Orion the Hunter, with its signature three-star belt, is perhaps the most recognizable constellation after the Big Dipper – and one of the most visible too, as it appears prominently in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Some claim the carving of a hunter archaeologists discovered on a 32,000-year-old mammoth tusk in 1979 represents the Orion constellation, making that tusk the world’s oldest known star map.
The most fascinating Orion topic, however, is the Orion Correlation Theory, posited by Robert Bauval in 1989 and advanced by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval in their 1998 book The Mars Mystery. The theory is that the layout of the three main pyramids of the Giza pyramid complex correlates perfectly to that of the three stars in Orion’s belt as they were aligned in 10,000 BC – and further, that the positioning of the Great Sphinx (a lion statue) and the Nile relative to the pyramids accurately depicts the positioning of the Leo constellation and the Milky Way relative to the Orion constellation as they appeared at spring equinox during that time, which happened to be astrological Age of Leo.
In other words, the Giza pyramids (or predecessor structures at that location) and the Great Sphinx predate ancient Egyptian civilization by many thousands of years.
The idea that an advanced Ice Age civilization might have existed on the Nile thousands of years before Egypt is intriguing. But two noted astronomers, Ed Krupp and Tony Fairall, investigated Hancock’s and Bauval’s claims and found them inaccurate for at least four reasons.
According to Krupp and Fairall: (1) the layout of the pyramids coordinates closely, but not precisely, with the positioning of the Orion belt stars in 10,000 BC; (2) the relative positioning of the pyramids, the Great Sphinx, and the Nile most certainly did not match that of Orion, Leo, and the Milky Way; (3) regardless of whether the Sphinx was in place as of 10,000 BC (according to Hancock), its construction began in 10,500 BC (according to Hancock), which would have been during the astrological Age of Virgo, preceding the Age of Leo; and (4) in any event, most scholars believe today’s 12-constellation zodiac was not developed until the time of ancient Mesopotamia, many thousands of years later.
Although the Orion Correlation Theory is wonderfully romantic, and although Bauval and Hancock have attempted to rebut criticisms of the theory, it is generally held in disrepute today.