ANCIENT WISDOM and the GREAT SPHINX of EGYPT Robert Schoch writes on the ancient wisdom teachings and the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid.

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by Dr. Robert M. Schoch © 2003 


        Might we find ancient wisdom encoded or enshrined in the Great Sphinx? This is a question I have often asked myself while studying the great monument. Standing between the paws of the Sphinx, sometimes I cannot help but have the sense that there is something important and profound to be learned from her (unlike many people, I consider the Sphinx to be female - - indeed, a female of African or Nubian ethnicity - - despite the false beard, surely a later addition, that was once attached to her chin).  The seismic analysis Dr. Thomas Dobecki and I performed around the Sphinx in 1991 revealed what might be a chamber or room carved into the limestone under the left paw of the Sphinx, hailed by some as “The Hall of Records” of the lost continent of Atlantis.  To the best of my knowledge, this cavity has never been probed or explored, so we don’t know what it might contain, if anything.  But my sense of importance and profundity is not linked to finding some secret store of knowledge, stash of treasure, or ancient technological marvel.  To simply be in the presence of the Great Sphinx, or even to ponder the statue and all its possible implications from afar, can be a moving experience.


        I first came face-to-face with the Great Sphinx at 8:30 a.m. local time on 17 June 1990 (I know people who believe there is astrological significance to this time and date, but it has never been explained to me).  Many more trips would follow over the years.  I am a geologist (Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale, 1983), and I had come to look at the Sphinx specifically with a geologist’s eye.  The question posed to me by my colleague and friend, the heretical independent Egyptologist John Anthony West (author of the classic work on R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz and the Symbolist interpretation of ancient Egypt, Serpent in the Sky:  The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt) was:  What is the age of the Great Sphinx?  Is the attribution of the Great Sphinx to the time of the Pharaoh Khafre (a.k.a. Chephren), circa 2500 B.C., reasonable based on the geology and geomorphology of the Giza Plateau, where the Great Pyramid (attributed to Khufu, a.k.a. Cheops, circa 2540 B.C.), Second Pyramid (attributed to Khafre), and the comparatively small Third Pyramid (attributed to Menkaure, a.k.a. Mycerinus, circa 2480 B.C.), and Sphinx stand?


        Studying the weathering and erosion of the limestone that makes up the body of the Sphinx, analyzing subsurface weathering patterns that we documented seismically, comparing the ancient climatic history of the Giza Plateau with the features of the rocks, led me to one conclusion:  The origins of the Great Sphinx are not only antecedent to the time of Khafre, but appear to go well back into pre-dynastic times, circa 5000 B.C. or earlier.  What is more, the so-called Sphinx Temple, sitting directly in front of the Great Sphinx, also dates back to this earlier time.  There is a connection between the Sphinx and her temple and the pharaohs Khufu and Khafre of the Fourth Dynasty (Old Kingdom Egypt), but it is one of appropriation and adoption by these pharaohs of much older, indeed what they may have thought of as ancient (and no doubt sacred), structures.  The Fourth Dynasty Egyptians repaired and refurbished the Sphinx and associated buildings, and at some point during early dynastic times the head of the Sphinx appears to have been re-carved (the head of the Great Sphinx is actually out of proportion to the body; it is too small, as would be expected if an earlier and badly weathered head was re-carved; there is no way now to determine what the original head of the Great Sphinx looked like).


        To suggest that the origins of the Sphinx go back to pre-dynastic times, before the modern Sahara Desert even existed (the Sphinx and associated pyramids today sit on the eastern edge of the Sahara Desert across the Nile from modern Cairo) was heresy of the first order.  I was told by mainstream academic Egyptologists that no people were sufficiently civilized and sophisticated to carve the Sphinx, or even a proto-Sphinx, at such an early date.  My re-dating of the Sphinx, if true, would necessitate a rethinking of the origin of civilization.  Obviously, my critics argued, despite my geological evidence, my conclusions must be flawed.  I diligently wrote papers on the subject and presented talks at geological and Egyptological conferences, and despite the animosity toward the implications of my analysis, the analysis itself stood up to scrutiny.  Indeed, independent geological studies of the Sphinx have now vindicated my analysis. As a result of my work on the Great Sphinx,

I’ve taken my share of both abuse and praise. Is the Sphinx trying to teach me a lesson?


        Initially I was a lonely voice, a persona non grata at Egyptological meetings for suggesting the impossible, but gradually I noticed that my work and ideas began to slowly take hold, even among those most antagonistic.  The battle is not yet won, but more and more ground is being taken every day.  Is the lesson persistence?  Is it an example of the usefulness of trial and tribulation in fortifying the spirit?  Is the Sphinx representative of the duality of mind, spirit, rationality, higher consciousness, and the divine combined with the matter, animal life, and beastly urges (sometimes thought of as the Leo-Aquarian opposition), both of which are manifested in humans to various degrees and are typically expressed in conflict, be it intellectual sniping or armed war between nations? #Not only does the geological evidence support my analysis and re-dating of the Great Sphinx, but also so does the astronomical work of my colleagues Robert Bauval and Thomas Brophy.  Robert Bauval has suggested that the three major pyramids of the Giza Plateau correlate with the stars in Orion’s belt and commemorate an epoch of circa 10,500 B.C. (see Bauval’s book The Orion Mystery).  Thomas Brophy has found significant correlations between the Giza monuments and celestial phenomena dating to the twelfth through tenth millennia B.C. (Brophy finds alignments at 11,772 B.C. and 9420 B.C., for instance; see his book The Origin Map).  Furthermore, Brophy suggests that the Giza monuments form a grand zodiac clock tied to precessional cycles.


        To put it in crude modern terms, Earth wobbles as it spins on its axis, and thus the sky changes over the centuries and millennia.  At present on the vernal equinox (spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, when the Sun cross the celestial equator from south to north, around March 20-21) the Sun rises against the constellation of Pisces, as it has done for about 2000 years.  We live in the Age of Pisces.  In the not too distant future (within the next couple of centuries, depending on where one draws the boundary between Pisces and Aquarius) the Sun will rise against Aquarius on the vernal equinox and it will be the Age of Aquarius.  Three thousand years ago the Sun rose against Aries on the vernal equinox, thus the world was in the Age of Aries.  In his book, Brophy marshals evidence to support his hypothesis that the Giza monuments served, among other functions, as a testimony to and marker of the end of the Age of Virgo and the beginning of the Age of Leo, circa 10,909 B.C.  The motif of the Great Sphinx can be interpreted in this light:  The human head represents Virgo, the lion’s body represents Leo, and the Sphinx faces due east to watch the rising Sun on the vernal equinox.  Certainly, Brophy’s analysis is compatible with the gist of my re-dating of the Great Sphinx. Through the ages the Great Sphinx  has been both feared and revered. 


       When fully exposed (the Sphinx, if left to the elements, is quickly covered with desert sands up to her neck), the Sphinx stands some 66 feet high and 240 feet long from the tips of her outstretched paws to her rump.   One Arab tradition refers to the Sphinx as Abou el Hôl, or the Father of Terrors, and it is reported that in about 1379 A.D. a fanatical sheik damaged the nose of this heathen idol in his zeal to proclaim Allah the one true god (see James Bonwick’s The Great Pyramid of Giza:  History and Speculation, 2002 [originally published in 1877]).  The Sphinx was also reported to give responses at sunrise to questions placed before it, perhaps not literally speaking, but conveying information in subtle and mysterious ways.  In New Kingdom Egypt, as well as during Greco-Roman times, the Great Sphinx was often revered as a beneficent deity.  Her face was painted red, an altar was positioned between her paws, offerings were made to her, and votive tablets left to her.#Why was the Great Sphinx carved in the location where she sits?  Often the Sphinx is seen as the sentinel or guardian of the pyramids, but in fact I believe the Great Sphinx (or proto-Sphinx) predates the present Giza pyramids.  The Giza Plateau essentially marks the apex of the Nile delta and the very ancient division between Upper and Lower Egypt, a delineation that goes back into the far mists of pre-dynastic times. 

One cannot fully fathom the meaning of the Great Sphinx without considering the adjacent pyramids. 


        Were these monstrous structures merely tombs to maniacal pharaohs, or do they have another story to tell?  Even if they served as the final resting places for dead men (and women), and this is far from proven, do the pyramids represent something more?  Might the nineteenth-century astronomer-royal for Scotland, C. Piazzi Smyth, and his colleagues been on the right track when they suggested that the Great Pyramid in particular encodes and acts as a repository for sophisticated metrological, mathematical, geometric, geographical, and astronomical data?  (I take exception to many of the strong Christian fundamentalist aspects of certain forms of “pyramidology,” but that doesn’t mean we should throw the entire baby out with the bathwater.)  Elsewhere, I have suggested that the Great Sphinx and pyramids record, and were raised in response to, periodic encounters of Earth with comets and space debris, which at times wreaked havoc on the surface of our planet (see my books Voices of the Rocks and Voyages of the Pyramid Builders). 


        The strange and bizarrely designed but consummately built interior passageways and chambers of the Great Pyramid, and the connection between the pyramids and the Great Sphinx, have so far eluded any simple explanation.  A theory that I believe has merit combines the astronomical and astrological significance of the orientations of the Sphinx, pyramids, and their internal passageways, with a hypothesis of initiation rites (including the passing on of sacred and profane knowledge that may be encoded in the structures) which culminated in an ultimate mystical experience for those fortunate enough to achieve such a status.


        The celestial alignments of the Giza structures have been empirically demonstrated.  The vast literature on the sophisticated knowledge of the ancients cannot be ignored (see, for instance, the appendix by Livio Catullo Stecchini in Secrets of the Great Pyramid by Peter Tompkins. To this day many people who visit the Giza Plateau can innately “feel” the mystery of the setting, and to enter the Sphinx Temple or Great Pyramid

even without preparation can be a very moving experience. 


        It is well known that Napoleon experienced something very strange and inexplicable when he was alone in the King’s Chamber on 12 August 1799; to his dying days, he refused to relate the experience. Imagine traveling to the Giza Plateau prepared for a potential mystical vision or to receive sacred wisdom.  In ancient times adepts may have come from all parts of the globe to learn wisdom at the feet of the Sphinx.  Imagine preparing with meditation and offerings, fasting and prayers over many days, in the Sphinx Temple.  You face the enigmatic representation of the divine manifested in the mundane.  You make your way up to and through the various stations and pyramids of the Giza Plateau, working thorough multifarious and labyrinthine passageways and chambers of diverse orientations, angles, and dimensions, each with their unique meaning and significance.  The culmination of a long spiritual and metaphysical journey, for those with the stamina and fortitude to complete it, may have been experienced in the so-called King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid.  Prepared by meditation and fasting, physical exhaustion and mental preparation, aided by the acoustical, tactile, and olfactory properties of the granite insulation deep in the heart of the pyramid (drumming, chanting, music, and incense may have been used as part of the ritual), and perhaps followed by induced sensory deprivation as one is left locked alone in the absolute darkness of the chamber with only the enigmatic granite coffer as company and no way to exit (dependent totally on one’s colleagues to ultimately be retrieved), mystical experiences occurred. 


        Using sophisticated but now poorly understood means, the Sphinx and pyramids may have allowed adepts to accomplish what others have tried to achieve through ingesting mescaline (the active ingredient of peyote) and other drugs, kundalini yoga, study of the Kabala, Transcendental Meditation, or any of numerous other presumed roads to enlightenment.  The Sphinx and pyramids served as a vehicle, a means, to experience true mystical states, a way to gain that insight that cannot be described (sometimes referred to as the “oneness” or “void”), a method to glimpse ultimate reality.


What is the ancient wisdom that the Sphinx has to impart? Perhaps it eludes all words, all language, and can only be attained by me traveling the path to its ultimate consummation.






Circular Times Alternative Magazine Dr. Colette Dowell


An International Networking Educational Institute

Intellectual, Scientific and Philosophical Studies

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