W. M. Flinders Petrie, The Pyramids and Temples at Gizeh, 1883

The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, published in 1883, was Flinders Petrie’s first book. It disproved a popular theory that the plans and dimensions of the pyramids concealed prophecies of every event that was to befall the Children of Israel and the British people. This theory was promulgated by Charles Piazzi Smyth in Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid. Petrie’s painstaking measurements used his own triangulation system from fixed points drilled in rock. After two years of precise measuring, Petrie reached what he called “the ugly little fact which killed the beautiful theory.” Smythe had measured the base of the Great Pyramid to be 9140 inches and said that the days of the year were included in that dimension. Petrie found that the base was 9069 inches. None of Smythe’s prophetic theories could be substantiated by Petrie’s measurements. Later evaluation of Petrie’s measurements confirmed their accuracy and established his reputation as a scholar.