H - Water in the Pyramid

Article first time online: July 2009.
Reworked : March 2020.


Hypothetical approach! None of the following statements are proven facts!


In order for the hydraulic press in Cheops pyramid to work, a hydraulic fluid was required, in this case the fluid was simply water.

W01 – Filling the pyramid with water.


Where exactly that water may have come from will be discussed in a later chapter. The water flowed into the pyramid (1) through a shaft in the underground chamber (A).

W02 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1] Water poured into the pyramid

through this shaft into the underground chamber. (A)

Currently, this shaft stops after only a few meters. It’s generally assumed that it has been the intention to cut out an extra room at the end of that shaft, but that this idea was eventually abandoned. It may be advisable to thoroughly investigate the end point of this shaft again, there must be a channel somewhere hidden along which the water was supplied.


From there, the water could rise further into shaft (2), (3) and (4). The three granite plugs (E) had already been pushed upwards at this stage and were in the small piston. Via the descending passage (4), the water could rise further into the small cylinder (5).


A shaft (2) starting from within the underground chamber and ending just below the kings chamber has not yet been discovered. That shaft simply must be there, hidden somewhere in the ceiling or walls. If not, the entire internal structure of Cheops pyramid makes no sense at all.

W03 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1]
Is there still another shaft
(2) hidden in the ceiling?

W04 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1]
Or is this little niche the beginning of that hidden shaft

The vertical shaft (B) in the subterranean chamber was otherwise tightly closed so that no water (pressure) could escape from there.

W05 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1]
The vertical shaft
(B) in the subterranean chamber.

Original text accompanying the photo above: The rock-cut Subterranean Chamber of the great pyramid of Gizeh, looking south; Showing the square doorway of the little south blind passage; Also the large opening of the vertical shaft, which descends from near the centre of the floor of the eastern portion of the chamber.

The narrow vertical shaft to the “cave” (or well) was not yet closed in point (C) at that time, the keystone of which may have been in the niche (D).

W06 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1]
In the descending passage, the entrance
(C) of the narrow shaft up towards the "well".

Original text accompanying the photo above: The descending passage of the great pyramid of Gizeh; Showing in the West wall the lower opening of the Well-Shaft.

W07 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1]
On the right the niche
(D) in the descending shaft,

stood here  temporarily the keystone for the entrance towards the cave (or well)?

Already from here it becomes clear that workers had to re-enter the pyramid after the hydraulic system had completed its task; That is after the kings chamber had been pushed to its highest position, closing the passage to the real secret chambers. Just about everything in the pyramid was envisioned that the technical rooms could be reopened in a fairly simple way to give access to the workers who still had some tasks to do inside.



X - This is a sealing of the base under the kings chamber, below which the whole is sealed airtight and watertight. The kings chamber is the large piston of the hydraulic press in Cheops pyramid. This chamber (piston) stands in its cylinder like an elevator in its shaft. This piston naturally had to fit airtight and watertight in its cylinder.          

W08 - Photo taken by Jon Bodsworth [2]
The so called "bridge" at the bottom of the great gallery.

Y - The entrance to the queens chamber was also made watertight. The so called "bridge" in the great gallery was sealed tightly, (practical) no water could flow from the great gallery (5) into the corridor leading towards the queens chamber.

W09 – The "bridge" at the bottom of the great gallery.

The bridge was  watertight sealed as shown in the drawing above.
The most obvious solution is the reconstruction according to Borchardt.

Drawing based on a sketch by Auke A. Tadema. [3]

Explanation with the original sketch:

1. Wide rough groove chopped in this stone layer.

2. Twenty-eight holes for beams, wedges or a second floor,
    or for anchoring the stone plugs lying on the balustrades, or for wooden paneling.

3. Roof plates from the great gallery.

4. Balustrade or so-called ledge.

5. Floor of the great gallery, between the two ledges.

6. Recess in the floor, apparently to close the bridge with stone plates.

7. Ascending corridor that was later closed by stone plugs.

8. Horizontal corridor to the Queen's chamber.

9. The lower part of the western balustrade hid the "well" that leads to "the cave".

10. Connecting edges in the side walls.

11. Horizontal beams.

12. Stone blocks from the horizontal corridor placed as fall doors.

13. Hole in the same place as in the east wall.

W10 & W11- Drawings by Charles Piazzi Smyth. - [4]
A break from the western ledge in the great gallery.

Originally there was a block of stone in that ledge,
this stone hid the vertical shaft to the "cave"
(sometimes called "the source").

The shaft (3) coming from the  “cave” below ends in the ledge of the great gallery (location Y). This shaft is currently open and so this ledge is interrupted because the keystone is missing there. There is no doubt that this shaft towards the cave was originally closed with a stone through which the ledge continued along its entire length.

W12 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1]
Picture of the western ledge in the great gallery.

Originally there was a block of stone in that ledge,
this keystone hid the vertical shaft to the "cave".

W13 - Photo by the brothers John & Morton Edgar – 1910, 1913. - [1]
Drawing of the western ledge (ramp) at the very bottom of the great gallery.

1 - A granite slab sealed off the descending shaft (Z).         


According to Sir Flinders Petrie [5], there was a possibility there may have been a revolving door or trap stone in front of the entrance, making the entrance completely invisible, the door would have been indistinguishable from the rest of the mantle stones. This idea was based on a text from Strabo's Geographica [6].

W14 - Drawing from an idea by Sir Flinders Petrie [5].
The entrance to the southern pyramid in Dahshur, depicting a trap door.

That door is no longer attached to the pyramid, this is only a theoretical representation.

W15 - Drawing after an idea by Sir Flinders Petrie [5].

Theoretical representation of a door at the entrance to Cheop's pyramid,

analogous to the Dahshur pyramid.

[7] I.E.S Edwards [start quote]: “Because of Strabo's explanation, there has been a lot of speculation about how the entrance to the pyramid was closed. In Strabo’s Geographica, which was written at the beginning of the Christian era, he states that the pyramid "slightly up on one side, contains a removable stone and shows a sloping passage to the foundations". Petrie interpreted this statement as if the great pyramid had a one-piece hanging door with pivot pins on either side of the top to open and close. In support of his theory, he was able to point out that in the northern corridor of the Bent Pyramid as well as in the Pyramid of Meidum, hollows had been carved into the side walls at the entrance, apparently intended for placing door pins. Since the outer layer has been lost, it’s impossible to say whether the entrance to the great pyramid also had such cavities.[end quote]



Contrary to Edwards' opinion, we are convinced that if there has ever been a trap door at the entrance to Cheops pyramid, it certainly belonged to the original design of the pyramid.


Today, many stones have disappeared at the original entrance to the pyramid. It’s therefore impossible to find out what this part exactly looked like.

W16 - Photo taken by Jon Bodsworth [2]
The real entrance of Cheops Pyramid.

The picture above shows what we are supposing to be the real entrance of Cheops Pyramid. This location has been sealed with enormous limestone blocks. A revolving door or trap door in this place wouldn’t  have had any use at all. It's impossible to say if there ever has existed such a door in front of the descending shaft only.

W17 - A granite slab (3) was slid into a suitable groove of the descending shaft,

this plate provided a (virtually) watertight seal.

Z (on drawing W01) - The descending passage is a technical shaft, we assume the entrance of this shaft was originally closed with a granite slab. This block (or slab) served to seal the shaft watertight. However, this granite block had to be removable because, as  mentioned before, the workers had to re-enter the pyramid to perform the final tasks and checks.

A pyramid is a tomb for the pharaoh, once the mummy was placed in the tomb, the pyramid was supposed to be sealed off to never be opened again. Therefore, scientists wonder what use a revolving or trap door would have had. Well, the purpose of such a door could have been to re-open the technical shafts in an easy way, while at the same time it may have been the intension indeed to close the tomb of the pharaoh itself forever.


The suggestion here is that In Cheops pyramid, the real secret chambers were very effectively closed by the hydraulic press. However, the technical shafts remained accessible for the simple reason that the workers had to re-enter the pyramid, after the hydraulic press inside the pyramid had performed its task, to perform the final works and camouflage.


(1) - Perhaps, originally the entrance to the pyramid was once perfectly hidden behind a trap door. If this was the case then this door, suspended from hinges and almost perfectly balanced, would it have made it easy to open it. This door would have fitted perfectly with the mantle stones around, making it virtually impossible to find it. However, it’s impossible to define whether such a door really has existed. If so, this had to be made of lime stone, just like the other mantle stones. With this limestone it would have been impossible to watertight seal off the descending shaft.

(2) - This location, which we see as the real entrance was and still is closed off with large blocks of lime stone.


(3) – Maybe a granite slab was slid into a suitable groove of the descending corridor to create a (almost) perfect watertight seal. Again, the descending corridor is a technical shaft and was a part of the hydraulic press in Cheops pyramid. However, is there somewhere a granite slab to find?


Apparently, it's possible to demonstrate the existence of that granite slab.(3)

The chronology:


At the beginning of our era, the entrance to the pyramid was known. Strabo has described the revolving or trap door as well as the descending corridor and the underground chamber.


[8] Graham Hancock: [start quote] The descending passage and the underground chamber were already known in ancient times and explored along its entire length. For example, the Greco-Roman geographer Strabo gave a clear description of the large underground chamber to which this corridor led. Also, graffiti from the time of the Roman occupation of Egypt was found, confirming regular visits. [End quote]


If that granite slab really existed, the bottom line is that it had already been removed at the time of Strabo (he lived from 64 BC to 19 AD), or even much earlier. That slab has been pushed back or broken into pieces.


Later, around 820 AD. Caliph Machmun appeared on the scene and had his workers chop a tunnel in the pyramid, it's not clear whether the location of that trap door and entrance were still known or had long been forgotten at the time.


The story goes as follows: After some time of chopping and breaking, Al Machmun's workers had already penetrated quite deep into the pyramid, but still had not hit any passage or chamber. When they almost wanted to stop the works, they suddenly heard a block of stone thunder down in some shaft or room and so they started to cut further in that direction. It is said that it was only when Al Machmun's squad landed at the junction of the ascending and descending corridor that they rediscovered the descending corridor.


It is believed that Al Machmun has been very lucky when  discovering the ascending passage. However, it should not be forgotten that he has chopped only one shaft and that he already achieved results from the first time. Shouldn't we assume that Al Machmun had a plan of the interior of Cheops pyramid at his disposal?

W18 - Photo taken by Jon Bodsworth [2]
The granite plugs at the very bottom of the ascending corridor.

These granite plugs were hidden behind a large limestone block.

The granite plugs that are still blocking the very bottom of the ascending corridor were hidden behind a large limestone block. From the descending corridor those granite plugs were invisible, even the whole ascending corridor was hidden from view. Anyhow, this large limestone block has come loose, probably during the chopping the shaft in the pyramid by the workers of Al Machmun.


This must have been the limestone block Al Machmun's workers heard thundering downwards into the descending shaft. The workers then have started to chop in the direction of that descending shaft to finally ending up in it. By punching a hole in the wall of the descending corridor, a lot of stone rubble has tumbled down in it.

W19 – The stone rubble in the descending shaft at the time of Machmoen.

In order, there should be a granite block (1) at the bottom of the descending corridor, above it the limestone block (2) and a bit higher up a pile of rubble (3) left by Al Machmun's workers. This indeed appears to have been the case.


In 1301, Giza was hit by a very serious earthquake in which almost all mantle stones of the pyramid(s) thundered down. Whether or not the entrance to the pyramid was known back then isn't clear, however, from this moment on the entrance to the pyramid was clearly visible and would never be forgotten again.


In 1865 Charles Piazzi Smyth [4] (lived from 1819 to 1900) went to Egypt to investigate and measure the great pyramid for four months. In 1874 he published his three-part work "Living and Working at the Great Pyramid"


Just in front of a large block of granite, Smyth found a large piece of limestone in the descending shaft. From the shape of it he could define that it once had been sitting underneath the granite plugs blocking the ascending corridor. This piece of limestone was placed there during the construction of the pyramid to camouflage the granite plugs and thus hide the existence of the ascending corridor. According to Smyth, this block of limestone had come loose and thundered downwards by vibrations of the battering rams of Al Machmun's workers while forcing a passage. Since then, this block of limestone became to be called “Smyth's Limestone”.


Not much later it was up to Sir Flinders Petrie [5]  to investigate the pyramid. (he lived from 1853 to 1942). He studied the Giza plateau from 1880 to 1882 and published his book "The Pyramids and Temples of Giza" in 1883. In connection with that block of granite we find the following description:

"Smyth has only penetrated the descending passage up to that granite slab, which is only laying slightly lower than the point where the ascending corridor begins."


In 1906 it was the turn of the brothers John & Morton Edgar [1] to investigate the pyramid. In 1910, the Edgar brothers published Volume 1 of their work “The Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers”. The main importance of the book today is the many black and white photos that depict the features of the Great Pyramid before modern cleaning and restoration. Some parts, such as the Cave, have rarely been photographed and even today, their recordings are still some of the best of all available. Below are a few photos showing the granite slab.

W20 – Photo by the de Edgar Brothers. [1]

Original text accompanying the photo above: The iron grill door which closes the lower reach of the descending passage of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh; showing Judah sitting on the debris which concealed Petrie's granite block; also the lower butt-end of the Granite Plug which blocks the entrance of the First Ascending Passage.

W21 – Photo by the de Edgar Brothers. [1]

Original text accompanying the photo above: Same as previous plate but with the debris removed, thus revealing Petrie's granite block on which the iron grill-door is fixed, also Smyth's limestone block which lies end-on against the granite block.


Today, there isn't any trace anymore of Petrie's granite slab or Smyth's limestone block in the descending corridor. All this has been removed on behalf of Petrie to make the descending corridor more accessible. Petrie mentions this fact in his book (1883). The above photos in the books of the Edgar Brothers (1910) must therefore have been taken some time earlier, while workmen were occupied clearing this shaft on behalf of Petrie.




[5] - Sir Flinders Petrie:  - Chapter 4: Excavations – Section 13 Inside The Great Pyramid.

[Start quote] The first work that needed to be done (and that quickly, before the travelers’ season set in) was to open the entrance passage of the Great Pyramid again to the lower chamber. The rubbish that had accumulated from out of Mamun's Hole was carried out of the Pyramid by a chain of five or six men in the passage……

….. In the passage we soon came down on the big granite stone which stopped Prof. Smyth when he was trying to clear the passage, and also sundry blocks of limestone appeared. The limestone was easily smashed then and there, and carried out piecemeal; and as it had no worked surfaces it was of no consequence.


But the granite was not only tough, but interesting, and I would not let the skilful hammer-man cleave it up slice by slice as he longed to do; it was therefore blocked up in its place, with a stout board across the passage, to prevent it being started into a downward rush.


It was a slab 20.6 inches thick, worked on both faces and one end, but rough broken around the other three sides; and as it lay flat on the floor, it left us 27 inches of height to pass down the passage over it. Where it came from is a complete puzzle; no granite is known in the Pyramid, except the King's Chamber, the Antechamber, and the plug blocks in the ascending passage.
[End quote]

W22 – Petrie’s granite block, sketch by Maragioglio & Rinaldi. [9]   ©

Height (broken off) 45 inch (about 114 cm or 2.18 cubit), width (broken off) 32 inch (about 81 cm or 1.55 cubit)  and thickness 20.6 inch (52,36 cm or 1 cubit). The drill hole has a diameter of about 4 inches (10 cm or 5 digits).


Comment on the drawing above: Granite block found by Petrie at Al Mamun's breakthrough. The face A, the face B and the opposite face are original and smooth [polished].



Petrie [Start quote]: Of these sites the Antechamber seems to be the only place whence it could have come; and Maillet mentions having seen a large block (6 feet by 4) lying in the Antechamber, which is not to be found there now. This slab is 32 inches wide to the broken sides, 45 long to a broken end, and 20.6 thick; and, strangely, on one side edge is part of a drill hole, which ran through the 20.6 thickness, and the side of which is 27.3 from the worked end.


This might be said to be a modern hole, made for smashing it up, wherever it was in situ; but it is such a hole as none but an ancient Egyptian would have made, drilled out with a jeweled tubular drill in the regular style of the 4th dynasty; and to attribute it to any mere smashers and looters of any period is inadmissible.


What if it came out of the grooves in the Antechamber, and was placed like the granite leaf across that chamber? The grooves are an inch wider, it is true; but then the groove of the leaf is an inch wider than the leaf. If it was then in this least unlikely place, what could be the use of a 4-inch hole right through the slab? It shows that something has been destroyed, of which we have, at present, no idea. [End quote]


Ever since Petrie described this granite slab so clearly, it has since then been referred to as "Petrie's Granite Block". This granite slab was laying slightly lower in the descending shaft than the piece of limestone that  came loose from the ceiling of it and tumbled down. In fact, the block of limestone leaned against Petrie's granite slab so that the limestone block hasn't thundered all the way down.

W23 – “Petrie’s granite block", found in the descending shaft.

It should be clear that this granite slab must have been laying in the descending shaft already at the time of Al Machmun. Maillet's statement that Petrie's granite slab may have been the block he (Maillet) had once seen in the ante chamber is therefore impossible.

W24 - Photo taken by Jon Bodsworth [2]
Another granite slab from the pyramid.

In the pyramid, a few more broken granite slabs were found of which it isn't exactly known where they came from. It must be plausible that one or more of those pieces granite once served as a keystone to close the descending shaft watertight.


As a conclusion, it can be stated that the pyramid could indeed be filled with water and that the technical shafts could be closed watertight so that the water could not escape undesirably.


The entrance of the narrow vertical shaft to the “cave” in the descending passage was not yet closed with a (camouflage) keystone. Water could rise into that shaft without any hindrance. Also Smyth's limestone block had not yet been installed in the ascending shaft, here too the water could flow freely into the large cylinder, the three granite plugs were in the little piston which stood much higher in what we now call the great gallery.


Here again it becomes clear that workers had to re-enter the pyramid afterwards, so the technical shafts of the pyramid had to be designed in such a way that they could be easily re-opened, so…. Perhaps A trap door at the entrance and a watertight granite slab in the descending corridor that could be pushed away.


References to chapter H

[1] - Photos by the Edgar Brothers.

Great Pyramid Passages, Volume 1 & 2 , (1910 & 1913)

John Edgar & Morton Edgar.

Photos public Domain, see Wikimedia:

Books online:

[2] – Photos taken by Jon Bodsworth.

See also Photo Gallery 2.

Jon’s own photos of the pyramids and surroundings.


[3] - Drawings by Auke A. Tadema.
De Piramiden van Egypte (Dutch) book by Bob Tadema Sporry & Auke A. Tadema

ISBN 90 228 3315 1 - 1971 - 1977 - 1980

[4] – Drawings from the books of Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819 – 1900).

From his book : Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid (1877)

See Wikipedia:

Terms of copyright:


[5] – W.M. Flinders Petrie – The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh – 1883.

See Wikipedia:

Book Online:


[6] – Strabo.
See Wikipedia:

Strabo, Geography, books 1-17 in 8 volumes online (pdf).


[7] - I.E.S  Edwards – De piramiden van Egypte (1947).

        Uitgeverij Hollandia – Dutch translation

        Derde druk - 1985 - ISBN 90 6045 559 2


[8] – Graham Hancock

Book: Fingerprints of the gods

Het ontstaan en einde van alles (Dutch translation)

Uitgeverij Tirion - Baarn - Nederland.

ISBN 90 5121 600 9 – 1997 - vierde druk.



[9] – Drawings by Maragioglio & Rinaldi.

L'Architettura della Piramide Menefite, Rapallo 1965, Vol. IV

PDF Drawings Online: © - Copyright on this work?