The empty pyramid

Egyptologists agree that the primary function of the pyramid itself was that of a tomb. Large ones for kings, smaller ones for queens and princesses.
But that's a much too simple explanations for most alternative authors. They want to see more in them: observatories, water pumps, energy transmitters or collectors, just pick what you wish. Therefore a pyramid CANNOT be a tomb.
The main argument against a tomb is the complete lack of any mummy found inside pyramids. No mummies, no grave goods, and in most pyramids not even a sarcophagus.

No mummy = no tomb is not necessarily an argument, because there are many possible reasons for missing mummies. Pyramids are for example a kind of billboard, advertising for kilometers "For treasure, dig here". We must also remember, that only one of the hidden tombs in the Valley of the Kings had escaped detection in its 1000 years shorter history, so we really cannot expect to find undisturbed burials in pyramids. In fact, at every finished pyramids traces of intrusions could be found. But although the chances were slim, modern excavators found more traces of burials than alternative authors like. In the table below I list found sarcophagi (S), burial remains (BR) and mummies or mummy parts from all explored pyramids of the Old Kingdom in chronological order. Hardly begun buildings like "stump" of Shepseskare or the trench at el-Aryan are not taken into account..

Nr. Dyn. Pyramid S BR M Detail
1 III Djoser - X X "In the granite tomb J.-Ph. Lauer found in 1926 a mummified left foot, a humerus and mummified skin fragments; Count Minutoli had found in the last century (the 19th, FD) during a visit in this pyramid a gold plated skull and gold plated soles..."[1 ]
2 III Sechemchet X X - In the unfinished burial chamber flower bindings were found. The sarcophagus was empty.[2 ]
3 III Aryan - - - destroyed
4 IV Meidum ? - - Unfinished; remains of a wooden sarcophagus got lost.[3 ]
5 IV Snofru Bent X - - Not completely researched yet
6 IV Snofru Cult Bent - - - Chambers too small for a burial
7 IV Snofru Red - X X In the northern pyramid of Snofru several remains were found, which were documented by A. Batrawi:
  1. The lower part of a frontal bone. The left frontal sinus is widely exposed on the inner aspect of the fragment and its walls are stained by a shiny black substance, gum or resin-like. ...
  2. One piece comprising a small portion of the left great wing of the sphenoid and a portion of the squamous part of the left temporal bone including the articular fossa and eminence. Scales of desiccated tissue are still firmly adherent to the outer surface of the bone.
  3. A fragment of one calvarial bone of a human skull. ... The inner surface of this fragment is obscured by the presence of a large mass of the black substance already referred to. ...
  4. The greater part of a human mandible, still bearing most of the teeth, either complete or incomplete. The left 2nd molar tooth was evidently lost during life and its socket completely absorbed. The present teeth are somewhat crowded, and they show attrition to a considerable degree. No evidence of dental des ease is present ...
  5. The greater part of a left hip bone. This is well preserved, though it shows signs of charring at several points.
  6. A first right and a left second rib, both incomplete. These again show evidence of charring.
  7. A left talus and part of the corresponding calcaneus, held together in one mass by linen wrappings. ... The linen here again is impregnated and the bone stained by the black substance.
  8. A proximal phalanx of a finger, mostly clothed with dry skin, both in a good state of preservation.
  9. Fragments of three vertebral bodies; part of a head of a humerus; one fragment possibly of a medial malleous. All these show obvious signs of charring.
  10. A hollow mass of linen which is obviously a part of the wrappings of the right foot of a mummy, contains a piece of the metatarsal bone stuck inside. ... Separate wrappings of the 4th and 5th digits of the same foot are found in that price of wrappings.
  11. Besides these bony fragments many shapeless pieces of impregnated linen were found, and most of them came obviously from the coverings of an ancient mummy. One or two of these pieces, however, might have contained treated viscera, because empty spaces can be seen between the linen layers. In the case of another one of these shapeless pieces it was noted that the impregnated material was in direct contact with the mummified body.
    More un impregnated linen was also found either in pieces, each several layers thick, or in single sheets. Two kinds of material were evidently used by the embalmers, one distinctly finer than the other. All the impregnated linen was of the fine quality.
(...) Signs of burning in the burial chamber and on the mummy parts show, that probably a wooden sarcophagus and parts of the mummy were burnt. In my opinion it was done because burning them and searching the ashes for jeweler was faster than unwrapping the mummy...[4 ]
8 IV Khufu X ? ? More below
9-11 IV Khufu G1a-G1c - - - The three satellite pyramids
12 IV Djedefre ? ? ? Results not published yet
13 IV Kafre X - -  
14 IV Kafre Cult - X - Wooden fragments, pieces of coral and jar lids. Burial character disputed.[5 ]
15 IV Menkaure X X X A niche decorated sarcophagus made of basalt was lost during transport to England. A wooden sarcophagus with the name "Menkaure" on it was dated to the 7th century BCE, and bone fragments found were dated to the early christian era.[6 ]
16 IV Menkaure G3a X X - Burnt remains of wood, mats an broken ceramics were found in the remains of a rose granite sarcophagus.[7 ]
17 IV Menkaure G3b X X X In a rose granite sarcophagus remains of a young woman were found. The inscription "Menkaure" confirms the assignment to his necropolis.[8 ]
18 IV Menkaure G3c - - -  
19 V Userkaf X ? ? The pyramid is in a very bad state, so only one explorer of modern times ever was inside it: Perring in the year 1837. Shortly after his visit the entrance collapsed, If there are burial remains in the basalt sarcophagus or in the debris of the burial chamber is not known yet.[9 ]
20 V Sahure X ? ? This pyramid is also only incomplete explored. Perring found a basalt sarcophagus, more is not known.[10 ]
21 V Neferirkare - - -  
22 V Chentkaus II X X X The pyramid of the mother of Neferirkares has long been overlooked. In the burial chamber remains of a rose granite sarcophagus, mummy binds and parts of the burial equipment were found.[11 ]
23 V Neferefre X X X For more than 100 years it was believed that this pyramid was empty. A dig by a czech team produced burial remains. Besides the remains of a sarcophagus and canopic jars with the entrails of a human, alabaster jars for offerings and parts of the mummy were found.[12 ]
24 V Niuserre ? ? ? Burial chamber completely destroyed.
25 V Lepsius XXIV X X X Unknown owner, besides the debris of a rose granite coffin, alabaster canopes and traditional worship tools were found. Also the mummy of a 25-year-old woman, maybe the wife of Niuserre, Reputnebu.[13 ]
26 V Menkauhor(?) X ? ? This pyramid was only probed yet, the lid of a sarcophagus was found then.[14 ]
27 V Djedkare X X X Additionally to the debris of a basalt sarcophagus pieces of canopic jars and the mummified remains of a man at the age around 50 years were found.[15 ]
28 V unknown ? ? ? Not explored yet
29 V Unas X X X Mummy fragments: parts of the left arm, the skull and the shin bone were found, also two knife handles.[16 ]
30 VI Teti X - X The arm and shoulder of a mummy and an alabaster table were found besides the sarcophagus.[17 ]
31 VI Chuit ? ? ? Not explored yet
32 VI Iput I X X X A lime stone sarcophagus with a wooden inner sarcophagus made from cedar and the bones of a middle aged women were found, together with precious burial goods like canopic jars and golden arm- and neck bracelets.[18 ]
33 VI Pepi I X X X Mummy remains, line bandages and parts of the burial inventory were found;[19 ] A canopic jar contained entrails of Pepi I. Parts of a garment with the inscription "made for the king of upper- and lower egypt, may he live forever" were also found.[20 ]
34 VI Nebuunet X X - No mummy remains, but parts of the burial inventory found.[21 ]
35 VI Inenek-Inti ? ? ? Not explored yet
36 VI West Queen X X - Parts of the burial inventory found, so a gold plated sandal.[22 ]
37 VI Merenre I X X X Complete mummy of a young man and parts of the burial inventory found.[23 ]
38 VI Pepi II X - -  
39 VI Neith X X - Burial inventory found.[24 ]
40 VI Iput II ? ? ? Completely destroyed
41 VI Udjebten ? ? ? Completely destroyed
Examined: 31 24 18 13  

Of the examined 31 pyramids of the Old Kingdom 5 are subsidiary pyramids which probably never were intended to be a tomb. From the other 26 Pyramids 92% contain a sarcophagus, 70% burial remains and about the half mummy remains. The assertion, that never was anything found in Old Kingdom pyramids is clearly wrong!

Khufu's empty pyramid

But at least the Khufu's pyramid was empty, right? In his television program "Außerirdische - kehren sie zurück?" Erich von Däniken stated:

"Another thing. Here, the sarcophagus. In the year 823 AD. the pyramid was opened for the first time.. The caliph al-Mamun got into it, and he found nothing. The sarcophagus was empty. Where are here the secrets?"

Well, where are the secrets? What is the source for Däniken's knowledge that Al-Mamun found nothing? During the broadcast he gave no information for this, but in his book The Eyes of the Sphinx he told itt:aA guide named Ahmed is the source:

"Much here is controversial," Ahmed lectures. "It is said that the sarcophagus was found empty and without cover - what good is an empty sarcophagus ?...."[25 ]

This information from a tourist guide mutates to a fact on the following picture page. Below a picture of the sarcophagus, he writes:

"The sarcophagus in the King's Chamber (top and middle) was empty. What was he used for?"[26 ]

Well, that is very/b> strange, because several pages further he writes about "The exiting discoveries of the arabs" and writes blithely about a mummy found by al-Mamun after opening of the pyramid in 820 AD. So first he claims it to be a fact that the pyramid was empty, and uses it to make fun about the stupid scientists to see it as a tomb, and then he writes

"The arabian chroniclers tell, that al-Mamun found "the corps of a man", wearing strange "suit of armor with precious stones". A fairy tale?"[27 ]

to make then fun about the archaeologists telling that these stories are no evidence for a real mummy find. What now, Mr. von Däniken?
It is really interesting to see how Däniken exploits both parts of the story - "the sarcophagus was empty, so what was the pyramid for" and "there was a mummy, a veeery special one" - without it being noticed by his fans. That's the flexibility in alternative history.
Let us look now into the reports written down in the Hitat.

Ali B. Ridwan[28 ]

"Al-Mamun let the pyramid opened at one point, inside they found a slippery passage leading up to a square, cube shaped chamber with a marble sarcophagus in its middle which still stands there today, no one was able to move it from its place.
Hence Galenus has reported, that the pyramids are tombs. ..."

This description coincides very well with reality.

Abu Jakub Muhammad b. Ishak an-Nadim:[29 ]

"In the middle of this platform is a graceful, arched building, midst of it is something like a sarcophagus ... Between the two blocks stands a stone vessel, which was sealed with a golden lid When it was removed, a kind of odorless, dried pitch and a golden box was discovered; in it found after opening it fresh blood, which, when it was exposed to the air, curdled, such as blood would clot, dried up. On the coffin laid stone lids, after removing them they saw a sleeping man lying on the back of his head. He was well preserved and perfectly dry, his physical condition was clearly visible and his hair was still visible. At his side was a woman showing the same condition."

The stone vessel could have been a canopic chest, the other descriptions are a bit doubtful.

Abd ar-Rahim al-Kaisi[30 ]

"They say they had ascended there at the time of al-Mamun and reached a vaulted chamber of small size, in which a statue of a man made of green stone, a type of malachite, was found. It was taken to el- Mamun and it was found that it was sealed with a lid. When opened they saw in it the corpse of a man wearing a golden coat of armor adorned with precious stones. ... The idol, however, from which they took this corpse, has been seen by me lying next to the gate of the royal palace in the year 511 in Misr."

I do not think much of Kaisi, as I already explained. The sarcophagus (511 is by the way 511 after the Hijra, and corresponds approximately to the year AD 1120) has been confirmed by other sources.

Abu t-Taijib al-Mutanabbi[31 ]

"Inside, they found awful exciting stairways and shafts, where one could only walk with difficulty, and at the top he (El-Mamun) found a cube-shaped chamber, each side had a length of about 8 yards and in the middle of it stood a marble basin, the was sealed with a golden lid. When they had removed it they found in it only rotten bones about the bygone centuries had passed."

The description sounds quite credible again, because it describes the confusing inner workings and the grave chamber with a flat roof.

al-Makrizi[32 ]

"They say they had found on the body that is buried in the pyramid a very dilapidated garment, of which only the golden threads were left, and the thickness of the layer of myrrh and aloes the body was covered with, have amounted to a thickness of a span."

Well, doesn't this sound like a mummy?

unknown author [33 ]

"They say they had found in the pyramid a statue of green stone, a type of malachite, made after the image of a man, closed with a lid, like an inkstand box. When they opened the lid they discovered a human corpse wearing a golden suit or armor adorned with precious stones. ... Some historians confirm that this green idol, in which they found the bones, stood until the year 611 (about 1220 AD) of the Hijra besides the royal palace of Misr."

This sounds like a summary of al-Kaisi, but al- Makrizi wrote, that several chroniclers confirmed that coffin.

Ibn Hurdadbeh[34 ]

"The way that you use most frequently inside is a hallway with a slippery floor that leads to the highest part of the pyramid. There you will find a square room with a stone sarcophagus."

Hurdadbeh lived some 400 years after the opening of the pyramid and describes in his article "organized tourism" in the pyramids. That he found no more mummy remains is therefore not surprising.

In summary, there are seven descriptions from inside the pyramid or inside the grave chamber. All reports mention a coffin. Five of the reports describe unambiguously a mummy, two mention a statue that contained a man. This statue could e.g. have been an inner sarcophagus
Additionally, there are other reports about gold, statues and precious stones found inside the pyramid. With this concentration of similar descriptions, it is save to assume, that something has been found.

So how does EvD comes to his assertion, that nothing has been found? Especially since he later uses one of the descriptions I've listed above ([33 ]). Forgetfulness? Lost track? Or a cynical "My reader won't notice"?
This really gets funny when he writes in his chapter about the reports of the arabs[35 ]:

"All a little too Oriental, so they (the archaeologists) are trying to get rid of it. To kitschy to be true. But how can we judge old reports from our modern view as untrustworthy?"

Yes, Mr. von Däniken, how do you come to this?

[1 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 43
[2 ] The empty sarcophagus, the central theme about paramids not being tombs, is discussed in Goneims The lost pyramid
[3 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 191
[4 ] Batrawi, A.; The Skeletal Remains of the Northern Pyramid of Sneferu, in ASAE 51, 1951, p. 435-442
[5 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 259
[6 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 276 f
[7 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 147 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 283
[8 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 148 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 284
[9 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 161 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 309
[10 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 166 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 318
[11 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 174 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 332
[12 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 339 ff
[13 ] ibd. p. 357
[14 ] ibd. p. 359
[15 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 182 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 363
[16 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 372
[17 ] ibd. p. 381
[18 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 191 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 388
[19 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 392
[20 ] Labrousse; Pyramid, p. 136 ff
[21 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 395
[22 ] ibd., p. 396
[23 ] Stadelmann; Pyramiden, p. 195 Verner; Pyramiden, p. 399
[24 ] Verner; Pyramiden, p. 406
[25 ] Däniken; Sphinx, p. 187, "The nameles wonder of the world; The sarcophagus at the wrong place", emphasises by me.
[26 ] ibd., p. 188
[27 ] ibd., p. 258
[28 ] Graefe; Hitat, p. 59
[29 ] ibd., p. 61 f
[30 ] ibd., p. 67
[31 ] ibd., p. 77
[32 ] ibd., p. 78
[33 ] ibd., p. 80
[34 ] ibd., p. 82
[35 ] Däniken; Sphinx, p. 258
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