Great Pyramids Controversy
Despite speculation about
the existence of great pyramids in China, archaeologists and bureaucrats
have refused to consider even the rumours about such structures. But
recent pictorial evidence proves that China’s pyramids are indeed
real, rivalling those of Egypt and Central America for their age, size
1920, historian Henri Cordier wrote: “China’s ancient past
is denied both to us and its population. Its grand past is slowly unveiled,
similar to how Egypt’s was revealed. Later on, one learned of
buildings, standing stones and other monuments that were not mentioned
by the Chinese historians (as part of their history).” The largest
country in the world was, and is, largely there to be discovered. Though
accepted as a great civilisation, its ancient treasures were barely
known. One rumour spoke about pyramids that could be found in desolate
One such pyramid was photographed in 1947 by Col. Maurice Sheehan from
a DCS airplane. His story was printed in The New York Times in March
of the same year. Sheehan stated it rose to about 300 metres, its sides
450 metres long. The next day, the Los Angeles Daily Express ran Sheehan’s
photograph. But a few days later, the Associated Press received a letter
from the authorities of the province of Nankin, stating “the existence
of such pyramids is not backed up by evidence”. That press release
discredited Sheehan’s story, as most authors and researchers believed
Sheehan had exaggerated. French author Patrick Ferryn stated: “the
photographs do not reveal any markings that would allow us to measure
the true dimensions. Its height was probably an incorrect estimate.
It is probably a burial vault; it definitely looks like one.”
The 1950s and ‘60s had shown the world the existence of many ‘ritual
platforms’ and ‘artificial hills’ in China, identical
to pyramids in appearance except in terminology. ‘Pyramids’
have a magical appeal to many. Bruce Cathie also became interested in
the Chinese pyramids and wrote on the subject in The Bridge to Infinity.
Cathie reported that a member of the Chinese Embassy had officially
informed him there were no such things as pyramids in the Shensi province:
“There are a few tumuli (burial hills), but no pyramids. “
He knew nothing about the existence of pyramids in China.
letter from Chinese authorities, dated 1 November 1978, addressed to
Cathie, stated the scientists had learned that the so-called “pyramids”
were burial tombs of emperors of the Western Han dynasty. “Records
give a different version of the emperors’ lives. As the graves
have not been scientifically analysed and no markings were seen on the
ground, it is difficult to formulate conclusions.”
Still, there were historical records that spoke of pyramids. The head
of the Ts’in-family, Che Houang-ti (the “Yellow Emperor”,
the first to hold that title), changed Chinese society dramatically.
He built the Chinese Wall upon listening to an oracle that prophesied
a “barbarian” would attack China. By 1974 the Emperor had
again risen to popularity with the discovery of his subterranean mausoleum.
It contained no less than 6,000 terracotta warriors that were stored
in combat mode and believed to be intended as protection for the deceased
Emperor in his new existence. Historian Sseuma Ts’ien (135-85
BC) wrote that this Emperor united China and destroyed all ancient writings
as a sign of the new era that was born. Some old books were apparently
saved, mainly in Taoist temples.
Che Houang-ti ordered 700,000 people to build him a pyramid at Lin-t’ong,
between Hnan and Si-ngan. The “Segalen mission”, a tour
of China that Segalen made in 1913, measured the pyramid’s height
at 48 metres, encompassing five terraces. One side measured 350 metres,
120 metres longer than the side of Great Pyramid at Gizeh, Egypt. With
1,960,000 cubic metres, it is fourth largest pyramid in the world. The
pyramid at Cholula, Mexico, and the two largest pyramids at the Gizeh
plateau precede it.
The Emperor possibly died in 210 BC. When his treasures were stored
in the pyramids, it was decided the workers would be sealed inside the
pyramid so no one could reveal where the pyramid was situated. Plants
were planted on its sides so the pyramid would eventually take on the
appearance of a natural hill. Sseuma Ts’ien wrote that subterranean
streams of lead engulfed the pyramid, the ceiling depicted the sky,
and the ground showed the expanse of the Empire. Crossbows were aimed
at trespassers—a burglar alarm which wasn’t that successful,
as General Hiang Yu was able to loot the pyramid in 207 BC.
Segalen mission revealed more pyramids and tombs along the River Wei.
These were dated to the Han period, following that of Emperor Che Houang-ti.
As these were relatively recent pyramids, the scientists did want to
entertain the notion that these “burial hills” might be
“pyramids”, but, as mentioned, there were rumours of taller
and more ancient ones.
In 1912, Fred Meyer Schroder and Oscar Maman travelled to Shensi. They
not only dealt in tobacco and candles but also supplied the Mongolians
with weapons. Their guide along the Chinese-Mongolian border was a monk,
Bogdo (“the holy one”), who told them they would soon stumble
upon some ancient pyramids. Though he himself had never seen them, he
knew some could be found around the old town of Sian-Fu. “Mountains
as high as the sky. They are no ordinary burial vaults, though emperors
or empresses might be buried inside.” Bogdo knew seven pyramids
had been discovered.
estimated the tallest one measured 300 metres high, its sides 500 metres
long. This would mean this pyramid was the largest in the world, twice
as large as the Great Pyramid at Gizeh. The volume was 20 times as large
as the Great Pyramid at Gizeh. Both were built north-south/west-east.
“In the past, they were apparently partly covered with stones,
but those have disappeared. A few stones lie at the bottom. It is an
earthen pyramid, with giant gullies on its sides. They were the reason
why the stones loosened and fell down. Its sides are now partially covered
with trees and shrubs. It almost looks a natural hill. We rode around
the pyramid, but did not discover any stairways or doors.”
When questioned, Bogdo believed it was at least 5,000 years old. Their
ancient records claimed that even then the pyramids were “old”.
A US Air Force map
detailing the area around the city of Xian, made with the use of satellite
photographs, shows at least 16 pyramids. Xian, the ancient Sian-Fu,
presently inhabited by more than six million souls, is much older than
Peking (Beijing). Once it was the capital of the Empire: it was recognised
as the umbilicus of China’s civilisation. Hartwig Hausdorf and
his company of fellow travellers landed at the new Xian airport and,
driving to the city and their hotel, saw one pyramid which stood along
the road. It had been discovered a few years earlier, when Xian’s
airport was relocated and a road to the city was engineered.
This pyramid would not even be the icing on the cake for Hausdorf who
was passionate about China’s ancient history. In October 1994
he had climbed one pyramid and was able to count 20 more pyramids, all
lying in the immediate vicinity. Yet, in March 1994 he had climbed that
same pyramid and had seen only some of those pyramids. “It’s
amazing how the weather in March didn’t allow me to see those
pyramids. In October it was perfectly clear weather, and more revealed
Hausdorf is not really flabbergasted no-one knew about the existence
of such pyramids: “China has still a lot of mysteries—even
the local population quite often isn’t aware of them. It’s
a small miracle I received the go-ahead to enter some ‘no go’
areas. I was, in fact, the only one who was granted such favours. I
assume there are two reasons for this. I regularly visit China with
a group of tourists. In 1993, I became acquainted with Chen Jianli,
an avid researcher of his country’s past. He assured me he would
try and open a few doors inside the Chinese Ministry of Tourism. In
fact, in March 19941 was able to visit some former ‘no go’
areas in the Shaanxi-province. I passed around some copies of my German
book, Die Weisse Pyramide (The White Pyramid), to the right people.
I talked to archaeologists who at first denied any pyramids existed,
but finally recognised they did exist. I was most pleased when the same
people gave me further permission to enter other ‘no go’
zones when I returned in October 1994. I never expected any of this
would happen to me. But it seems it had to happen eventually. Following
decades of rumour, someone had to clear the picture.”
To detail his problems, in March 1994 Hausdorf met Professor Feng Haozhang
(a prominent member of Beijing’s academic circle), his assistant,
Xie Duan Yu, and three colleagues. At first they denied the pyramids’
existence. But when Hausdorf showed them three photos of three different
pyramids, they caved in. Hausdorf described his encounter: “It
was as if I had entered a hive. The photographs I took in both March
and October 1994 are the proof that squelched five decades of rumour.
Most scientists denied the existence of pyramids in China. If any scientist
still clings to that, show him my photographs.”
China will not give up all its mysteries that easily. Several pyramids
probably remain undiscovered, their existence perhaps even unknown to
the Chinese scientists.
One mystery, however, definitely lingers on. At the end of the Second
World War, pilot James Gaussman had to adjust his course due to engine
problems. He tried to reach his base in Assam, India, having dropped
off supplies inside China. As he turned around one mountain-top, a giant
pyramid rose in the valley in front of him. It was white, made out of
metal or stone. According to Gaussman it would have fitted perfectly
in any fairy tale. A jewel-like stone crowned its top. “Though
I wanted to set my plane on the ground and investigate, there was no
way I could land it on that terrain.”
Gaussman flew three times around the structure, photographing the pyramid
with the same camera with which he’d just photographed hostile
troop movements. During his debriefing in Assam, he told his intelligence
officer the world would be stunned when they learnt about that pyramid.
“There was nothing around it, just this pyramid in the middle
of nowhere. I think it’s extremely ancient. Who built it? Why?
What’s inside?” Hausdorf and all in search of the “White
Pyramid” have never been able to rediscover it. Gaussman’s
photograph was developed and filed in a military archive where it remained
for the next 40 years until Australian Brian Crowley published the photograph
in his book, The Face on Mars.
Who built these pyramids? Bruce Cathie thinks he might know more. Using
his harmonics, he believes there is a mathematical connection between
the pyramids in China and the pyramids of Egypt. The number 16944 is
present inside the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, he states, and there are
16944 minutes of arc between the longitude of the Great Pyramid at Gizeh
and that of the tallest pyramid at Shensi. Their dispersal along the
river reminds him of the placement of the pyramids in Egypt along the
River Nile. Cathie believes that it is evidence that the pyramids were
built by the same people. He also wonders whether the decades-long silence
surrounding the pyramids was to allow the Chinese scientists to discover
whether such a connection did indeed exist.
Hartwig Hausdorf spoke to Professor Wang Shiping who believes the pyramids
have an astronomic alignment and could be dated to 1,500-500 BC. Records
of that time speak of the emperors descending from heaven in flying
dragons. And so Hausdorf has stumbled upon another fairy tale, of emperors
descending from heaven, which scientists think is impossible. Rest assured,
Hausdorf will also try to find out whether that ‘rumour’
is real or not.
article originally appeared in Nexus New Times Magazine, in 1995,
as well as Frontier Magazine 1.1 (1995) and World Explorer Magazine