Charlotte McGary & Sharon Faiola-Petersen
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December 12, 2016

Midnight in the King's Chamber
By Sharon

This has been a brutal year for many people, myself included. In times of stress, I tend to turn away from daily challenges and crawl instead into deep, comforting memories. There I can hide wrapped in a tight cocoon of wistful nostalgia.

Wonderfully uplifting memories which recently surfaced were from my 1999 trip to Egypt where I toured the Giza Plateau. My recollections didn't center on the beauty of the looming pyramids, or chatting with the Russian comedian (now PBS presenter) Yakov Smirnoff at the base of the Sphinx (amazingly, he was a part of our tour group), or my bemusement at hearing at least five different women claim at different times and places that they were the true reincarnation of Cleopatra! Instead, my memory took me straight to the center of the Great Pyramid, within the King's Chamber, at midnight.

Yes, midnight. Our tour company had received permission for small groups to explore the pyramid after regular tourist hours, which included night-time visitations. Only by happenstance did I end up with the midnight group—all the other timeslots had been filled—but I can't help but wonder if this traditionally mystical hour helped amplify my experience.

"Amplify" is a particularly appropriate word, since my experience in the Kingss Chamber centered on the incredible physical and emotional power of sound. From general tourists to acoustical engineers, thousands of visitors to the Great Pyramid have claimed that sounds generated within it are extraordinarily powerful and resonant.

While sitting in the King's Chamber—my back pressed against a high granite wall, my eyes blinded by the total darkness of the tomb—I learned for myself that these claims of preternatural sound amplification are indeed true. After a some minutes of silence, someone in our small group initiated a deep meditative "Om." This was then picked up and repeated—one-by-one, louder and louder—by others who began to harmonized with the initial "om," adding new notes and layers of tone and pitch as the sound traveled around the chamber.

Major, minor, harmonious, and dissonant chords blended into a massive, ever-shifting and ever-expanding sea of sound that rose to the ceiling and bounced off the walls and chamber floor. Soon I could literally feel each sound wave crashing over and through me—low tones and the very highest of tones—all equally strong and powerful, all finding physical and emotional receptors deep within in me. Soon my entire body was literally vibrating, resonating with this roiling soundscape. It was hypnotic, transcendent, and beyond beautiful.

Call it the angelic choir or the music of the spheres. I have no words that can adequately describe the experience. Even the memory of it now makes my hands tremble.

While it was indeed an amazing experience, was it also magical? It certainly felt that way, but according to author Alan F. Alford, "This sounds like magic, but it is elementary schoolbook physics." In his intriguing article at, Alford goes into great detail about the resonant properties of granite and the unique construction of the King's Chamber with its own separate foundation, all designed by brilliant ancient engineers to amplify sound. And for what purpose? Alford offers some interesting and controversial theories.

I can't say that I agree with all of Alford's ascertions, yet I certainty can't offer better explanations for why the King's Chamber can ring like a bell. I can say, however, with deep conviction: Sound waves are as real, as powerful, and as physical as the unseen wind that sweeps through forests or the ocean currents that propel boats on adventurous—and often unexpected—journeys.

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Thoughts, musings, and words of wisdom from our distinctly different minds and POVs.

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