Did Napoleon really sleep one night in the Cheops pyramid? No, and he didn't bomb it either

Fortunately the myth that sees the French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Ajaccio, 1769 – Saint Helena, 1821) bombing the pyramids was debunked some time ago, even if certain film adaptations (first of all the Napoleon of 2023 by Ridley Scott) seem to make us believe the opposite. But there is another myth about Napoleon struggling to die: the hypothesis that he has slept inside the pyramidsparticularly within the Cheops pyramid, on the Giza plateau in Egypt. We understand why this story is also very unlikely.

Napoleon's campaign in Egypt

Let's take a step back: what was Napoleon doing in Egypt? In May 1798, the general set sail from France towards the North African country and Syria to gain a control point on the Red Sea and the India Route, ensuring trade and riches for France (driving the English out of the area). With him left both a large contingent of troops, the Army of the East, with which to conquer the area and defeat the neo-Mamluks, and hundreds of intellectuals, scientific researchers and artists, who would study and report what they saw. Although from an imperialist and colonialist perspective, it was they who laid the foundations for the birth ofEgyptology.

The legend of the night spent sleeping in the Cheops pyramid

When Bonaparte visited Giza during his Nile expedition, it is said that he decided to spend a night alone inside the Great Pyramid of Giza: this was the place where he was buried Cheops, one of the most powerful rulers of the Ancient Kingdom of Egypt. We are talking about an extraordinary place, built with 2.3 million blocks of stone (each of which weighed on average more than two tons), with the sides perfectly aligned with the cardinal points, and which for millennia was the tallest building in the world. world (as well as being the only one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world that has come down to us).

Egyptian pyramid corridor

It is said that Napoleon, having ventured alone inside the pyramid and walked through the narrow passages, emerged the next morning white as a rag and deeply shaken, and refused to answer any questions about what had happened to him, leaving the posterity doubts as to what he had seen. Most likely, however, this story is a fake: as reported by author Mike Dash on the Smithsonian MagazineNapoleon's private secretary who was with him in Egypt, Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, insisted that the general never entered the tomb, and that while the soldiers climbed it he remained on the ground evaluating its structure.

The interior of the Great Pyramid of Giza

On what the Great Pyramid of Giza originally contained, the first thing that must be said is that the documents and arguments we have are very difficult to prove. According to several academic reports it would have been the Caliph Ma'mun the first to officially enter the upper part of the pyramid since its closure, in 820 AD: when the Arabs entered it seems that the tomb raiders had already reached the King's Chamber, taking the treasures and opening the sarcophagus. So, when Napoleon arrived in Egypt, the pharaoh's mummy could have already been stolen centuries ago.

As for how the Pyramid of Cheops is made inside, however, we know that the building has the most elaborate system of passages and chambers among all the discovered pyramids, and that it has two tunnel systems (and not one like the others) . In the last twenty years gods have been sent several times robot to explore it and were able to discover new passages and sections of the pyramid that had been hidden for 4,500 years. Last year a new passage was discovered, but what might be discovered beyond it still remains a mystery.