Amid accusations of bizarre 'Zionist' plots and strange 'Masonic' machinations, the Egyptian government cancelled the placing of a golden capstone on top of the Great Pyramid which was scheduled to take place at midnight on on the eve of the new millennium. Curiously, the story has its origins in France when, in May 1998, a golden capstone was ceremoniously placed on top of the Egyptian obelisk which stands at the Place de la Concorde in the heart of Paris with guests of honour Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni and the Antiquities' chairman Dr. Ali Gaballah. This Paris obelisk, which was taken from the temple of Luxor in Upper Egypt in 1831, had been commissioned by Charles X and was raised in the Place de la Concorde in 1836 amid massive celebrations attended by a crowd of 200,000 people. Charles X was a Freemason and historians have suspected that the secret Brotherhood was behind the idea of bringing the Egyptian obelisk to France. Other obelisks which were also taken out of Egypt by the Freemasons in the late 19th century included the two famous "Cleopatra's Needles", which today can be seen at the Victoria Embankment in London and in New York's Central Park. The London obelisk was commissioned and paid for by a prominent Freemason, Sir Erasmus Wilson, and the raising ceremony in London was attend by hundreds of British Freemasons in September 1878 under the auspices of the Prince of Wales who also was Grand Master of United Grand Lodge, Freemasonry's regulating body in Britain. That same year the 'New York' obelisk was noticed by US President Ulysses S. Grant and General William T. Sherman during a visit to Egypt, who felt that America should also have an ancient Egyptian obelisk of its own. Henry W. Gorringe, a prominent Freemason, was selected for the task of bringing the obelisk to New York. The obelisk was raised in October 1880 outside the newly built Metropolitan Museum, with over ten thousand Freemasons attending the ceremony in Masonic regalia. The important symbolic aspect of an obelisk is not its tall stem but mainly its top which is shaped like a small pyramid. Pyramids, especially with the 'eye of providence' in them, feature very prominently in Masonic rituals. The symbol can be seen on the face of the US one-dollar bill and also on the Great Seal of the United States. In Freemasonry the glowing pyramid and eye represents the so-called Great Architect of the Universe or the Supreme Being, both epithets for God. This Masonic symbolism was used prominently in France during the 1789 Revolution and was embossed on the front of The Declaration of Human Rights. The first celebrations of the French Revolution that took place in 1793 saw many makeshift 'pyramids' raised in the heart of Paris and in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum, causing many historians to suspect a Masonic involvement. Today a glass pyramid with the same geometrical proportions as the Great Pyramid of Giza adorns the courtyard of the Louvre.
During the May 1998 celebrations in Paris, when the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde was crowned with a golden pyramid, the Egyptian culture minister announced that a similar ceremony would take place at the Great Pyramid of Giza for the millennium celebrations:
"We cannot rebuild the pyramids stone by stone," said Farouk Hosni, "so we have chosen a symbolic event like the ancient Egyptians did when they used to cap obelisks like what the French did at the Place de la Concorde".
Later in October 1998 the Farouk Hosni announced that French composer Jean-Michel Jarre was to organise this event at Giza. The official Egyptian Tourist Authorities announced that Jean-Michel Jarre would compose a 12-hour opera titled "The Twelve Dreams of the Sun" for the sum of 10 million US dollars and that,
"At midnight a helicopter will fly into the site and, hovering in a starburst of lasers and spotlights, will place a gigantic gilded capstone atop the Great Pyramid --all to the accompaniment of what is expected to be an unprecedented Jarre crescendo of electronic music. The gold cap, approximately 28 feet high (about the size of a two-story house) is being especially constructed to protect the pyramid structure. In place, it will catch the first light of the new millennium as the sun rises over Egypt. Capping pyramids with gold and timing important events to the setting and rising sun are very much part of the ancient Egyptian pharaonic tradition, making this piece of Jarre theatre particularly meaningful."
In 1989 Jean-Michele Jarre had organised a quasi-similar event in Paris for the Bicentennial of the French Revolution when he set up a large metal-framed pyramid as a stage for his band in front of the Grande Arche at La Defense in the western end of the Champs Elysees. Another show by Jarre also took place a few years later in London's Canary Wharf which is topped by a glowing glass pyramid apparently having the same geometrical proportions as the Great Pyramid in Egypt, and as the one that stands in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris, built by the American architect Ming Pei. It would appear that the idea of a new golden capstone for the Great Pyramid originated with Dr. Zahi Hawass, Under-secretary of State for the Giza Monuments. In early 1998 Dr. Hawass unearthed two limestone blocks with ancient inscriptions and drawings depicting workers moving a golden capstone for a royal pyramid amid scenes of dancing and celebrations and proposed that Egypt should celebrate the millennium in a similar way. At first 3 million people were scheduled to attend the event free of charge but the Egyptian authorities put a limit of 250,000 for 'security reasons'. Huge promotional events were organised in various capitals of the Western world, including New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and various cities in Europe. Preparations then began for a huge stage in the desert south of the Great Pyramid, intended to have seating capacity for 25,000 people at the price of $400 per ticket. Cheaper tickets of $15 were also sold for 'standing' places in the nearby desert. All was apparently going to plan until September 1999, when senior members of the Egyptian Parliament began to complaint of the costs involved and also that the millennium celebrations coincided this year with the Islamic month of Ramadan, when devout Muslims in Egypt fast from dawn to dusk and foreigners are asked to refrain from drinking alcohol or eating in public areas during the hours of fasting. To counteract such criticism, culture minister Farouk Hosni stated that a ban would be placed on alcohol during the celebrations and that no music would be played until after the official end of the fast was announced. To add fuel to this political fire, the radical Egyptian press, notably the newspaper Al Shaab (The People) found out that Jean-Michel Jarre intended to project the so-called 'eye of Horus' on the Great Pyramid with laser lights, and immediately denounced the organisers of staging a 'Masonic' stunt. The Al Shaab claimed that the 'eye in the pyramid' blatantly evoked the well-known Masonic symbol on the US one-dollar bill. Freemasons are also known to harbour ancient Hebrew Rituals related to Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, which also fired accusations of 'Zionist' infiltration in the Arab newspapers. These accusations were hotly denied by culture minister Farouk Hosni. "The suggestion is groundless", also stated Dr. Hawass, the official in charge of the Pyramids. "The celebration has nothing to do with Masonic beliefs. The design on the US dollar is a faulty imitation of the Pyramids of the Middle Kingdom."
Adding to the growing hype was another twist to this strange story. This involved the so-called 'prophecies' made by American Psychic Edgar Cayce known as the 'Sleeping Prophet'. Cayce, who died in 1945, foretold the placing of a gilded capstone on the Great Pyramid which, according to him, would act as a 'symbol' for the rediscovery of the legendary 'Hall of Records of Atlantis' under the paws of the Great Sphinx and the events of the second coming of Christ:
"The apex, the crown or apex (or capstone) was of metal; that was to be indestructible, being of copper, brass, gold with other alloys… it became very fitting that there should be the crowning or placing of this 'symbol of the records' by one who represent the old and the new… Hence there has arisen from this ceremony many of the things that may be seen as present… the sounding of the New Year… 1998 from the death of the Son of Man…"
Oddly, Cayce also associates the event with the establishment of a sort of New World order based on Masonic principles:
"For with those changes that will be wrought, Americanism with the universal thought that is expressed and manifest in the Brotherhood of man into group thought as expressed in the Masonic Order, will be the eventual rule in the settlement of affairs in the world. Not that the world is to become a Masonic Order, but the principle that are embraced in the same will be the basis upon which the new order of peace is to be established…"
Cayce claimed that Jesus and John the Baptist (regarded as the 'patron saint' of Freemasons who celebrate their New Year on St. John's Day on the 24th June) "took those last of the Brotherhood degrees" in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Since 1973 the Edgar Cayce Foundation has been involved in various expeditions at Giza to find the 'Hall of Records'. The first official exploration was with the Stamford Research International in early 1978. In 1996 two prominent members of the Edgar Cayce Foundation caused a huge controversy by claiming to have located with radar a large man-made cavity under the paws of the Sphinx where Edgar Cayce had indicated. Further explorations took place in the course of 1997-8 but no excavation permits were granted to the Americans. But in August 1999 during a conference at the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Dr. Zahi Hawass announced that a new license had been granted to the Americans for more thorough radar soundings to find the Hall of Records under the Sphinx. Dr. Hawass also announced that a small trap "door" discovered in 1993 at the end of a narrow tunnel inside the Great Pyramid suspected by many to lead to a secret chamber, will be opened in the year 2000 by the National Geographic team from the USA. The Americans had planned to be at Giza on the 7th December 1999 to start their search at the Sphinx but this, like the capstone, was cancelled. The team hopes to be back in February this year. Much controversy has surrounded the precise relationship of the Edgar Cayce Foundation and the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation, with allegations that the latter or some of its prominent members arranged for the university education of some high ranking officials in Egypt involved with the Giza Pyramids. In early December 1999, under heavy pressure by the Egyptian newspapers, the Antiquities Organisation took a face-saving position by deferring the decision of placing the golden capstone to a scientific committee. Dr. Zahi Hawass stated that the capstone, which apparently was to be made from an 8 m high light metal frame and covered in gold sheets, could not be lowered by a helicopter "…because it will hurt the pyramid. Therefore if we find out that that putting this capstone will hurt the pyramid, then, we will not do it." But some critics rightly pointed out a lightweight capstone on the 6 million ton stone pyramid would be like placing a flea on an elephant's back. Finally the Egyptian minister of culture caved in and, at the eleventh hour, admitted that due to public outrage over the 'Masonic' implications and to avoid any disturbance the golden capstone ceremony would be scrapped. Ironically on the night of 31st December a thick fog settled over the Great Pyramid which would have made it impossible for a helicopter to lower the capstone on its summit. Jean-Michele Jarre did, however, manage to project some images on the smaller of the three Giza Pyramids including 'eyes' until it, too, was engulfed by the fog and the thick smoke caused by huge firework display. It now remains to be seen whether the Egyptian authorities will, as promised, open the "door" in the Great Pyramid and reveal what is behind it in the course of the year 2000. And will they also allow further explorations at the Sphinx to search for the Hall of Records? The eyes of the world are watching.