Author of the Month

Robert Temple, Author of the Month for June 2009

What is wrong with the Sphinx? (cont.)
By Robert Temple

Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval were also enthusiastic about the erosion problem at the Sphinx, and they adopted West's theory about the 'ancient rain', as they could see no other possible answer. They did not adamantly hold out for a more acceptable solution like I did. I hope they might revise their theories now that a more reasonable answer has appeared. They and West are all to be congratulated for having insisted upon the water erosion at the Sphinx. There is no disgrace in having come up with the wrong explanation to it, there is rather the praise in their having noticed the need for an explanation at all. After all, all conventional Egyptologists were united in their vitriolic condemnation of the water erosion problem being raised at all, and they all violently insulted West, Hancock, and Bauval. That is no way to carry on a dialogue, but then the conventional Egyptologists did not consider a dialogue necessary. Even to take notice of the fact that West, Hancock, and Bauval even existed on the face of the earth and lived, breathed, and had the audacity to think and speak as well, was considered beneath their dignity. Or should I say beneath their arrogance?

Photograph by Robert Temple

It is unfortunate that intelligence and arrogance are often in direct proportion to one another. It is a major human weakness that the more educated you are, and the brighter you are, the more you are tempted to view yourself as being somehow superior. People of less knowledge or of less intelligence are viewed as untermenschen, not even worth spitting on. This type of intellectual vanity has always made me sick. I spent so many years in so many universities, I have met so many famous intellectuals (58 Nobel Laureates included), that I have had an overdose of vanity and intellectual pride.

Then there was also the problem of the chambers. Were there any chambers in, under, or near the Sphinx? People kept saying this, and it was a recurring theme of the alternative literature. Robert Bauval and Simon Cox even wrote a book with the shocking and suggestive title Secret Chamber. They insisted there really was a secret chamber beneath the Sphinx, and they weren't talking only about the 'rump tunnel' at the very back, with a little scooped-out hole in the bedrock, which everyone now knows about; they were talking about the real thing.

But there was a slight problem: they had no evidence.

The fact that a psychic named Edgar Cayce had once said in a trance that there was a chamber beneath the right paw of the Sphinx was interesting. But then, the world is full of psychics who say all kinds of things, sometimes true, sometimes false. This is not evidence.

And so began my odyssey of exploration of early texts. Eventually I had tracked down no less than 281 years' worth of eye-witness accounts by people who had seen a secret chamber beneath the Sphinx, described it, and given its precise location. Many of these were not in English and had to be translated. Olivia translated all the French ones. All of these accounts are published in English at the back of our book.

The chamber described by these people was directly beneath the haunches of the Sphinx, and was reached by a vertical shaft, the precise width and breadth of which were measured, and the entry's precise distance from the head and the rump were also measured. The chamber was described as a proper burial chamber with hieroglyphic inscriptions on the walls and traces of a wooden coffin remaining inside. It had been plundered in antiquity. It appears that this shaft and chamber were intruded into the Sphinx at a date later than the carving of the original Sphinx, and that the burial was that of a later king, perhaps the king named Amasis whose tomb was said by Pliny in the first century AD to be directly under the Sphinx.

In the back of our book, we publish all of the descriptions of the Sphinx from the Roman author Pliny (no Greek account survives) to 1837, with the many foreign ones all translated into English.

So the mystery of the secret chamber is now solved! It was rendered inaccessible in 1926 when a Frenchman named Émile Baraize poured concrete down into it, as an exercise in 'tidying-up' for the nascent tourist trade.

PLATE X. Olivia, accompanied by Graham Hancock's daughter, tries to peer down into the rump cavity underneath the rear of the Sphinx. All of the stones seen in this photo are modern repair blocks, except for those directly above the entry hole. A rusting metal frame has been erected round the interior of the hole in modern times, and may be partially seen here. (Photo by Robert Temple)

As for the hole in the ground and why the Sphinx was in it, I came to realize that this was intimately associated with the water erosion problem. The fact now seems inescapable that the Sphinx Pit was really the Sphinx Moat. The Nile used to rise right up to the doors of the Sphinx Temple for three months of every year during the period of what was called the Inundation. The Inundation does not happen anymore because of the Aswan Dam.

In our book I publish the photos I took of the bolt-holes and other signs of water sluices which were used in the corridor between the Sphinx Temple and the Valley Temple to control the inflow of water into the Moat, and its blocking during the remaining 9 months of the year.

Egyptologists are always moaning and whingeing about the 'fact' that the Sphinx is never mentioned in the Pyramid Texts, or any other texts for that matter. But they are looking for the wrong thing. They are looking for a giant lion with a man's head. But the Sphinx was never a lion, and as I discovered, it did not have a man's head until the Middle Kingdom period, which commenced about 2000 BC. The face on the Sphinx is that of the third pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty, whose name was Amenemhet II. The photographic evidence of this is given in our book. The human head was carved out of the neck and stump of the Anubis head, which was vandalised during the First Intermediate Period at the end of the Old Kingdom, when chaos reigned and the Giza Plateau was sacked by rampaging violent mobs.

As for the erosion, that was caused as a result of the Moat. The Sphinx itself has horizontal erosion, because it was sitting in a lake, the level of which rose and fell with the seasons. But the walls of the pit have both horizontal and vertical erosion, hence the earlier suggestion that the vertical erosion must have been caused by descending rain. But what I believe really caused this was the continual dredging of the moat, which was always being filled with windblown sand which had to be removed. As everyone knows, when you dredge, the water pours down as you remove the solid things. And as this happened, particularly on the south side, the dredging water poured down heavily, scouring out the vertical crevasses.

And as for the lack of the Sphinx in the ancient texts problem, that could be explained too. The Sphinx was often mentioned in the Pyramid Texts, but not in a way which the Egyptologists could recognise. I quote the many references in the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts to a giant Anubis at Giza, which is twice specifically described as sitting beside a causeway, and which was surrounded by a body of water with various names, the most famous of which is Jackal Lake, and another being the Winding Waterway. Those texts also describe the crucial ceremonies which were carried out beside and upon that sacred lake. The son of the deceased pharaoh was required to wash the entrails of his father, in their four jars, in Jackal Lake, during the period of his father's mummification, a process which took 70 days. This purification ritual was considered essential as part of the freeing of the deceased pharaoh's spirit to rise up to the sky and become an akh, a glorified spirit. The Sphinx was thus both the guardian of the sacred necropolis and the focal point of the pharaonic resurrection cult.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert Temple

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