Monument to Charles Taze Russell, Pittsburgh.

What is it about the Great Pyramid that attracts cranks?

Of course there are two remarkable facts about the Great Pyramid that, taken together, would be enough to attract your average crank: it is old, and it is big. It is both of those things to an extraordinary degree. The Great Pyramid was finished about 4600 years ago. A longer time separates the Pyramid from Christ than separates Christ from us. It was one of the seven wonders in the ancient world—writers disagree about the exact list, but everyone agrees that the Great Pyramid was on it. And it is the only one of those wonders left standing today, even though it was ancient when the rest of those wonders were built. As for the size, for most of its life it was the tallest building in the world. It was finally surpassed by the spire of Lincoln Cathedral in 1311, but that collapsed 238 years later—hardly enough time for the Great Pyramid to get in a good yawn.

Age and size would attract the average crank. But we quickly discover that it is not the average crank who is most attracted to the Great Pyramid. It attracts specifically cranks with calculating machines. Today they have computers, but cranks have attacked it with pocket calculators, adding machines, slide rules, and pencil and paper—whatever it took to make numbers dance in their heads.

John Greaves, an Oxford professor of astronomy, seems to have quite unknowingly laid the shaky foundation of pyramidology. In the 1630s he visited the Great Pyramid, yardstick in hand, and in 1646 he published his Pyramidographia, or a Description of the Pyramids in Ægypt. This book was a mine of numbers which could be appropriated by crankier writers.

Athanasius Kircher, the famous “polymath” (Greek for “man misinformed about everything”) who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics in the same way our beloved Barry Fell deciphered random scrapings on American rocks, was one of the first to suggest a mystical significance to these measurements. The archcrank Isaac Newton also dipped his oars in that stream. But it was left to the Victorians to bring out the full crank potential latent in the measurements of the Great Pyramid.

Many of these cranks were British, but local patriotism will not let us forbear mentioning that perhaps the most influential of them all was a Pittsburgher. This was Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose scripture studies promoted the idea that the Great Pyramid was scripture in stone, prophesying the complete course of world history.

Viewed from whatever standpoint we please, the Great Pyramid is certainly the most remarkable building in the world; but in the light of an investigation which has been in progress for the past thirty-two years, it acquires new interest to every Christian advanced in the study of God's Word; for it seems in a remarkable manner to teach, in harmony with all the prophets, an outline of the plan of God, past, present and future.

Why, then, you might ask, does the Bible not mention the Great Pyramid?

If it was built under God's direction, to be one of his witnesses to men, we might reasonably expect some allusion to it in the written Word of God. And yet, since it was evidently a part of God’s purpose to keep secret, until the Time of the End, features of the plan of which it gives testimony, we should expert that any reference to it in the Scriptures would be, as it is, somewhat under cover—to be recognized only when due to be understood.

In other words, it was a secret until Pastor Russell came along and drew the veil aside.

Pastor Russell quite literally took his obsession with the Great Pyramid to the grave with him, as you can learn at Father Pitt’s Pittsburgh Cemeteries.

As you have come to expect when we have a long historical overview like this, it serves to introduce a new section in our Eclectic Library. The page of Wrong History now has a subsection on the Pyramids, which we intend to expand as we gather more crankery.


  1. Mary says:

    I’ve been enjoying learing about different types of cranks! Is there a word for this study?

  2. RepubAnon says:

    I recall someone asking an archeologist about pyramid power stuff, such as the power to sharpen razor blades and keep food fresh. The archeologist replied that they’d tested the theory, and that dull razor blades in the Great Pyramid stayed dull, food spoiled, etc.

    The Pyramid Power believers thought this confirmed their belief in a vast conspiracy to cover up Pyramid Power…

    • Dr. Boli says:

      You have hit on one of the two fundamental laws of conspiracy theory: Proof against the conspiracy is proof of the conspiracy.

      This is the other fundamental law: Proof of the conspiracy is proof of the conspiracy.

      President Barnard of Columbia University expressed it well in 1884: “If it were not a law of fanaticism that the faith of its subjects and victims is intense in proportion as its foundations are weak, and that its disciples multiply in proportion as its doctrines are defiant of common sense, it might reasonably have been expected that the wild conjectures in regard to this monument hazarded by John Taylor in 1859 would have fallen unnoticed from the press, and would long since have ceased to be remembered among men.” But of course they had not ceased to be remembered, so he wrote a book.

  3. GP says:

    Did you know? The great pyramid was actually built by time travelers using methods, tools, and materials readily available to ancient egypt, thus disproving the ridiculous alien theory.

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