It is an issue that has been hotly debated for decades, if not longer. In 1837, Colonel Richard William Howard-Vyse, with the help of some gunpowder archaeology, blasted his way into some hitherto unknown chambers of the Great Pyramid and found therein numerous painted ‘quarry markings.’ In the topmost room (named Campbell’s Chamber by Vyse, in honor of Patrick Campbell, the British agent and Consul General for Egypt—ED), Vyse and his team found a number of cartouches which bore the names of “Khnum-Khuf” and ‘Khufu’ (abbreviated version), the king who—mainstream Egyptology believes—built the Great Pyramid ca. 2,550 BCE. Also discovered were Khufu’s so-called ‘Horus name’ Mjedu (in 1837, no one knew that such a thing existed). This discovery provided Egyptologists with the first, and only, tangible piece of evidence directly connecting Khufu to the Great Pyramid.
Curiously though, almost 70 years before Vyse discovered these hidden chambers, Nathaniel Davison had discovered the lowest of them. Oddly, not a single painted mark has ever been found in this chamber. This curious situation led some to speculate that perhaps the discovery made by Vyse was not so much a discovery but, rather, a fraud perpetrated by Vyse himself. In 1837 there were no scientific means to analyze the paint used to create such marks, so Egyptology had to accept Vyse’s discovery on faith—on his word. But was he a man who could be trusted?
In 1807, Vyse had stood as a candidate in the Beverley constituency for the UK Parliament. After he won the seat (by a margin not seen before or since), Philip Staple (who came in a very poor third) presented a petition to Parliament, charging Vyse with electoral fraud: “A Petition of Philip Staple, Esquire, was read: setting forth, That at the late Election for Members to serve in Parliament for the Borough of Beverley…, Richard William Howard Vyse, Esquire, and the Petitioner, were Candidates to represent the said Borough; and that the said… Richard William Howard Vyse… was, guilty of bribery and corruption and corrupt practices in order to their being elected to serve as Members for the said Borough…” (Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. 62, p. 680).
Unfortunately for Staple his petition was not upheld. Although, with the benefit of history, it should have been. It is now known that of the 1,010 votes Vyse received in that election, 932 were secured with bribes. In this action, we observe the first clue to Vyse’s character—that he was a man who would do whatever it took, including perpetrating a fraud, to get what he wanted.
The questionable achievements of Vyse would not be complete without mention of the claimed discovery by himself and his team of the remains of Menkaure in the smallest of the main pyramids at Giza, a discovery later found to be completely bogus. In this regard, renowned British Egyptologist, Sir I.E.S. Edwards, writes: “In the original burial chamber, Col. Vyse had discovered some human bones and the lid of a wooden anthropoid coffin inscribed with the name of Mycerinus. This lid, which is now in the British Museum, cannot have been made in the time of Mycerinus, for it is of a pattern not used before the Saite Period. Radiocarbon tests have shown that the bones date from early Christian times.” (The Pyramids of Egypt, p. 141).
More recently we have the family account of Walter M. Allen of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Apparently Allen’s great-grandfather, Humphries Brewer, worked with Vyse and his team at Giza in 1837, and witnessed Vyse’s assistants, Mr. Hill and Mr. Raven, refreshing old paint and making new markings. In his book, Journeys to the Mythical Past, Zecharia Sitchin quotes from Allen’s notes: “Humfrey received prize for bridge he designed in Vienna over Danube. H. went to Egypt 1837, British Medical Serv. to Egypt… Nell said they were to build hospital in Cairo for Arabs with severe eye afflictions. Dr Naylor took Humfrey along. Treatment not successful, hospital not built. He joined a Col. Visse exploring Gizeh pyramids. Rechecked dimensions 2 pyramids. Had dispute with Raven and Hill about painted marks in pyramid. Faint marks were repainted, some were new. Did not find tomb… Had words with a Mr. Hill and Visse before he left. He agreed with a Col. Colin Campbell and another Geno Cabilia. Humfrey went back to England late 1837.”
Curiously, while Vyse makes no mention of Humphries Brewer in his published book, he does name all the other individuals mentioned in Walter Allen’s account, including Dr. Naylor and his intention to help the local Arab people with severe eye problems. Understandably, if Brewer had accused Vyse of perpetrating a fraud, then it is unlikely that a young man of little consequence to Vyse would have been mentioned in his finished work.
While all of the above may leave the bad smell of suspicion, it is not actual proof, that Vyse perpetrated a fraud within the Great Pyramid. The most damning evidence of all, however, comes from Vyse’s own hand; and it shows, in this writer’s view, beyond reasonable doubt that, in fact, he did perpetrate a deception within the Great Pyramid.
The only avenue left to explore, it seemed to me, would be Vyse’s handwritten journal. If this document could be located, then it might, I thought, be possible to determine whether Humphries Brewer had been with Vyse in 1837. Perhaps Vyse had written him into his handwritten journal and then simply redacted his presence later from the book. So, in March 2014, I set about looking for Vyse’s handwritten journal.
Thanks to the Internet, it didn’t take long. The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury had the papers, I found out. The Centre is about 400 miles from my home, so it would require a round-trip of approximately 800 miles for my wife Louise and I to take a look at Vyse’s handwritten journal. We didn’t know what to expect or if we would find anything of much relevance—but we weren’t disappointed. (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/2/)
Vyse’s handwritten journal consists of around 600 pages of yellowing, folded paper, bound together with a thin, white ribbon and all contained within a rather unremarkable card folder. Although some pages are especially clear, the ink on many is exceedingly faint, browning with age. Our greatest problem, however, was Vyse’s handwriting—it was almost impossible to read. Fortunately we were allowed to digitally photograph the pages so that we could take them home to analyze at our leisure. So, for the next two days, Louise and I set about photographing every page of Vyse’s handwritten journal. We knew this would take many months of research.
The gods of serendipity, however, were on our side. As my wife turned one of the pages for me to photograph, and I was about to move on to the next, I spotted something peculiar. We both looked at each other in stunned silence as we realized the enormity of what we were seeing—compelling evidence that the cartouche of Khufu which Vyse claimed to have discovered within the Great Pyramid must indeed have been forged.
To say we were dumbstruck would be an understatement. After returning to our hotel that evening, though exhausted from our day’s work, we stared at the evidence on our computer screen. The irony of the discovery was not lost on us. Here we were, barely able to read Vyse’s scrawling, and yet the ancient Egyptian script he had so carefully copied into his journal revealed to us the truth of the disputed inscriptions in the Great Pyramid.
On the surface these two cartouches (within the oval shapes to the right of the images) appear unremarkable. When we look at little closer, however, the simple truth they hold reveals itself. Figure 1 is a copy of the cartouche Vyse claims he found in the Great Pyramid. The second cartouche (Figure 2), also found by Vyse, is presented only in his handwritten journal (he didn’t publish this) and had clearly been found somewhere else since it is slightly different from the cartouche in the Great Pyramid; i.e., it has no horizontal lines in the small circle on the right. Had the cartouche in Figure 2 been copied from the cartouche in Campbell’s Chamber, then Vyse most surely would have copied the small lines into the plain circle that we observe in the circle of Figure 1. That he did not copy these lines tells us he did not observe such lines in the circle of this cartouche in Figure 2, which implies, of course, that the cartouche in Figure 2 is from a different source than the one in Campbell’s Chamber (Figure 1).
Now, if we look below the small snake hieroglyph (between the two bird glyphs of both cartouches) we can see two small dots side by side. And here’s the point—these two dots are a mistake; they are not part of the king’s name and are likely the result of random splashes of paint dropping accidentally from the scribe’s paintbrush. Indeed, even in his final book (published about five years after he left Egypt), Vyse, presumably, having now learned this fact for himself, removed this mistake from the Khufu cartouche he supposedly found in the Great Pyramid (figure 3).
The question that must now be asked, of course, is how is it possible that an identical random mistake can be found in two cartouches of Khufu from two seemingly different sources? It is surely stretching credibility to the breaking point to consider that these two quite separate cartouches of Khufu would have the same random markings dropped in the exact same place of the King’s cartouche, thereby presenting compelling evidence that one was copied from the other. Given that we have already eliminated the possibility that Figure 2 (with the blank circle) could have been copied from Campbell’s Chamber (Figure 1), then we can only surmise that Figure 2 was the original, and this was used to copy the cartouche (with some minor refinements) along with the other hieroglyphs into Campbell’s Chamber.
But what of the other hieroglyphs to the left of the cartouches? Do they tell us anything? Clearly we can see that the two scripts here are very similar to each other with some minor variations. If we consider the two staff-like hieroglyphs (Figures 1 and 2), it appears that Figure 2 simply replicates Figure 1 with the top of the second staff (from right) truncated and more looped (as it is, mainstream Egyptology interprets this glyph as a chisel, although a number of questions surround such an interpretation). This slight difference between these two glyphs may simply have been the result of poor copying by whomever Vyse employed to render it into Campbell’s Chamber, possibly Mr. Hill.
The simplest explanation to all of this, by far, is that Vyse discovered a piece of hieroglyphic text with the Khufu cartouche (Figure 2) during his excavations somewhere outside the pyramid, recognized the name Khufu (this had been properly rendered and published by Rosellini five years before Vyse went to Egypt) and merely copied the entire hieroglyphic script—mistakes and all—from that source (including the very similar characters to the left of the cartouche which he would not have been able to read) into Campbell’s Chamber, except that he slightly modified the small circle to include three horizontal lines (as well as badly rendering or deliberately fudging the second staff-like glyph).
Vyse would have added these horizontal lines into the plain circle (of Figure 3) because, in 1837, it was unclear that a plain circle could, in fact, be read as ‘Kh.’ Believing that a plain circle (often with a center dot) could only be pronounced ‘Ra’ (as in ‘Ra-ufu’) would have compelled Vyse into placing hatched lines into the plain circle to unequivocally render that circle glyph ‘Kh’ (as in ‘Kh-ufu’). Indeed, on the very same page of his handwritten journal we can see Vyse deliberating over the use of these three horizontal lines for the plain circle of the Khufu cartouche and that he has also placed a cross (X) above the two discs just outside the cartouches:
On the same page Vyse also comments: “Cartouches in tomb to the W. [west] of first pyramid are different than Suphis [Cheops/ Khufu].”
Clearly from this comment, Vyse already knows what the proper Khufu cartouche should look like. Alongside this comment we observe him having drawn a small circle with a dot in its center (Figure 4), the phonetic “Ra” sound, and below this, another small circle with three small horizontal strokes in its center, the phonetic “Kh” sound. It is as though Vyse, having found the Khufu text with a blank disc, is deliberating whether or not it should be drawn with hatched lines. We can even see that he has cross-referenced all these circles by placing a ‘1’ at top right of them. Eventually he decides and draws, at the bottom of the page in the left margin, a cartouche of Khufu complete with the two dots (mistakes) under the snake glyph and now with the three horizontal strokes in the, hitherto, blank disc. Below this he writes: “Cartouche in Campbell’s” (Figure 5) as if noting for himself what he had decided to place there. The irony here is that had Vyse simply not bothered placing any hatched lines into the plain disc, the deception would have been far more convincing, since no one in 1837 knew that Khufu could also, in fact, be spelled with such a plain disc. Vyse overegged the pudding.
Tampering with the Evidence
We have to remember that these glyphs would have been unfamiliar even to academics of the day, let alone Vyse. It would be important to copy them accurately.
Here’s the chronology we learn from his diaries: On May 27, Vyse inserts into his notes a plain blank disc—it’s there; we can see it. On June 16 (over 3 weeks later), he draws the plain blank disc again from the Chamber. (We know this because of the two dots under the snake and also because Vyse writes alongside, “in Campbell’s Chamber.”)
Vyse is meticulous in his detail, so much so that he draws the two small dots under the snake (which are actually a mistake). On that basis we must conclude that he could—and would—have easily observed and drawn the much more prominent lines in the disc. It is simply inconceivable that he would not accurately render what he saw in the Chamber—a hatched disc—and that he would do so on two quite separate occasions. And especially so since this very question (of blank disc versus the hatched disc) is so puzzling to him, as is clearly revealed in his diary notes. He even cross-references the hatched disc on the page with the blank disc (the small ‘X’ and ‘1’). In short, had Vyse entered Campbell’s Chamber for the first time and found what we see there today in the Khufu cartouche; i.e., a circle with cross-hatchings, then there is no question that he would have drawn such a circle in his diary and not simply a plain disc.
I suspect, however, that Vyse placed the entire inscription there shortly after entering this chamber and later modified the disc by adding the three lines, suspecting (wrongly) that only a hatched disc could properly render the name Khufu. I suspect he placed the entire text there because of the other glyphs to the left of the cartouche, which were wrongly copied (either in error or deliberately) into the Chamber from what we see in his handwritten journal.
The evidence is compelling, I believe, that, at the very least, Vyse added the three lines to the Khufu disc. Thus it is clear Vyse tampered with evidence. If he could add three lines then he could just as easily have added three thousand lines. As such, one must conclude, this evidence has become irredeemably tainted by Vyse’s actions.
What we are presented with here is, I believe, a virtual smoking gun pointing to fraud having been perpetrated by Vyse and his team in the Great Pyramid in 1837. The finding on the very same page of Vyse’s handwritten journal of two slightly different Khufu cartouches, appearing to have come from two different sources yet bearing the very same random mistakes (the two dots below the snake glyph) speaks to the truth of what actually happened at Giza all those years ago.
As for any reference to Humphries Brewer, for which we originally launched our investigation into Vyse’s papers, nothing has been found so far, but the long and laborious process of sifting through the Colonel’s almost unreadable notes continues.
© 2014, Scott Creighton. The above has been prepared by the author for Atlantis Rising and is based on a chapter from his forthcoming book, The Secret Chamber of Osiris (Bear & Co., Jan. 2015).