09 - Osirion, Abydos
Date of original article: February 2010.
Last reworked in Oktober 2019.
When king Djer died he was buried (tomb O) on the graveyard of Umm el Qa’ab in Abydos, king Djet was his successor.
Reign of king Djet between 63° and 48° NW.
It is impossible to say about King Djer when he arrived in Giza, nor do we know how long he reigned. In the drawing above we find the orientations of the tombs of king Djer (O) and Djet (Z). Between these two lines lies the period of the reign of King Djet. This map is expressed in degrees Northwest and not in years. The assumption here is that 74.5 ° NW is the orientation on the earth's crust where the former position of the north pole has been. Probably around 10,500 BC. the crustal shift began. Perhaps only a few years later, say about 10,495 BC, some survivors from the American continent already arrived in Egypt and sailed further to Giza.
Some facts the archaeologists have discovered concerning king Djet.
See Wikipedia: King Djet.
[Other activities can be inferred from the only two known years tablets of the ruler, one of which is preserved in two copies. The reading of the events described on the tablets is highly problematic and is open to multiple interpretations.]
Helck translated the text as: "Year of the planning of the underground/basement (?) of the dual plant, birth of lotus buds, standing in the crown shrine of the two Ladies." The other year tablet mentions a victory, the production (birth) of a statue and perhaps the creation of a fortress.
Annual tablet 1:
Year of the planning of the underground/basement (?) of the dual plant.
The text line above is an English translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs concerning king Djet. The only thing we can do is rely onto this English translation. How the word “plant” has to be interpreted? Is it a crop, power station, an equipment or installation?
Most likely we must interpret 'plant' as installation and the text should become: "The year of planning an underground room for the double installation". This basement or underground space is the Osirion (or Osireion). It’s only about the Osirion and absolutely nothing more, surely not the entire temple of Seti 1.
Seti 1 came a whole lot later in history, his temple has been built many centuries later. The Osirion has absolutely no historical connection at all with Seti 1, he has appropriated this construction simply by building his temple beside it. He choose for his temple the same orientation of the Osirion, that's the only thing these two buildings have in common.
Doing so he made the Osirion his property and surely has added some rooms to it. What about the inscriptions inside the Osirion? Ignore them completely, these don't belong here and are of a much later date then the Osirion itself.
Google Maps – satellite photo of the Osirion and the temple of Seti 1 in Abydos.
The Osirion has a 62° NW orientation (or 28°NE).
Drawing by Professor Naville ( Egypt Exploration Society) 1912.
Henri Édouard Naville (14 June 1844 – 17 October 1926)
For the complete story to date and also many good photos of the Osirion:
See : The Isida Project
According Professor Naville [Egypt Exploration Society 1912] the orientation of the Osireion (Osirion) is 28° North-East. However, we have to look at the other side of this building to find the orientation which is important here. Thus, the Osireion has a 62° North-West orientation.
The reign of King Djet begins after the death of Djer (tomb O = 63° NW) and continues until his own death (tomb Z = 48° NW), on the drawing above his reign is pictured by an angle of 15 degrees. The planning of "the cellar of the double plant" happened in the first year of government of Djet (beginning from 63° NW). The Osirion has an orientation of 62° NW, so the alignment on site and the start of construction the Osirion itself started a little bit later, at the very beginning of its reign.
The Osirion an installation instead of a temple or tomb?
The Osirion certainly is a underground construction, a basement. The floor level of the Osirion sits 8 meters below the one of Seti’s temple. and must have been covered with earth from the beginning.
Important constructions were mostly immense great and were made from heavy stone blocks, that’s the reason why they still exist nowadays even if some are nothing more than ruins. It’s simply impossible that every single one of these huge buildings are all temples for the gods or tombs for the kings. Not even one single construction is explained as an technical installation which had a specific purpose.
Water and nothing but water was the main purpose of the Osirion. Because of that water, originally no limestone has been used inside this underground construction. If nowadays there are remaining walls or even complete rooms which made from limestone blocks they were added at the time of Seti 1 who wanted to give the Osirion another purpose and therefore altered the structure.
In the original design of the Osirion only sandstone and granite was used for those parts which came in contact with water. On the outside there stood very thick, massive walls of limestone and solid limestone rock but these never came in contact with the water.
The Osirion was originally nothing more than the one room like on the sketch above.
The Osirion was originally an underground, air- and watertight construction to purify incoming water. Of the water, that flowed in from a (much) higher location, the sand as well as air bubbles had to be removed.
Sketch of the Osirion with a few roof beams resting on the granite pillars of the central platform.
Beginning from the inside there are:
The central platform (island) with ten granite pillars and the ditch all around it.
Then there is the inner wall of hard red sandstone with the niches inside of it.
Furthermore there is a thick limestone wall on the outside.
See picture from the Isida Project: Osirion Central platform
Beside two stairs going into the ditch there are also two holes (sometimes called ponds) in the central platform which are apparently filled now with rubble, possibly they were already blocked with a great stone plate at the time of Seti 1.
[From the Isida Project: The seismic survey, during an archaeological mission directed by James Westerman, made it possible to determine the depth of the central island of Osirion. The lowest part stands about 15 meters below its surface. Studies of Westerman's mission also revealed there are cavities inside the central island (platform), which purpose is unknown. These seismic studies showed that the Osireion rests in a deeper pit than previously thought.]
These cavities, discovered inside the central platform, allow us to assume these are shafts or tunnels which are starting from these two holes.
The purified water, free of sand and air bubbles, flowed from the Osirion through one or both holes in the central platform into a watertight channel through which it was led from the Osirion to lower points.
Possibly there were some holes in the ceiling of the Osirion which were closed with plugs on the ground level above. Maybe workmen could let the compressed air escape from the inside of the Osirion by lifting these plugs. From time to time the Osirion had to be opened to clean this installation, to remove the mud and the sand from the ditch.
Water that was coming from a higher location, i.e. under pressure, was led inside the Osirion via an airtight channel into the many niches, where it was stripped of sand and sludge and also of air bubbles. That purified water, still under pressure, left the Osirion through the two holes (shafts) in the central platform.
One shaft or tunnel, with outflow from the Osirion, seems to go eastwards and runs underneath the courtyard of Seti’s temple. Maybe this tunnel goes to the ancient settlement (harbor?) on the lower part of Abydos.
So far nothing is known about a second tunnel with outflow from the Osirion, for the moment it’s only an assumption there really exist a second shaft. Most likely this tunnel indeed exists and will be going in the direction of Saqqara.
The water inflow towards the Osirion came from a higher location. But, from where exactly?