The pyramid of Cheops, which is the only construction that endures of the seven wonders of the ancient world, continues to reveal new secrets in its imposing 146 meters high.
A scan of the construction of limestone blocks indicated a few days ago that there could be hidden passages still undiscovered, as evidenced by the fact that temperature anomalies of up to six degrees have been recorded.
A scientific analysis confirming what Napoleon Bonaparte intuited in his own skin after spending seven hours in the gloomy monument: the mystery permeates each of its corners.
With the aim of liberating Egypt from Turkish hands, the promising general Bonaparte, victorious in Italy, landed in the Nile during the summer of 1798 with more than thirty thousand French soldiers aiming to move towards Syria.
Not surprisingly, the young Napoleon pursued more than military objectives and took with him a group of researchers from different disciplines (mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers, archaeologists, geographers, historians …), more than a hundred, so that they will study in detail that country of the wonderful pyramids and the ancient gods.
Among them were the mathematicians Gaspard Monge, founder of the Polytechnic School; the physicist Étienne-Louis Malus; and chemist Claude Louis Berthollet, inventor of bleach.
That is to say, some of the most brilliant scientists of his generation attended the 28-year-old general’s call, without even knowing the destination of the trip until they sailed beyond Malta: «I cannot tell you where we are going, but it is a place to conquer glory and know ».
It was on that expedition, between the military and the scientific, that Europe rediscovered the wonders of ancient Egypt and found the key to understanding them.
While a soldier was digging a trench around the medieval fortress of Rachid (an Egyptian port enclave in the Mediterranean Sea), he found by chance the one known as the Rosetta stone, which finally served to decipher the unintelligible Egyptian hieroglyphs.
It was a sentence of King Ptolemy, dated 196 BC. C, written in three versions: hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek. From the Greek text, it was possible to find the equivalences in the hieroglyphs and establish a code to read the ancient texts.
However, the trip also served Napoleon as a spiritual search in a land that had disturbed the imagination of great characters in history.
Like many of his contemporaries, the Great Corsican was attracted to eastern exoticism and had read a very popular work by then, “The Journey to Egypt and Syria from Constantin Volney,” published in 1794 about the mysteries of the civilizations in the area.
In the middle of military operations, Napoleon went to the Holy Land with the purpose of confronting the Turkish army and, incidentally, resting for a night in Nazareth.
And so he did on April 14, 1799, without having transcended more details of this particular tourist stop. That same year, in August, Napoleon returned to Cairo during the night supposedly inside the Cheops Pyramid.
His usual entourage and a Muslim religious accompanied him to the King’s Chamber, the noble room, which at that time was difficult to access, with passageways that did not reach the meter and a half, and without any lighting beyond the insufficient torches.
Specifically, the King’s Chamber is a rectangular room about 10 meters long and 5 meters wide consisting of granite slabs, smooth walls, and ceiling, without decoration, and only contains an empty granite sarcophagus, without inscriptions, deposited there during the construction of the pyramid, since it is wider than the passageways.
The Corsican general spent seven hours surrounded only by bats, rats and scorpions in the pyramid. Just at dawn, it sprouted from the labyrinthine structure, pale and frightened.
To the questions of concern of his men of confidence about what had happened there, Napoleon replied with an enigmatic: “Even if I told you, you weren’t going to believe me.”
It is impossible to know what exactly Napoleon saw or felt in those seven hours, or even if the episode took place, although it seems likely that in any case, the Corsican believed to suffer some kind of mystical experience induced by loneliness, darkness, extreme temperatures and echo distorted noise.
What is clear is that – as various fiction works have realized, see the novel of “The Eight” (1988) by Katherine Neville or more recently Javier Sierra in “The Egyptian Secret of Napoleon” (2002) – the night of Napoleon Inside the Great Pyramid it seemed to change his character forever.
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