must be emphasised that the age of the Giza monuments is a complex
question, and not a subject on which anyone can speak with absolute
certainty. Anyone who pretends to have a definite answer to this
question, based on the evidence available as at 2003, is, in
my opinion, deluding himself. Rather, it is a case of looking
at all the evidence, making judgements about ‘facts’ which
seem to contradict one another, and drawing an overall ‘most
likely’ conclusion based
on the balance of evidence.
my book ‘The Phoenix Solution’ (1998), I noted that
virtually all of the supposed evidence for 4th dynasty construction
of the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx was, in fact, consistent with
an adoption scenario. In other words, it seemed entirely plausible
that the Egyptian kings Khufu and Khafre had adopted pre-existing
structures in the form of the Great Pyramid, the Second Pyramid
and the Sphinx, and merely added the causeways which ran between
the mortuary and valley temples. It should be noted that the
construction of each of these causeways was an absolutely stupendous
task in its own right, and would more than justify the 4th dynasty
workers’ villages which have recently been found at Giza.
(As for the Third Pyramid, the much smaller pyramid of Menkaure,
I did not include this in my adoption hypothesis).
one piece of evidence speaks unambiguously for 4th dynasty provenance
of the Giza monuments, namely the ‘workmen’s graffiti’ inside
the Great Pyramid which contain the names of king Khufu. This
graffiti, discovered by the English explorer Colonel Howard Vyse
in 1837, was located inside sealed chambers (the so-called ‘relieving
chambers’ above the King’s Chamber) and thus, on
the face of it, seemed to prove that the Great Pyramid was built
by the 4th dynasty king Khufu.
this were so, it would be virtually certain that all of
the structures at Giza, including the Sphinx, had a 4th dynasty
provenance (as I note in ‘The Phoenix Solution’,
all of the Giza structures are closely linked stylistically,
topographically and geometrically; one reliable dating of any
single monument has the potential to date all of
the structures, as Egyptologists are fond of pointing out).
against the evidence of the workmen’s graffiti, I discovered
quite a lot of evidence – including some peculiar anomalies
which had previously gone unrecognised – which argued for
a much older construction of the Great Pyramid, the Second Pyramid,
the Sphinx, and their associated megalithic temples. This evidence,
which I will summarise in a moment, clearly produces a tension
with the evidence of the workmen’s graffiti.
to resolve the apparent conflict between the workmen’s
graffiti in the Great Pyramid, which incorporate the names of
the 4th dynasty king Khufu, and all the other evidence which
seems to point to an earlier, pre-4th dynasty provenance?
solution, I argued, was that the workmen’s graffiti in
the ‘relieving chambers’ of the Great Pyramid had
been faked by their ‘discover’ Colonel Howard Vyse,
who had copied inscriptions which he had already found outside the
Great Pyramid in the temples and the quarries (the presence of
these inscriptions being fully consistent with the 4th dynasty ‘adoption’ scenario
mentioned earlier). His motive, I suggested, was a desire for
fame and money. For the full details of my argument, which differs
in certain crucial respects from other writers’ forgery
theories, see chapter three of ‘The Phoenix Solution’.
it must be emphasised that I do not claim with any degree of
certainty that the workmen’s graffiti was forged by Howard
Vyse. It is purely a theory, as indeed are most assertions within
the field of Egyptology. In the absence of a radiocarbon dating
of the ‘red ochre’ paint which was used, and without
access to Howard Vyse’s original diaries, proof of the
forgery theory lies beyond our grasp. In the meantime, we can
only speculate about the authenticity of the workmen’s
graffiti, based on what we know about them and, more importantly,
on what we know about the context in which they are found. And
it is this context, in my opinion, which points to a pre-4th
dynasty provenance of the Great Pyramid and most of the other
structures on the Giza plateau.
the following evidence which I cite in my book.
a detailed study of the highly-weathered limestone rock of the
Sphinx and the enclosure in which it sits, Robert Schoch, a geologist
from Boston University, has concluded that the monument was exposed
to prolonged heavy rainfall, and he has therefore dated its construction
to around 7000–5000 BC. I will not regurgitate the whole
argument here, but in my opinion Egyptologists have not satisfactorily
rebutted Schoch’s premise. Moreover, as noted earlier,
a redating of the Sphinx threatens to redate most of the other
structures on the Giza plateau.
addition, it should be noted that the Inventory Stele (26th dynasty)
informs us that Khufu repaired the headdress of the Sphinx after
it had been damaged by lightning. If this is true (and there
is no particular reason to doubt it), this would negate the theory
that Khufu’s son Khafre built the Sphinx, and it would
throw up serious questions about the orthodox dating of the rest
of the Giza site. Moreover, the Inventory Stele fails to make
any claim that Khufu built the Sphinx or the Great Pyramid, and
these surprising omissions offer considerable support to my adoption
my view, the evidence from geology and the Inventory Stele, together,
make a compelling case for an older Sphinx.
date the 4th dynasty kings Khufu and Khafre to the period 2500-2400
BC. However, the 1983-84 ‘Pyramids Carbon-dating Project’,
commissioned and funded by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, and directed
by the Egyptologists Mark Lehner and Robert Wenke, discovered
some highly anomalous results.
example, thirteen samples of mortar from the Great Pyramid produced
dates in the range 3101-2853 BC, and an average date of 2977
BC. Similarly, seven samples of mortar from the Second Pyramid
produced an average date of 2988 BC. Equally intriguing, a sample
of wood from ‘Khufu’s Boat’, buried alongside
the Great Pyramid, produced a remarkable date of 3400 BC.
was the confusion caused by the 1983-84 ‘Pyramids Carbon-dating
Project’ that a second, more thorough study was carried
out in 1995. The results of this study were published (belatedly)
in 2001 in the journal ‘Radiocarbon’, volume 43,
number 3, pp. 1297-1320. I will comment upon this report in due
course when I have had time to consider its contents. In the
meantime, copies can be purchased here.
Inventory Stele, mentioned earlier, was supposedly written by
the priests of the cult of Khufu during the 26th dynasty to praise
the deeds of the ancient king. However, it makes no claim whatsoever
that Khufu built the Great Pyramid. A very strange omission indeed
if Khufu really did build the Pyramid.
4th dynasty inscriptions found at Giza confirm that Khufu was
building the mastaba fields for his high officials to the west
of the Great Pyramid in ‘year 5’ of his reign. Is
it really likely that Khufu, having initiated the largest, most
complex and innovative pyramid-building project in Egyptian history,
would have allowed any work to be carried out in building mastabas?
Can we seriously believe that Khufu would have put his great
venture at risk by diverting resources to the building of such
mastabas in the fifth year of his reign, bearing in mind that
he did not know whether he would live long enough to see the
completion of his pyramid? The idea is ludicrous. The inscriptions
only make sense if the Great Pyramid was already built before
the time of Khufu. (As far as I know, I am the first person to
have highlighted this anomaly; my thanks to Mark Lehner for mentioning
it in his book ‘The Complete Pyramids’.)
The Alignment between Giza and Dahshur
chapter two of ‘The Phoenix Solution’, I pointed
out a relationship between the Giza and Dahshur pyramids that
no-one had ever noticed before. In a nutshell, it involves an
alignment between the twin pyramids built by Sneferu at Dahshur
and the two giant pyramids at Giza. Amazingly, the alignment
is such that Sneferu’s pyramids must have
been oriented towards two pre-existing pyramids
at Giza (this fact is apparent to any intelligent person who
knows the topographical constraints of the Giza and Dahshur sites
and who is able to study the alignment free from bias and preconceptions;
interested parties are referred to figure 4 in the book).
Since Sneferu was the father of Khufu, this fact alone precludes any possibility
that Khufu built the Great Pyramid at Giza.
I argue at great length in ‘The Phoenix Solution’,
the Great Pyramid does not fit in to the standard evolutionary
model of pyramid-building. In particular, its builders used an
innovative design and several revolutionary technologies which
immediately thereafter disappeared from the archaeological record.
When studied in its essential archaeological context, the Great
Pyramid simply does not belong in the mooted sequence of 4th
Refurbishment of Khafre’s Valley Temple at Giza
has been pointed out by Robert Schoch and others, there is clear
evidence that the granite casing blocks of Khafre’s Valley
Temple were fitted to limestone blocks which were already severely
weathered. Since the granite blocks are dated to the 4th dynasty,
the inner limestone core, i.e. the original temple, must date
to long before the 4th dynasty.
the Valley Temple dates to long before the 4th dynasty, then
it becomes a virtual certainty that the other megalithic temples
at Giza, which are attributed to Khufu and Khafre, were also
built long before the 4th dynasty (it may be significant that
some of the limestone blocks were excavated from the Sphinx enclosure,
making the temples contemporary with the carving of the Sphinx).
Of course, no-one would build temples in front of non-existent
pyramids. QED, the two giant pyramids, by the same token, must
date to long before the 4th dynasty.
things considered, I suggest that there were two phases to the
pre-dynastic construction at Giza: firstly the Great Pyramid;
and secondly the Second Pyramid, Sphinx, and megalithic temples.
(This sequencing reflecting the superior build quality of the
Great Pyramid.) These construction phases would probably date
to the 6th-4th millennia BC.
it is possible that a major renovation of the Great Pyramid and
Second Pyramid was undertaken by the 1st pharaonic dynasty, this
accounting for the radiocarbon dates of c. 3000 BC.
in the 4th dynasty, the two giant Pyramids at Giza were adopted
by Khufu and Khafre, who added the huge causeways which ran between
the mortuary and valley temples. Perhaps at this time the third,
smaller pyramid of Giza was built by Menkaure to create a symbolic
link to the three belt stars of Orion.
is a corollary of my theory that the workmen’s graffiti
inside the Great Pyramid cannot be what they seem, i.e. they
cannot constitute proof that the 4th dynasty king Khufu built
the Pyramid. A possible explanation for the workmen’s graffiti
is that it was forged by Colonel Howard Vyse in 1837 (he certainly
had the motive, opportunity and means to commit such an act).
Another possibility, however, which might yet become the stronger
contender, dependent on future discoveries, is that the divine
names in the graffiti refer to pre-dynastic gods and an earlier,
pre-dynastic king Khufu.
was not my aim in ‘The Phoenix Solution’ (1998) to
offer conclusive proof of the provenance of the workmen’s
graffiti. My main focus in that book was to research the meaning
of the Egyptian religion; and that, by and large, has been my
focus ever since. At the present time (2003), I am not actively
engaged in debate over the age of the Great Pyramid, and I find
the dogmatism and passion of my opponents rather nauseating.
I do not share their enthusiasm for this subject; I have no axe
to grind about the age of the Great Pyramid, and I have better
things to do with my time than argue the toss about evidence
which, for the most part, can be interpreted one way or another,
depending on one’s preconceptions. Nevertheless, I do have
a passing interest in seeing new evidence brought to light pertaining
to the Great Pyramid’s age, and thus in respect of the
workmen’s graffiti I urge open-minded Egyptologists to
pursue two pertinent lines of enquiry:
Find Howard Vyse’s Original Diaries
I was writing ‘The Phoenix Solution’ in 1998, the
British researcher Martin Stower informed me that the original
journals of Howard Vyse’s 1835/37 expedition to Egypt could
not be located. These journals, if they could be found, would
shed light on the circumstances surrounding Howard Vyse’s ‘discoveries’ inside
the Great Pyramid, including the all-important graffiti containing
Khufu’s names. A little while later in 1998, Martin Stower,
in a fit of pique, announced that the Howard Vyse journals had been
found. Since then, however, nothing has been heard on this matter,
and it would seem that Stower’s claim should be taken with
a large pinch of salt. My challenge to Egyptologists is this.
Find the Howard Vyse diaries and show them to me. If I cannot
find at least three incriminating statements in those diaries,
I will drop my argument that the workmen’s graffiti was
Radiocarbon Date the Paint of the Khufu Inscription
Phoenix Solution’, I noted that the red ochre paint which
was used in ancient Egypt contained an organic binder, which
would allow painted inscriptions to be radiocarbon dated. In
chapter 14 of my book I wrote: ‘in the event that the painted
marks ‘discovered’ by Howard Vyse above the King’s
Chamber are ever radiocarbon dated, I confidently predict that
their age will be nearer to the time of Howard Vyse than to the
time of Khufu.’ My challenge to Egyptologists is this.
Take a sample of red ochre paint scratchings from the various
inscriptions in the Great Pyramid’s relieving chambers
and from other 4th dynasty sites in Egypt and radiocarbon date
those paint samples. If the paint used in Khufu’s names
is contemporary with that used in other 4th dynasty sites, you
win. If the paint is younger than that used in other 4th dynasty
sites, I win. If, on the other hand, the paint is significantly
older than that used in other 4th dynasty sites, then we jointly
investigate the idea that the inscriptions commemorate an earlier
the Pyramids by Stellar Alignments
A number of studies have attempted to shed light on the Great Pyramids
date of construction by examining possible alignments to stars. Whilst I do
keep an open mind about such methods, I find myself entirely sceptical about
two such studies which have been published in recent years: firstly, Robert
Bauvals theory that the Great Pyramids shafts were aligned on certain
stars, e.g. Sirius and Al Nitak in Orion; and secondly, Kate Spences
theory that the Egyptians used the circumpolar stars Kochab and Mizar for the
alignment of all their pyramids to true north. Both of these theories,
it should be noted, support the orthodox theory that the Great Pyramid was
built by Khufu c. 2450 BC.
On Robert Bauvals Star-Shaft Datings
The Great Pyramid contains four tiny shafts, which lead upwards and outwards,
northwards and southwards respectively, from the Great Pyramids so-called
Kings and Queens Chambers. For many years it was assumed that these
shafts were for ventilation purposes, but there have always been Egyptologists
who have argued for a ritual or symbolic function. Two such scholars were Alexander
Badawy and Virginia Trimble, who put forward a theory in the 1960s that the
shafts were aligned to certain stars, with one of them being targeted towards
In 1993, Robert Bauval took Badawy and Trimbles theory a step further,
using new data for the shafts slopes, as measured by Rudolf Gantenbrinks
robot. His findings were as follows:
(Alpha Canis Major)
Nitak (Zeta Orionis)
concluded from this data that the Great Pyramid had been built
c. 2450 BC an average of the three dates shown above.
He and Graham Hancock would later suggest that the Giza ground
plan had been fixed in 10450 BC, but completed in 2450 BC, in
their own words an enormously long-drawn-out period.
A close examination of the Stellar Shaft Theory, however, raises
a whole host of questions, which Egyptologists have been slow to ask.
For one thing, the very idea of the Great Pyramids shafts targeting certain
stars seems to be highly dubious. For instance, the reason we do not have a bearing
for the northern shaft of the Queens Chamber is that Gantenbrinks
robot was obstructed by a piece of wood on the floor of the shaft. And the reason
for this blockage was that the shaft made a sharp kink away from
its northerly path. Why, might we ask, would this be so, if the shaft was being
targeted on a star?
Similarly, we now know that the other shaft in the Queens Chamber is blocked
at its top end by a slab of stone buried deep inside the core of the pyramid.
If it was so important to align the shafts with certain stars, why was this shaft
blocked in mid-construction?
It gets worse. Both of the Queens Chamber shafts were supposedly sealed
at their lower ends when they were discovered in 1872. How could anyone use a
sealed shaft to align a star? There is another problem too. The southern shaft
of the Queens Chamber penetrates 2 metres deep horizontally into the wall
of the chamber before turning upwards towards the stars (or rather towards
the stone slab). Similarly, its northern counterpart penetrates 2 metres horizontally
before turning upwards. Meanwhile, upstairs in the Kings Chamber, the southern
shaft and northern shafts extend horizontally by 1.8 metres and 2.8 metres respectively
before turning upwards. The latter shaft also contains a number of sharp bends
which make stellar alignments an unlikely proposition.
If only one of the four shafts could not have practically been aligned to the
stars, it would throw doubt on the role of the other three; as it is, there are
significant practical doubts concerning all four. (I am pleased to say that,
on this point, I have the support of Rudolf Gantenbrink.)
Moreover, Bauvals theory of the shafts conveying the pharaohs soul
(ba) to the afterlife (an idea shared by many Egyptologists) is highly
questionable, for there was a continuous belief throughout Egyptian history that
the soul could pass through solid doors and walls; therefore, it had no need
of such a complex construction as the Great Pyramids shafts. Furthermore,
it must be pointed out that the shafts of the Great Pyramid are unique, and are
not found in later pyramids such as those of the 5th and 6th Dynasties in which
the Pyramid Texts were inscribed.
In my view, Bauval and Hancock have lost their objectivity concerning the Great
Pyramids shafts as a direct consequence of their obsession with the Orion
theory, which was sparked, in the first instance, by the layout of the three
major pyramids on the Giza plateau. This is a classic example of a good idea
taken too far. Yes, the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure were laid out
in an image of the three stars of Orions Belt. Why dispute this excellent
idea? It is not necessary, however, to rope the Great Pyramids shafts into
the Orion theory and indeed, by proposing alignments at 2450 BC, Bauval and Hancock
have simply lent strength to the orthodox theory that the Great Pyramid was built
by the 4th dynasty king Khufu. Worse still, this stance has, in turn, led Hancock
to abandon his scepticism about the Pyramids rather dubious quarry
marks (apparently naming Khufu as the builder), as if this were just a
meaningless pawn in a game of making friends with the Egyptologists.
What a tangled web we weave!
On Kate Spences Dating of Pyramids by Stellar Alignments
The following is a statement which I issued on 24th April 2001.
16th November 2000, an interesting article on the dating of Egyptian
pyramids was published by Nature magazine.(1) In this article, Egyptologist
Kate Spence argued that the Egyptians had identified true north,
for the purpose of alignment of their pyramids, by using the polar
alignment of two northern circumpolar stars, Kochab and Mizar. When
a plumb line was set against the vertical alignment of these two
stars approximately 4,500 years ago, it identified the exact point
on the horizon which signified true north. The Egyptians could then
knock a stake in the ground, in the distance, allowing them to mark
out the pyramids axis with reasonable accuracy. In support
of her theory, Spence demonstrated that the accuracy of certain pyramids alignments
to true north had deteriorated progressively over time in exact accordance
with the drifting positions of the two stars owing to the precession
of the equinoxes.
This theory caught my attention owing to its potential ramifications for the
dating of the Giza pyramids. In her thesis, Kate Spence included the Great Pyramid
in her trend line, and thus suggested that it had been built in 2478 BC. This
would, of course, support a construction by the 4th dynasty king Khufu, and go
against my own theory argued in my book The Phoenix Solution that
the Great Pyramid had been built centuries earlier by a predynastic culture,
and was merely adopted by Khufu.
There is, however, a fly in Kate Spences ointment as far as the Great Pyramid
is concerned, and that fly is the Second Pyramid of Giza which is generally attributed
to Khufus son Khafre. In her all important diagram of alignment deviations
(her Figure 1a), the Second Pyramid of Giza stands quite apart from the trend
line, as if its alignment to true north had been determined by a different method.
Kate Spence has a clever solution to this discrepancy. She supposes that Khafre
missed the normal date for the orientation ceremony of his pyramid, and took
the alignment against Kochab and Mizar six months later, when the stars had realigned
in an inverted position. But this solution has the hallmarks of a convenient
fudge, and Spence has, in fact, overlooked another intriguing possibility.
Spences Figure 1a, it can be argued, does not show one trend line but two.
The first applies to the non-Giza pyramids, whilst the second applies to the
Giza pyramids. While the first trend line exhibits a progressive deterioration
in accuracy of alignment to true north, the second trend line (for the Great
Pyramid and Second Pyramid of Giza) exhibits a consistent accuracy of alignment
which is extremely impressive (just 3 and 6 arc minutes from true north respectively).
This means that the two giant pyramids at Giza do not necessarily belong to the
chronological pattern which Spence has identified (based on the polar alignment
of Kochab and Mizar during the mid-3rd millennium BC). Rather, the two giant
pyramids at Giza seem to have been aligned by some completely different method.
Which hints, I might add, at their construction by a different, earlier culture.
On 22nd November 2000, I wrote to Kate Spence and highlighted the fact that the
two giant Giza pyramids had not only the most accurate orientations to true north
per se, but also an astonishing consistency of accurate alignment across both
their western and eastern sides (as per her Figure 1). I am surprised,
I wrote, that you did not comment on this, and highlighted her comment
on page 321 (second paragraph) that the builders of the non-Giza pyramids had
apparently experienced tremendous difficulty in making right angles!!! Why I
asked her, did this problem not beset the builders of the Great
and Second Pyramids? In her response, dated 25th November, Spence wrote: Nature
have very strict length limits. My original 16,000 words ended up as 3,000. It
was not possible to discuss everything but I am hoping to produce a longer version. Apparently,
she did not wish to answer my question.
I also asked Kate Spence whether it was possible that the builders of the two
giant Giza pyramids had used a method of alignment to true north that was completely
different from the method she had suggested. Spence didnt like the idea,
but she admitted it was possible. However, she said, You would
have to explain why they chose to change and use a different method at this time
and why they then abandoned it.
Here, then, is my explanation. The change in pyramid alignment method
by the 4th dynasty, to which Spence refers in her challenge, is entirely illusory.
The Great Pyramid and the Second Pyramid of Giza do not date to the 4th dynasty.
They were built centuries earlier by a predynastic culture, and were merely adopted by
the 4th dynasty kings Khufu and Khafre. This would explain not only the more
accurate alignments of these two Giza pyramids, but also their marked difference
in build quality and design (the latter particularly the case in the Great Pyramid).
In summary, Spences theory is a good one, but nothing in Egyptology is
ever as simple as it first appears, and the giant pyramids of Giza remain misfits
in their grand scheme of things. Meanwhile, my adopted pyramids hypothesis continues
to be a worthy rival to the orthodox pyramids chronology - for more details on
it, see my 1998 book The Phoenix Solution.
Reference (1) Nature 408:6810, pp. 320-24; 16th November 2000; the full text
of this article is available online at http://www.nature.com/nature/fow/001116.html
the U-turns of Certain Researchers concerning the Howard Vyse Quarry
The following is a statement which I issued in March 2000.
During the closing years of the 20th century, Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock
and John Anthony West negotiated a peace treaty with the Egyptologists who hold
sway at Giza (Zawi Hawass, Mark Lehner et al). As part of this rapprochement,
Dr Hawass gave personal tours of the Great Pyramid to Robert Bauval,
Graham Hancock, John Anthony West and, in some cases, to their wives too. These
personal tours notably included the so-called relieving chambers above
the King's Chamber an area which is usually off limits even to card carrying
Egyptologists. Dr Hawass went to a great deal of trouble to erect the necessary
ladders and lighting to enable Hancock and West to personally inspect the graffiti in
these chambers, i.e. the quarry marks which contain Khufu's names
(these represent the only prima facie evidence that king Khufu actually built
the Great Pyramid as opposed to adopting a pre-existent Pyramid).
At this point something quite remarkable happened. Hancock and West emerged from
the relieving chambers to declare themselves converts to the establishment dogma.
They claimed to have seen some masons marks set deep in the joints between
the stones and, as far-fetched as it might seem, Hancock and West both asserted
that these obscure and inaccessible marks were sufficient to sway them from their
previously firmly-held beliefs that the inscriptions of Khufus name had
There is something not quite right here. What could Hancock and West possibly
have seen in the relieving chambers which was so persuasive? If it was (as is
claimed) certain masons marks which appear in the joints between the stones,
then it must be emphasised that no photographs or transcripts of these masons marks
have ever been produced (as at September 2001: there is still nothing published).
In the absence of photos or transcripts it is only reasonable to presume that
the marks are very indistinct, as indeed we would expect when they are between
the stones of an intact structure. In which case, what possible use can these
marks be, what can they possibly tell us about the Pyramid, and why have they
had such a profound effect on the thinking of Hancock and West?
As I see it, the masons marks appear (allegedly) in the joints between
the stones and this can prove absolutely nothing about the Khufu cartouches
which appear on the face of the stones. If we wish to eliminate the Howard
Vyse forgery scenario, we must first compare the two sets of marks in respect
of their styles of writing and also in respect of the compositions and age of
their red ochre paint.
In summary, I find it incredible that Hancock and West have been converted so
easily on this issue and I know that many of my readers agree with me. It beggars
belief to think that Hancock and West could have been so simple minded on this
point (hence the widespread rumour that these researchers have done a deal with
the Egyptologists at Giza). On the other hand, it could just be that Hancock
and West are victims of their own set of false preconceptions, including the
crazy idea that Orion is the magical key to all of the mysteries of the Pyramids.