The entrance to the Serapeum.Ground plan of the Serapeum after the original drawings by Auguste MarietteLeft: Auguste Mariette. Right: On top of and next to the sarcophaguses, tons of stone and rubble are piled up.When Mariette entered the Serapeum, the niches with the sarcophagi were still stonewalled.The huge niches.Amazed visitors in front of the huge coffin.When Auguste Mariette entered the crypt, the niches with the sarcophagi were still hidden behind thick walls.One of the 70 ton sarcophagi.Gregor Spörri measures one of the gigantic sarcophagi in the Serapeum of Sakkara.Egyptian Bull Mummy at the Louvre Museum in Paris.Gregor Spörri measures all 24 sarcophagi in the Serapeum.Gregor Spörri examines the sarcophagus blown open by Augste Mariette with dynamite.This sarcophagus blown up with Dymamit.The Serapeum is criss-crossed by tunnels and corridors.Anterom at the Serapeum of Saqqara.

Why is the Serapeum in Sakkara interesting for me?

Nagib, an old grave robber who in 1988 showed me the chopped-off finger of a humanoid giant, gave me a clue as to the true purpose of the Great Pyramid. In the course of my investigations, I found out that the roughly-hewn stone blocks in the unfinished chamber below the pyramid – which look like unfinished giant sarcophagi – are similar in size to the sarcophagi in the Serapeum.


The discovery of the Serapeum

 In the first half of the 19th century, researchers weren’t squeamish when it came to achieving their goals. One was only considered successful if one brought home from his expedition as many valuable treasures as possible. Dynamite as a door opener was part of an explorer’s standard equipment. The risk of losses would be shrugged off. The French treasure hunter, excavator, and Egyptologist Auguste Mariette was no different.


A valuable treasure

In 1851 Auguste Mariette discovered near the pyramid of Djoser the access to a grave in which he suspected precious treasures. For 3000 years grave robbers had searched in vain for this access. Mariette’s assumption seemed to be confirmed, because just behind the entrance he was received by an intact Apis bull statue. Next to it were other statues and stelae with the image of the bull.
The Apis bull was revered by the ancient Egyptians as an embodiment of the main creator-god Ptah, who was said to have molded man out of clay.
Mariette assumed that this place was the so-called Serapeum – a millennia-old cult and burial site for the sacred Apis bulls, which Greek scholars had already reported on around the year 25 BCE. The Frenchman investigated the extensive complex and first came across the tomb of Khaemweset, a son of Pharaoh Ramesses II. Mariette had the precious treasure, consisting of an intact mummy and over 7,000 grave objects, shipped to Paris, where it can still be admired in the Louvre today.
After clearing out Chaemwaset’s tomb (small gallery), Mariette devoted himself to the lower vault, where in the large gallery he found 24 large niches filled with rubble that had fallen from the ceiling.


The tomb of the giants

 After the debris was removed, Mariette and his assistants saw 22 huge sarcophagi. Two more coffins were placed in side aisles. Each of the containers was made of a single block of stone. Different types of granite had been used for the production: red granite, grey granite, diorite, syenite, gabbro diorite, granodiorite – all very hard types of granite.
Mariette’s companion Linant de Bellefonds measured one of the sarcophagi and calculated a weight of at least 65 metric tons (75 U.S. tons).
The find was an absolute sensation. But something didn’t seem right: The 20-ton coffin lids, which weigh as much as the Fort Knox vault doors, were all open a crack.
One look inside was enough to realize that the coffins were empty. Mariette was taken aback, because there wasn’t the slightest indication that the site had been looted. Nevertheless, somebody had once manipulated the coffins.
Only one sarcophagus seemed untouched. Mariette and his helpers tried in vain to push the heavy lid aside, so they used dynamite to blow a big hole in the coffin.
The astonishment was great – because this box was empty as well. The Frenchman wondered whether the contents of the coffins could have been moved to some other location. If there was an explanation for this, he would find it on the numerous steles embedded in the wall recesses in the vestibule of the complex. But even though Auguste Mariette had studied hieroglyphic writing in great depth, he was unable to decipher the strange symbols on the steles. It is said that the Frenchman puzzled until the end of his life about the untouched and yet empty tomb of the giants.


The official science and my objections

Official Science 1: The Serapeum was once used to worship the sacred Apis bulls that lived in above-ground stables. After their death, the bulls were embalmed and buried in the underground necropolis.
My objection: The Serapeum consists of two different parts: the so-called large gallery and the small gallery. In the small gallery actually mummified bodies of humans and bulls were found in wooden coffins. This part of the necropolis is also the source of the treasures raised by Mariette and the artifacts offered on the markets in Cairo. The big gallery is something completely different: only here are the giant sarcophagi. Because the Egyptologists do not know their true purpose, they simply postulate the thesis that these coffins have also contained bull mummies – that’s not really scientific.

Official Science 2: The Roman emperor Honorius shut down the Serapeum. Monks from the nearby Monastery of St. Jeremiah then removed the bull mummies from the sarcophagi and destroyed them to finally end the prevailing bull cult.
My objection:The bull mummies would never have fit through the narrow slots in one piece. If the monks had previously smashed the mummies into pieces – with wooden sticks, for example – there would have to be remains of them. But the coffins are absolutely clean and Auguste Mariette had never written anything about any mummy scraps.
Conclusion: There is currently no scientific evidence on the true purpose of the Great Gallery and Giant Sarcophagi.


Further thoughts and questions

(1) Bull mummies are relatively simple bundles, brought into shape with straw and linen bandages. Burying them in wooden coffins in the small gallery makes sense. On the other hand, burial in granite sarcophagi makes no sense. These were made with incredible effort and accuracy from hard and heavy granite, which had to be brought in from Assuan, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away. This effort is out of proportion.

(2) Why would the Egyptians use such enormous sarcophagi to bury the bulls? Bulls would be mummified in a lying position. Their mummies are on average 1.7 meters (5½ feet) long, 0.7 meters (2¼ feet) wide, and 1.2 meters (4 feet) high. The sarcophagi are 4.0 meters (13 feet) long, 2.3 meters (7½ feet) wide, and 3.2 meters (10½ feet) high. A huge discrepancy.

(3) The Apis bulls were sacred to the Egyptians. There was no reason to bury the animals as if they were monsters. Why were 20 ton coffin lids used, which sealed the containers airtight, even though the bodies were mummified? Why were the sarcophagi partly walled into the ground, although this completely contradicts the burial customs of the ancient Egyptians?

(4) What happened to the ominous steles that used to be located in the wall recesses of the complex’s vestibule? Were they destroyed or moved somewhere else? What information or messages were carved into the steles?

(5) The sarcophagi are partially not worked very precisely on the outside. Each coffin has its own size and shape. Their weight varies between 60 and 80 tons. The interior, however, is perfect: completely smooth insides, exact 90 ° angles, sharp inner edges with a radius of only 4 millimeters and so on …

(6) With what tools could the ancient Egyptians work and polish the extremely hard granite so precisely? The hardest metal they officially had was iron. To date, the processing of granite is a huge technical challenge in which special machines are used.

(7) Three of the 24 sarcophagi have inscriptions. The superficial and amateur engraved hieroglyphics call kings of the 26th and 27th dynasties (400 – 500 BC). The bad quality gives the impression that they are not from the stonemasons who made the coffins.

(8) Could there be a connection between the Tomb of the Giants at Saqqara and the giants‘ tomb in Giza (Unfinished chamber below the Great Pyramid)?


Visiting the Serapeum

The large gallery has been open to visitors since 2011. Unfortunately, many of the original features were lost during the renovation. For example, the original floor has been covered with parquet, and crude, green-painted steel scaffolding has been installed in the niches to keep them from collapsing.

error: © Gregor Spörri. All rights reserved