Author of the Month

Andrew Collins, Author of the Month for December 2009

Giza's Cave Underworld Rediscovered - It is the Entrance to the Tomb of Hermes? (cont.)
By Andrew Collins

More incredible is the fact that the shadow line on the TerraSAR-X radar satellite image seems to connect with another wider shadow line that starts at a position corresponding to a gully in the plateau's northern cliff, just west of the Tomb of the Birds, and curves towards the Second Pyramid, where it is finally lost from sight on the north side of the monument's square base. Once again, there are no visible features on the corresponding Google satellite map to explain this anomaly (actually, a second, more fainter, shadow line is also seen on the radar satellite image. It commences in the proximity of the caves explored so far and curves towards the Second Pyramid, where it is lost, finally, as it approaches the west side of the pyramid).

Fig 19 - The curved shadow line on the TerraSAR-X radar satellite map that seems to show the course either of the caves, or localized faulting, which itself might highlight the course of subterranean caves. Not that it disappears on the northwest corner of the Second Pyramid (Astrium GmbH and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR)).

It would be great to consider that this curving shadow anomaly, traced from the area of the caves reached by ourselves to the proximity of the Second Pyramid, shows the course of the caves. This is indeed possible, although the operators of the TerraSAR-X satellite have been unable to comment on the anomaly, saying only that to date they have a relatively limited understanding of just how far their radar technology is able to record sub-surface or subterranean features.

If the shadow lines here described do not mark the course of actual caves, I still suspect that they represent physical features on the plateau. I believe they trace the course of local faulting, which would itself mark the most probable path of subterranean caves carved out by the actions of water across tens if not hundreds of thousands of years.

If correct, then the fact that the shadow lines disappear in the vicinity of the Second Pyramid is very interesting indeed. Not only did the Second Pyramid mark the location of the hidden cave-tomb of Hermes in medieval Sabaean tradition, but in 1977 a scientific survey conducted jointly by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and the Ain Shams University, Cairo, used ground penetration radar (GPR) equipment to search for subterranean structures beneath the plateau at Giza. Aside from some interesting discoveries in the area of the Sphinx, the team, under the leadership of geophysicist Lambert T. Dolphin, detected the presence of previously unknown chambers in the vicinity of the Second Pyramid. One, at least, was situated beneath Belzoni's Chamber inside the structure, while another was found beneath the monument's northwest corner on the west side (Dolphin, 1977). Additionally, the team noted the presence of localized faulting on the north side of the Second Pyramid, adding weight to the conclusion that the shadow lines shown on the TerraSAR-X radar satellite imagery really do record the presence of either sub-surface or subterranean geological features.

Fig 20 - Hermes Trismegistus as seen in a mosaic in Sienna cathedral.

Since the Tomb of the Birds is approximately 517 yards (473 meters) from the northwest corner of the Second Pyramid, I now suspect that it was into this area that Salt and Caviglia journeyed underground in 1817, this distance constituting the "several hundred yards" they travelled before reaching the reported spacious chambers, from which went other passages. If so, then this is a very interesting realization when we recall the Sabaean belief that the Second Pyramid marked the position of the cave-tomb of Hermes. Is it possible that the bird cult once associated with this site honoured Hermes, the Graeco-Egyptian form of the Egyptian god Thoth, the keeper of ancient records and guardian of the ancient wisdom? If correct then future excavations inside the tomb and caves might well reveal that the bird mummies purportedly left here as ritual offerings (and found by Vyse and Perring in 1837) contained the remains of ibises, a bird sacred to Thoth-Hermes. If the birds found here were not ibises, but raptors, such as hawks and falcons, then the cult here was probably that of Sokar, the guardian of the Duat of Memphis, or Rostau, the ancient name for Giza. Either solution will go some way to prove that the Tomb of the Birds was seen as an entrance into a cave underworld.

According to medieval Arab and European sources the cave-tomb of Hermes (Idris, or Enoch, as he was called in Arabic) housed not only the earthly remains of its owner, but also the so-called Emerald Tablet (also known as the Tabula Smaragdina, the "table of green stone") on which was written the "secret of Hermes", or the secrets of creation. Is it possible that legends relating to the presence in the cave-tomb of the Emerald Tablet is a metaphor for a previously unknown structure at Giza with green stone walls and inscriptions recording the secrets of Egyptian creation? Alternatively, perhaps the Emerald Tablet really did once exist, and was discovered here at some point in the past.

Fig 21 - Medieval illustration of Hermes Trismegistus, showing him holding the Emerald Tablet, containing the key to the secrets of the universe.

If the fact that the Tomb of the Birds was once recognized as the entrance to the cave-tomb of Hermes, then it is possible that long before Salt and Caviglia got into Giza's cave underworld, others were here looking for the legendary Emerald Tablet. Just maybe they found something in the cave's deepest part, perhaps even a green stone fragment that they removed and revered afterwards as a chip from the Emerald Tablet. Whatever the answer, I sincerely believe that we have here a major discovery at Giza - one that is set to reverberate through the Egyptological world for a very long time indeed.

All text and pictures copyright © Andrew Collins, 2009, unless otherwise indicated.

For further information on the rediscovery of Giza's cave underworld, and the latest updates on the subject, visit

For the full story, complete with additional references, read Beneath the Pyramids by Andrew Collins (4th Dimension Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 2009), available from Amazon and other online book services.

To see revealing footage of Andrew Collins and his team inside both the Tomb of the Birds and Giza's cave underworld during March 2008, watch the following YouTube video.

For more information on Andrew Collins and his work, go to

Further Reading

Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History, trans. John C. Rolfe, Loeb edition, 3 vols., Heinemann, London, 1921.

Dolphin, Lambert T., A. H. Moussa et al, Applications of Modern Sensing Techniques to Egyptology, SRI Institute, Menlo Park, CA, September 1977

Greaves, John, Pyramidographia of a Description of the Pyramids of Ægypt, Geo. Badger, London, 1646.

Halls Esq., J. J., The Life And Correspondence of Henry Salt, Richard Bentley, London, 1834.

Hassan, Prof. Selim, Excavations at Giza, Season 1934-35, Vol. VI, Part 1, Annales du Service des antiquités de l'Egypte, Government Press, Cairo, 1946.

Perring, John Shae, The Pyramids of Gizeh, from Actual Survey and Admeasurement. Illustrated by notes and references to the several plans, with sketches taken on the spot, by E. J. Andrews, 3 parts in one vol., James Fraser, London, 1839-42.

Maravelia, Amanda-Alice, "Cosmic Space and Archetypal Time: Depictions of the Sky-Goddess Nut in Three Royal Tombs of the New Kingdom and her Relation to the Milky Way", GM 197 (2003), S. 55-72

Reymond, E. A. E.,The Mythical Origin of the Egyptian Temple, Manchester University Press/ Barnes & Noble, New York, NY, 1969.

Usick, Patricia, and Deborah Manley, The Sphinx Revealed-A Forgotten Record of Pioneering Excavations, British Museum Press, London, 2007.

Vyse, Col. R.W. Howard, Operations Carried on at the Pyramids of Gizeh in 1837, 3 vols., James Fraser, London, 1840.

Wells, R. A., "The Mythology of Nut and the Birth of Ra", SAK 19 (1992), pp. 305-21.

Wells, R. A., "Origin of the Hour and the Gates of the Duat", SAK 20 (1993), pp. 305-26.

Wells, R. A., "Re and the Calendars", 1994, in Spalinger, pp. 1-37.

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