homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

Caption: The pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, Egypt (left)
Temple I at Tikal, Guatemala (right)
Credit: Rens van der Sluis


pic of the day
  subject index
  abstract archive



Electric Cosmos

The Universe

Plasma Cosmology

Society for



May 05, 2005
Electric Universe: Part III
The Nine Steps to Heaven

Why did so much ancient architecture consist of seven or nine steps or levels?  Did this construction relate to the ancient cosmologies, which speak of seven or nine layers, steps or tiers of heaven?

That the ancients were in the habit of erecting large, four-sided or pyramidal towers is well known. But why did so many of these buildings consist of seven to nine stories? The earliest Egyptian pyramid, the one constructed by king Djoser at Saqqara, was a so-called 'stepped' pyramid, formed of six layers on a rectangular ground plan. The Babylonian ziggurats or temple-towers of the 1st millennium BCE displayed a marked tendency to count exactly seven stages. Seven or nine tiers dominated in scores of stupas and pagodas scattered across India and the lands touched by Buddhism and Hinduism. And the great pyramid-builders of Meso-America likewise elected to construct most buildings in nine levels. The above examples are the ruins of Temple I at Tikal, Guatemala, and the pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, Egypt.

The pattern is not rigid. Many of the ancient monuments had only three, four or five layers and often confusion arises over the method of counting: the platform at the base or a tent or dwelling at the top might or might not be included in the figure. But even allowing for such flexibility, the predominance of seven and nine is too striking to be dismissed as fortuitous.

This impression is strengthened by the fact that the number of levels is consistently embedded in a similar cosmological framework. The tiered building is typically regarded as a manifestation of the cosmic mountain in the sacred centre of the world. The Egyptians modeled the pyramids on the Primordial Mound that rose out of the abyss at the time of creation. And the pagodas of India were deliberate replicas of the polar Mount Meru, called Kwen-lun in China. Like the towers, these mountains were widely envisioned as terraced structures. As the mountain pierced through the heavens, its seven or nine layers corresponded to the imaginary 'sheets' of heaven that lay superimposed over each other. This belief system has been detected in all ancient cultures and most illiterate cultures.

Previous attempts to explain these beliefs have failed. The concept of the seven or nine heavens could not have originated as an expression of the planetary orbits because the planets were thought to revolve in the same plane, not in seven layers neatly spaced out above each other. Apart from that, the notions of the tiered mountain and the layered heavens existed in cultures that were never acquainted with the planetary astronomy of the Greeks, and the sanctity of seven and nine chronologically preceded the rise of astronomy. Clearly, the seven or nine steps to heaven relate to a much more archaic stratum of belief, rooting in the mythology of the axis mundi.

The preponderance of seven and nine in ancient number symbolism cannot be separated from the propensity of a plasma pinch to segment into a string of nine plasmoids. Plasma physicist Anthony Peratt has demonstrated that a giant plasma column was produced in the atmosphere of the earth some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago and that was luminous enough to be observed by human populations around the world. An early development of this column was that it transformed into a stack of nine segments that subsequently merged to produce three or four layers. As this stupendous plasma formation was the prototype for the axis mundi remembered in world mythology, the layered heavens and the tiered mountains and buildings are understood as commemorative symbols of the stratified plasma column.

The remaining problem concerns relative chronology. The respective seven- and ninefold towers were produced in widely divergent periods: the stepped pyramids of Egypt were very ancient, but the sevenfold towers of Babylonia are not attested until 2,000 BCE at the very earliest, whilst the Meso-American parallels often date from less than 1,000 years ago. This is not a serious objection to the plasma model. As seen, the template for the tiered buildings was a mythological-cosmological concept that could in some cultures have existed long before it was given architectural expression. In addition, the stone monuments that survive today could have had wooden forerunners that would naturally have perished over time. In some cases, notably in Meso-America, the extant pyramids were erected over the ruins of smaller structures that were much older. The earliest one of these dates back to the 1st millennium BCE.

Composed by Rens van der Sluis


David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Amy Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Mel Acheson, Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Michael Armstrong

Copyright 2005: