Chapter 16 of Giza: The Truth
© Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald 2000
[This is the most recently updated epilogue that appeared in the US paperback version of G:TT]
Since this work was originally published, there have been various developments worthy of mention which, broadly speaking, can be split into two categories. First, we have engaged in a number of discussions regarding the various theories analysed in Parts I and II. Second, the 'show' goes on, and a number of important political and exploration aspects have unfolded further. We will deal with each of these in turn.
Moving the Debate Forwards
Our original research for this work led us to conclude that most of the alternative theories about the age, purpose and construction of the Pyramids, about the age of the Sphinx, about the Orion correlation, about Gantenbrink's 'door', and about secret chambers and tunnels in and under the various edifices of the Plateau, were deeply flawed. Broadly speaking this is still our position. However, a number of constructive ongoing discussions with fellow researchers have led us to modify the details of some of our analysis. (These extensive discussions can be followed in full by visiting our Giza: The Truth Discussion Site.[i]) Since this is exactly what constructive debate and ongoing research should achieve, we are happy to present these developments.
A Reader Writes…
By far the most revealing new piece of research to come to our attention is that of British geological engineer, Colin Reader, on the age of the Sphinx. He sent us his paper Khufu Knew the Sphinx shortly after this work was originally published, and it was immediately apparent to us that he had some new ideas which deserve serious consideration.ii] Unlike John Anthony West and Robert Schoch, whose theories we examined in Chapter 7, he does not attempt to push the age back by more than a few hundred years - in fact only to the early dynastic period c. 2800bc - and he also makes a considerable effort to fit his revised chronology into the proper archaeological context of Giza as a whole.
Two primary pieces of evidence exist that Reader suggests force us to consider a pre-Fourth Dynasty date for the monument, neither of which, as far as we are aware, have been properly elucidated elsewhere. The first forms the basis for his refutation of Lal Gauri's chemical-weathering hypothesis which we previously supported. He draws our attention to the distribution of weathering patterns between the western Sphinx enclosure wall and the rump of the monument itself, indicating that, whereas there is significant widening and rounding of the vertical joints in the enclosure wall, there is little evidence of this in the rump. We questioned whether these joints - which were originally sub-surface geological fault lines - really do continue into the body of the monument at all, but Reader provided us with evidence from one of Gauri's own papers that they do.[iii] Since the strata to which we are referring are the same in both locations, and there is only approximately twenty metres distance between the wall and the rump, and because chemical weathering primarily depends on air temperature and humidity, he contends that some other weathering agent must be responsible for the differentiated patterns observed on the enclosure wall - and that that agent is surface water run-off.
Figure 35: The Joints in The Sphinx Enclosure; and the Khufu and Khafre Quarries [iv]
Reader's second observation concerns the quarry used by Khufu's builders as the main source of limestone for the Great Pyramid. It is clear from Figure 35 that this quarry eventually occupied almost all the space between the Second Pyramid and the Sphinx enclosure, albeit that there is a suggestion that it was extended to the west during Khafre's reign. It is also clear that, once used, this quarry would have been back-filled with limestone chips and other debris from the construction process. Reader suggests that, as soon as this quarry was excavated and even once it had been back-filled, it would have all but eradicated the ability of rain water to run-off from the previously extensive catchment area to the west of the Sphinx enclosure. This is because, for surface run-off to occur, the rate of rainfall must exceed the rate at which the surface and immediate sub-surface can absorbe it, and sporadic but heavy rainfall prior to the quarrying would have quickly exceeded the ability of the original limestone bedrock to absorbe it. By contrast, the rainfall would have to be far more intense to achieve run-off over the significantly more permeable in-fill of chippings and wind-blown sand after quarrying and back-fill had taken place. Even then, run-off would only occur if the various fills reached the original level of the limestone across all parts of the quarry - otherwise the run-off would be halted by the eastern quarry wall, or at least by some form of ascent out of the dip created by the only partial back-filling of the quarry. He suggests that just such a dip does form part of the post-quarry topography.[v]
Reader goes on to argue that his case is strengthened by a close analysis of the north enclosure wall. He points out that there is a significant and clear break between the weathered surface of the bulk of this wall and the vertical and non-weathered portion that lies at its eastern end - in fact, that portion which has been quarried immediately adjacent to the north wall of the Sphinx Temple. He further points out that, whilst there is no doubt that the bulk of this temple is contemporary with the carving of the Sphinx, because the blocks can be matched with the appropriate strata in the Sphinx enclosure, there is room for doubt about the source of the blocks for the Valley Temple (with which assertion we now agree, and have amended the wording in Chapter 7 accordingly). Whilst we have previously argued strongly against any attempt to suggest a two-stage construction for the Valley Temple, and continue to so do, Reader's suggestion of a two-stage construction for the Sphinx Temple should not be dismissed lightly. He argues that a smaller version was constructed at the time the Sphinx was carved, which was then extended to the north and south during the Fourth Dynasty - hence the relatively unweathered 'new' enclosure wall to the north.
To complete his analysis, he suggests that a portion of the Second Pyramid's mortuary temple may also have been originally constructed along with the Sphinx and Sphinx Temple, only to be extended later, and that the two 'proto-temples' formed the eastern and western elements of a complex clearly designed in early or even pre-dynastic times as part of a solar cult. This would explain why it was Khaf-re, not Khufu, who extended these existing structures and incorporated them into his pyramid complex - as part of the re-emergence of the solar cult. He backs up his assertions by listing a number of pieces of archaeological evidence for activity at Giza from as early as the late pre-dynastic period.
Although we await further research by Reader, we find his arguments reasonably persuasive. Accordingly the age of the Sphinx remains, in our view, an open question. But while we now accept that there may be reason to question Gauri's chemical-weathering hypothesis, his redating is significantly less than that proposed by Schoch, let alone that of West, and involves pushing the age back by no more than c. 300 years. This is primarily based on respect for the archaeological context and, as a result, requires assumptions about the ability of the heavier rainfall pre-2350bc, and especially pre-Khufu, to effect sufficient weathering. In our view this is a more reasonable approach than Schoch's use of seismic surveys to suggest a much older date, while West's attempts to push the date back even further have no contextual or logical grounding other than the readings of Edgar Cayce and Bauval's astronomical 'lock' on 10,500bc (see below).[vi]
Our original support for the orthodox position on the age of the Sphinx, as still described in Chapter 7, received heavy criticism from West himself, much of it unfortunately of a personal rather than theoretical nature. However, we have had considerable constructive debate with a number of the key researchers in this area, which has resulted in a number of new papers by ourselves, Schoch, Reader, geologist James Harrell and David Billington being made available through our web site. In our view, this has all helped to move the debate forwards.
The Sphinx Enclosure
Our view of the extent to which the age of the Sphinx remains an open question has been reinforced by more recent research that we have conducted regarding the periods for which it has been buried in sand. In Chapter 7 we saw that the consensus view is that it has been in this state for approximately two-thirds of its orthodox 4500-year existence. We also saw that, based on the evidence of the Dream Stele between the paws, Thutmose IV's supposed clearance of the enclosure c. 1400bc is thought to represent the first time this had taken place since its construction. Yet in fact there is little within the text of the stele to justify this assumption, because the relevant line simply states: 'The sands of the Sanctuary, [Setepet] upon which I am, have reached me.' This is by no means a clear indication of the volume of sand within the enclosure, and one could equally argue that there was only a relatively small build up around the base. Moreover, further careful study of other New Kingdom iconography and texts strongly suggests to us that the Sphinx was free of sand long before Thutmose's restoration. Indeed, it may even be that the monument only became truly buried during Egypt's Christian or early-Islamic period in the middle of the first millennium.[vii] This fresh analysis could significantly extend the time period available for weathering to occur - both from water run-off resulting from the flash floods that, as we have seen, still occur in the modern 'arid' period, and from further chemical action on the originally water-weathered channels.
To close this subject, a number of the key researchers into the age of the Sphinx are now in constructive communication, and we can only hope that at some point a cross-disciplinary team will be allowed to submit a proposal to conduct further much-needed research on site. Such a proposal would receive our whole-hearted support.
Another area in which we have engaged in extensive post-publication debate via our web site is in respect of the Orion correlation theory (see Chapter 9), and there are two major areas of discussion. The first involves criticisms that Robert Bauval has made concerning our comments on the 10,500bc dating. We used SkyGlobe to derive the angles of the belt stars in the different epochs, as presented in Figure 32 (in fact we have updated these figures slightly having re-checked our measurements), since this was the software used by Bauval himself when he wrote The Orion Mystery. However, he points out that this software fails to take into account such complex astronomical factors as proper motion, nutation, aberration and refraction, merely accounting for precession. To establish these figures properly, he asked Professor Mary Bruck, a former lecturer in astronomy at Edinburgh University, to calculate them. Her results indicate that the angle formed by the line running through Al Nitak and Al Nilam at culmination in 10,500bc was between 40 and 43 degrees from the horizontal, the variation being dependent on whether or not nutation was allowed for in the calculations. Bauval's assertion that this is pretty close to the required 45-degree angle is a fair one.
One is entitled to ask how he thought the angle was 45 degrees using SkyGlobe when he originally presented his theory. The answer is that the 'lock' on the 10,500bc date was always much less the precise angle of the belt stars, and much more the facts that, at this date, firstly the constellation of Orion was at its lowest point in the precessional cycle (which we cannot dispute), and secondly that, at the exact point of the sunrise on the vernal equinox of that epoch, not only did the constellation of Leo provide the backdrop in the east but Orion was also exactly at its point of culmination in the southern sky. (The emphasis on these latter points is somewhat underplayed in Bauval's previous work, which is where the confusion arose for us, and we are sure for a great many other people.[viii]) However, even if this latter assertion is true, and we have not had the time to obtain the appropriate software to check it, it is clearly an astronomical 'coincidence'. Although we accept that the Ancients read much into such events, this one is undoubtedly rendered less symbolic if the Sphinx was not there at this time - which we do not believe it was.
However, there are far more fundamental issues at stake than the supposed date correlation. The other significant area of discussion on the site has focussed on our two main criticisms that we believe completely undermine the basic Orion Correlation theory. These are included in Chapter 9, but in outline they are: first, the massive differential between the size of the Third Pyramid and that of Mintaka relative to their earthly and celestial counterparts; second, the significant evidence for major replanning of the Second and Third Pyramids, in terms of size and possibly also location.[ix] Both of these detract from the fundamental hypothesis of a correlation in the ground plan to such an extent that the dating issues become irrelevant.
Further constructive discussions with a number of other key researchers regarding this theory, including Egyptologist Kate Spence, astronomers Ed Krupp and Tony Fairall, and John Legon, can be found on our web site.[x]
We have also engaged in a spirited discussion with Chris Dunn about 'advanced machining' (see Chapter 4).[xi] Having read our report of John Reid and Harry Brownlee's inspection of Drill Core No. 7, which suggested that it did not exhibit spiral striations, Dunn flew to London to inspect the core for himself. His report came up with two important new findings.[xii] First, although on initial inspection he thought that Reid and Brownlee must be right, he still decided to check for spirals by wrapping a length of thread around the apparently random and unconnected striations. He found that the groove varied in depth as it circled the core, and at some points there was just a faint scratch, difficult to see with the naked eye. Nevertheless, he suggests that he did find spiral striations - although not a single spiral with a pitch of .100 of an inch as described by Petrie, but two intertwined spirals of similar pitch.
We had already suggested that, even if spiral striations were found, they could easily be the result of the drill bit being withdrawn from the workpiece, thus telling us nothing about the feed rate of the drill. Prior to his report, Dunn had also accepted this possibility. However, during his visit, he measured the depth of the grooves at up to .005 of an inch, and now suggests that there would be insufficient lateral force to create such deep grooves when the bit was merely being withdrawn.
At the time of writing we have been unable to substantiate whether or not these new elements of Dunn's analysis are sound. However, he had previously maintained that the primary aspect which made him consider ultrasound was the fact that the quartz was cut deeper than the surrounding feldspar, but in correspondence it is clear that he accepts Brownlee's suggestion that this may have been caused by ripping. Since his report adds nothing definitive on this subject, it remains unclear exactly what conclusions he draws from his new analysis, and indeed whether or not he believes it reinforces his suggestion that ultrasound was employed.
Meanwhile our attention has also been drawn to two other important sources which argue that conventional drilling methods were employed by the ancient Egyptians. The first is a book originally published in 1930, by Somers Clarke and R. Englebach, entitled Ancient Egyptian Construction and Architecture. Although we have not yet been able to obtain a copy, we are informed that it contains an Egyptian illustration of a weighted drill being used, and mentions evidence of tubular bits. The second is a series of highly enlightening experiments performed by Denys Stocks of Manchester University, in which he uses wet sand as a grinding slurry, that have produced granite drill cores with striations appearing highly similar to those on No. 7.[xiii]
Above all, the practical experimentation already performed by Stocks, and planned by Reid and Brownlee, is more likely to resolve the issues than any amount of theoretical speculation. Nevertheless, this is probably a debate which is set to run and run…
Another update on the theory front concerns ongoing research into acoustics, which we briefly mentioned in Chapter 4. David Elkington, Paul Ellson and John Reid have now published their detailed findings in In the Name of the Gods (Green Man Press, 2001) and although we cannot go into details here they are well worth examining.[xiv]
The final theory update concerns our previous suggestion in Chapter 4 that we could not provide a logical explanation as to how the 200-tonne megaliths were raised up into the walls of various of the temples. Reader once again has an important contribution to make, and in a paper specially prepared for our web site he demonstrates, using detailed calculations of thrust and stability, that a sand ramp would be able to support such huge blocks during construction. Moreover, another correspondent, George Forrest, has suggested that the logic behind using such huge blocks was their stability in the earthquake conditions that we know affected the Plateau to some extent in the past. So perhaps this is another enigma that has now been solved.
The Show Must Go On
Original plans to 'open Gantenbrink’s door' during the millennial celebrations were shifted to January 2000 long before the event itself. Then, in early-1999, Zahi Hawass announced that the project would not proceed before May 2000, and would be a co-operative venture with the National Geographic Society. In mid-1999 he again confirmed that the expedition would take place sometime during the spring of 2000, but it is no great surprise that it has never come to fruition. Nor have the prospects improved over time, because in April 2001 Hawass was interviewed about any new proposals, to which he replied: 'We hope soon that some people will come…I'm not in a hurry'.[xv] Clearly the saga of the opening of the 'door' and the further exploration of the northern shaft goes on and on, and we can only hope that sooner or later the authorities will prove us wrong by waking up to the importance of exploring them both.[xvi]
Schor to Return?
We saw, in Chapter 10, that the Schor Foundation failed to prove the reliability of ground-penetrating radar and bore-scope camera technology in locating possible man-made cavities beneath the Plateau during their Autumn 1998 expedition. Everyone thought that this was their last chance, but Hawass announced, in August 1999, that he would give them one 'last' chance to prove Cayce’s claims of a Hall of Records hidden beneath the Plateau. This expedition was due to take place during November or December 1999, but some 18 months later it too has failed to materialise. We finally had the pleasure of meeting up with Joe Schor personally in London in February 2001, and he confirmed that he is still persevering with his plans and now has access to some state-of-the-art three-dimensional radar equipment. Unfortunately, seemingly as a result of the Egyptian authorities' continued caution over the possible political repercussions of such expeditions, his team has still not been given the full green light to leave for Giza.
Even if they do finally make it, will they ever find anything? Given all the evidence we have presented already about natural cavities and the unreliability of the technology, let alone the limited likelihood that a physical Hall of Records exists at Giza, we very much doubt it. But, once again, we would be delighted to be proved wrong.
More Secret Chambers
In Chapter 6 we mentioned Gilles Dormion's 1986 'Operation Kheops'. In 2000 he and a joint French and Egyptian team discovered previously unknown tunnels and chambers in the pyramid at Meidum, and he has now proposed a new project to drill in the Great Pyramid and use fibre-optic technology in an attempt to locate similar hidden chambers. However, he still uses GPR to pinpoint his target, which as we have seen can be misleading.[xvii]
However, more recent suggestions by British researcher Mark Foster, details of which can be found on our web site, could perhaps provide him with the most appropriate target for his drilling. We have not previously mentioned that there are a set of passages about 90 metres to the east of the Great Pyramid, just north of its original causeway, and that Flinders Petrie was the first to draw attention to the fact that they appear to represent a copy of the Descending and Ascending Passages. As Foster points out, it would hardly serve any purpose to dig these 'trial passages' out of the bedrock as a learning exercise for the real ones that are positioned largely in the superstructure - so what are they for? He emphasises that they include another vertical passage rising from the intersection of the two main ones, and arguably this is a clue as to where Dormion should concentrate his efforts.
A Final Word
Although we have been somewhat scathing about a number of people in this book, because we believe they merit some degree of criticism, it should be clear that we have only done this when we question their motives. Those with whom we disagree purely on an intellectual level we hope have received somewhat kinder treatment. Nor have we allowed our views to be biased by personal acquaintance, for there are some who have been criticised even though, for example, they may have helped us with our research. It gave us no pleasure to do this, and we realise that we leave ourselves open, in a few cases, to accusations of being disingenuous, but in our view this is the price one must pay for being entirely honest and open-handed in one’s treatment of the facts.
Above all, it is in no sense our right to act as judge and jury on people’s actions. Instead you, the readers, will make up your own minds about the ins and outs, whys and wherefors, and rights and wrongs of the tangled web of politics and intrigue which we have laid before you in this book. So should, indeed must, it be.
Since the book was originally published, we have been accused repeatedly of uncritically accepting the orthodox standpoint. In fact, the truth is that, like so many others, we were in danger of uncritically accepting the alternative standpoint before we conducted the detailed research on which this work is based. We hope that we have redressed the balance somewhat so that readers have the chance to consider both sides of the arguments, and make up their own minds accordingly. Although we feel we have been able to rationalise many of the 'enigmas' of the Plateau within an orthodox context, in no sense do we feel that all of the magic and excitement of Giza and its incredible monuments is removed as a result. Almost certainly the ancient Egyptians did have an advanced understanding of acoustics which was coupled with an esoteric world view of breathtaking wisdom and complexity. As long as we devote our attention to those issues that remain genuinely unexplained, there is plenty of truth still waiting to be discovered…
[i] The site can be found at the following Internet address: http://www.ianlawton.com/gttindex.html.
[ii] Reader's full paper remains only self-published at the time of writing, but is reproduced on our web site. However, a shortened version entitled 'A Geomorphological Study of the Giza Necropolis, with Implications for the Development of the Site' appeared in Archaeometry, Vol. 43, Part 1, February 2001.
[iii] His reference in a letter to us dated 14 December 1999 is to Gauri, Geologic Study of the Sphinx, NARCE 127.
[iv] After Reader, Khufu Knew the Sphinx, Figures 2 and 3.
[v] However, more recent research has led us to question this aspect of Reader's argument, particularly in view of the fact that a number of shaft tombs in the region of the supposed quarry, including Campbell's, appear to cut through virgin bedrock right to the top.
[vi] In fact West has more recently suggested that, in view of the inhospitable climate that would have accompanied the end of the last Ice Age c. 10,500bc, the date should be pushed right back to the previous precessional age of Leo c. 36,000bc - see the various papers on his web site at http://members.aol.com/jawsphinx/index.html. We have yet to hear any official comment on this from Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock, especially in terms of what this means for their theory about zep tepi, or the 'first time', and the layout of the Giza Plateau to reflect Orion's belt c. 10,500bc.
[vii] For more details see the paper published on our web site entitled A Reappraisal of the History of Clearance of the Sphinx Enclosure.
[viii] Although the explanation provided in his more recent book, Secret Chamber, Appendix 2, pp. 374-7, is far more lucid.
[ix] We have fleshed out the replanning argument in particular in a paper published on our web site entitled The Fundamental Flaws in the Orion-Giza Correlation Theory.
[x] Two papers of particular importance to this debate can also be accessed. The first is a rarely-discussed paper by Egyptologist Jaromir Malek that first appeared in Discussions in Egyptology, No. 30, 1994. The second is Kate Spence's 'Egyptian Chronology and the Astronomical Orientation of Pyramids', Nature, No. 408, 2000, in which her theory casts some doubt on the ancient Egyptians' knowledge of precession.
[xi] We have also had discussions with Dunn regarding his 'Giza Power Plant' theory that we mentioned briefly in Chapter 3, and he seems to have little defense against our suggestions that it completely ignores the religious context of pyramids in general, of their surrounding complexes, and of the texts found inscribed in the walls of their chambers from the Fifth Dynasty onwards. For more details see our web site.
[xii] Dunn's full report of his visit to the Petrie Museum in November 1999 can be found on his web site at http://www.gizapower.com/.
[xiii] Stocks' most recent experiments were carried out in conjunction with the NOVA team, and a report of their achievements including impressive photographs can be found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/obelisk/cutting.html. Meanwhile, the results of his previous experiments were published in Popular Archaeology, April 1986, and in his article 'Stone Sarcophagus Manufacture in Ancient Egypt' in Antiquity, Vol. 73, No. 282, December 1999.
[xiv] For Reid's work on the Great Pyramid in particular see Chapter 12, pp. 394–8, and for the results of his cymatic experiments on the King's Chamber sarcophagus see the Plates section.
[xv] See Hawass' web site at http://guardians.net/spotlite/spotlite-hawass-2001.htm.
[xvi] We might note that in Secret Chamber Robert Bauval gives his version of the events surrounding the discovery of Gantenbrink's 'door' (Chapter Eleven, pp. 239-85). We are also given to understand that Rudolf Gantenbrink is working on his own book, the publication date of which has yet to be announced.
[xvii] The current head of the SCA, Dr. Ali Gaballah, presented a paper on their findings to the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo. For more information see http://www.iol.co.za/frame_decider.php?click_id=588&art_id=qw988132021939B221&set_id=1.