Apep (also Apophis) was the Great Serpent ancient Egyptian god of Chaos (isfet) that reigned over the Underworld and fought sun and creator god Ra in his solar barque (also solar barge), in endless fights, night after night. Image from Wikimedia Commons, author : Soutekh67
The Great Serpent Apep of the Underworld / The snake metaphor for Water (like on the Dendera Light reliefs)
I've been looking for evidence of the reality of the flooded inclined well and its water for quite a while now, until I really started to work on Apophis (Apep), the famous Snake of the Underworld.
First of all, I must admit I should have known better and find out about Apep way sooner, because I've already found out about another snake : the Dendera snake.
On the Dendera reliefs, the snake represents the way that water, coming from the inclined well of the theory, is transformed into a fog of microdroplets of liquid water. That water evaporates and cool the air.
The Dendera snake is a small snake, and it is a small amount of water coming from the inclined well. Well, guess what metaphor ancient Egyptians used to represent the inclined well water : yep, a big snake.
The small Dendera snake is a portion of the big Apep snake, so how did they represent that portion : they cut a piece of the big snake. Once again here, everything is nothing else than metaphors. There is no snake and no killing or slaying of the snake : they just represented the fact that maybe about a few hundred liters of water from the pressurized well was injected into the horizontal evaporative cooling passage.
Like for the explanation of the knives of the Dendera reliefs, the knife used here on the Great Serpent Apep is also metaphoric. The knife isn't here to kill the snake, it doesn't even really mean cut. The knife, like in Dendera, means separate.
A small quantity of water had to be separated from the rest and injected, through the Nefertem pipe to the Horus fog nozzle of the horizontal cooling passage.
The Underworld (the Duat) represents the inclined well.
The primordial waters Nu (Nun, Nunet) represent the waters of the inclined well
The big Serpent Apep (Apophis) represents the water of the inclined well pressurized by the impactor.
The solar barque represents the impactor.
The night and day cycle represents the impactor operating cycle (in and out of the well).
The overthrowing of Apep is the ejection of a small amount of pressurized water from the well towards the horizontal cooling passage, and the recovery of the impactor from the well.
Left : Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, entry to the the ascending passage (inclined well), viewed from the grand gallery. Top and center : Egyptian god Ra in his solar barque, by Ausir. Top right : wall relief of Apep, temple of Edfu (author : Rémih, on Wikipedia). Bottom right image from Wikimedia Commons, author : Soutekh67
Please note on the top right image, 3 things :
• the solar barque is set on top of the axle beam of the top platform of the gallery (see the post on the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figures for more about the axle beam)
• the character is set on the bottom platform of the gallery (that is the primordial mound)
• the real shape of the impactor is actually also indicated, in dark green on the solar barque
Apep / Apophis myth is completely inverted and doesn't make any sense
The myth about the Great Serpent Apep, god of Chaos of the Underworld and Sun god Ra, actually doesn't make any sense if you really think it through.
A proper and convincing story, would have been to say that Sun god Ra would fight the Great Serpent Apep (Apophis) during the day, he is the Sun god after all, and he would have kill the snake just before dusk. Then Apep would resurrect during the night (he is supposed to live in the Underworld after all) and restart the fighting cycle with Ra, at dawn.
But the actual myth is the exact opposite of that : Ra is fighting Apep during the night, and Apep resurrects during day light.
The myth about Apophis the Great Serpent only makes sense if you have the real backstory of the operating cycle of the grand gallery and the inclined well of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.
Great Pyramid of Khufu operating diagram, updated September 24, 2021 (revisions of : the inclined well 16 yards supply pipe for the horizontal evaporative cooling passage. 16 yards is 14.63 meters, that would make the start of the water supply pipe 30 centimeters ahead of the south part of the girdle stone G2).
Djoser's "Refreshment of the Gods" Pyramid
The fact that the Great Pyramid of Khufu was producing cold in its Lower part, shouldn't surprise anyone : the very first pyramid built for pharaoh Djoser by Imhotep, was called "the refreshment of the gods' pyramid". Pharaohs were trying for decades to master the manufacturing of the purest mineral form of natron by the Solvay process, and it required a very efficient cooling system.
The work on the inclined well and its water turned out to be like no other part of the theory, because this time, pretty much everything is perfectly described metaphorically in ancient Egyptian texts mentioning Apep, the Great Serpent god of Chaos of the Underworld.
The text in italic with the mention (WHF), comes from Joshua J. Mark, and can be find in the World History Foundation Encyclopedia (Canada) ; and from the Wikipedia's page on Apep (Wikipedia).
Apep / Apophis is the metaphor of the pressurized water of the inclined well (from the primordial still waters)
My theory describes the use of an impactor, over and over lifted to the top of the grand gallery and then released into the steep slope of the central gutter to gain speed and energy before it hit the waters of the inclined well and pressurizes it. Maybe the cycle was about 15 to 20 minutes, that is the time needed by the crew of the grand gallery, to lift the impactor back up from the water of the inclined well to the top of the gallery. This cycle would have been realized all day long, for weeks, months, who knows…
(WHF): "No matter how many times Apophis was defeated and killed, he always rose again to life and attacked the sun god's boat. The most powerful gods and goddesses would defeat the serpent in the course of every night, but during the day, as the sun god sailed slowly across the sky, Apophis regenerated and was ready again by dusk to resume the war".
My comments : in the Apep Myth, the cycle doesn't take 15 to 20 minutes but an entire day ; that is because, from the impactor point of view, when it got inside the inclined well, it was night ; and when it got out of it, and reached the gallery, day light came back again.
In Apep myth, when they talk about night and day, that is actually depicting the operating cycle of the grand gallery.
Nu are the primordial still waters of the inclined well, before being hit by the impactor
From Wikipedia : "Nu (also Nenu, Nunu, Nun), feminine Naunet (also Nunut, Nuit, Nent, Nunet), is the deification of the primordial watery abyss in the Hermopolitan Ogdoad cosmogony of ancient Egyptian religion."
"The name is paralleled with nen "inactivity" in a play of words in, "I raised them up from out of the watery mass [nu], out of inactivity [nen]". The name has also been compared to the Coptic noun "abyss; deep".
"The ancient Egyptians envisaged the oceanic abyss of the Nun as surrounding a bubble in which the sphere of life is encapsulated."
That last part is a pretty good metaphor of the restrained water of the inclined well.
The Solar Barque (Solar Barge) is the impactor
Of course, the Apophis Myth doesn't mention any impactor, but it is right there : it is the barque (or the barge), because to get the impactor moving they got to constantly pour water inside the fixed wooden caisson of the central gutter. Probably the 2 parts, the fixed caisson and the moving caisson (the impactor) were covered with a microalgal or cyanobacterial biofilm to even more reduce the friction.
On some images, we see that the barque is actually sustained by the Great Serpent. It is called the Solar Barque, because again, the grand gallery was considered as Day, whereas the inclined well was considered as the (Underworld) Night.
(WHF): "The sun was Ra's great barge which sailed through the sky from dawn to dusk and then descended into the underworld."
(WHF): "In a text known as the Book of Gates, the goddesses Isis, Neith, and Serket, assisted by other deities, capture Apophis and restrain him in nets held down by monkeys, the sons of Horus, and the great earth god Geb, where he is then chopped into pieces; the next night, though, the serpent is whole again and waiting for the barge of the sun when it enters the underworld."
Apep god of Chaos : the impactor descent and crash
Over time I think it is gonna be possible to evaluate how fast was moving the impactor, but one thing that will be very hard to reproduce or evaluate is the sound of the impactor fall, and the extreme deafening noise at the moment of the impact with the waters of the well. Especially with the grand gallery acting like a huge resonance chamber.
Of course, the descent and the crash into the well, would also have caused the structure to tremble.
(Wikipedia): "It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble… Apep's movements were thought to cause earthquakes, and his battles with Set may have been meant to explain the origin of thunderstorms."
(Wikipedia): "Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also "the Lord of Chaos."
(WHF): "Apophis is associated with earthquakes, thunder, darkness, storms, and death."
2 ways of reading the disposition of the coiled snake in the first top image of this post
• Vertically : Apep sustains the solar boat (the impactor), and represents the water poured onto the wooden fixed caisson to make the impactor move. Please note that the serpent is painted in a bluish color and that there are 10 loops sustaining the barque, that is the same number as the 10 scarab crewmembers.
• Horizontally : this time we see Apep taking the shape of the central gutter of the gallery.
The grand gallery operation of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, with the wooden beetle scarab and the impactor. Photograph : the Senet Game Table of Tutankhamun, with the sledge and the golden cylinder parts that were designed to engage the latch bolts of the towing scarab.
Both the Solar Barque and the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris mummy figure bases, were metaphoric representations of the impactor of the grand gallery. Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figures 25.3.204 (left) and 86.1.88a–d (right) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at New-York ; and Ptah-Sokar-Osiris / wood, gesso, and paint, 332-30 BCE, from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), at Providence (third image).
The ram's horns headdresses of the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris mummy figures represent the impactor shocks
The ram's horns significance is one of the easiest representation of the grand gallery operation to comprehend : the entire process was to make the moving caisson ram into the water of the inclined well, so that its energy would be converted into pressurized water directed to the horizontal cooling passage.
The moving caisson was an impactor for the inclined well waters : it moved from the grand gallery (daylight), to the inclined well (the Underworld).
The impactor was what caused the chaos-waters in the myth of Apep (Apophis), the rumbles and ground shaking.
The water slide metaphor of the Solar Barque / impactor
The solar barque was used as a representation of the impactor because it was moving inside the central gutter of the gallery on a film of liquid water, exactly like a water slide ; while the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figure wood bases were used to reproduce the actual shape of the impactor.
Was all the water used inside the Great Pyramid coming from the Nile ?
I first thought that the water used in the Great Pyramid was rain water, but Apep was also known as the Serpent from the Nile. Is this a real information or another metaphor? I would think it is reliable, but then we would also need to add to the all thing a pumping station. Would it be possible? I think it would, and maybe it would explain the other structures all around the pyramids, such as those tiny "temples" or huge passage ways with high walls leading to the pyramids.
(Wikipedia): "Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile".
On the left image, Apep is cut into pieces with a knife by the great cat Mau (the Great Cat of Heliopolis) as a representation of Sun god Ra, image from kairoinfo4u on flickr : Tomb of Inherkau TT359. Second chamber, South wall
The discontinuous high pressurized water injection towards the fog nozzle
When the impactor hits the water of the inclined well, it pressurizes it and a small amount of its water is then ejected from the well.
A small amount of the waters of the well is extracted from it, and that is the real meaning of the Great Serpent Apep being attacked by representations of Sun god Ra : nobody is trying to kill the snake, they are just cutting him into pieces, of equal lengths.
(WHF): "Apophis is sometimes depicted as a coiled serpent but, often, as dismembered, being cut into pieces, or under attack. A famous depiction along these lines comes from Spell 17 of The Egyptian Book of the Dead in which the great cat Mau kills Apophis with a knife".
(WHF): "According to the most popular creation myth, the god Atum stood on the primordial mound, amidst the swirling waters of chaos, and began the work of creation".
My comments : the ejected water is then directed towards the fog nozzle of the horizontal passage, passing through the bottom platform of the gallery, most probably with water splashes everywhere, and the cold can now be created.
From this part, we can think that the "primordial mound" would then represent the bottom platform of the grand gallery.
The otherthrowing of Apep. Image on the left comes from Tomb TT335 of the sculptor Nakhtamon. Right image : wall relief of Apep, temple of Edfu (author : Rémih, on Wikipedia).
The cutting of the Great Serpent Apep in equal length segments of 14.6 meters
It is clear on the above images that the goal was not to kill the Great Serpent Apep, but to cut it in equal length segments. The cut is precisely made the same way we would do ourselves today, when we want to cut a string with a knife: we make a loop and make the cut vertically, from the top down.
Also, on the right image, the sign above the serpent, is the Egyptian "water ripple" hieroglyph (U+13216, Gardiner N35).
(Wikipedia): "Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Dragon. Some elaborations said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint".
Maybe this data is genuine and the pipe that was inside the inclined well, was 16 yards in length (14.6 meters). This pipe was filled up with water and the energy from the impactor ejected that water towards the fog nozzle. If we can find out the diameter of this pipe, we would know exactly how much of this water was used at every cycle.
Ancient Egyptian Mehen board games, showing coiled snakes cut into equal size pieces.
The Mehen game boards are representations of the Great Serpent Apep cut into equal size pieces
This multiple times cutting of the Great Serpent Apep into equal length pieces, is exactly what is depicting the famous ancient Egyptian Mehen board game.
Wikipedia : "Mehen is a board game which was played in ancient Egypt. The game was named in reference to Mehen, a snake deity in ancient Egyptian religion."
It is interesting to see that some of these Mehen artifacts also show the head of a goose, that is once again an animal that can attack snakes.
Another interesting question, would be to know why isn't it a cat or a cat's paw that is joined to the artifact, but a goose. Is the fact that the goose is a farm animal important?
From 5 Farm Animals That Kill Snakes : "Geese may appear to be gentle and harmless, but they are among the type of farm animals that kill snakes. When the need arises, a goose loses all of its gentle nature and turns fierce. Countless times, geese have been seen overpowering small snakes by killing them. Scenarios like this often occur when the snakes try to attack the offspring of the goose. In the course of trying to protect its offspring, a goose can end up killing a snake."
The link between Mehen artifacts and Apep cutting : water distribution
1 • The Ballas Mehen was found covering a pot…
"Of the few boards that have good archaeological provenance, the oldest comes from the late Naqada Tomb 19 at Ballas, now in the Ashmolean Museum (Petrie & Quibell 1896: 42), and dates to the end of the fourth millennium BCE (Rothöhler 1999: 11). Found covering a pot, it was likely a votive representation of a mehen board rather than one used for play, since it was only 10.5 cm in diameter (Kendall 2007: 37), but appears in the form of other full-sized game boards."
2 • And another one was most certainly also a jar lid
"Another mehen game without provenance, now in a private collection, may have been a jar lid much like the Ballas game as it is only 4.5 cm in diameter and unlikely to have been used for play considering it contains 336 very small spaces (Kendall 2007: 37). It depicts a coiled serpent, with a tail and head, much like the others already discussed, but with an important distinction: four holes* were drilled on different parts of the serpent and may have been filled with a colored paste or some kind of inlay, distinguishing those spaces from the others (Kendall 2007: 37)."
*Unfortunately, no picture of this particular Mehen artifact is available ; probably the position of these 4 additional holes could be of some interest.
Were any of the Mehen artifacts designed as game boards?
What we know for sure, is that some of the Mehen board games hadn't been designed to be played with, whether because they are too small, the segments too tiny, or for both of these reasons.
The question is : were any of the Mehen artifacts designed as game boards?
Center image : Book of Gates, showing the coiled serpent god Mehen protecting Ra on its solar barque. Image from Wikimedia Commons : Ra traveling through the underworld (the Duat) in his barque, from the copy of the Book of Gates in the tomb of Ramses I (KV16).
The Mehen artifacts are related to Sun god Ra only starting with the fourth Dynasty
Interestingly, even if some coiled segmented serpent artifacts were found dating from the First Dynasty or before, it is only with the fourth Dynasty, that the name Mehen appears, and that it is related to the protection of Sun god Ra.
"The Fourth Dynasty tomb of Prince Rahotep at Meidum provides the earliest known names associated with specific board games anywhere in the world. In a list of offerings for the king to use in the afterlife are three different games: mn , “ men, ” zn . t , “ senet ” and mh. n , “ mehen .” Translated as “to coil” or “the Coiled One” (Ranke 1920: 372–5), mehen shares its name with the god Mehen, an immense coiled serpent associated with the netherworld, whose primary function was to envelope the sun god Ra in his many coils, thus protecting him from all evil (Piccione 1990a: 43; Rothöhler 1999: 12–19)."
"Boards have been found with as few as forty nine spaces, and some had as many as four hundred (Swiny 1986: 57). There also was not a predetermined number of circles in the spiral, with as few as two (e.g., Petrie & Quibell 1896: Pl. 43) and as many as seven (e.g., Quibell 1913: Pl. XI , see fig. 2.5) known from archaeological contexts. The serpent could also be coiled in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction (Piccione 1990a: 47)."
Disc of Sabu / Mehen artifacts / Direct and Evaporative Cooling : the European Emergence of the Technology analogy (1500 to 1750)
If the Mehen artifacts and the disc of Sabu were much older that the Great Pyramid, how can they be related to it?
Once again, the Great Pyramid is only the outcome of many decades of technological research on chemical manufacturing that started probably around the very first Dynasty, like it is suggested by the Serekh names list* and the fact that the disc of Sabu is also dated from first Dynasty.
During all these years, chemical reactions cooling would have been a major problem and most probably direct water cooling was mostly used. The Great Pyramid at Giza seems to have been the only one designed to benefit from evaporative cooling, but the necessity of disposing of pressurized water for direct cooling would have been a reality since maybe the very beginning of the research programme.
In Europe, it took about 250 years to achieve the Emergence of the technology (1500 to 1750), with the Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci ; and another 150 years for the Industrial Revolution (1750 to 1900).
They were most probably slowed down in their research by the lack of power, because contrary to what the western world had in the 1700's or 1800's in Europe, they didn't have the steam engine.
My guess is that, in some ways, ancient Egyptians got stuck in the first step of technological evolution : they were a civilization living the Emergence of the technology.
*Please see the post "pyramids of the cold" for more on that matter.
Overthrowing of Apep in the Theban Tomb TT359, located in Deir el-Medina, part of the Theban Necropolis. It is the burial place of the ancient Egyptian workman Inherkhau, who was Foreman of the Lord of the Two Lands in the Place of Truth during the reigns of Ramesses III and Ramesses IV (Wikipedia). Image thanks to kairoinfo4u, on flickr
The sycamore fig tree is also a metaphor of the impactor
The sycamore fig tree that appears with Apep has raised some problem until I stopped thinking about it in a "static" way and completely disconnected from the cutting made by the cat on the left part of the image.
We've seen that Apep is a metaphor of the inclined well waters, and that it's cutting is a representation of the small amount of pressurized water getting out of the well.
On this image, the cut is made right in front of our eyes : it means that the well is pressurized. The presence of the sycamore fig tree has to tell us what is causing the pressurization.
1 • If we look closely, the trunk of the fig tree seems to be completely surrounded by the body of the snake, and nearly absorbed by it. The snake (the water) is all around the trunk : the sycamore tree is immersed into the water.
2 • Also, it almost looks like Apep had been punched down by the tree and he is held down on the ground like fighters would do. The weight of the trunk is constraining the body of the snake : that is the representation of the pressurization of the water.
The trunk of the sycamore is a metaphor of the impactor getting inside the inclined well (represented by the body of the snake) and pressurizing the well.
The sycamore fig tree is the impactor.
The interlocked fibers of the Sycamore wood Ficus sycomorus* ("Sycomore") and its high hit resistance : "the sycamore wood is one of the toughest that exists in the timber market, according to hits, weather and time."
Knowing that the sycamore fig tree was a representation of the impactor, we now have to ask ourselves if that impactor was made from sycamore fig wood or if this is another metaphor.
From the Majofesa website, about Ficus sycomorus* : "The sycamore wood is one of the toughest that exists in the timber market, according to hits, weather and time. It even acquired a sacred value thanks to its durability, as the Pharaohs and the most powerful men of the Ancient Egypt wanted their sarcophagi was built with this material to be preserved better and longer. It was believed that in time their mummies would reach a sacred aspect."
"The sycamore wood is heavy, moderately hard and strong. Its fiber is straight, occasionally wavy, and the grain is fine and uniform. The sycamore wood is easy to work because of its linked fibers, which allow breaking and cutting it easily. It supports very well the gluing, screwing and nailing, and the finish is usually great. Sycamore has a fine and even texture that is very similar to maple."
"The grain is interlocked."
In other words, the Sycamore would have been a perfect candidate for the purpose of the impactor : its interlocking fibers make this wood very hit resistant.
*Ficus sycomorus, not to be confused with unrelated trees. From Wikipedia : "The term sycamore spelled with an A has also been used for unrelated trees: the Great Maple, Acer pseudoplatanus, or plane trees, Platanus. The spelling "sycomore", with an O rather than an A as the second vowel is, if used, specific to Ficus sycomorus."
Tomb KV9 of Ramses V-VI. Fourth corridor, decoration on left wall: ninth division of the Book of Gates. Photograph by R Prazeres, on Wikipedia
Another representation of the pressurization of the inclined well waters in KV9
This scene is also a representation of the pressurization of the inclined well. This time, this is not the impactor that is used to put weight on the body of the snake, but the characters themselves. Probably they are also meant to represent the cutting of the snake in equal length segments.
Apep and the combination of 4 different metaphors
In my opinion, the metaphors about Apep are the most striking of all the metaphor combinations used by ancient Egyptians I know of, and it is in 4 acts :
1 • The metaphor of the pressurization of the inclined well : the sycamore tree
2 • The metaphor of the pressurized waters : the Great Serpent Apep
3 • The metaphor of the pressurized waters containment : the restraining of Apep by the ropes (see farther below).
4 • The metaphor of a portion of the pressurized water injected into the cooling passage : the Great Serpent Apep cutting and the Mehen artifacts
What all this metaphoric art is saying about the ancient Egyptian lost civilization is really admirable. I already had the utmost respect for the beauty of the Great Pyramid functioning and its marvelous impactor operating cycle, but I am starting to believe their artistic capabilities were at least equally outstanding.
The fact that their extraordinary extremely high sophisticated society was so diminished by modern people is totally beyond me.
In all honesty, we should be ashamed of ourselves.
The confirmation that the cutting of Apep in many equal length segments was actually related to the injection of pressurized water into the horizontal passage, could come from the Book of the Dead.
Please note that on this picture, there are 2 snakes, but they are really one single serpent : Apep. What is represented here is that the attack on Apep is on 2 parts, on a temporal perspective :
1 • The attack on the head of the snake is representing the coughing up of the swallowed water : that is the small amount of pressurized water ejection process, on every cycle
2 • The multiple cutting of the snake into equal length segments indicates the repetition of that sequential cycle, over and over again
The Book of the Dead serpent that swallows in one gulp part of the stream… and cough it all up
About the Book of the Dead, chapter 108 : "At about noon, the barque of Ra reaches the summit of a mountain where a serpent 50 cubits (26 meters) in length is found whose foremost 3 cubits are of silex."
"This serpent swallows in one gulp part of the stream. Set, at the front of the boat, directs his lance of fire against him, and causes him to cough up all that he had swallowed". Behind the boat, a lion headed entity runs a blade through the serpent Apep."
What we have here, is the same scene as the one with the sycamore tree : the big serpent Apep not only is allowing the barque to move (it is in the first place, the water coming from the King's chamber), but the barque is also putting its weight on him. That weight is pressurizing the water Apep : the cutting can be made into equal size portions of water, and injected in the horizontal passage.
That serpent that swallows in one gulp part of the stream and cough up back all of it, is describing the operating cycle of the pressurized water injection into the evaporative cooling passage.
I first thought that a pipe was set inside the inclined well, filled up with water between every cycle, and that same amount of water would then be ejected out of the well due to the pressurization. But maybe there was no pipe at all.
I'm still not sure what is the flint (silex) part about : is it the fog nozzle itself or the part that was set at the exit of the well ?
In this part of the Apep myth, everything is depicted but everything is also mixed up :
• The summit of the mountain is the top of the grand gallery (the upper platform)
• The barque is the impactor
• The 50 cubits length serpent is the part of the inclined well that was flooded
• The swallowing of the stream by the serpent is the filling up of the well between each cycle
• The coughing up of what the serpent had swallowed and the cutting of Apep is the ejection of the pressurized water
The restraining of Apep : the containment of the inclined well pressurized waters
We've seen that the Great Serpent Apep was a metaphor of the inclined well waters and that the fall of the impactor into the well pressurized it. The forces at play were so high that not only it was at the origin of some of the more impressive parts of the fights between Ra and Apep (the thunder noises, the rumble and trembling, etc.), but it also put the well on tremendous structural forces. That was the mission of the girdle stones : maintain the structural integrity of the well.
So, when we are looking at the restraint of the Great Serpent Apep, on the above image from Ramesses KV19 tomb, we are looking at the representation of the water that was restrained inside the well. The ropes are representations of the restraint, and the red elements in a inverted U shape, are the girdle stones : the upper girdles are actually 2 U-shaped half girdles stacked on top of each other.
Apep worship : a gradual process of dismemberment and disposal, with water and fire references
From Wikipedia : "In an annual rite called the Banishing of Chaos, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep's evil for another year. The Egyptian priests had a detailed guide to fighting Apep, referred to as The Books of Overthrowing Apep (or the Book of Apophis, in Greek)."
"The chapters described a gradual process of dismemberment and disposal, and include : Spitting Upon Apep / Defiling Apep with the Left Foot / Taking a Lance to Smite Apep / Fettering Apep / Taking a Knife to Smite Apep / Putting Fire Upon Apep".
My interpretation is that the rituals practiced by the worshippers of Apep, once a year, were reproducing the operating cycles of the inclined well pressurization : it started with giving water to Apep (the "Spitting upon Apep"), then putting him under pressure, like with the sycamore metaphor on the Tomb of Inherkau TT359 ("Defiling Apep with the left foot"), then restraining him ("Fettering Apep") and finally watching him cut into tiny pieces in the form of flying sparks as a metaphor of the small amount of pressurized water ejected from the well on every cycle ("Putting fire Upon Apep").
It also probably is a reference to the high heat of the Solvay towers that would have been associated with fire. The water made cold was created to cool down the "Solvay fire".
Please note that " Taking a Lance to Smite Apep" appears twice. The first one is most probably referring to the cutting of Apep into equal size pieces, while the second one is referring to "coughing up all that Apep had swallowed".
Also, the rituals are described as "a gradual process of dismemberment and disposal".
The Eye of Horus caused the "Putting Fire Upon Apep" reference : it is the cooling of the disc of Sabu
From Wikipedia : "In addition to stories about Ra's victories, this guide had instructions for making wax models, or small drawings, of the serpent, which would be spat on, mutilated and burnt, whilst reciting spells that would kill Apep."
Here again is described a big part of the water cooling process :
• the water supply of the well : "the serpent would be spat on"
• the sequential ejection from the well and injection into the cooling passage of the pressurized water : "the mutilation of the serpent", but also "the small drawings of Apep" that echoes with the segmented snakes of the Mehen artifacts.
• the cooling itself : "the serpent would be burnt"
The Book of Overthrowing Apep is even more precise and directly links the cooling process to the Eye of Horus, which is the Disc of Sabu :
From THE BREMNER-RHIND PAPYRUS-III, BY R. O. FAULKNER. Chapter D. THE BOOK OF OVERTHROWING APEP. THE SPELL OF SETTING FIRE TO APEP (page 168 : Section 22.24 and 23.1) "May the Eye of Horus have power over the soul and the shade of APEP; may the flame of the Eye of Horus devour that foe of Re; may the flame of the Eye of Horus devour all the foes of Pharaoh, dead or alive."
The Cold and its enemy, its foe : Fire
A lot of references about Apep are about fire, like "Putting Fire Upon Apep". It is most probably not a direct reference to him, but to his purpose : the cold was produced to cool down chemical manufacturing reactions and structures. Ancient Egyptians never talk directly about the cold (with one exception : the double outline of the characters offering the Dendera Light, meaning the fog of microdroplets, or the fog of cold), but they can't stop talking about its opposite, its enemy, its foe : the fire.
The polygonal interlocking layout of the blocks of the ascending passage
These blocks are displaying an interlocking layout revealing that the passage was also under a lot of longitudinal forces. If the girdle stones were set to counteract transversal forces passing through the ascending passage (from the inside to the outside of the well), the interlocking layout of the blocks reveals that the passage was also under strong longitudinal forces (from the top to the bottom of the well, and reverse).
Drawing of the ascending passage of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, made by the Edgar brothers in the early 1900's and showing floor, ceiling and walls of the passage. In red and green, are highlighted the imprints of the girdle stones onto the floor to reveal that they were set in 2 different angle positions. In blue is the small imprint that is still today filled up with a small block of granite.
The 14 girdle stones of the inclined well (and why everybody forgot about 10 of them)
Contrary to what seems to suggest all the ascending passage drawings we can find on the internet and mentioning the girdle stones, there is not just 3 or 4 of these huge blocks in the passage. Actually, the entire passage, from the G4 girdle (the lower of the usual girdles) to the lower part of the passage (right to the connection with the descending passage), is nothing else than 100% girdle stones.
The fact is that when the Edgar brothers tried to understand the function of these girdle stones back in the early 1900's, they couldn't make any sense of them all. They were only interested in finding distances between blocks in order to associate these distances to Bible or other historical events. They were able to do that with G1, G2, G3 and G4 ; but girdles G5 to G14 are completely pressed against each other and they couldn't measure anything so they didn't talk about it much (and that is precisely what they wrote themselves in their book). Since, everybody did the exact same thing and G5 to G14 were completely forgotten.
In italic, are excerpts from "Great Pyramid Passages, Volume 1, by John and Morton Edgar 1910", sections 460 to 470.
Section 462, talking about the girdle stones : "Before leaving home we had recognized the importance of the three upper ones as marking important dates in the Law Dispensation".
Section 467 : "Those Girdles which lie lower down the passage than the three just described, are all in contact with one another".
Section 468 : "it would seem that the stones which form the Girdles here were originally built in solid, end to end, after which the bore of the passage was cut through them. Above the fourth Girdle, however, there can be no doubt that the passage was constructed in the usual way, i.e., that the floor was first laid, the walls erected at the proper distance apart on the floor, and the roof- stones then placed on top of the wall-stones".
We forgot precisely the more protected part of the ascending passage, and focused ourselves with 3 or 4 minor girdles. How do you want to understand anything about this passage by doing so?
If you want to understand the girdle stones layout, you need to understand that the passage was flooded and that the girdles were acting as an integrated strapping of the well, exactly like wine barrel metal hoops.
The pressure inside the well was maybe, or probably, perfectly distributed on all its surface by a another complete wooden casing, that would have allowed the well to be waterproof. It is possible though, that the seals between the blocks were sufficient enough so that no casing was needed. Probably another copper pipe was fixed on the floor of the well that would have allowed some of its water to be injected into the entry of the horizontal cooling passage.
The lower end-to-end girdles are arranged in 2 sets with different orientations
When you look attentively to the drawing of the Edgar brothers, showing the girdle imprints on the floor of the passage (above image, in red and green), you can see something absolutely amazing : these girdle stones were arranged in 2 sets of girdles, and that these 2 sets were positioned at a different angle to the vertical axis.
This particular layout reveals a dormant breach, just waiting to be opened up, and it is located right where the Al Ma'mun cavity has been digged.
The 14 girdle stones of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, indicating that the ascending passageway was a flooded well, and that it was drained inside the Al-Ma'mun cavity towards the descending passageway and the subterranean chamber.
Last update : September 23, 2021 (correction of the position of the 3 granite plug blocks, resulting of the identification of the most probable granite weight block of the impactor as the subterranean recess block).
The breach opening for the shutdown procedure of the pyramid
The 2 sets of girdles with different orientations are opening up to reveal a dormant breach. More amazing is that at the exact location where the breach is positioned, we can find a tiny squared imprint in the floor with a granite plug still stuck inside, and on the other side of the wall is the huge Al-Ma'mun cavity, leading to the subterranean part of the Great Pyramid.
My guess is that this particular layout was designed to drain the well for the shutdown procedure of the pyramid : a small granite block would have been positioned in the small imprint (colored in blue on the drawing), placed against the wall, directly next to the dormant breach.
This is Petrie talking about the part just ahead (south) of the granite plugs : "The present top one is not the original end ; it is roughly broken, and there is a bit of granite still cemented to the floor some way farther South of it". Source : The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh par W. M. Flinders Petrie. Chapter : Ascending Passage, page 21.
When time has come to shut the pyramid down, the impactor is lifted up to the top of the grand gallery one last time, unless this time there is no float anymore. When the impactor is released and enter the inclined well, it doesn't pop back up to the surface but sink to the bottom of the well with high velocity. When it hits the granite plug block n°3 that was dormant all along by this small granite block in the imprint, it opens the breach and all the water is drained trough the cavity of Al-Ma'mun.
The draining of the well was necessary in order to empty completely the pyramid of all its content. More about it farther below, same post (dormant breach, little imprint, draining of the well into the cavity of Al-Ma'mun...)
The Serpent Atum (a fraction of the Great Serpent Apep) refers to the water ejected from the well
Once Sun god Ra (representing the grand gallery, and Daylight) and Apep (representing the inclined well water of the Underworld) had finished a cycle, the adequate quantity of water is ejected from the well, and another god, Atum is going to represent this fraction and everything that happened to it from the bottom platform of the gallery to the outcome production of the cold.
Atum's role, is complementary to Nefertem's role, who seems to be a pure "technical" representation of the cooling passage. Atum seems to add vision and perspective to it. Nefertem figures are very common and rich in elements like huge lotus flowers, copper pipes, khepeshes, etc. Nefertem is more like the engineer point of view.
Atum figures are very rare. But contrary to Nefertem, a lot of information can be found about him and understood by the theory.
The following text in italic comes from the Wikipedia page about Atum
• Atum was created from the primordial dark chaos-waters of the inclined well
"In the Heliopolitan creation myth, Atum was considered to be the first god, having created himself… from the primordial waters (Nu)."
"Atum was a self-created deity, the first being to emerge from the darkness and endless watery abyss that existed before creation. A product of the energy and matter contained in this chaos."
"In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning."
• Atum created 2 other gods by spitting them out of his mouth : Shu and Tefnut
"Early myths state that Atum created the god Shu and goddess Tefnut by spitting them out of his mouth. Other myths state Atum created by masturbation…"
My comments : when it is said Atum was created by masturbation, it is of course another metaphor here. When Isis is breastfeeding Horus, it is not milk he is receiving, but the cold liquid solution ; the same way when Atum is depicted masturbating, it is only a way of depicting the high pressurized water coming out of the fog nozzle into microdroplets.
"He produced from his own sneeze, or in some accounts, semen, Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture."
My comments : that part is describing the crucial point of the cooling passage that was being supplied in both (dry) air and liquid water to produce moist air with very high humidity rate.
Atum's mouth refers to the fog nozzle
The lifted arms of the Shu amulets and on the Dendera Light reliefs. Left : Shu Amulet 44.4.24 and 04.2.372 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York. Center : Shu amulet 48.1683 from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Right : Dendera Light relief in the Hathor temple, from the New York Public Library (Digital Collections). Author : Auguste Mariette, 1821-1881.
• Atum and the transfer of the cold to the Upper part of the pyramid
"In the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead king's soul from his pyramid to the starry heavens."
My comments : they are talking here about the transfer of the cold to the Upper part of the pyramid. In the Dendera Light reliefs, this same idea is depicted by the arms sustaining Djed Pillars.
Atum Sneezed out Shu and spat out Tefnut
"The Coffin Texts contain references to Shu being sneezed out by Atum from his nose, and Tefnut being spat out like saliva." Source : Wikipedia page on ancient Egyptian god Shu
Ancient Egyptian gods Shu and Tefnut are other representations of the cooling passage. This time these gods tell us exactly what the nozzle was doing : blowing wind ("sneezed out by the nose") and droplets of water ("being spat out like saliva").
• The cooling god Shu was associated with dry warm air... and fog
"The ancient Egyptian god Shu is represented as a human with feathers on his head, as he is associated with dry and warm air."
"As the air, Shu was considered to be a cooling, and thus calming, influence, and pacifier. Due to the association with dry air, calm, and thus Ma'at (truth, justice, order, and balance), Shu was depicted as the dry air/atmosphere between the earth and sky, separating the two realms after the event of the First Occasion."
"Fog and clouds were also Shu's elements and they were often called his bones. Because of his position between the sky and earth, he was also known as the wind."
• The god Tefnut was associated with spat water and moisture
"Tefnut (tfnwt) is a deity of moisture, moist air, dew and rain in Ancient Egyptian religion."
"Literally translating as "That Water", the name Tefnut has been linked to the verb 'tfn' meaning 'to spit'."
Left : Egyptian Mongoose (ichneumon) E 14227 from the Louvre Museum, Paris © Musée du Louvre / Hervé Lewandowski. Center : Isis nursing Horus, AN 17.190.1641 from the Metropolitan Museum, New-York, 1070–343 B.C. Third Intermediate Period–Late Period. The Serdab of Djoser's Step Pyramid at Sakkara : photograph thanks to Jon Bodsworth. Top right : cylinder seal from the Louvre Museum E25687. Bottom right : cylinder seal E32669 from the Louvre Museum. Date de création/fabrication : Djedkarê Isési (mention de règne) (2411 - 2380 BCE). Statue of a Crocodile with the Head of a Falcon AN 22.347 from the Walters Art Museum.
The feeding metaphors to describe the Solvay reaction chambers cooling
Ancient Egyptians used 2 types of feeding metaphors regarding the cooling of the Solvay counterflow reaction chambers, based on human or animal behaviors.
• The breast feeding of Horus child, by Isis
This is probably the best metaphor of all, because it is a perfect representation of the transfer/cooling fluid.
• The animal snake predator feeding
We've already seen that snakes were the metaphors used to represent water. The Great Serpent Apep was a metaphor of the inclined well pressurized waters (from the primordial still waters Nu), and the small snake spitting out its venom on the Dendera Light reliefs, was a metaphor of the small amount of water injected inside the evaporative horizontal cooling passage. The water is the origin of the cold, that was used to cool down the chambers : it is like they were feeding the Solvay reaction chambers with the cold.
That is most probably the reason that explains why so many snake predator animals were represented in ancient Egyptian religion.
The most dangerous predator for snakes, is the mongoose (above photograph) ; but other snake predators include : hawks, ibis, cats, crocodiles, vultures…
The representation of the fog nozzle
On this picture of the mongoose from the Louvre Museum, it is interesting to see that the man in front of the mongoose is holding the fog nozzle of the horizontal cooling passage. Most of the time, the fog nozzle is only clearly represented with Horus, so this artifact is precious.
Please note that the fog nozzle is not pointed to the mongoose, or the flower base that is another representation of the nozzle : the nozzle is pointed to the man himself.
Also, note the very particular posture of the mongoose that kind of mimic the posture of a dog waiting to be fed as well.
For more details about the lotus flower and the fog nozzle, please visit the Dendera Light post.
Funerary Figures of the Four Sons of Horus. 400–30 B.C. Late Period–Ptolemaic Period, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York : Duamutef (jackal head), Imsety (human head), Hapy (baboon head) and Qebehsenuef (falcon head). Right image : Dendera astronomical ceiling relief in the Hathor temple representing the 8 Ogdoad deities. Top right : Nu and Nut; top left : Hehu and Hehut; bottom right : Kek and Keket; bottom left : "Ni and Nit" (for Qerh and Qerhet). Source : Kairoinfo4u
The 4+4=8 crewmembers of the 2 scarab beetles of the grand gallery
Please note, on the first image of this post, showing the fight between Sun god Ra and Apep (Apophis), that the 2 scarabs of the grand gallery are represented by 4 jackals (that would be the western ramp of the gallery), and 4 snakes showing the fog nozzle pattern (the eastern ramp). Each scarab was operated by 4 crewmembers that took place inside the scarabs, and that were represented by the Four Sons of Horus figures.
In total, 8 crewmembers were in the scarabs : the 8 primordial Ogdoad deities. 2 other crewmembers stayed constantly behind the scarabs progression to force the latch-bolts back into the walls (when scarabs were going to the bottom of the gallery) and to secure the progression when the scarabs were lifted back again to the top of the gallery after the impactor was securely set on the top of the gallery.
The 2 crewmembers following the beetle scarab
These 2 essential crewmembers that stayed behind, and not inside the beetle scarab, are also represented on that same image : they are on the rear part of the Solar Barque, like they were behind the scarabs.
Image on the left : detail of the Funerary Figures of the Four Sons of Horus, showing Imsety (human head). 400–30 B.C. Late Period–Ptolemaic Period. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York. Second image is a detail of the tomb KV16, located in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, and used for the burial of Pharaoh Ramesses I of the Nineteenth Dynasty (burial place discovered by Giovanni Belzoni in October 1817). Third image : Limestone false door of Senwehem, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston provided by the Giza Project at Harvard. Image on the right : Large Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figure from Catawiki. Late Period c. 664 – 332 BC. Image on the right from kairoinfo4you on flickr : Tomb of Inherkau no. 359. Second chamber, South wall. "The great cat of Heliopolis" killing the enemy of the sun, Apophis
Apep was also called the World-Encircler
It is very interesting to see that the same water (let's say from the Nile) was first pumped from the Nile, then short term stored and treated (filtration, etc.) on the flat roof of the pyramid, long term stored inside the King's chamber, then passed through the antechamber and the central gutter of the grand gallery, then the inclined well, the horizontal evaporative cooling passage and, at last inside the Queen's chamber basin.
I still didn't figure out what was happening next to that water, so I stop here its path, but it couldn't be the end of it...
(Wikipedia): "The wide range of Apep's possible locations gained him the title World-Encircler".
The water from the King's chamber
The 3 images on the left are representations of the grand gallery, with the 2 lateral ramps and the water supply of the central gutter ; the last image on the right represents the inclined well, with the 16 yards Apep Great Serpent that represented the supplying pipe for the fog nozzle. The head of Apep is put onto the bottom platform of the gallery and is made of pressure resistant flint material.
The junction of the grand gallery, the ascending passage and the horizontal evaporative cooling passage of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza.
The image showing Horus, holding the fog nozzle, is a detail of : E3752 from the Louvre Museum, Paris.
The sodium carbonate manufacturing
Horus was representing the sodium carbonate Na2CO3 (purest mineral form of natron) manufactured by a Solvay-like process, that needed to be cooled down. Here, Horus is refreshing himself. For more on this part, read the following post : the pyramids of the Cold.
Image on the left from "The Great Pyramid Passages And Chambers" Volume 1, by John Edgar and Morton Edgar, Glasgow 1910. Second and third images from the Louvre Museum © Musée du Louvre / Christian Décamps : Nefertem emblem N 5118. Last image also from the Louvre Museum : Nefertem emblem ME299 © Musée du Louvre.
The key element of the connection between the grand gallery of the Great Pyramid, the inclined well and the horizontal evaporative cooling passage
This photograph was taken before 1910, and it is the only photograph I know that shows this part of the lower end of the grand gallery. In the foreground there is the beginning of the horizontal passage (the Queen's chamber would be on the right), then you have the abrupt cut-off of the smooth ramp sloping floor and the slot in the middle. In the background, there is the east ramp and the north wall of the gallery.
The "slot" in the middle of the cut-off, is not the result of an abrasion, but a real design made for a unique reason : it allows the connection between the well and the horizontal passage when the well is lined up with its wooden casing.
This layout is absolutely essential to the process and it was probably extended by a heavy piece of equipment that would sustain the pressure coming from the well and let the air, and the pressurized water coming through towards the fog nozzle unit that made the micro-droplets of liquid water.
The representations of the girdle stones : the restraining of Apep
We've seen that the Great Serpent Apep was a metaphor of the inclined well waters and that the fall of the impactor into the well pressurized it. The forces at play were so high that not only it was at the origin of some of the more impressive parts of the fights between Ra and Apep (the thunder noises, the rumble and trembling, etc.), but it also put the well on tremendous structural forces. That was the mission of the girdle stones : maintain the structural integrity of the well.
So, when we are looking at the restraint of the Great Serpent Apep, on the above image from Ramesses KV19 tomb, we are looking at representations of the water that was restraint inside the well. The ropes are representations of the restraint, and the red elements in a inverted U shape, are the girdle stones.
The U-shape half girdle stones of the ascending passage upper part
Interestingly, G1, G2 and G3 are actually exactly that : 2 U-shape half blocks. The bottom half part of each girdle stone make the floor and half of the wall elevation of the passage, and the top part of the girdle make the ceiling of the passage and the rest of the wall section.
The fact that there are 5 painted girdles could be a valuable data.
Interestingly, the girdle stone G5, is also the biggest girdle we know of. Is there a link?
In my theory regarding the draining of the well, it is the granite plug n°3 that triggers the rupture / explosion of the West wall of the well. The plug crashes into the small granite block that was inside the little imprint on the floor and the impact opens the dormant breach.
For that to happens, the plug had to already have energy (speed) before hitting the small block. So the question is : where was put the granite plug n°3 during the entire operation of the pyramid.
In my opinion, the plug was set inside the girdle stone G5. It would have been the waters coming from the King's chamber "explosive" opening, that would have violently pushed the plug against the small floor block and opened the breach.
It would mean that the rest of the lower structure would have been in place for the only reason of the draining of the well.
The baboon turning his back to the top of the well
Please note that like on the gnomon from the Louvre Museum, there is a baboon, turning his back to the top part of the well.
On the gnomon from the Louvre Museum, the baboon has his back pressed onto the vertical line ; and on the relief painting, the tail of the baboon and the tail of the serpent are joined together so that there is just one shared element.
Source : "The great pyramid passages and chambers" by John and Edgar Morton, 1910.
The gnomon of the Louvre Museum E 11558, with god Thot and solar disc. A gnomon, literally: "one that knows or examines" is the part of a sundial that casts a shadow. (Source : Wikipedia).
The "explosive" draining of the inclined well
I know that the scenario of the inclined well drainage with kind of a submarine "explosion" will not help my theory to gain credit. But the fact is that it was absolutely necessary, they had to get everything out of the pyramid at the end of its operation.
It may look even more crazy to say that I also may have found what could be the proof of this : and that is an artifact at the Louvre Museum, called a gnomon, which is the part that is casting shadows on a sundial.
I think that this artifact is actually representing the floor of the inclined well and the bottom platform of the grand gallery.
What is remarkable is that the small horizontal passage leading to the well shaft is also represented, that is the square shape under the platform.
More remarkable is the lower end of the artifact, with the baboon seated on what looks like a small block, that is against a vertical element showing a perfect vertical line, and right under it, a neatly crafted notch.
I think that notch is the point where the breach starts, and the vertical line is like a punctured line, ready to break.
Of course, the small block the baboon is sat on (with kind of a smile, don't you think?) would be the original granite block set in the square imprint of the passage floor, and on its West side, ready to be hit and broken.
Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza : the lower part of the ascending passage and the dormant breach revealed by the disposition of the different orientation sets of girdle stones.
For more on the draining of the well part, please visit :
The shut-down of the pyramid : the grotto and the draining of the inclined well
Left : The gnomon of the Louvre Museum E 11558, with god Thot and solar disc. Center : Clepsydra or water clock with squatting babooon 86.1.93 from the Metropolitan Museum in New-York, 4th century B.C. Right : Water Clock Decorated with a Baboon 17.194.2341, also from the MET (664–30 B.C).
The water retaining block and the squatting baboon
The 2 artifacts on the above photographs, showing squatting baboons on water clocks, could reinforce the idea that the same baboon, in the same squatting position on the first photograph of a sun clock from the Louvre Museum, could really have his back against a retention block, that would be installed inside the inclined well of the Great Pyramid.
The fact that we also have here, 2 clocks, one functioning with the sun (and the shade), and the other one functioning with water itself, could be seen as a metaphoric countdown of some kind.
The functioning of the water clock, would also be a perfect representation of the draining of the well itself.
Photographs of the Al-Ma'mun cavity, in which the inclined well had been drained. "The Great Pyramid Passages And Chambers" Volume 1, by John Edgar and Morton Edgar, Glasgow 1910.
The Al-Ma'mun forced entry
The reason that explains the Al-Ma'mun cavity and the little passage towards the descending passage is the drainage of the inclined well. Once out, the waters would have been simply naturally directed towards the subterranean chamber.
The Al-Ma'mun forced entry towards the lower part of the ascending passage, was to get all the equipment of the grand gallery and the Queen's chamber out of the pyramid.
Left : the "forced tunnel", supposedly digged by Al-Ma'mun. Right : the small passage from the Al-Ma'mun cavity to the descending passage.
The "road sign" blocks of the Al-Ma'mun forced passage
For the shutdown procedure of the pyramid, the precise order in which the 3 parts may have been digged, would be probably vigorously discussed, but for now I would say they started from the outside of the pyramid towards the ascending passage, then the small passage and finally the cavity itself.
They would have been helped for the first step, by the very particular layout of the stones that constitute the forced passage : there are some black and white blocks, and flat and regular blocks all over the passage, that looks like perfect road signs to me.
All the posts on the sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate manufacturing by the Solvay process, and its cooling in the Great Pyramid of Khufu : click here or on the "LE BLOG" button
Horus and the evaporative cooling Fog Nozzle : the pyramids of the cold
The Dendera Light Bulbs are representations of the evaporative cooling fog of microdroplets of the theory : the Dendera post
Ptah-Sokar-Osiris + Imhotep figures : the impactor of the grand gallery with its granite weight
The Nefertem Emblems : the horizontal evaporative cooling passage with its fog nozzle
The Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza
The sarcophagus : a bio-sand filter for the production of drinking water
The horizontal passage : an evaporative cooling unit
The grand gallery : the heart of the operating cycle of the pyramid, with the wooden scarab
The shut-down of the pyramid : the grotto and the draining of the inclined well
The pyramids of Sneferu
Sneferu : the revolutionary quest for immortality
The Bent Pyramid : the chemical sand filter and the last trials before the Great Pyramid
The Disc of Sabu : a counterflow chemical reaction perforated plate used in Solvay towers