SPHINX AGE DEBATE REJOINED
Against a backdrop of continuing and fevered controversy over the true age of the Great Sphinx of Egypt, plans are in advanced development to definitively reexamine the sensational dating scenario—based on water weathering— offered by independent Egyptologist John Anthony West and Boston University geologist Robert M. Schoch. If things go as intended by organizers, this summer (2006) a panel of geologists will weigh the evidence in Egypt.
Though somewhat more modest than originally intended, the Geo-panel will be asked to focus on weathering issues alone and to attempt to establish once and for all whether the monument was built around 2500 B.C., as asserted by orthodox scholars, or is, in fact, thousands of years older, as has been argued by West and Schoch. At press time 60% of the budget had been pledged. At stake may be many of the most cherished assumptions of Western history as presently taught.
The argument offered by West and Schoch has been a simple, albeit compelling, one. The Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt—presently found in desert condition—has been weathered by rainwater falling in very ancient times. Therefore, it must have been carved millennia earlier than previously believed. The inescapable implication is that the prevailing version of the distant past must be totally rewritten, and our understanding of the level of civilization existing in extreme antiquity must be radically revised. Some observers believe the water-weathering of the Sphinx could set in motion a scholarly revolution as dramatic and as far-reaching as that provoked by Galileo.
West and Schoch first delivered their seismic shock to archaeology at the Geological Society of America’s Annual Conference in San Diego in 1991.
The story set off a firestorm of controversy, making headlines around the world and leading to the 1993 NBC special, The Mystery of the Sphinx, hosted by Charlton Heston. One of the most successful documentaries ever, the program initially attracted a prime time audience of 30 million in America alone. So powerful is its appeal that twelve years later it continues to be shown regularly on the Travel Channel. It has been seen by an estimated 200 million or more globally.
Following the initial GSA presentation and then the NBC special, a number of archaeologists, Egyptologists and geologists attempted to refute the evidence. In turn, their objections have been answered by Schoch, West and others.
Moreover, in the intervening years, proponents of the West/Schoch argument have continued to gather further compelling supporting evidence from Egypt, much of it first reported in the pages of Atlantis Rising. These findings were presented to the GSA Annual Meeting in Reno, NV in 2000, again meeting with overwhelming support from a packed house of attending geologists. Meanwhile, a number of independent, qualified geologists have also traveled to Egypt on their own to study the evidence first-hand and have corroborated the water-weathering hypothesis, hence the greater antiquity of the Sphinx and the need to re-write history. (The dating, however, remains a subject of conjecture and hot debate.)
Critics continue to object that, despite the almost unanimous approval of geologists at the two GSA meetings, the evidence has not been studied formally on-site in Egypt by recognized experts. It is this last-straw objection that the geo-panel is intended to address.
The plan is to travel to Egypt with a panel of six geologists. Three will be proponents of the West/Schoch water-weathering theory. Three will be opponents. It will be an equal-opportunity debate.
Schoch and West will choose two of the three proponents of the theory, and these two will decide upon the third between them.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Under Secretary of State at the Giza Plateau and Director of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, will choose two opponents, who in turn, between themselves will choose the third.
The investigation will concentrate mainly on evidence on the Giza Plateau itself, but will also study relevant evidence at nearby Sakkara and Dahshur.
It will be facilitated and overseen by Schoch and West who will introduce and familiarize the participants with all aspects of the theory as it has been developed by them.
British geologist Colin Reader will accompany the group as a consultant. Reader has carried out valuable and knowledgeable investigations on his own and is convinced that the water weathering has been produced mainly by precipitation runoff. But he believes this took place during the early dynasties of Egypt—necessitating a relatively minor revision of Sphinx chronology, rather than the radical rewrite that West/Schoch propose. Reader therefore falls between the two camps and it is felt that his input will contribute both expertise and balance to the presentation.
A total of ten to twelve days will be spent in Egypt. Afterward members will provide written reports upon their findings—individually, collectively, or both. To thoroughly document all presentations and investigations, two videographers will accompany the team.
In principle, this Geo-panel idea has the enthusiastic verbal support of Hawass. Organizers do not anticipate obstacles to obtaining the necessary permissions to carry out the investigation—which will be entirely non-invasive and which will involve nothing but careful observation of the evidence.
If all objections to the water-weathering hypothesis are, indeed, finally put to rest, it will become clear that a total revision of the way we currently look at our distant historical past is required. The implications are profound.
Anyone interested in participating financially can get in touch with John Anthony West by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.