GIZA: THE (HALF) TRUTH
Use these to navigate to the parts that follow;
Giza: The (Half) TruthPart II
Giza: The (Half) TruthPart III
Giza: The (Half) TruthPart IV
Giza:The (Half) Truth I & II began as a series of private exchanges between Chris Ogilvie-Herald and his-co-author Ian Lawton, authors of the book of (almost) that name, and myself and Robert Schoch. This quickly escalated in both heat and number of participants. At a certain point I realized that the entire exchange, effectively unedited (long-winded though it may be) could be of value for those sufficiently interested in the procedure of establishing a new paradigm. Here is the detailed, inside, day-to-day, blow-by-blow insight into Life on the Academic Babblefield. If we are right, and ancient history has to be totally rewritten, those of you who bother to follow this will get a good idea of what ALWAYS attends the establishment of anything new in science and scholarship.
The victors will write the story in word-bytes (Galileo good; Church bad) but it's never, ever that simple. In and of itself, the exchanges should go a long way toward disabusing ANYONE of the delusion that science and scholarship are rational pursuits with Truth as the objective -- this pertains particularly to those who call themselves rational and who talk most about 'critical thinking', 'detailed analysis' and especially THE TRUTH.
Eventually I will get around to writing my book about the entire long quest, and much else besides. But space will forbid devoting more than a couple of pages to this present skirmish. Yet, at least as well as any other it underscores, (for those with patience to wade through it all) the nitty-gritty of the process in action. Bismarck once said that 'laws are like sausages. You should not watch them being made'. Good line. Equally applicable to science and scholarship, but in this case, for the reasons detailed above, I think it's useful to watch them being made, as long as it doesn't put you off them for life. So I must thank Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton for inadvertently goading me into this little exercise. It's refreshing to be able to thank them for something. Giza: The (Half ) Truth I & II will shortly be followed by Part III and that will be followed by further updates as the ongoing controversy dictates.
Read on, gentle (and I hope patient!) reader.
Happy New Millennium All !
Schoch and myself have been invited to provide a rebuttal of their rebuttal. The rest of what follows is, I like to think, more or less self-explanatory. In any event, here it is.
In the event that what you read makes you want to run out to buy this volume to see for yourself, I applaud your sense of objectivity, but nonetheless suggest you wait a few months - until the paperback is out and duly remaindered at which point you can pick it up cheap, without supporting these authors' efforts.
John Anthony West
12/13/99 From Chris Ogilvie, co-author, with Ian Lawton, of GIZA: THE (HALF) TRUTH:
Ian and I are in the process of updating our book for the paperback edition, which will be published in April 2000. Although the deadline for revisions to the main chapters has now passed we have until January 14 to update the Epilogue. If either you or Robert Schoch have any comments on, or disagree with, the issues that we have raised regarding the age of the Sphinx debate then we would be happy to present those comments in the Epilogue.
I am currently building a web site where I would like to present the arguments for or against the various theories such as the Orion correlation and the age of the Sphinx. Ian has recently been having some constructive debate with Robert Bauval re the Orion theory and also with Christopher Dunn regarding 'ancient machine technology'. This correspondence has taken place on two separate web sites,The Daily Grail and the Atlantis Rising forum. We both believe these and other issues would be better presented on dedicated pages within one web site. My question is; would either you or Robert Schoch be willing to contribute once I have the site up and running?
In the meantime I hope you are well and look forward to hearing from you soon.
12/14/99 JAW to Ogilvie
In a message dated 12/15/99 6:41:58 PM Eastern Standard Time, Chris Ogilvie writes: "If either you or Robert Schoch have any comments on, or disagree with, the issues that we have raised regarding the age of the Sphinx debate then we would be happy to present those comments in the Epilogue."
You will be unsurprised to learn that we find little merit in the arguments you raise re: the redating of the Sphinx.
It's a pity your stingy publishers couldn't see their way to a review copy for Schoch. This is what review copies are for. I have just sent Schoch my copy of your book and we will discuss the value of publishing a joint response once he reads the relevant passages.. I appreciate the opportunity.
If we choose to respond, is there a word limit? And can I have from you in writing a promise to publish whatever we may write intact and unedited?
Below, I append a bit of a comment from one of my correspondents (never met the fellow) which might interest you. I suspect it reflects what any intelligent reader, with some knowledge of the controversy, would conclude.
"Just read "Giza: The Truth". I presume you have. What did you think? I found their "analysis" to be quite biased, and self-righteous. It bothered me that they would scrutinize certain evidence scientifically, then later, for example with Domingo's evidence, they take the "non-forensic" point of view to come to a conclusion. A bit of a double standard, I should think. I can't help but imagine that they are guilty of looking at evidence and examining it to fit their pre-formed opinion..."
In a message Chris Ogilvie writes: "This correspondence has taken place on two separate web sites, 'The Daily Grail' and the 'Atlantis Rising' forum. We both believe these and other issues would be better presented on dedicated pages within one web site. My question is; would either you or Robert Schoch be willing to contribute once I have the site up and running?"
Unlikely (on my part) but I wouldn't close the door a priori. I cc'd Schoch your email. He can respond as he sees fit.
John Anthony West
12/15/99 From Chris Ogilvie to John Anthony West
There undoubtedly will be a word limit as the Epilogue is only some eleven pages in length. We are devoting most of those pages to events that have transpired since the publication of the hardcover. So on reflection I doubt if a page, or perhaps two, would be sufficient space for a joint response. But then again I did originally make the offer some two months ago and did not receive a reply.
I am sure there are many intelligent readers that do have comments regarding our book. One of which is Colin Reader who viewed our book in a very positive light. I understand from him that he sent Schoch and yourself a copy of his paper. Therefore, I think you would agree that he does have a great deal of 'knowledge of the controversy' and that the value of his comments rate somewhat higher than those of a fellow you had never met.
I will be speaking to Ian at the weekend and discuss with him how much space we can give should you both choose to respond.
12/16/99 From Ian Lawton to John Anthony West, etc.
Just a quick note to let you know that I have now developed the "Giza: The Truth" Discussion Site, which can be found at the following URL:
It contains various correspondences I have had with fellow researchers regarding some of the theories discussed in the book. For example:
There are currently two "debates" in progress, one on "Advanced Machining" with Chris Dunn, and the other on the "Orion Correlation" with Robert Bauval.
There is an initial posting from Chris and I dealing with the possibility of "Sonic Levitation" in the raising of the huge monoliths used in the construction of the main temples on the Plateau, which I hope will generate a new debate in this important area.
I am hoping that in due course I will be able to post some responses to our support of the orthodox position regarding the "Age of the Sphinx" and the "Age of the Pyramids", subject to the relevant researchers joining the fray.
This is a free site, the aim of which is to allow serious researchers and more discerning members of the public to have access to considered and respectful interactive debates as they develop in relation to these highly publicised issues. A such I hope it will provide a valuable addition to the "free for all" of live debates, and to the uncontrolled environment of open discussion forums.
Those of you who run a web site of your own might like to provide a link to it, or you might know someone else who would. Alternatively you might just want to take a look every now and then to see if you find it valuable.
Thanks for your time
From Lawton to John Anthony West
Perhaps I could just add a little to the response Chris sent to your last email.
JAW said "You will be unsurprised to learn that we find little merit in the arguments you raise re: the redating of the Sphinx."
No, I'm not surprised!
JAW said,"It's a pity your stingy publishers couldn't see their way to a review copy for Schoch. This is what review copies are for. I have just sent Schoch my copy of your book and we will discuss the value of publishing a joint response once he reads the relevant passages.. I appreciate the opportunity."
Many apologies - you are right, they were pretty stingy (for what it's worth that goes for our advance too!).
JAW said, "If we choose to respond, is there a word limit? And can I have from you in writing a promise to publish whatever we may write intact and unedited?"
There are really two issues here. As Chris has already indicated, we do not have a great deal of space for the paperback update (thanks to me being long-winded it is already rather too long). However, you will know from Chris' previous e-mail and from my own more general e-mail which I have recently sent to yourself and Robert, that I have now set up a web site which incorporates discussions with, for example, Chris Dunn and Robert Bauval. Although we are in basic opposition to the theories of both of these two, I feel it is important that all of us can discuss our differences and amend the details of our position, even if not our eventual conclusions (although I do not feel this should be ruled out on either side), as we see fit and as the discussions unfold. Therefore, for example, Robert has convinced me that the use of Skyglobe for the measuring of the angles of the belt stars at 10,500 BC is inappropriate, and I shall note this important point accordingly in the update even though I cannot incorporate the entirety of our correspondence. However that will also be available unedited on the web site for people to judge for themselves whether or not I have been fair in my "editing" for the book.
I hope this might allay any fears you have about the value of responding to us.
JAW said, "Below, I append a bit of a comment from one of my correspondents (never met the fellow) which might interest you. I suspect it reflects what any intelligent reader, with some knowledge of the controversy, would conclude. [etc. see above]"
Just a quick word on this if I may. You may recall that you and I corresponded by e-mail a few times in the middle of last year, during which time I made it quite clear that at that time I supported yours and Robert's attempts to redate the Sphinx. However I had not then researched the issue properly for myself, and nor had Chris. When we did do this for the book we found our conclusions changing until they reached the stage you see them in the book. I think it is therefore undeniable that we did not come from a preconceived position. However, for what it is worth, I have had a lengthy debate since with Colin Reader (whose paper I believe has been sent to you both), and am probably more open-minded about the age of the Sphinx and Valley Temples now than I was when we wrote the book (although he does not attempt to take the dating back as far as either of you). He has not convinced me fully yet, but I will certainly be covering his theories in the update. This is of course what constructive and civil debate can achieve.
One final word. I would love for you to be right about the age of the Sphinx, and indeed am still open-minded about the possibility of previous highly advanced civilizations. But I made a promise to myself at the outset that I would report what I found in each area of study as a result of my own research, rather than what I would like to find to fit into a preconceived plan. I hope you can at least respect this standpoint.
With best regards and seasons greetings
JAW to Lawton
This discussion is already much longer than I want it to be.
Ian Lawton said, "I would love for you to be right about the age of the Sphinx, and indeed am still open-minded about the possibility of previous highly advanced civilizations."
We ARE right about the age of the Sphinx. The argument is very, very, very simple. Nothing explains the weathering to the enclosure wall, drastically more deeply weathered on its western end than its eastern end, EXCEPT rain, lots and lots of rain, over long periods of time. Until that can be explained within the context of dynastic Egypt, (and it cannot be) the theory stands intact; full stop...
Colin Reader is, as Chris notes, 'knowledgeable'. So is Lehner, and so are Gauri, Harrell, Zahi and El-Baz. All are in sharp disagreement with each other. Their rebuttals are mutually exclusive, and all are dead, demonstrably, and quite comically wrong. You both have selected the bits and pieces you liked (from each of these untenable and mutually exclusive arguments) that seem to discount individual elements within the theory to support your own position. If this is not consciously preconceived on your part, it was in Chris's case perhaps, let us say, subliminally preconceived. Good soldier that he was for all those years, long training has made it impossible for him to do anything other than carry out orders without question and to defend the faith, whatever that may be.
A simple phone call discussing your mutual growing 'misgivings' about the weathering would have resolved it long ago. Chris was picking my brain mercilessly (sometimes even on my nickel, if I recall correctly!) as he was researching your book, but stopped (evidently) when he found what he wanted.
If you had not been able to fudge away the weathering argument to your own satisfaction, you would, in fact, have been obliged to support the entire 'lost civilization' hypothesis -- even if bits and pieces of it (e.g.: the astronomical argument) did not seem to fit in as neatly as originally thought. In that case, you would not have had much of a book to write. Sorry, that's what it looks like to me -- and will look like in due course to anyone following the progress of the theory from inception to general acceptance in the not so distant future.
I still do not yet have from you or Chris an agreement to publish a response from Schoch and myself, at whatever length you may allot us, complete and unedited, and I'd appreciate that courtesy before taking this any further.
I am disinclined to enter your chatroom online discussion and take up my time to provide you with lively free copy to promote your book. If it proves necessary, I much prefer to deal with your arguments, such as they are, in my own way, on my own site or book, and in my own good time. But I thank you nevertheless for the invitation.
By the way, I much enjoyed your forward re: Mustapha Kunt, though I did not need to be forewarned of its inherent humor. I'd have figured that out for myself. I also appreciate your modesty regarding your own level of amateur literary professionalism. I make no such modest claims for myself.
John Anthony West
Robert Bauval to Ian Lawton & Chris Ogilvie-Herald
Dear Ian and Chris,
As I have said earlier in one of my postings on The Daily Grail, I have no intention of fueling what is a blatant attempt to hype commercial ventures disguised as 'debate'. I have, as a matter of fact, my new website coming up soon for precisely this purpose and I also think that The Daily Grail and The Noise Room provide sufficient forum for these issues.
I think I'll have to be blunt with you. The more I see your eagerness to draw everyone in an open 'debate', the more I sense the green eyed monster lurking behind the curtain. I confess that my general view of your book GIZA THE TRUTH is that it really brings nothing new to consider other than what is an obvious attempt to create hype with a hodgepodge of amateurish scholarship and self-righteousness. Your one-sided line of investigation is too obvious for words. For example, I have previously pointed out to you that had you bothered to verify Gantenbrink's accusation regarding my involvement with his discovery, you would have been obliged to present the story in a quite different light. I am also appalled that you quoted from personal e-mails I sent to Ralph Ellis during the Appleby saga in order to drive you distorted opinion that I have what you deem to be a sort of very twisted and profiteering attitude towards the new millennium. Apart from breaching copyright and confidentiality, you placed my e-mail totally out of context at the end of your book.
Shame on you in trying to pass this off as 'research' and unbiased presentation. I simply do not trust you on such matters. Having given careful thought to your 'discussion site', I see it as nothing more than another attempt to create hype for sales for yourself and your publishers. I thus withdraw my support to your Website and your paperback edition, and ask you to refrain from using any of my material forthwith. As surprising as this may seem, I do not consider you worthy to orchestrate this debate, and would rather deal with you in my own way and my own time.
Robert G. Bauval
The band plays on...
First, An exchange between Robert Bauval and Ian Lawton, then one between Ogilvie-Herald and myself. After that, a post from me to Schoch and from Schoch to me.
In an e-mail from Ian Lawton to Robert Bauval
It's nice to see that you have not lost your infamous capacity for dramatic u-turns, although the timing and reasoning behind this one are not immediately obvious.
Robert Bauval said, "As I have said earlier in one of my postings on The Daily Grail, I have no intention of fueling what is a blatant attempt to hype commercial ventures disguised as 'debate'. I have, as a matter of fact, my new website coming up soon for precisely this purpose."
Sorry, Robert, does that mean that your web site will in fact be a "blatant attempt to hype commercial ventures disguised (sic) as 'debate'"?
Robert Bauval said, "and I also think that the Daily Grail and the Noise Room provide sufficient forum for these issues."
I couldn't agree more - all I am trying to do in addition is provide a location in which ALL the various debates I am currently having can be accessed in one place. You are not the only person I am corresponding with - for example my discussions with Chris Dunn originally commenced on an obscure thread of theAtlantis Rising forum, but he and I then agreed to place them on our own web sites. I was not suggesting that we continue our particular debate in any other way than we have started it - on The Daily Grail - merely that I include this material unedited on my own site as well. You clearly had absolutely no problem with this before, judging by your constructive e-mail to me of the 15th Dec - so why the sudden change of tack? Is it because I included some positive reviews of our book on the site - if so I have already agreed in discussion with Chris to move them to a separate page, even though I hardly think the overall tenor of the main page is blatant commercialism, and certainly contains nothing that you or any other authors with their own web site would not place therein. Or is it, and let me be blunt with you now, because you cannot refute the two major pieces of evidence which I use in my rebuttal - the ones you have consistently avoided about the relative sizes of Mintaka and the Third Pyramid, and the extensive replanning of the Second and Third Pyramids?
Robert Bauval said, "Having given careful thought to your 'discussion site', I see it as nothing more than another attempt to create hype for sales for yourself and your publishers."
Robert, I can assure you that we are quite satisfied with our sales to the knowledgeable "internet audience" already. "Giza: The Truth" has spent many weeks now in the top 10 of Amazon UK's non-fiction list, without the help of a web site. You have every right to question our motives ad nauseam, but at the end of the day you will not entice Chris or I into a slanging match. We will let our work speak for itself on that score. However we will reserve the right wherever we see fit to point out that, having been happy to engage in constructive debate for a short while, you have now seen fit to revert to attacking the messenger when you cannot successfully attack the message.
Robert Bauval said, "I thus withdraw my support to your Website and your paperback edition, and ask you to refrain from using any of my material forthwith. As surprising as this may seem, I do not consider you worthy to orchestrate this debate, and would rather deal with you in my own way and my own time."
Are you suggesting that I should now remove your previous correspondence from my site, having given such obvious agreement earlier? Do you not think this would look somewhat strange to people? As it is, you have already placed me in the awkward position whereby if you refuse to carry on the debate in the same spirit as before I will have to post something on my site explaining that you suddenly pulled out having resolutely avoided my two main arguments, and let people draw their own conclusions.
The ball is in your court.
Best wishes as ever
In an e-mail from Robert Bauval to Ian Lawton
You are welcome to leave the already published material on your Website copyrighted to me. I will , however, contribute no further. You are welcome to think what you please about my decision, but I assure you it has nothing to do with avoiding the 'message' (which is pretty weak, quite honestly, as I shall prove in due course). You can, however, announce, if you wish, that I am planning a new edition of The Orion Mystery --which will be known as The Orion Mystery Revisited. I also intend to publish articles in recognized journals and periodicals. These are the legitimate routes to deal with this matter and to take into account all worthy criticism and flaws in a proper and orderly way --and not in this Internet boudoir style which you nice chaps call a 'discussion site'. Meanwhile, quite frankly, I'm getting pretty bored with your tit-for-tat dialogue. So proceed without me please.
Chris Ogilvie writes: John Anthony West. Ogilvie's post is included in full, with my responses to its various issues. JAW.
Chris Ogilvie: "Are you suggesting that without having read your response we make a promise to include it in our paperback edition - whatever it may say?"
JAW: Of course. If I critiqued your work in a book of my own, and you were dissatisfied with my presentation, I would be delighted to print your response unedited and unread. Though admittedly I would not be at risk through such an offer. Given your proven writing and scholarship skills, you could only dig yourselves in deeper. And I would have the last word anyway, since it would be my book. No? In any case, the latter also applies to you and your book. At least in principle. You have the final word. What are you afraid of? If I go after the messenger instead of the message, well, all you have to do is point this out and let your readers come to their own conclusions -- though in your case the messenger IS the message ... or, to paraphrase Yeats, "Who can tell the messenger from the message"
Chris Ogilvie: "I'm sure Zahi Hawass would have LOVED that opportunity in one of your own books."
JAW: Had I thought of it, I'd have offered it. Maybe I will for some upcoming reprint, or in the forthcoming foreign language editions of Serpent in the Sky. Good idea! Thanks ... Anyway, Zahi et al had ample opportunity to reply uncut and unedited in various Egyptological and mainstream publications and media and did so. That's how the game should be played. You want a response from us (good publicity!) but reserve the right to edit? Are you serious?
Chris Ogilvie: "When we made our original offer there was still time to make revisions to the main text but you chose to ignore that offer and, as you say, not 'bother' to reply. If you had replied then we would have considered the merits of what you had to say and made changes to the chapter if we believed it was warranted. But that deadline came and went. Now that you have responded to our second offer you appear to be suggesting unrealistic restrictions by imposing a complete editorial ban. I find it most bizarre that you would expect any author, or publisher for that matter, to print your response 'complete and unedited' without first having read the actual article. We had believed, naively perhaps, that you would respond to us on matters relating to issues of theory and not resort to acrimony such as that displayed in a resent posting, to a 'select' group of recipients, in which you wrote:
JAW said, 'Below is an ongoing series of e-mails between myself (and one from Robert Bauval) to Chris Ogilvie-Herald and Ian Lawton, authors of a volume modestly entitled GIZA: THE TRUTH (an act either of boundless effrontery --given the controversies swirling around that plateau for two full centuries-- or of equally unadulterated hucksterism, or both) a work of exhaustive but largely bogus and highly selective Egyptology designed to trash the 'Lost Civilization' theory.'
Chris Ogilvie: "If this is the kind of 'response' we can expect? Then our caution in accepting your conditions is, in our opinion, entirely valid. It maybe Christmas John but we're not really into surprise packages. So if you can manage to apply the same amount of time and effort into a response that we can actually read, as you have put into copying our various correspondences to your select group and attempting to force unreasonable restrictions on us, we could move this issue a little further down the line. Again: see above.
JAW said, 'Given your demonstrable facility for selective editing (e.g. failing to acknowledge the power of the forensic work of Frank Domingo re: the Khafre/Sphinx facial correspondence; giving only Rudolph [the Red-Nosed] Gantenbrink's side of the Upuat robot brouhaha, etc., etc., etc.) and your willful or just plain ignorant misrepresentations of carefully constructed theories and chains of evidence, I would not give you two license to edit my shopping list, much less my scholarly response. You did not run your draft rebuttal by me for comment prior to publishing your book, did you?'
Chris Ogilvie: "(Oh, by the way, your use of the word 'effrontery' seems to imply that we were insolent even to question your theory, is that an ego thing or just a typo?)"
JAW: It implies no such thing, and it is not a typo. I would not have thought it possible to misunderstand my intention, but on second thought, since you misunderstand everything else, I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise. My response has nothing to do with your handling of my theory. I am implying / suggesting / stating that the complexities of Giza are such that any book claiming to reveal The Truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth?) is an act of 'boundless effrontery' and/or hucksterism. When this claim is made by a brace of semi-literate amateurs (in the most pejorative sense of that word) the effrontery takes on comic overtones, but remains effrontery nonetheless.
Your post and Lawton's recent post to Bauval now go to my select list as well, as you see above, and I am cc'ing it to you. No Christmas surprises there.
Looking for something unrelated the other day, I came across your (Chris's) post purporting to account for the weathering of the Sphinx enclosure wall within Dynastic times (sent by you to Ray Grasse, former editor of the American Quest magazine, the Theosophical Society's magazine and cc'd by Ray to me, 9/17/99). To your credit, your explanation is no worse than those put forward by people who actually have some knowledge of such matters, and therefore should know better, (and yet decline to look through the proffered West/Schoch geoscope to see what is unmistakably clear to large numbers of other people, many with relevant credentials in various fields of expertise). But your explanation is no better either.
That is to say: it is utterly without foundation, based entirely upon speculation and contradicted by a dozen Facts written large into the deeply weathered stone of the Sphinx itself as well as its enclosure wall; by the weathering pattern (or lack of it) in the Fifth Dynasty tomb of Khamerernebti, immediately adjacent to the Sphinx, and like it, cut from member II; by the Northwest corner of the Khentkaus tomb -- deeply pre-weathered behind intact, indisputably Fourth Dynasty casing stones; by two deep water-weathered shafts at Saqqara, and by much else besides. (Attention reader Ogilvie-Herald has declared his 'explanation' as confidential for reasons I cannot fathom. It will be dealt with at length and in decorous paraphrase in Giza: The (Half) Truth IV.)
It takes little time to merely cite the above pieces of evidence; but it is more complicated and takes much more time to explain and provide their context within the overall theory. Nevertheless, if that was your thinking, (what Lawton fondly calls 'analysis') I could have explained why it is untenable with a phone call, as suggested to Lawton, (Attention reader ; see Lawton's response to that suggestion in the first series of communications) But of course, you did not call. Well, who can blame you? It would have scuttled your book.
Assuming that you will not give us carte blanche to respond to your criticisms as we see fit, I rather hope this will be the last correspondence needed between us.
With that in mind:
Lawton, I have nothing much against you personally. We corresponded on several occasions. I took more time out than I wanted to take to give you information on a number of complex questions that you posed. It goes without saying that I don't much care for the way you used those answers. But it does not matter much. Giza The (Half) Truth will run through its paperback edition in short order, hit the remainder shelves, and be gone. If will be remembered, if it is at all, only on the basis of the several pages I may eventually devote to your interminable, groundless, and above all, mean-spirited attacks in a forthcoming book of my own.
I note in your bio that are an accountant and race driver. I would suggest that, in future, you stick to counting beans and racing bikes. You are obviously better suited to these activities than you are to scholarship and writing. Were it otherwise you would long since be broke or dead.
Chris, you picked my brain mercilessly on matters of all sorts, and not just the politics. You had ample opportunity on the two trips we took together to Egypt to go deep into the many complexities involved in this research. Instead you took at face value the wrongheaded rationalizations of a half dozen critics desperate to shore up at any cost the foundations of an undermined discipline and to somehow pretend to the world that their egocarts had not been overturned after all.
Were it not for the feigned friendship, this would have been perfectly OK with me; you'd just have been another self-inflated ignoranus [See the last definition from The Washington Post Invitational contest reprinted as a PS, below] marching blindly and alone into an academic minefield, fatuously confident of emerging unscathed with "Giza: The Truth" where all others had failed. I might have responded or not responded to attack as the situation seemed to demand.
You, however, had easy access to me, and to Schoch, to see how we might meet any objections put up by yourself or by those you regard as authorities. You declined to make use of that access. So, as it stands, given those two prior trips together, conversations, meetings, phone calls, I regard it as a breach of trust and confidence: I see you (and so will History) as a sneak and an opportunist; Linda Tripp's twin brother, - though it's possible your testosterone level does not run as high as hers.
Happy New Millennium
John Anthony West
John Anthony West to Robert Schoch
Hi Schoch, below is more long-winded palaver re: dreary book. But I like to think my contribution is sufficiently amusing to make it worth reading. I did, I think, forward Ogilvie's latest to you, did I not?
But before I send my response, not having the book here, I want to be sure that these guys short-changed Domingo's work as I claim they have. Would you have a quick look through the index and make sure. I'm also very open to any other feedback / comments you might have.
If we can goad them into giving us the carte blanche I insist upon, then good! If not, then we don't have to waste still more time preparing a response that they then edit into innocuousness. So let me know.
Robert Schoch to John Anthony West
I just received a message from you (see below), and I also received one from you yesterday (see even further below). I assume these are the messages you are referring to when you asked "I did, I think, forward Ogilvie's latest to you, did I not?"
I also just received the copy of the dreary book in the mail. I will have to force myself to read the relevant parts. If they will give us carte blanche, then I very much want us to together coauthor a response (including mention of Coxill and Reader). If they will not, then I guess we don't write anything for them. But, can we write something for another outlet? Perhaps even "Atlantis Rising" or something like that? I would simply like to have a response out there in print (and I don't consider web postings "in print" - but if we could get something actually in print, then it could be posted on the web). Just flipping through the dreary book quickly, it really is (to put it mildly) annoying. And it really is wearing on me, at least, going through all their inane comments and arguments.
So, are they going to eventually let us know if we should write something for their book or not?
Re: Domingo's work, according to the index, they mention him only on pages 333 and 334, but I could find no mention of Domingo or his work directly on page 334. On page 333 they quote Domingo's conclusions but then go on to write: [quoting from the book]
"However, at a 'nonforensic' level, Domingo's reconstructions and Khafre's face from the statue do, from the front at least, look strikingly similar in our opinion - - except that the Sphinx's jaw is rather more squared. Turning to the lateral view, once the nose is reconstructed, the Sphinx's face is nowhere near as negroid-looking as it usually appears, and indeed if it is tilted forward somewhat it once again appears very similar in our view. Certainly the profile of the eyes, nose and lips is remarkably consistent, even if their relative positions do not match exactly."
What nonsense. They are simply making things up, in my opinion. From their point of view, it seems, any two faces can look the same. Also, you don't reconstruct a nose to look like what you want it to look like (I guess they have been taking lessons from Lehner); you reconstruct a nose based on the evidence of the remaining portions of the face. At any rate, they certainly did short-change Domingo's work.
Please keep forwarding me copies of the exchanges. Just so you know, I will probably be away from the computer and e-mail for a few days after Christmas (family obligations). Also, on the recommendation of knowledgeable colleagues at BU, I plan to shut down and unplug my computer sometime on December 30th at the latest and not plug it in or turn it on until January 2nd, 2000, at the earliest.
Yes, happy holidays and happy millennium!
"The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some of the winners:
Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn't get it.
Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
Tatyr: A lecherous Mr. Potato Head.
Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high up on walls.
Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's, like, a serious bummer.
Glibido: All talk and no action.
Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole."
And in that spirit, I guess it would be appropriate to call the above 'deftinitions" -- JAW
Once again, to all of you out there, in case you've forgotten:
Happy New Millennium
John Anthony West
Readers of my first two Giza: The (Half) Truth posts may not be surprised to learn that no carte blanche permission has been given to respond (within an agreed-upon word limit) to what Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton call 'analysis' and I call 'attack'.
So the ball goes back into Schoch's and my court, and (since we are both competent dribblers) we shall, in due course put the ball through the hoop and respond in depth re: the geology, on my website certainly, but quite possibly in some heretic-friendly journal.
For now, I'd like to put the matter into perspective without broaching the geology -- which gets complicated. In posts from me and from others (machinist/researcher Chris Dunn and graduate archaeology student Michael Brass to name two) charging Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton with bogus scholarship, manifest bias and general unprofessionalism, these authors have been crying foul, pleading innocence, maintaining that only careful analysis and an exhaustive study of the relevant data turned them from their initially positive approach to the lost civilization hypothesis to their present negative stance. And they probably actually believe this. (People who work or lecture in jails will tell you that the inmates will, almost without exception, hotly defend their innocence, no matter how irrefutable the evidence against them.)
Here I will select three relevant samples of Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton scholarship-in-action to see how they might have arrived at their delusion.
1. Frank Domingo's forensic work.
This was quoted in the last post along with Schoch's commentary, and I re-quote it below since everyone will have forgotten the details. Since my earlier post (Giza: The (Half) Truth II) was already long enough, I added no commentary of my own. But later reflection made me realize that this was one of those 'signatures' I cherish: some single line or paragraph or story; some brief gesture or act that captures the essence of an individual or situation.
'Yes, but I didn't inhale' is one of my all time favorites. Ronald Reagan maintaining that ketchup is a vegetable is another. Franz Kafka's story The Hunger Artist still another. These are little 'psychograms', pictures of the soul as it were, so revealing that you really do not need to know any more about that individual or situation to understand their essence. So let us look more closely at that Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton treatment of Frank Domingo's forensic analysis.
Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton write: "However, at a nonforensic' level, Domingo's reconstructions and Khafre's face from the statue do, from the front at least, look strikingly similar in our opinion - - except that the Sphinx's jaw is rather more squared. Turning to the lateral view, once the nose is reconstructed, the Sphinx's face is nowhere near as negroid-looking as it usually appears, and indeed if it is tilted forward somewhat it once again appears very similar in our view. Certainly the profile of the eyes, nose and lips is remarkably consistent, even if their relative positions do not match exactly."
Just think about this a minute. Frank Domingo is one of the top forensic artists in the world, a recognized authority in a highly specialized field. Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald are respectively an accountant/race driver and a retired army squaddie/van driver and briefly, editor. Their combined knowledge of forensic art is precisely zero. To take it upon themselves to challenge Domingo's carefully considered conclusion (that the face of the Sphinx and the face on the Khafre statue represent two entirely different individuals, which in and of itself pretty well scuttles the basis of the Khafre-as-creator-of-the-Sphinx assertion*) is equivalent to me, with no medical training, challenging an X-ray analysis by the world's leading radiologist, or, say, writing an article claiming that no matter what anyone else may say, Michael Jordan really isn't much of a basketball player.
* Actually, it is not entirely damning. Domingo, Schoch and myself all feel that because the head of the Sphinx is disproportionately small for its body, it has been recarved, by some unknown pharaoh at some unknown date. We think this took place deep in antiquity but it has been suggested (by Egyptologist Ahmed Fayed) that the head of the Sphinx was recarved in later times, perhaps by Tutankhamen. For a variety of reasons too complicated to go into in this post, we don't agree with this, but it is a considered hypothesis and would, if vindicated, help preserve the Khafre/Sphinx hypothesis -- if the geological argument could be ignored (it can't be) it could be useful, if purely circumstantial evidence for preserving the standard attribution.
'If it is tilted forward somewhat' indeed! And if you stand on your head and view the Sphinx from the back, it also looks like Khafre, as long as you subtract the falcon... To produce his studies Frank Domingo went to extraordinary lengths to make absolutely certain the heads of the huge Sphinx and the life-size Khafre were photographed from exactly the same angles so that an exact comparison could be made. Sorry, guys, no 'tilting it forward somewhat' allowed, I'm afraid. 'If it is tilted forward somewhat' then the Sphinx would be looking at its own paws instead of the horizon! Both the head of the Sphinx and Khafre's sit squarely and irrevocably atop their respective necks, both gazing straight ahead at the horizon. And that is how they must be compared. This demonstrates the pronounced prognathism in the one profile and the total lack of it in the other, i.e., two totally different individuals.
What Ogilvie-Herald and Ian Lawton call 'analysis' is actually a classic 'signature'. Rarely has so much ineptitude been packed into so few sentences. That paragraph alone is an act of such consummate, monumental, moronic chutzpah that it is quite unnecessary to look at anything else in their 600+ page book to dismiss it ... and them without further consideration.
Nevertheless, a new millennium has dawned: and I cannot help but be caught up in its spirit of charity and compassion. So, let me give them the benefit of the doubt and consider further anyhow.
Frank Domingo, (unlike the Pope) is not infallible. He may well make mistakes. But for two forensic greenhorns to make a case for fallibility their own opinion is worthless. What they should have done is to first get in touch with Frank Domingo, or me, and procure a copy of the detailed report Domingo prepared explaining how and why he came to his conclusion. There they would have learned why it is that the profile, rather than the frontal view is telling and most important. (It is for the same reason that the ancient Egyptians themselves, in their reliefs, always used a profile view.) It is more individualized, and, in forensic work, shows differences between faces much more clearly than the frontal view Had they taken the trouble to do this they might perhaps have been a bit more circumspect in putting forward their ludicrous screed in defense of a mortally compromised hypothesis. Alternatively, or in tandem, they might have consulted another forensic artist for a possible second expert opinion, which, had it differed from Domingo's, might have been the basis of a reasoned argument. They did not. They did not, because, no matter what they may say, a book that merely defended a complex but extremely popular heretical view developed by others, coming from two unknown authors far less credentialed even than the heretics (all of us, at the very least, have relevant journalistic, engineering, technical or publishing track records) would have little appeal.
It is this sort of thing that I try to do myself when taking on the Egyptological establishment without the relevant credentials. A says this, B says that, C says something else; these explanations are in conflict with each other, none explains the data to hand, here is an alternative that better explains the data, etc. Whenever possible I try to consult someone with the relevant credentials for a more informed opinion. In the past, this often proved impossible. The 'experts' refused to involve themselves, and I was obliged to use my own judgment -- which ultimately turned out to be largely accurate. If my opposition happens to be a personal friend, then, before trashing his or her read on the matter, I would consult him or her (this PC gender stuff is a nuisance!) to see if my objections might be met and overturned. Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton do not extend this courtesy, not even to (ex)friends.
2. How the Pyramids Were Built.
Should readers object that I have chosen a single unfortunate misstep (everyone makes mistakes) out of 600+ pages of otherwise careful analysis to prove a point, similar strictures apply to the Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton 'analysis' of pyramid building. Now, this is not quite the same situation as Domingo's forensic work, which is the result of a carefully developed methodology that commonly works in practice. Here, Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton do not incriminate themselves in a single glorious paragraph, but rather over the space of some 60 diffuse, ultimately self-contradictory pages.
This comes from their entry in theDaily Grail website but it is a resume of their treatment of the subject in their book:
Our readers will be aware that our research for Giza: The Truth led us t o come out in favour of the orthodox explanations as to when the Giza pyramids were built (c. 2500 BC) and why (primarily as funerary edifices, but accepting that there was a great deal of esoteric symbolism and ritual involved). As to how they were built , we feel that there is no conclusive evidence in the pyramids themselves which requires us to look outside of essentially orthodox explanations, even in the "worst" case of the 70-tonne granite blocks which had to be dragged up (in our view via a spiral ramp) to between one third and one half of the height of the Great Pyramid to form the ceilings/floors of the King's and Relieving Chambers. Nor do we feel that the logistics of Khufu building the Great Pyramid in something like 20 years - or even his father Sneferu's achievement of erecting three sizeable pyramids in a similar period - were impossible, or required anything other than massive commitment and dedication to a national cause, and superb project management skills. This is notwithstanding our boundless admiration for the quality of the workmanship, and our acceptance that, for example, tube drills were used with great skill - albeit that we do not believe at this stage that these tools were powered by anything other than human or animal labour; (for more on the "advanced technology" issues refer to our ongoing debate with Chris Dunn which will be posted on both our web sites shortly).
Readers will also be aware that we have provided a thorough analysis of the issues relating to many of the other "alternative" theories, such as the redating of the Sphinx and the Orion correlation, and ultimately we believe these too to be fatally flawed - not from any ideological perspective, merely because we do not believe that the evidence in these cases supports the hypothesis.
However there are two areas in which we might be said to depart from the orthodox line. The first is that of acoustics, where ongoing work by researchers such as John Reid is suggesting that the ancient Egyptians had a highly advanced understanding of acoustic properties and design - although we feel it is critical that such theories be evaluated in the context of, for example, other 4th Dynasty pyramids such as those at Dashur, as opposed to concentrating exclusively on the Great Pyramid and to a lesser extent its counterparts at Giza. And the second is that of sonic levitation - which is clearly not entirely unrelated.
To elaborate further, many of the huge limestone monoliths which form the core of the walls of the surviving mortuary and valley temples on the Giza Plateau are acknowledged by Egyptologists to weigh as much as 200 tonnes. This is a different order of magnitude again from the largest 70-tonne blocks in the Great Pyramid (or any other). Although the orthodox school has been happy to deliberate at length on the use of ramps etc. to erect the pyramids, these larger temple monoliths have tended to be swept under the carpet by them. (For example, in the otherwise excellent reference works such as Edwards' The Pyramids of Egypt' and Lehner's 'The Complete Pyramids', whole chapters are devoted to construction methods but the temples are ignored.) If we are to be totally honest and unbiased in our analysis, this is not acceptable just because it raises uncomfortable questions.
We are not qualified engineers. However, within the constraints of the tight time limits imposed when we were writing and researching the book - and despite our reasonable satisfaction with the logistics etc. of pyramid construction - we were unable to rationally explain the use of such massive blocks in the temples. Remember that the layout of these edifices is completely different. Suppose you could erect a presumably straight ramp of sufficiently dense material - and we have heard it suggested that once we are dealing with these kind of weights, only a ramp made of solid stone itself would not collapse - in order to drag these blocks up to the second and third courses of the temples. You need at a conservative estimate something like 600 men to drag a 200-tonne block (this estimate of a third of a tonne per man seems reasonably sound from experiments when slopes are involved). Irrespective of how many columns they are arranged in, where do they go when they get to the top of the ramp? There is no huge flat platform awaiting them as there is in a pyramid. So perhaps after each pull the lead line jumps down the other side, although this is hardly an ideal situation for pulling one's weight effectively! But what about once the opposite wall, or an intermediate partition wall, is in place? The size of these edifices is simply not sufficient, at least in some cases, for such obstructions not to be encountered well before the column of men had completed their hauling. So then we might suggest that the interiors were completely filled in with sand or whatever in order to provide a flat platform for the men to continue their hauling. But it seemed to us when we were researching this topic, and it still does, that once you get to this stage you are clutching at straws in your attempts to provide an "orthodox" explanation. Occams Razor is certainly no longer at work. Accordingly we felt that the question posed correctly and legitimately by the alternative school had not been satisfactorily answered - that is that even if you can come up with an orthodox solution as to how these blocks were erected, it would be so convoluted and difficult that the further question remains: why on earth would the builders make life SO difficult for themselves?
Here again, as non-engineers and non-movers-of-stone, they beg to differ with the engineers, quarrymen and crane drivers familiar with moving huge chunks of heavy matter. These acknowledged experts in various relevant fields assert that their own level of expertise is insufficient to account for the very large FACT of carefully fitted 200 ton blocks in the Sphinx and Valley temples and 70 ton blocks in the Kings chamber halfway up the pyramid. After concerted studies of the problems involved in pyramid building, they maintain that no known simple method of ramps, levers and sledges (which was apparently all the ancient Egyptians had at their disposal) explains their ability to move the stones into place.
In and of itself, that expert opinion does NOT mean that the Egyptians COULDN'T have done it that way. What it does mean is that Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton's characteristically uninformed conviction that that is how they did do it is as arrogant as it is uninformed.
To support that conviction there are only the opinions of non-engineer Egyptologists, which are by definition suspect, and a single clever but manifestly inappropriate ramp-and-rope experiment by Mark Lehner in which average size 1/2 - 2 ton blocks blocks, similar to those in the core masonry of the Great Pyramid were successfully but roughly wrestled more or less into place up mud-slicked rubble ramps to the height of twenty feet . (Note: When the cameras weren't trained on the action, a bulldozer was pushing the recalcitrant blocks into easy striking distance. Shortage of time was the reason given.)
This admittedly interesting little exercise was then cited by Lehner et al as 'proof' of how the ancients must have done it, and Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton agree. They decide, meticulous scholars that they are, that they (like Lehner) will ignore for the moment, the problems involved in getting 70 ton granite blocks up ramps 200 feet high to roof over the King's Chamber.
This is roughly equivalent to me deciding to get into body building. I start off maybe able to press 100 lbs. After six months of hard work say I can press 200 pounds and I then claim that at that rate, doubling my prowess every six months, in five years I can press five tons.
Technology doesn't work that way. Most technological methods, like the human body, tend to have inherent, self-imposed limits. What works with a ton does not, in and of itself, mean that it will work with 70 or 200 tons.
But now, having thrown their joint inexpertise in behind orthodoxy --while ignoring all those informed contrary opinions, along with the 70 ton blocks-- they reverse themselves and decide that ramps/levers/unlimited manpower will not suffice, after all, to explain the 200 tons blocks in the Sphinx and Valley Temples. What will? Well, acoustic levitation maybe? And off they go on another diffuse ramble into the resonant properties of the King's Chamber and 'burial' chambers of the Red Pyramid (Dahshur), citing various sound experiments done there and then off into the sound levitation experiments that we, in our Mystery of the Sphinx video, cited as a possibility in principle. In principle because, at present an elaborate space age machine is capable only of levitating a pea-size pebble. They speculate that, hey! if the resonant properties of the chambers cited above are deliberately 'tuned' to specific frequencies (I think they are, too) then maybe that knowledge combined with some (totally unidentified and undemonstrable) ancient Egyptian gravity-reversing technology was what put the 200 ton blocks into place after all.
But of course, if they had such a technology in place for 200 ton blocks, then why go to the prodigious trouble of building gigantic building ramps to put the smaller stones of the pyramids into place? (It should be noted that engineers have calculated that the ramps --nearly a mile long-- necessary to haul the blocks into place would take up several times more material than the pyramid itself. Moreover, the ramps would have to be added to continually as the levels went up.) The point is that orthodox explanations for how the pyramids were built, do NOT --except in principle-- suffice to explain how they were built, while the speculation about acoustic levitation is no better, actually worse, since we DO know the Egyptians had ramps, ropes and plenty of manpower, while they do not appear to have had anything resembling an acoustic technology.
It is a non-argument, circular, vulnerable, silly and as always, selective. Yet for those without detailed knowledge of the vast body of work done on these problems, and a grasp of the numerous pros and cons, it looks like scholarship -- hence those favorable reviews proudly posted by them on various websites. Some respondents to these Giza: The (Half) Truth posts have expressed quite different opinions. Here's one that I suspect will not find its way onto their website, though I hereby give permission to use it.
Nigel Fox, who owns an advertising agency in South Africa and who is widely read on these matters, writes:
'The mind picture it evoked was of a rooster scratching over an old manure heap, keeping a beady eye cocked for any palatable morsels and passing over those not to its taste. Just a tad selective in the choice of facts and very liberal with the - "It didn't convince us, so it must be wrong" - opinionated judgements. Some of the language was disparaging to the point of being slanderous and delivered from the high and mighty throne of the supreme pontiffs of Egyptology. As an apologia for the Establishment, I'm sure it does a job for the hidebound, added an extra skin to the already thick coat they wear. But for anyone with an open mind, the odour of bigotry and the careful selectivity of the material screamed bias loud and clear. Peck, peck goes the rooster's beak, another nugget that sits well in my crop. Ptooi ! That bit stuck in the craw, so we'd best get rid of it before anybody notices.'
Even Zahi Hawass, as orthodox an Egyptologist as any, acknowledges that no one REALLY knows how the pyramids were built, (though he, too, ascribes to the ramp theory in one form or another). The credentialed engineers, quarrymen and crane drivers, on the other hand, tend to believe that since they can't figure out how the task was accomplished with simple technology, it couldn't have been done that way. But this is erring in the other direction. In other words, the field is open. Pyramid building is a game without agreed-upon rules and anyone can play.
It seems to me that the best way to approach this game is VERY gingerly ... and systematically. And to this end I offer my own contribution -- the result of vast (non-expert) reading of the various experts who've played this game. Unlike Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton, given the data to hand, I prefer to avoid conclusions of any sort, but at least I like to think that by categorizing the problems a more fruitful approach to them may be opened.
There are, it seems to me, but four possible explanations for building the pyramids, none of them necessarily mutually exclusive.
1. A simple technology (ramps/levers/sledges) brilliantly applied.
This is of course the only solution allowed by Egyptologists, even though we cannot reproduce such results today. On the other hand, despite what the starry-eyed New Agers (and indeed, the hard-nosed engineers) may say, this cannot be dis-allowed. Put a violin in my hands and I will quickly prove to you that music cannot be wrung from this intractable device. But give the violin to a virtuoso and out comes Bach's Partita or the Paganini Violin Concerto . Just because we can't move 200 ton blocks up a ramp, doesn't mean they couldn't. To use another analogy: did the Kitty Hawk prefigure the space shuttle and 'prove' that soon there would be space travel? The first generation of aeronautic engineers might well have scoffed at such a notion, (this was the stuff of science fiction) yet there is the space shuttle. But it is not even an exponential extension of existing Kitty Hawk technologies that make the space shuttle possible; rather it is the simultaneous application of a spectrum of new techologies undreamed-of a century ago: plastics, computers, rocketry, lasers and so on...
Our present-day engineers scoff at the ramp/rope/ manpower hypothesis, yet there are the pyramids. Does this mean that's how they must have been built? To Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton that's what it means, but it doesn't mean that to anyone who can think straight, or think at all. It means that in a best case scenario, given the evidence to hand, perhaps it should be given precedence over other explanations, all of them hypothetical (including this one!) and that is all that it means.
2. A hard technology for which there is no evidence.
This sounds on the surface outrageous, but who knows what ancient technology may have looked like. Suppose, 5000 years from now, a computer is found, and technology at that time does not use electricity or microchips and there is no record of such instruments. Computers turn up in archeological digs but they are mute bits of plastic with no moving parts. They might be fobbed off as ceremonial/religious artifacts (with some justification perhaps.) Who could guess that the Library of Congress could be stored on a few internal chips, or that prodigious mathematical calculations could be performed on them with the touch of a few keys? Maybe certain familiar but mysterious symbols of Egypt --the djed column for instance-- were actually technological devices, and we just don't know how to use them? Who knows? Graham Hancock, in his book The Sign and the Seal makes what I think is a pretty good case for the Ark of the Covenant as just such a technological device. Given the Old Testament evidence to hand (for whatever that may be worth) it sure doesn't sound like a purely 'religious' symbol. (Acoustic levitation might fit in here, or in '3' following, or possibly in both.)
3. A soft technology -- mind power-- for which, by definition, there can be no evidence, and the knowledge was a priestly secret and/or references in the texts have been mis-translated.
The Egyptians were very good at keeping secrets; the texts refer to secret knowledge over and over again. It was the garrulous Greeks, Pythagorean defectors, who let the secrets outs of the bag. Ancient Egyptian, unlike Sanskrit, is not a living tradition and has had to be re-constructed from scratch mainly by scholars hostile to a mystical and esoteric tradition. Thus, possible references to such a soft technology may have been misunderstood or ignored. Yogis, Zen masters, advanced martial artists, and shamans can routinely perform physical feats that to the rest of us look and are impossible. But there is a volume of evidence to prove they can do it. There are recorded cases where a woman, with her child trapped beneath a car, lifts up the car to get the child out, something she could not even imagine doing in a normal state of consciousness. Maybe the pyramids were massive group consciousness-raising exercises, in and of themselves, or in conjunction with a simple or even a hard technology? Or both?
4. Aliens dunnit.
I personally like this explanation less than the others. I prefer to think that people rather like ourselves, but unencumbered with our stultifying and banal rationalist/materialist baggage, did it. Still, anyone who looks seriously into UFO literature, has to acknowledge that something is going on out there and they (whoever 'they' may be) are periodically coming here. Why I cannot imagine. But who knows? We go up there, why shouldn't they come down here -- and once here, for alien reasons of their own, build pyramids? Alien builders perhaps should not be dismissed out of hand. And since no one to date can adequately explain how they did it with simple ramps, levers and sledges either, or any other way, this explanation is hardly goofier than those.
The point is that the facile assurances given by Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton endorsing the orthodox viewpoint are illegitimate, their exclusion of contrary, genuinely informed opinion is typical of their selective bogus sch olarship, and their long-winded acoustic levitation hypothesis is pure speculation and self-contradictory besides. We still don't know how the pyramids were built. Period. Full stop. Over to you...
3. L'affaire Bauval/Gantenbrink....
This is a political rather than a technological or Egyptological problem. Ogilvie-Herald's explanation ('As for contacting Robert Bauval re Rudolf Gantenbrink, it was clear to me that Robert was researching and writing his own book on Giza and we therefore had a conf lict of interest. He also made it known that his account of the Gantenbrink affair would form part of that very same book.') hardly excuses their handling of this tangled web of accusations and counter-accusations. Since their book is called Giza: The Truth it behooves the authors at the very least to provide a summary of Bauval's version of The Truth, and not wholly endorse Gantenbrink's. Failing that, then perhaps include a couple of sentences telling readers that Bauval will be publishing his own dissenting account of the proceedings; which unlike Gantenbrink, he supports with massive documentation -- which in turn strongly suggests that Gantenbrink is either lying, or stricken with a severe case of premature Alzheimer's Disease (unless, of course, Bauval has forged all his documentation). Whatever the case, Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton's handling of the affair is as inexcusable as it is selective.
I have cited three 'signature' bits of Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton scholarship/analysis, which I believe capture the essence of their work. Does anyone need to know more? ('Yes, but I didn't inhale.') By scanning through in haste, have I traduced Giza: The (Half) Truth? Perhaps, buried within these 600+ pages of lurching, club-footed prose and personal attack,* there may just be passages of lucid cerebration and legitimate analysis? (As Gurdjieff used to say, 'All things possible in this world!') But they certainly have not made themselves apparent to my professional eye, sharpened by forty-five years of practice ... I make no apologies for this lack of detailed attention. A pro-ballplayer only has to watch a stranger take a couple of swings of the bat, or a few shots at a basket to know if the man knows the simple basics of the game. Ogilvie-Herald and Ian Lawton do not.
* This is mainly directed at Bauval and Hancock -- the virulence of attack seems to be directly proportional to the amount of money made by the attackees. Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton know I've made very little money from my work, despite its wide public dissemination, so --up until these posts began-- I was spared the full impact of their self-evident spite and contumely.
Unfortunately, most readers will not be of my generation, and therefore will be unfamiliar with the old, once-well-known Aldous Huxley novel Eyeless in Gaza. Were that title still familiar, Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton might have more accurately entitled their book: Clueless in Giza -- which would, indeed, have been The Truth.
PS. Robert Schoch and I will be preparing in due course our response to the Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton critique of the water weathering to the Sphinx. Stay tuned for Giza: The (Half) Truth IV
PPS. I owe an apology to my friend Ray Grasse, cited in my second post, who provided me with that fortuitous (and fatuous) explanation by Ogilvie-Herald, purporting to explain why the enclosure wall of the Sphinx is weathered the way it is. I had quite forgotten that shortly after Ray provided me with that document, he'd called to ask me to keep it confidential. I cannot for the life me see why Ogilvie-Herald should have required confidentiality. But he did. Ray called me to relay that request. And I agreed, but forgot. Sorry Ray!!!
Comments byRobert M. Schoch on the Geological Analysis of Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald
Preceded by: Dumb & Dumber: Boy Geologists, (introductory remarks about this and that by John Anthony West): In which our young heroes, those intrepid questors, Chris Ogilvie-Herald and Ian Lawton (AKA D&D), having solved all problems relating to pyramid building that have baffled engineering experts, builders and architects all over the world for two centuries, and having ingeniously shown the forensic work of NYPD senior forensic artist, Frank Domingo to be methodologically flawed, misconceived and invalid, now don geological boots and fearlessly traverse the trackless, scorpion-infested wastes of the Giza Plateau foiling the evil revisionist plans of self-styled Paradigm Buster John Anthony West and Mad Professor Robert M. Schoch ultimately revealing for all the world to see, The Geological Truth:
All readers please repeat after me: Sanctus, Sanctus Status Quo. Amen.
With any luck this will be the last in the Giza: The (Half) Truth series.
Some of you have suggested that taking so much time to counter criticism launched by two amateur authors is time ill-spent. Their uninformed opinions hardly matter. Though staunchly supporting most orthodox positions within the complex controversy, they have no standing within the academic community, and, indeed, are likely to prove more of an embarrassment to their orthodox mentors than they are a danger to us. Is the Egyptological/archaeological Establishment really so defenseless that it needs support from a pair of untrained, unarmed mercenaries in order to maintain its authority? As the old joke goes: 'With friends like these, who needs enemies!'
Nor have they provoked the kind of significant media storm that might otherwise justify so lengthy a response. Apart from a recent endorsement from David Rohl (an author scarcely more welcome in Academic circles than D&D) in theDaily Express their book has had little impact.
So why bother?
My intention was never to get involved in this at all. But once involved, it proved next to impossible to extricate myself, and the more I thought about it, the easier it became to justify. (Also see the Ian Lawton interview on theDaily Grail and my response for further thoughts on the matter-- which will save me the trouble of reiterating them here.) By incorporating into Giza: The (Half) Truth virtually all the academic arguments so far leveled against the geological evidence for an older Sphinx, D&D have inadvertently provided a service. Those interested in following this complicated argument can now access both the challenges and all the counter-arguments within the pages of a single book.
This is pretty much the tack taken by D&D who, unfortunately, willy-nilly accept without question any and all geological counter arguments presented in rebuttal of our work.
Certainly, it would have saved Schoch and myself much time and aggravation if D&D had had the rudimentary analytical skills needed to recognize the invalidity, irrelevance, and often, the mutually contradictory nature of those rebuttals.
It is also regrettable that they were equally lacking in rudimentary journalistic professionalism. And since these posts are almost as much concerned with the process of shifting the paradigm as they are with the paradigm itself, it's worth digressing into this subject, since successful engagement in the process is, ultimately, at least as important in establishing the new paradigm as the actual hard-core evidence supporting it. And all scientific/scholarly orthodoxies have been pretty successful in disguising this messy business from public view.
The responsible journalist's job is to examine both sides of a dispute. If challenger A says this, and defender B rebuts it, (and the entire subject is outside the journalist's area of expertise), then the competent journalist goes back to A to see how he responds to the rebuttal and reports accordingly. He (or she) does not simply and automatically accept rebuttal as the final word on the matter. That is how the game is played--at least how it's supposed to be played. D&D do not play it that way. They report A's challenge all right, but B's response elicits from them a curious audible 'snap'. You can hear it periodically as you skim through their book and I, too, found it puzzling until I realized what it was: the sound made by their knees jerking in unison. B's response is then dutifully reported, and enthusiastically seconded, usually without further investigation, which they have no competence to perform in any case. In the event that there is no authoritative B voice handy to support orthodoxy, as with Frank Domingo's forensic work, D&D may take it upon themselves to provide an analysis of their own, usually with hilarious and/or grotesque results. This is not how investigative journalism is supposed to be done.
Or science and scholarship either. In theory, actually, Defender B should feel obliged to play by these rules as well, and it would be refreshing if he did. But he doesn't and won't. He has a position to defend, and even though it may turn the whole scholarly/scientific catechism of 'objective assessment of evidence' into farce, at least it is psychologically understandable--if inexcusable. We are upsetting the applecart, and they make a living selling apples. Or, to recount a story I read when I was a kid and that has stuck with me all these years ... it's told that when Jascha Heifitz was giving his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of eleven, in the audience were Mischa Ellman, the then reigning violin virtuoso and the great pianist Arthur Rubinstein. About halfway through the concert, Ellman turned to Rubinstein and said, 'Hot in here, isn't it?' ... 'Not for pianists,' Rubinstein replied.
And so it goes. Microbiologists, geologists, chemists , physicists and others accustomed to assessing scientific evidence in their own disciplines have few problems with our redating of the Sphinx; or with an Orion/pyramid correlation. But for Egyptologists, archeologists, historians (and, in fact, all card-carrying members of the Church of Progress), it's very hot indeed....
So, to be strictly fair, the Egyptologists should not be singled out either. Any theory as deep in revolutionary implication as our rewriting of history if applied to microbiology, geology, chemistry or any other branch of science would elicit the same howl of pain from the challenged experts in that field... apropos, in Giza III (part I), I brought up the subject of 'signatures' (this, by the way is an ancient Hermetic/magical notion that finds interesting validation in contemporary work on fractals and DNA--the part in a way contains, or IS, in potentia the 'seed' of the whole)... anyway, this seems an appropriate time to pass on my favorite scientific 'signature' , a single headline in the New York Times a dozen or so years ago that tells you practically everything you have to know about scientists, if not about science itself.
"DEBATE OVER DINOSAUR EXTINCTION GROWS UNUSUALLY RANCOROUS"
Think about it! The Times is telling you (without meaning to do so--official spokesman for Church of Progress values and methodology that it is) that debate in science is usually rancorous. And only regarding this emotionally fraught question of dinosaur extinction does it grow unusually rancorous.
Now, what sane human being could get excited about how or why the dinosaurs died? They died, and that is that. How they died may be a matter for legitimate scientific curiosity (the same that killed the cat?)--depending on how you define legitimacy. But to allow the debate to become 'unusually rancorous' ...??? Only deeply disturbed, hopelessly unevolved human beings could get upset by such a question. In other words, it would be ungenerous to come down too hard on the Egyptologists; their colleagues in any other scientific or scholarly discipline in the world behave no differently given similar provocation. Dumb & Dumber, however, do not have such an excuse. They are journalists, at least they call themselves that, not advocates for a covert religious organization.
In any event, for those following this series of posts, it will be useful, and a good antidote for frustration, never to lose track of the invariably understated emotional/psychological content of all scientific and scholarly inquiry. Scientists have managed to pretty successfully gull the public and even more successfully gull themselves into believing they are after the truth. But they are not. Just as a jock has his ego bound up in winning, and the tycoon has his ego bound up in success, so the scientist/scholar's ego is bound up, not in discovering the objective truth, but in being 'right' , in being an 'expert'. Well, poor guys, what else do they have to be egotistic about?. They don't get paid much; there isn't much glamor involved as a general rule; only very rarely are they creative. Gratification comes to scientists and scholars largely from the widespread perception that they are 'experts', 'authorities' in their respective fields. So, when a challenge is mounted as revolutionary and as expert-unfriendly as ours, heated, even rabid opposition is the invariable rule. It has never been otherwise, and it is hard to imagine it ever will be--short of humanity suddenly achieving a state of universal Aquarian enlightenment.
Stop the press! Just in case you think my DEBATE OVER DINOSAUR EXTINCTION headline is the exception rather than the rule, and that I'm being unfairly harsh on the scientific/scholarly community, here's a quote from Infinite Energy Magazine, a technical journal devoted to potentially revolutionary work on Cold Fusion, Zero Point Energy and other (currently) physics-defying scientific work that, if validated, will change physics as radically as our work will change history and our currently accepted notion of the 'evolution' of civilization.
"Mills' reformulated quantum mechanical theory that allows hydrogen atoms to fall below the normally understood electron ground state has not gone over well with mainstream physicists...Physics Nobel laureate was the most blunt of the handful of Mills' critics..."If you could fuck around with the hydrogen atom, you could fuck around with the energy process in the sun. You could fuck around with life itself ...Everything we know about everything would be a bunch of nonsense. That's why I'm so sure it's a fraud." ...Anderson was given the opportunity to find a replacement word for the Anglo-Saxon expletive but he declined to do so, apparently being so self-assured that he wanted the F-word in print."
Ah yes! Lovely! DEBATE OVER DINOSAUR EXTINCTION... Well, it is amusing to watch the anal academic mind in spasm! But it does make you think that maybe they should rethink the whole Nobel Prize awarding process ... anyway, I hope this will provide a bit of insight into the Psychology of the Scientist. That is what we, and everyone else who has an original idea, is up against. So let us return to the science. Schoch's comments pretty much speak for themselves, but occasionally the language gets technical and the argument complex. I have added clarifying and/or extenuating comments of my own clearly marked JAW.
Comments by Robert M. Schoch on the Geological Analysis of Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald found in chapter 7 ("The Age of the Sphinx") of GIZA: THE TRUTH (1999, Virgin, London). [Copyright 2000 by Robert M. Schoch. All rights reserved.]
Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald (page 313) agree with me that the current arid climatic regime of the Giza Plateau began approximately in the middle of the third millennium B.C. (circa 2350 B.C. by one standard dating scheme) and there were various periods of relatively heavy rainfall from about 10,000 or 8,000 B.C. up until the onset of the predominant aridity that has existed in the area for the last 4500 years or so. Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald also correctly point out that there were occasional rains, even heavy rains, during dynastic Egyptian times and up through the present day, resulting in periodic flash floods. Still, as will be discussed further below, such flash floods actually have little bearing on the weathering, erosion, and ultimately the determination of the age of the oldest portion of the Sphinx (here it is important to remember that the Great Sphinx was refurbished and partially recarved, including a recarving of the head, in dynastic times).
Sporadic heavy rains and the resulting flash floods (due to the inability of the rain to penetrate and soak into the land's surface and thus it runs off and collects in vall eys, wadis, and other depressions) commonly found in arid regions do have tremendous potential to move loose debris and even cause serious erosion. However, in my opinion as a geologist, the nature and especially degree of weathering seen in the Sphinx e n closure and on the body of the Sphinx itself, is incompatible with sporadic flash floods since dynastic times. Even if occasional heavy rains occur on the Giza Plateau, the fact remains that currently on average only about an inch of rain each year occur s in the region (25 to 29 mm annually). I do not believe that there has been enough rainfall in the area over the last 5000 years to account for the tremendous degradation of the actual limestone bedrock as seen on the western end of the Sphinx enclosure , much less to account for the extreme weathering and erosion seen on the core body of the Sphinx itself ( JAW) . The latter is an important point, because in the case of the body of the Sphinx only the back (top) of the Sphinx serves as a catchment area for any subsequent runoff. From what we understand of the climate of the area, it strains credulity to suggest that this weathering and erosion is the result of rainfall during the last 4,500 years. This is even more so the case when we take into account the calculations of Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald (page 312) that the Sphinx enclosure and body of the Sphinx have been buried in sand, and thus effectively protected from this type of erosion, for 3,100 of the last 4,500 years.
JAW adds: Schoch neglects to emphasize this point strongly enough. Some three FEET of limestone has weathered off the core body of the Sphinx. This weathering was already complete (Lehner) when the FIRST repair campaign was undertaken. Because the earliest repair blocks are typical of Old Kingdom masonry, Hawass rightly supposes that it was during this period that the blocks were applied--effectively leaving no time at all for the Sphinx to have weathered. Desperately trying to preserve the dating, Lehner contends the repair blocks may be Old Kingdom but were cannibalized from elsewhere and applied in the New Kingdom. This solves nothing. Less than a thousand years separate the Old from the New Kingdom; at least half that time the Sphinx was certainly buried in sand. Three feet of limestone does not weather away in 500 years under desert conditions. And if it did, then the myriad Old Kingdom structures and rock cut tombs in the immediate vicinity of the Sphinx cut from the same member of limestone, would also show similar weathering and similar weathering patterns. They do not. D&D's careful analysis in this case fails to live up to the standard set for themselves in their rebuttal of Domingo's forensic work.
Schoch: Furthermore, based on the perceptive analysis of the geologist Colin Reader (discussed below), since at least the time of Khufu (circa 2550 B.C. according to one standard chronology), the Sphinx has not even been situated in a position where it could receive the brunt of such flash floods. Among ancient Egyptian structures, those that show clear signs of having been damaged or otherwise significantly affected by the occasional heavy rains and resulting flash floods are those situated in valleys, wadis, and other low areas that serve as channels for the collected water. Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald cite the Valley of the Kings at Luxor as a case in point, and other authors have cited Reisner's suggestions of flood damage to the Menkaure valley temple on the Giza Plateau. Potential flood damage to Menkaura's valley temple is very different in kind and degree than the actual erosion and degradation of limestone bedrock as seen in the Sphinx enclosure. According to Lehner (1997, The Complete Pyramids, Thames and Hudson, London, p.137), Menkaure's valley temple "lies at the mouth of the main wadi" (as is clear from maps of the site, as well as personal inspection of the area) which would situate it to receive the brunt of any ephemeral flash floods and hardly is relevant to the western end of the Sphinx enclosure or the body of the Sphinx itself. Furthermore it was apparently finished in mudbrick by Shepseskaf, then rebuilt (after being "flooded" at some point) during the 6th Dynasty. To use an argument from Menkaure's valley temple or the Valley of the Kings at Luxor in an attempt to keep some semblance of the traditional date for the Sphinx, or at least keep it dynastic, just doesn't work.
Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald proceed (starting on page 315) to discuss a number of "types of weathering" that they claim are taking place in the Sphinx enclosure, but it quickly becomes evident that they have little understanding of the topic. They discuss what they term "precipitation weathering" (caused by rainfall, as I have elucidated in my various works), "wind-sand weathering" (also based on my work), and "chemical weathering" (apparently based primarily on the papers of Gauri and Harrell). They divide the latter category into "capillary weathering" (apparently based on ideas from both Gauri and Harrell), "wet-sand weathering" (based primarily on the ideas of Harrell), and "atmospheric weathering" (apparently based on the work of both Gauri and Harrell).
Rather than addressing Gauri and Harrell indirectly via a discussion of Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald's reinterpretation of their ideas, here I will briefly discuss Gauri and Harrell directly.
K. Lal Gauri has maintained that the weathering and erosion of the Sphinx and walls of the Sphinx enclosure are the result of the various effects of chemical weathering, particularly something known as "exfoliation" or the flaking away of the surface of the limestone. According to Gauri, dew that forms at night on the surface of the rock dissolves soluble salts found on the surface and then the liquid solution is drawn into tiny pores in the rock by capillary action. During the daytime the solution evaporates and salt crystals precipitate in the pores. As the crystals form they exert pressure which causes the surface of the limestone to flake away. This, in fact, is an important weathering factor that is currently taking place on the Giza Plateau. However, it alone cannot account for all of the weathering features seen in the Sphinx enclosure, and more importantly it alone cannot account for the specific distribution of weathering features actually found in the Sphinx enclosure (such as the more intense weathering, erosion, and degradation seen in the western end of the Sphinx enclosure, as discussed further below).
The weathering processes proposed by Gauri will also have their maximum effect under extreme arid conditions with the Sphinx exposed to the elements. When buried under a layer of sand, the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure are on the whole protected from these effects. Also, interestingly, the flaking away of the rock as proposed by Gauri is (or at least should be) operating on all of the limestone surfaces of the Giza Plateau, yet somehow virtually no other surfaces show the same type of weathering and erosional profile as seen in the Sphinx enclosure. While I do not deny that salt crystal growth is indeed damaging the Sphinx and other structures during the present day, this mechanism does not explain the ancient degradation patterns observed on the Sphinx' s body and in the Sphinx enclosure area but virtually nowhere else on the Giza Plateau.
Gauri has also suggested that the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure have been, and are, subject to extremely rapid weathering, and he has pointed out that there has been significant deterioration of the Sphinx since the beginning of the twentieth century. As I have pointed out previously, however, and in all fairness Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald mention this in their book, one cannot extrapolate present modern weathering rates back into the past when it comes to the Giza Plateau. Industrialization, air pollution, acid rain, rising water tables due to encroaching settlement, tourism, automobile and bus traffic, and so forth , may (I believe are) affecting the structures on the Giza Plateau in a detrimental manner. Modern weathering and erosional processes are not the same as the ancient processes in every case.
As I have discussed previously in a letter to the magazine "Archaeology" (January/February 1995 issue, one of many references that Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald fail to cite), much of the Hawass-Lehner argument, which is in large part based on the work of Gauri, for a younger Sphinx hinges on the assertion that its present style and rate of weathering and erosion is representative of its past weathering. Hawass and Lehner have stated that "ancient and modern weathering on the Sphinx are, for the most part, the same ball game." They discuss how soft the limestone is in some places ("you can crumble the stone with your fingertips") and the flaking of the stone to produce "giant potato chips" without realizing that these surficial weathering features are primarily due to modern assaults (pollution, acid deposition, salt deposited by rising water tables from the adjacent village and the damming of the Nile, and so forth) that have not been operating over the last five millennia. The work of K. Lal Gauri has documented the modern deterioration, as opposed to ancient weathering, of the Sphinx. In one publication Gauri illustrates, using comparative photographs from ca. 1925-26 and ca. 1980-81, how amazingly rapid this deterioration has been over the span of just a few decades (K. L. Gauri and G. C. Holdren, 1981, American Research Center in Egypt Newsletter, No. 114). This contradicts the Hawass-Lehner assertion that the ancient and modern weathering are the same. Arguably the Sphinx has suffered more during the last century than it did during the previous 5,000 years.
It has also been suggested that Sphinx has been heavily weathered by the action of subsurface ground water being sucked up into the pores of the rock by capillary action (Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald, page 316). There are a couple of problems with this hypothesis. First, I have yet to see any evidence that this is actually occurring to any significant extent today, much less in the past. If it is a significant factor in producing the weathering profile seen on the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure, then it should also produce the same features (and to the same degree) on rock-cut structures carved from the same limestones and at the same elevation or lower found immediately to the south of the Sphinx enclosure. Yet such "capillary weathering" is not evident there. Second, such "capillary weathering," if it does indeed occur to any significant degree in the present day, may well be the result of rising water tables due to sewerage from the adjacent village that has been progressively encroaching on the Giza Plateau.
James Harrell is the major proponent of the "wet-sand" theory to explain the weathering and erosion of the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure. He has suggested that sand piled up for centuries in the Sphinx enclosure has been wetted by rainfall, Nile floods, and capillary action sucking water up into the overlying sand. Persistent flooding, however, would be expected to cut a wave bench into the Sphinx and the enclosure, and there is no such feature. Also, wet sand around the bottom of the Sphinx enclosure does not explain the obvious and pronounced weathering on the upper portions of the walls of the enclosure. Indeed, the major problem with the wet-sand hypothesis is that there is no documented mechanism known by which wet sand piled against a limestone surface will produce the weathering and erosional profile seen on the body of the Sphinx and on the walls of the Sphinx enclosure. Sand, even wet sand (if it ever occurred in the Sphinx enclosure--there is no evidence that it did to any significant degree), may actually have served more to promote the preservation of the Sphinx. Furthermore, capillary action, far from being a mechanism cable of keeping numerous feet of piled sand wet over many centuries, is negligible in loose sands in arid areas. Harrell 's "wet-sand" theory simply does not work as an explanation for the weathering and erosional features of the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure.
JAW: Schoch is being very kind to Harrell who, noting that the weathering does indeed look like standard precipitation-induced weathering, cannot accept that conclusion since he, like all other Egyptologists, knows that Khafre carved the Sphinx, and he therefore dreams up a brand new type of weathering just to preserve the standard attribution. However, ludicrous this may be, it does at the very least suggest a vivid imagination, just that 'creativity' that earlier I asserted was so very rare in science and scholarship. I stand corrected. And of course, with their customary analytic skills in evidence, D&D accept the wet sand theory without further question.
Schoch: Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald (page 320) write "Schoch has emphasised that the enclosure walls are generally more eroded at the top than at the bottom, which appears at odds with the fact that the upper layers tend to be harder. However, Lehner argues that even the relatively uneroded eastern end of the south wall shows that it was deliberately cut with a slope in the original excavation of the enclosure." Thus, Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald imply that my observations are invalidated. However, as I already pointed out in the 1995 letter to "Archaeology," I have never implied that the walls of the Sphinx enclosure were originally absolutely vertical. In a published illustration (in J. A. West, 1993,Serpent in the Sky, Quest Books, Wheaton, IL, p. 227) I show them at an approximately 80 degree angle before being weathered. However, the fact remains that even taking such a small slope into account the harder layers at the top of the section have been in general eroded back further than softer layers lower in the section, thus corroborating the hypothesis of an older Sphinx.
On page 320 of their book, as if to put the final "nail" in the coffin of an older Sphinx, Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald write: "Finally, West and Schoch have increasingly fallen back on the evidence of the deep, rounded, vertical hollows in the west and south walls of the Sphinx enclosure, insisting that these are too ("too" is stressed by being placed in italics by L and O-H) obviously weathered by precipitation for the other arguments about weathering to matter. We have sympathy for this view, but again Gauri appears to have an answer. He suggests that they represent faults in the rock originating from the time when the structural deformation of the whole Plateau caused the rock strata to tilt, perhaps millions of years ago, and that they were widened into cavities or channels by the hydraulic circulation of the underground water. They were then exposed when the bedrock was excavated from the Sphinx enclosure." Again, as I pointed out in the 1995 letter to "Archaeology," the limestones of the Giza Plateau are crisscrossed with fractures or joints, and these joints date back millions of years, and possibly some of them may be due to geologic faulting (but see comments by Coxill quoted below). However, the joints are not opened up as fissures everywhere on the Giza Plateau.
Vertical fissures such as those on the Sphinx enclosure wall can only be produced by water, primarily precipitation, and do bear on the age of the Sphinx. Basically the precipitation runoff follows paths of least resistance and thus works its way into weak joints and fractures. This is dramatically illustrated on the western wall of the Sphinx enclosure and the western portion of the southern wall (which have been subjected to substantial runoff) versus the eastern portion of the southern wall of the enclosure where the fissures are much less extreme; the eastern portion of the enclosure has not taken the brunt of the runoff. My critics, including Gauri, Lehner, Hawass, Lawton, and Ogilvie-Herald, do not distinguish between naturally occurring joints, on the one hand, and open fissures developed only through weathering processes on the other hand.
JAW: Again, Schoch errs grievously on the side of generosity. Gauri et al. would be hard put to find ONE joint due to 'geologic faulting' on the Giza Plateau that gapes open when the rock is first exposed. To understand the full valuelessness and desperation of this contention, it must be realized that if 'geologic faulting' produces these fissures, then they must also show up routinely on the INSIDES of rock cut tombs as well as the outsides. It is unnecessary to examine all the tombs on the Plateau. To test the idea all you have to do is look at the interiors of the two Late Kingdom shaft tombs cut high into the deeply water weathered face of the Western enclosure wall (Member II) The inner walls of these tombs are pristine, roughly dressed, with every swing of the mason's pick clearly visible. There are no 'fissures due to geologic faulting' to be seen--there or anywhere else. It is all perfectly smooth wall--just as it is all over the plateau. And the same applies to the 5th Dynasty Tomb of Khamerernebti, also cut from Member II, 100 feet south of the Great Sphinx. If fault lines are visible in these perfectly smooth surfaces, they show as hairline cracks (which may be the result of earth movements over the millennia) or as discolored ragged lines, the softer 'fill' that in an exposed surface will eventually get weathered out to produce a fissure. But when the rock is cut, it is perfectly smooth. Period. ONLY weathering will produce the fissures we see ... or to put it into scientific language...
Schoch: Regarding these so-called "faults," the geologist David Coxill (writing in the journal "InScription: Journal of Ancient Egypt, Issue 2, Spring 1998, page 14; another article that Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald fail to cite) notes: "The sub-vertical joints . . . are a distinctive characteristic of the surrounding pit (that is, the Sphinx enclosure), and to a somewhat lesser extent, of the Sphinx itself. They are natural fissures in the rock, that were formed by contraction of the carbonate rich sediments, when they were undergoing rockification. These are sedimentologically related fissures and not tectonic faults related to earthquakes, since they do not displace the strata. On the . . . Causeway edge, they are sometimes closed and grouted by fine grained carbonate sediments (a natural process), while others, are open at the top, narrowing, and eventually closing--further down the vertical profile of the excavated pit face, and the sphinx's body . . . They represent lines of weakness that have selectively and progressively been exploited by the forces of weathering."
It is worth quoting Coxill (pages 16-17), an independent geologist who has taken the time to study the Sphinx firsthand, further on these issues:
"(Robert Schoch) presented his findings . . . that the weathering features present (on the body of the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure) are caused by rainfall that has cascaded over the sides of the monument and the surrounding pit . . .
Other theories have been put forward to try to counter the claim. Lal Gauri et al. (1995) consider that being porous, Member II limestone (of which the body of the Sphinx is carved), will suffer
from morning dew condensation that dissolves salts within the limestone. When the heat of the day evaporates the water, the salts crystallise out and progressively exert minute pressure weakening the rock and opening up fissures already present. Both they, Hawass, and Lehner (1994) , suggest that sub-surface water movements, during Eocene times, caused the fissures to open as the water table dropped. This is intriguing, but unlikely to be the case. Firstly, condensation affects all monuments in the Giza complex, but very rarely do any show the same type of weathering features of the Sphinx, surrounding pit and cut stone blocks of the Valley Temple.
Secondly, these weathering features require intense weathering to form their present profile, and, condensation/evaporation is a relatively mild and insignificant form of mechanical weathering in this arid climate. Thirdly, fluctuations in the water table do not lead to fissures being produced wider at the top. Lal Gauri (et al.) (1995) also suggest that the roundness of the laminars is due to gradational differences in the hardness of the strata. This does not account for variations in the weathering profile, within Member II beds, as previously discussed on the Sphinx's body or the presence of open fissures.
Harrell (1994) suggests that wet sands from Nile floodwaters, and occasional rainfall, would have produced wet sands, leading to these weathering features. That is not acceptable, since floodwaters would have produced a wave cut bench and notch, which would certainly be seen today in the surrounding excavation pit. This is not the case, and again this theory does not satisfactorily explain the presence of erosion features higher up the Sphinx's body and pit face. . .
Therefore, by a process of elimination, it appears that floodwaters and fluctuating ground water levels cannot explain these weathering features, but rainfall does."
Bottom line: Coxill, an independent geologist (as of this writing, I have never met him nor corresponded with him), corroborates my analysis of the nature and agency responsible for the predominant weathering and erosion seen in the Sphinx enclosure and on the body of the Sphinx.
Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald (pp. 324-327), have also criticized my analysis of the seismic data. Unfortunately, they make a number of incorrect assumptions and perpetuate misunderstandings. For instance, Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald (pp. 324-325) claim that I assumed that "the subsurface weathering has been caused by rainfall seeping down through the bedrock floor of the enclosure" when in fact I never postulated that to be the case at all. They then further argue incorrectly that when the Sphinx enclosure is filled with sand, as it has been for much of its existence, the sand will protect the underlying bedrock floor from subsurface weathering. Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald fail to understand the nature of subsurface weathering. Subsurface weathering is essentially a mineralogical and petrological change in the rocks that proceeds once the rock surface is exposed to the air or atmosphere (such as occurred when the core body of the Sphinx was excavated), no matter what the climate is like. Loose porous sand piled up in the Sphinx enclosure will not significantly protect the bedrock from this type of weathering. This type of weathering is certainly not caused primarily by rainfall collecting on the rock surface and seeping down. It could even be argued that in some cases a moister climate with periods of standing water on the rock that protects the surface from atmospheric exposure may actually result in a slower rate of this form of subsurface weathering than may occur under dryer conditions.
To further dismiss the seismic data, Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald go on to claim (page 325) that "it is almost certain that the subsurface erosion has been caused far more by hydraulic and capillary action over the many millennia since the bed was laid down than by relatively recent rainfall and exposure." They are simply wrong. It is subsurface weathering, not erosion (erosion is where the rock is actually carried away), that is under consideration here, and postulating unknown and undocumented mechanisms of "hydraulic and capillary action" as a way to explain the data is essentially meaningless. Furthermore, their explanation of hydraulic and capillary action, quoted above, does not address the discrepancies in subsurface weathering seen within the Sphinx enclosure.
Concerning the use of the seismic data to date the initial excavation of the Sphinx: It has taken about 4,500 years for the subsurface weathering at the younger, western-most floor of the Sphinx enclosure to reach a depth of about four feet (assuming that the western end was fully excavated to approximately its present state during Old Kingdom activity at the site--see f urther discussion below). Since the weathering on the other three sides is between 50 and 100 percent deeper, it is reasonable to assume that this excavation is 50 to 100 percent older than the western end. If we accept Khafre's reign as the date for the western enclosure, then this calculation pushes the date for the Great Sphinx's original construction back to approximately the 5000 to 7000 B.C. range.
I believe this estimate nicely ties in with the climatic history of the Giza Plateau and correlates with the nature and degree of the surface weathering and erosion features. This estimate can be considered a minimum if we assume that weathering rates proceed non-linearly (the deeper the weathering is, the slower it may progress due to the fact that it is "protected" by the overlying material), and there is the possibility that the very earliest portion of the Sphinx dates back to before 7000 B.C. However, given the known moister conditions on the Giza Plateau prior to the middle third millennium B.C. versus the prevailing aridity since then, some might argue that initial subsurface weathering may possibly (but not necessarily) have been faster than later weathering, and this could counter balance the potential "non-linear" effect mentioned in the last sentence. In other words, the early moist conditions might, crudely, give deeper weathering which could appear to give it an "older" date but this is countered by the non-linear nature of the weathering which could appear to give it a "younger" date. In the end, based on many hours of analysis and rumination, I am satisfied that the two opposing factors roughly cancel each other out and a crude linear interpretation of the data is justifiable. In this manner, I return to my estimate of circa 5000 to 7000 B.C. for the oldest portion of the Sphinx, a date that is corroborated by the correlation between the nature of the weathering in the Sphinx enclosure and the paleoclimatic history of the region.
Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald (page 326) state that "Schoch himself accepts the existence of New Kingdom repair blocks on the rump ("rump" is stressed by being placed in italics by L and O-H] of the monument, indicating that extensive weathering had taken place at the back since the orthodox carving date. So why could this rate of weathering not have applied all over ?" This is a dishonest statement. From my original 1992 KMT article to my 1999 bookVOICES OF THE ROCKS I have pointed out the disagreement among Egyptologists (such as Lehner and Hawass) as to whether the earliest repairs to the Sphinx date to the Old Kingdom or New Kingdom. I have never definitively "accepted" any particular date for them, although I tend to suspect that Hawass is correct and they are indeed Old Kingdom. Furthermore, I've made no statement nor judgment concerning the age of any repai rs on the very westernmost end of the core body of the Sphinx in the vicinity of where we ran our seismic line. Indeed, this area is currently covered at ground level with twentieth-century repair blocks that obscure any ancient repairs, and furthermore, evidence of New Kingdom repairs there (if they existed) would not invalidate the concept of an older Sphinx. It is well known that the Sphinx has been refurbished and reworked many times over the centuries. New Kingdom repairs could easily have replaced Old Kingdom repairs, and of course not all repairs from all time periods cover or repair equal amounts of damage as Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald imply in the quote above.
Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald go on to state (page 326) that "it is clear that the west wall (of the Sphinx enclosure) behind the rump (of the Sphinx)--which according to Schoch's theory must have been carved only c. 2500 B.C.--shows exactly the same vertical and rounded profiles as the (presumably older) south wall. ("shows . . . south wall" is stressed by being placed in italics by L and O-H)" They therefore conclude that this obvious contradiction refutes my analysis. Actually it does nothing of the kind. Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald fail to mention that two "back walls" lie behind the rump of the Sphinx. The higher "back wall," which lies farther to the west, does indeed show rain weathering ("vertical and rounded profiles") and dates back to pre Old Kingdom times. The seismic studies indicate that the lower "back wall," set directly behind the rump of the Sphinx and lacking the "vertical and rounded profiles," may have been excavated much later, possibly in Khafre's time (circa 2500 B.C.), when I believe the rump of the Sphinx was reworked and possibly at that time carved down to the same level as the floor of the Sphinx enclosure on the other three sides of the sculpture. I discuss this issue explicitly in my 1992 KMT paper titled "Redating the Great Sphinx of Giza" (see especially page 57).
These same authors argue against the two-stage construction of the so-called Valley and Sphinx temples, pointing out that some granite blocks have actually been worked into the Valley Temple and underlie an uppermost course of limestone blocks (page 331). Likewise, Old Kingdom pottery fragments have been found around and under detached limestone blocks of the Sphinx Temple (page 334). This evidence they take to "prove" that the temples, and therefore the Sphinx itself, must date to Khafre's time. However, it is perfectly conceivable, in fact to be expected, that Old Kingdom artifacts would be found around the temples and newer (that is, Old Kingdom) granite blocks would be incorporated into the actual temples during the rebuilding and refurbishing phase of Khafre's time. Clearly, there was much activity on the Giza Plateau during the Fourth Dynasty, and we should expect to find the remains of that activity.
Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald fail to mention two independent studies of the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure that have been undertaken by qualified geologists.
The first study, by the geologist David Coxill ("The Riddle of the Sphinx" published in the Spring 1998 issue (Issue 2, pp. 13-19) of the journal "InScription: Journal of Ancient Egypt"), has already been mentioned and quoted above. After confirming my observations on the weathering and erosion of the Sphinx, and pointing out that other explanations (for instance, as proposed by Gauri and Harrell) do not work, Coxill clearly states (page 17): "This (the data and analysis he covers in the preceding portions of his paper) implies that the Sphinx is at least 5,000 years old and predates dynastic times." Coxill then discusses very briefly the seismic work that Thomas Dobecki and I pursued and my estimate of an initial date of 5,000 to 7,000 B.C. for the earliest parts of the Sphinx based on the seismic data. He neither supports nor refutes this portion of my work, but simply writes (page 17): "Absolute dates for the sculpturing of the Sphinx should be taken with extreme caution and therefore dates should be as conservative as possible--until more conclusive evidence comes to light." I can understand that he could take this stance, although perhaps I feel more comfortable with, and confident in, the seismic analysis we did. Coxill, in the next paragraph of his paper (page 17), continues: "Nevertheless, it (the Sphinx) is clearly older than the traditional date for the origins of the Sphinx--in the reign of Khafre, 2520-2490 B.C."
Another geologist, Colin Reader, has also pursued a meticulous study of weathering and erosion (degradation) features on the body of the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure. This he has combined with a detailed analysis of the ancient hydrology of the Giza Plateau. Although as of this writing , his research has apparently not been formally published in journal or book form, Reader has been circulating his work as an illustrated paper entitled "Khufu Knew the Sphinx" (the copy I received from him is dated July 1998). Like Coxill, Reader points out the problems and weaknesses in the arguments of my opponents. Reader notes (quoted from the summary of his paper; no page number), that there is "a marked increase in the intensity of the degradation (that is, weathering and erosion) towards the west (western end) of the Sphinx enclosure." Reader continues, "In my opinion, the only mechanism that can fully explain this increase in intensity is the action of rainfall run-off discharging into the Sphinx enclosure from the higher plateau in the north and west . . . However, large quarries worked during the reign of Khufu (a predecessor of Khafre, the "traditional" builder of the Sphinx) and located immediately up-slope, will have prevented any significant run-off reaching the Sphinx." Thus Reader concludes (page 11 of his paper) that "When considered in terms of the hydrology of the site, the distribution of degradation within the Sphinx enclosure indicates that the excavation of the Sphinx pre-dates Khufu's early Fourth Dynasty development at Giza." Interestingly, Reader also concludes that the so-called "Khafre's" causeway (running from the area of the Sphinx, Sphinx Temple, and Khafre Valley Temple up to the Mortuary Temple on the eastern side of the Khafre pyramid), part of "Khafre's" Mortuary Temple (which Reader refers to as the "Proto-mortuary temple"), and the Sphinx Temple predate the reign of Khufu.
As I have discussed in my book, VOICES OF THE ROCKS, I have come out strongly in favor of not only an older Sphinx, but also a contemporaneous (thus older) Sphinx Temple (at least the limestone core being older than the Fourth Dynasty). Independently of Reader, John Anthony West and I have also concluded that part of "Khafre's" Mortuary Temple predates Khafre. Reader has now come to the same conclusion concerning "Khafre's" Mortuary Temple. I am pleased to see his confirmation.
One should note that Reader clearly accepts the Sphinx Temple as predating Khufu, and if it is correct that the Valley Temple was constructed from limestone blocks that came out of the Sphinx enclosure at a higher level than the blocks that were used to build the Sphinx Temple (as clearly stated by Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald in their book on page 329; I believe they are correct here), then the Valley Temple must also be pre-Khufu (as West and I have hypothesized and advocated all along).
Reader tentatively dates the "excavation of the Sphinx" and the construction of the Sphinx Temple, Proto-Mortuary Temple, and "Khafre's" causeway to "sometime in the latter half of the Early Dynastic Period [page 11]" (that is, circa 2800 to 2600 B.C. or so) on the basis of "the known use of stone in ancient Egyptian architecture [page 8]." I believe that Reader's estimated date for the excavation of the earliest portions of the Sphinx is later than the evidence indicates. I would make three general points:
1) In my opinion, the nature and degree of weathering and erosion (degradation) on the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure is much different than what would be expected if the Sphinx had not been carved until 2800 B.C., or even 3000 B.C. Also, mudbrick mastabas on the Saqqara Plateau, dated to circa 2800 B.C., show no evidence of significant rain weathering, indicating just how dry the climate has been for the last 5,000 years. I continue to believe that the erosional features on the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure indicate a much earlier date than 3000 or 2800 B.C. It strains credulity to believe that the amount, type, and degree of precipitation-induced erosion seen in the Sphinx enclosure was produced in only a few centuries.
2) In his July 1998 paper Reader never addresses the seismic work that we pursued around the Sphinx, which is in part the basis I used to calibrate a crude estimate for the age of the earliest excavations in the Sphinx enclosure. In my opinion, the date estimate based on our seismic work is compatible with the type and amount of erosion and weathering seen in the Sphinx enclosure, and also nicely correlates with the known paleoclimatic history of the Giza Plateau.
3) I do not find dating the Sphinx on the basis of "the known use of stone in ancient Egyptian architecture" convincing. I would point out that massive stonework erections were being carried out millennia earlier than circa 2800 B.C. in other parts of the Mediterranean (for instance, at Jericho in Palestine). Even in Egypt, it is now acknowledged that megalithic structures were being erected at Nabta (west of Abu Simbel in Upper Egypt; discussed in the text of my book, VOICES) by the fifth millennium B.C. and the predynastic "Libyan palette" (circa 3100-3000 B.C.), now housed in the Cairo Museum, records fortified cities (which may well have included architectural stonework) along the western edge of the Nile delta at a very early date. I find it quite conceivable that architectural stonework was being pursued at Giza prior to 2800 or 3000 B.C.
Reader suggests that the head of the Sphinx may have originally been a prominent rock outlier that was first carved into some type of head (perhaps initially a lion, Reader suggests--likewise, John Anthony West and I hypothesized that the Sphinx may have originally been a lion in the 1993 video"The Mystery of the Sphinx") and later recarved. Independently, I have come to similar conclusions relative to the head of the Sphinx once having been a prominent rock outlier, and I have stated so publicly. In my 1992 KMT paper I point out that while Farouk El-Baz's yardang (natural wind-shaped hill) hypothesis for the Sphinx as a whole is untenable, the head may have originally been a yardang (which would mean that it was some kind of rock outlier), but it is too heavily modified by carving and recarving to know for certain.
As far as I am concerned, Reader is one more geologist who has corroborated my basic observations and conclusions. The oldest portions of the Sphinx date back to a period well before circa 2500 B.C.
JAW: At the risk of complicating the matter still further, I'd like to put in a few dissenting words on this thorny matter of dating. At the moment, this has to remain conjecture but for the following reasons, until proved wrong, I'll stake my bets on a much older date for the Sphinx. Very briefly, here's why.
That 5000-7000 B.C. date favored by Schoch corresponds to the last period when it's thought enough rain fell to produce the weathering we see today. But that does not tell us when the Sphinx was carved, it gives us the LATEST date it might have been weathered into its current state. Against this date is the archeological context. As far as we know, there were no cultures in the 5-7000 B.C. era in immediate or surrounding areas that seem capable of employing the incredibly advanced techniques (we can't emulate them today!) found in the Sphinx and Valley Temples. The earliest communities of Jericho and Catal Huyuk built around these dates are extensive settled communities, certainly--but they're not built with closely fitted 200 ton blocks. The Sphinx, its temples, the mortuary temple at the end of the Sphinx causeway, the lower courses of masonry of the Khafre pyramid...all seem to belong to a civilization with exponentially advanced techniques readily available.
And the argument based on subsurface weathering does not necessarily pertain to the dates Schoch assigns them... i.e., while it would appear that the earliest known repairs to the Sphinx date from the Old Kingdom and Khafre's time, it's possible that even this was not the first time work had been done on the Sphinx. The recarved head is a case in point. There is every reason to believe it has been recarved. But by whom and when? If by Khafre, then why not in his own image? If recarved later (New or Middle Kingdom as has been suggested) then who does it represent, and if it called for recarving, then why shouldn't it have been done by Khafre when he was doing everything else? (Member III that the head is carved from is extremely hard and nearly impervious to the elements.) Without going into a long palaver, it seems to me possible that there may well have been even earlier stages of Sphinx repair. This would retain the relative values of the subsurface weathering around the Sphinx but shift the dates back.
Then there is the symbolic lion/Leo correspondence which, given my own affinity for symbolism, I find intrinsically alluring and difficult to put aside. This of course is one of the reasons why Bauval and Hancock come down so strongly for their 10,500 B.C. date-- which a number of critics have tried to quibble away. It's not actually the date that matters, as far as I'm concerned, but that Leo correspondence--whatever the date for Leo rising at the spring equinox may actually prove to be.
But the problem with a 10,500 B.C. date surfaces strongly in Schoch's book VOICES OF THE ROCKS. There can be little doubt that the entire planet was in the midst of several millennia of intense and extended upheaval--prodigious floods, rising sea levels, earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, meteor strikes ... Everything on the Giza Plateau testifies to an advanced, secure and long settled civilization. It's hard to conceive of a Sphinx produced in the midst of violent and protracted chaos. So while the Leo correlation fits roughly ca. 10,500 B.C., the paleoclimatology does not.
What then is the alternative? Well, how about the earlier Leo ingress, when the star map is the same? That puts us back at around 36,000 BC ... I know ...I know... But outrageous as this may sound, in a very rough way it corresponds to the dates provided by those strange Egyptian king lists that chronicle the long reigns during which Egypt was ruled, first by the neterw, the gods themselves, and subsequently by the Followers or Companions of Horus. (I believe the Indian Vedas also say the present stage of their civilization began around 40,000 years ago.) However unlikely that early date may appear, the possibility must be left open that the ancient Egyptians had a more accurate knowledge of their own history than have modern Egyptologists . .. and then there's that curious statement by Herodotus about the 'sun setting twice, where it now rises' which if it means anything at all, may well refer to knowledge of precessionary cycles. De Santillana and Von Dechend have presented a very strong case for advanced observational astronomy existing in prehistoric periods.
And finally, there is the matter of the artist/scholar/scientist's 'intuition' a word that provokes apoplexy in the hearts of the uncreative and the counterintuitive. But it's out of informed intuition, ultimately supported with evidence, that the real science arises. Bean counters discover nothing... so here's a little anecdote that's not been made public before.
When we finally got official permission back in 1991 to get into the Sphinx enclosure with our camera crew and a gang of our sponsors, Schoch of course, good geologist that he is, saw rock more than Sphinx; but it was pretty impressive rock. After a moment of awestruck silence, he turned and said to no one in particular, "Wow! These rocks look like they're hundreds of thousands of years old!" Then realizing he had a considerable audience on hand, he blushed and quickly said, 'But don't quote me on that'.
Enough time has passed. It's safe to quote him. My own intuitive faculties had given me a very similar message a dozen years earlier at my first visit to the Sphinx: the sense that I was in the presence of a creation of almost unimaginable antiquity built by extraordinary beings, human beings in all likelihood, but exponentially superior to ourselves.
I make no apologies for a hypothesis based on a process of exclusion (if the later dates won't work, then the earlier should be given some credence) combined with intuition . That was what allowed me to develop the water weathering theory in the first place, twenty-five years ago, having been set unalterably on that track by Schwaller's observation. The only serious mistake I made was that I didn't realize that precipitation had produced the weathering pattern (none of the textbooks consulted on desert geology mentioned such a possibility, but all mentioned huge floods in not-so-distant prehistorical past, and even Schoch missed that on our first unofficial visit to Egypt). So I say it's older: much older.
Conclusion (I hope!)
D&D write (p. 309) 'Nevertheless, in the fulness of time West and Schoch's theories have had ample time for full development and elucidation. It is, however, less well known that other scientific experts have had equal time to study the evidence and develop a strong opposing case.'
But, as Schoch makes magisterially clear, not only is there no 'strong opposing case', there is no opposing case at all. There is just opposition--from academics incapable of facing a challenge to deeply held convictions, and from a pair of bunglers incapable of distinguishing between credentials and expertise, or between evidence and rationalization.
With the current spirit of detente in place, we're hopeful of being allowed to return to Egypt to continue geologizing. It's not impossible that at some point in the near future there will be some measure of clarification on this complex dating question. But one date absolutely guaranteed exclusion is ca 2500 B.C.
Even so, it is not the date that matters so much, as the implications of the date. More on that anon.
Back to John Anthony West's Home Page