole in the container, their astonishment was great, because this container was also completely empty.
Mariette wondered if what had once been in the coffins might have been moved to another location. If there was an explanation for this, he would certainly find it on the stone tablets, which existed in large numbers both in the vestibule of the tomb and near the bricked-up niches of the sarcophagi. Although Auguste Mariette was well versed in hieroglyphic writing, he was not able to read the stelae. It is said that Mariette puzzled over the seemingly untouched but empty tomb until the end of his life.
Later, apparently, it was possible to read the steles brought to France by Mariette, whose texts report about burials of Apis bulls. BUT: Originally there were several hundred of these steles embedded in the walls. Today, only the empty niches bear witness to them. How many stelae texts were actually translated until today, and whether the texts about bull burials actually refer to the giant sarcophagi, or to other, smaller coffins, which were also placed in the tomb, is still to be clarified.
Official doctrine and my objections to it
Teaching opinion 1: The Serapeum was once used to worship the holy Apis bulls who lived in the above-ground stables. After their death, the bulls were embbalized and buried in the underground necropolis.
Objection: The Serapeum consists of two spatially separated facilities: the so-called large gallery and the small gallery. In the small gallery, mummified bodies of humans and bulls were buried and found in wood sarcophagi. From this part of the necropolis come the treasures upscaled by Mariette as well as the bull artifacts, which were offered for sale at markets in Cairo.
The large gallery is something completely different, because only here there are the stone giant sarcophagi. Because the Egyptologists do not know the actual purpose, they explain that Apis bulls were also buried in the coffins.
Teaching opinion 2: The Roman emperor Honorius closed the Serapeum. Monks of the nearby monastery of St. Jeremiah then took the bull mummies out of the sarcophagi and destroyed them in order to put an end to the then prevailing bull cult.
Objection: The bull mummies would never have fit through the narrow slits in one piece. If the monks had previously cut the mummies to pieces – e.g. with wooden sticks, there must have been remains. But the coffins were lightning-clean and Auguste Mariette had not mentioned any mummy remains.
Conclusion: There is currently no scientifically proven information on the purpose of the large gallery and the giant sarcophagi.
1. Bull mummies are very simple designed packages shaped with straw and linen bandages. It makes sense to add these mummies in wooden coffins (small gallery). On the other hand, a funeral in the huge granite sarcophagi makes no sense. These were made with incredible effort and highest precision from hard, heavy granite, which had to be brought from Aswan, 1000 kilometres away. The effort was disproportionate to its purpose!
2. Why should the Egyptians have used such huge containers for the burial of bulls? The animals were mummified in a lying position. A bull’s mummy package is on average 1.7 meters long, 0.7 meters wide and 1.2 meters high. However, the sarcophagi are on average 3.8 metres long, 2.3 metres wide and 3.2 metres high. Even the size is disproportionate to the purpose!
3. The divine Apis bulls were sacred to the Egyptians. Their bodies were mummified so that they could be resurrected in the realm of the dead. So there was no reason to bury the animals in a way that they might have done with monsters that they wanted to lock away forever. So why would they seal the coffins airtight with 20-ton flat lids, even though no further decomposition takes place with mummies?
4. Why were several tons of stones piled on top of the 20-ton lids, as if to prevent anything from breaking out of the coffins?
5. Why were the sarcophagi partially walled into the ground, even though this contradicts the burial customs of the ancient Egyptians?
6. Why were the niches walled up at the end, when it was a place of pilgrimage for their beloved bulls?
7. What is the meaning of the ominous stone tablets that were once embedded in the wall of the niches with the coffins? Were they destroyed or moved to another location? What information/messages were carved into the tablets? An important detail: the mentioned tablets near the niches are not to be confused with the many ‘gift tablets’ of the pilgrims that were in the entrance area of the Serapeum.
8. each sarcophagus is different in the type of granite used, in size, in its shape and weight. Why did the stonemasons pay so little attention to the external appearance of the coffins? On the outside, the containers are anything but precisely finished. They are teeming with slanted edges, crooked surfaces, dents, etc.
9. Why, on the other hand, was the invisible interior of the containers perfectly finished? The bottoms, sides and insides of the lids are ground absolutely flat. The containers can be closed airtight. The angles of the inner corners and edges are exactly 90 degrees. And the radius of the inner corners is a minimum of 4-5 millimeters.
10. With which tools had the ancient Egyptians been able to work and polish the extremely hard granite stone derat precisely? The hardest metal they officially possessed was iron. Even today, working granite is an enormous technical challenge that can only be mastered with special machines.
11. three of the 24 sarcophagi have inscriptions. The hieroglyphs, some of which are more or less poorly carved, name kings from the 26th and 27th dynasties (400 – 500 B.C.). The incised texts therefore blatantly contradict the thesis of Apis bull burials.
Would it therefore be possible that the sarcophagi were not made by the Egyptians, but are much older? Perhaps they even date from the Neolithic period – the Neolithic period, that is, in which the biblical giants are said to have lived?
And what about the Egyptians? Well, these granite containers are indestructible. They easily survive many millennia. Quite possibly the Egyptians dug them up somewhere to recycle them for their own purposes, so to speak.
12. From the above, I wondered if there might be a connection between the huge sarcophagi in the Serapeum at Sakkara and the equally huge unfinished coffins in the rock chamber of the Great Pyramid. Both sites still cause headaches among Egyptologists as well as alternative researchers.
Read: The Great Pyramid in Giza: Tomb of the Giants.
Visit to the Serapeum
Since 2011, the large gallery has been open to visitors. Unfortunately, a lot of original things have been lost in the renovation. For example, the original substrate was covered with a parquet floor and in the coffin niches massive steel scaffolding was built to protect against collapses.
Gregor Spörri has written an exciting and informative mystery thriller on the subject: Gods, angels and giants: more information about the book
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