The Shape of the Great Pyramid


293 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88920-324-5
DDC 932




Reviewed by Daniel M. Kolos

Daniel M. Kolos is president of Benben Books, a company publishing
scholarly works.


A nonexistent reference to the shape of the Great Pyramid attributed to
Herodotus spawned this volume on the sociological aspects of 11 theories
about the Great Pyramid. As the author notes, this is “a book about
books and articles.”

Herz-Fischler’s survey of books on the pyramids and their
measurements recalls Hadyn Butler’s Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Geometry
(1999), but its methodology is different. Whereas Butler concentrates on
geometrical relationships and degrees of accuracy, Herz-Fischler
explores in detail who said what and when. Both authors cite mostly the
same sources from ancient Egypt through the classical authors to a
resurgence in the 19th century down to our own times, but Herz-Fischler
associates each theory with the specific set of authors who originated
them, furthered the research, or speculated about them.

In Chapter 19, Herz-Fischler deals with the Pi theory. Nine authors
involved with the Pi theory came from Victorian Britain. Neither general
interest in Egypt nor the education of these authors explains their
focus on Pi. The shape of the Great Pyramid, in fact, became embroiled
in the British belief that “mathematical truth was central to
theology.” The argument also involved the squaring of the circle and
the theological difference between the French “meter” and God’s
“inch,” and even spread to the theory of evolution. The debate on
these issues and how they relate to the shape of the Great Pyramid took
place in ordinary English magazines. The author, a mathematician, has
the wit to pull such an unlikely variety of facts into a readable


Herz-Fischler, Roger., “The Shape of the Great Pyramid,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,