New Studies Confirm Very Old Sphinx Dr. Robert M. Schoch, his Sphinx data and geology re-written again trying to argue his theory as he is not accepted yet.

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by Dr. Robert M. Schoch © 2000

          As many readers of ATLANTIS RISING are aware, for the past ten years I have been working closely with John Anthony West on the redating of the Great Sphinx of Giza. The traditional date for the statue is circa 2500 B.C., but based on my geological analysis, I am convinced that the oldest portions of the Sphinx date back to at least circa 5,000 B.C. (and John West believes that it may be considerably older still). Such a chronology, however, goes against not just classical Egyptology, but many long-held assumptions concerning the dating and origin of early civilizations. I cannot recall how many times I have been told by erstwhile university colleagues that such an early date for the Sphinx is simply impossible because humans were technologically and socially incapable of such feats that long ago. Yet, I must follow where the evidence leads.


          My research into the age of the Great Sphinx led me to ultimately question many aspects of the "traditional" scientific world view that, to this day, permeates most of academia. I got to a point where there were so many new ideas buzzing around in my head that I felt I had to organize them on paper, and this led me to author the book VOICES OF THE ROCKS: A SCIENTIST LOOKS AT CATASTROPHES AND ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS (by Robert M. Schoch, with Robert Aquinas McNally. New York: Harmony Books, 1999).

The manuscript for VOICES was completed in August 1998. Since that time I have learned of two independent geological studies of the Great Sphinx and its age. These studies go a long way toward both supporting my analysis and conclusions and rebutting the inadequate counter arguments of the critics. In both cases they corroborate the primary conclusions of my original studies of the Great Sphinx, namely that the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure show evidence of significant precipitation-induced weathering and erosion (degradation), and the core body of the Sphinx and the oldest portions of the Sphinx temple predate the pharaohs Khafre (ca. 2500 B.C.) and Khufu (Khufu or Cheops, a predecessor of Khafre, reigned about 2551-2528 B.C.).


          The first study was undertaken 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). After confirming my observations on the weathering and erosion of the Sphinx, and pointing out that other explanations 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 pre-dates 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 BC." Bottom line: Coxill agrees with the heart of my analysis and likewise concludes that the oldest portions of the Sphinx date to before dynastic times; that is, prior to circa 3000 B.C.


          Another geologist, Colin Reader (he holds a degree in Geological Engineering from London University), 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 have 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 [as noted above, 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 is discussed in the text of VOICES, 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, but I had not published this conclusion or spoken of it at length in public since I wanted to collect more corroborative evidence first. Reader has now come to the same conclusion concerning "Khafre's" mortuary temple. I am pleased to see his confirmation. I believe that there was much more human activity at Giza in pre-Old Kingdom times than has previously been recognized. I even suspect that the second, or "Khafre Pyramid," may actually sit on top of an older site or structure. According to the Egyptologists John Baines and Jaromír Málek (ATLAS OF ANCIENT EGYPT, 1980, New York: Facts on File, page 140) the Khafre Pyramid in ancient times was referred to as "The Great Pyramid" while the Khufu Pyramid (referred to in modern times as "The Great Pyramid") was known in antiquity as "The Pyramid which is the Place of Sunrise and Sunset." Does the ancient designation of "The Great Pyramid" for the "Khafre Pyramid" indicate that the site, if not the pyramid itself, was of supreme importance and pre-dated many other developments and structures on the Giza Plateau?


          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, mud brick 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. In my opinion, 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. Reader points out in his paper, as I have previously, that even the Egyptologist Zahi Hawass (one of the most ardent "opponents" when it comes to my redating of the Sphinx) contends that some of the weathering and erosion (interpreted as precipitation-induced by Reader, Coxill, and me) on the body of the Sphinx was covered over and repaired during Old Kingdom times - - thus we can safely assume that the initial core body of the Sphinx was carved out much earlier.

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. Some of my critics have suggested that our seismic studies simply recorded subsurface layers of rock rather than weathering per se. Here I would point out that the differential weathering pattern that we recorded in the subsurface cuts across the dip of the rock layers and parallels the floor of the enclosure (as is to be expected of weathering). Furthermore, the dramatically shallower depth of the low-velocity layer immediately behind the rump of the Sphinx is totally incompatible with the notion that the seismic data simply records original bedding in the limestone.


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 constructions 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 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. Bottom line 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.

          It is not only concerning the age of the Sphinx that there have been significant developments since the original publication of VOICES. In June 1999, I participated in an amazing conference organized by Professor Emilio Spedicato of the University of Bergamo entitled "New Scenarios for the Solar System Evolution and Consequences in History of Earth and Man" (7-9 June 1999, Milan and Bergamo). I was invited to speak on the age of the Sphinx.


          A number of scientists and researchers attended this conference, representing many "alternative," heretical, and "catastrophic" viewpoints. In particular, the University of Vienna geologist Professor Alexander Tollmann was there discussing the work pursued by him in conjunction with his late wife Edith Tollmann. The Tollmanns accumulated a mass of evidence supporting cometary impacts with Earth at the end of the last Ice Age between some 13,000 and 9,500 years ago (between circa 11,000 and 7,500 B.C.).


          Another important researcher attending the "New Scenarios" conference was Dr. Mike Baillie, a dendrochronologist (he studies ancient tree rings) at the Queen's University in Belfast. Further supporting themes developed in VOICES, Baillie has documented a series of "narrowest-ring events" in the Irish oak tree-ring chronology at the following dates: 3195 B.C., 2345 B.C., 1628 B.C., 1159 B.C., 207 B.C., and A.D. 540. As Baillie pointed out, these dates mark major environmental downturns and also mark the general time periods of major disruptions and changes in the history of human civilizations. Baillie also noted that some or all of these dates may be associated with cometary activity influencing Earth. Indeed, I believe that these dates, along with the date of A.D. 1178 elucidated by Professor Spedicato and discussed in the text of VOICES, may all represent periods of more or less intense cometary impacts somewhere on our planet. Also note that these dates appear to follow a roughly 500- to 1,000-year cycle.


Looking at each of these dates in turn, we can make a few casual observations and speculations:

3195 B.C.: Possibly this marks the final end of the "Sphinx culture" (the builders of the Great Sphinx and other very ancient megalithic monuments), which, due to its collapse and the resulting cultural vacuum, paved the way for the dynastic culture of Egypt and other Mediterranean civilizations, the development of writing as we know it, and so forth.

2345 B.C.: The early Bronze Age crisis, discussed in VOICES.

1628 B.C.: The end of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt; dynastic changes in China.

1159 B.C.: The end of the Bronze Age, discussed in VOICES.

207 B.C.: Social disruption in China and the Far East; decline of various Hellenistic empires in the circum-Mediterranean region which cleared the way for the dominance of the Roman empire.

A. D. 540: Collapse of the traditional Roman empire which ended the ancient world and set off the Dark Ages.

A.D. 1178: Social unrest and turmoil, particularly in the Pacific region and Asia (including the rise of the Mongols under Genghis Khan).

          Based on the pattern above, I will not be surprised if our planet experiences another major cometary encounter during the twenty-first or early twenty-second century. This predicated future event may have already been foreshadowed by the 1908 extraterrestrial impact (I believe it was cometary in origin) in the Tunguska region of Siberia (see VOICES).


          Extraterrestrial events have recently been acknowledged as also playing a major role in the development of human culture in the very distant past. The March 3, 2000 issue of SCIENCE magazine includes an article on stone tools from southern China dated to approximately 800,000 years ago ("Mid-Pleistocene Acheulean-like Stone Technology of the Bose Basin, South China" by Hou Yamei, Richard Potts, Yuan Baoyin, Guo Zhengtang, Alan Deino, Wang Wei, Jennifer Clark, Xie Guangmao, and Huang Weiwen). What is particularly interesting about these tools is their association with tektites, glassy fragments of molten rock that resulted from a meteorite impact (the result of a comet or asteroid colliding with our planet). It seems that the impact scorched the landscape, dramatically altered the local environment, exposed the rocks from which the stone tools were ultimately manufactured, and paved the way for early human innovation. In the devastation of the impact and its aftermath, new opportunities for cultural development arose.


          Clearly the evidence continues to accumulate that extraterrestrial, and in particular cometary, events have directly influenced the course of human civilization. I stand by the ideas presented, and themes discussed, in VOICES. More than ever, I believe we must learn from the past even as we prepare for the future. Let us hope that we learn in time.



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