REDATING THE GREAT SPHINX OF GIZA by Dr. Robert M. Schoch  Original paper 1992 on geological findings of redating the Sphinx of Giza near the Great Pyramid on Giza Plateau.


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   Moving Beyond Robert Schoch 







by Dr. Robert M. Schoch  ©  1992


Mainstream Egyptologists reacted with total disbelief when it was proposed that the famous Sphinx was much older than the 4th Dynasty. The Great Sphinx, carved out of limestones of the Eocene Mokattam Formation,[1] standing sixty-six feet (twenty meters) high and 240 feet (seventy-three meters) long, sits on the edge of the Giza Plateau (just west of Cairo, Egypt), east of the three great pyramids. Most Egyptologists currently attribute the carving of the Great Sphinx to King Chafre (Chephren) of the Old Kingdom's Fourth Dynasty, in approximately 2500 B.C. by various chronologies.[2] In addition the so-called Sphinx Temple (situated directly in front of the Great Sphinx) and Valley Temple (on the Sphinx's right side) are also generally attributed to Khafre.[3


**[It is important to read the LAST PARAGRAPH of this paper and to understand the mindset of a geologist who was raised by his grandmother, she was a Rosicrucian  - Robert Schoch looked specifically for any geological features that would 'prove' his theory, he was not neutral in his search of geological data when he told me his story of his interest in Egypt and Edgar Cayce and the Sphinx prior to joining  JAW. The article continues after the informative links - in understanding a mind that creates illusions to settle one's fantasies and delusions. No other geologists at this time have come up with the same data as Schoch. The Mystery of the Sphinx (film and video) was a commercial, financial enterprise headed by a few individuals including Boris Said, Robert Watts and various investors; scripts and ideas by JAW, SCHOCH and others....alternative history to Egypt opened the door to many other authors writing absurdities during this era of the early 1990s, basically sci-fi, but unknown to the uneducated population of the New Age of Atlantis and Egypt. The initial research was based off of  R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz , who's research and data is actually quite fascinating and can be read in a formal review, "The Temple of Man", translated form French to English by Robert Lawlor. cmd][THE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED ]


          As presently viewed, the Great Sphinx presents the image of a leonine body bearing a human head in a nemes head-dress. It does not sit on top of the Giza Plateau-only its head and the very top of its back project above the general elevation of the surrounding plateau-but rests in the center of what appears to be the remains of an ancient quarry. The Sphinx is carved from local bedrock and faces directly east. In order to carve the body of the Sphinx, the ancient Egyptians dug a ditch or moat around it, such that the figure now sits in a hollow or depression, commonly referred to by such names as the "Sphinx ditch", the "Sphinx enclosure" or the "Sphinx quarry." The blocks of limestone removed from the Sphinx enclosure (in order to create the form of the body) were used to construct the so-called Sphinx Temple sifting directly due east of the Sphinx itself (in front of the paws of the sculpture) and the so-called Valley Temple located immediately south of the Sphinx Temple. The floor of the Sphinx enclosure is approximately sixty-five feet (twenty meters) above present-day mean sea level; this is probably near, or only a few meters above, the typical level of Nile flooding during various periods in ancient times.[4] I have divided major geological and field evidence bearing on the age of the Great Sphinx into four main categories :


(1) Weathering Patterns, (2) Two-Stage Construction of the Sphinx and Valley Temples, (3) Ancient Repair Campaigns to the Body of the Sphinx and (4) Seismic Surveys of the Sphinx Area.


Weathering Patterns


          Modifications to rock surfaces-such as those resulting from weathering, erosion and paleos of development-have long been utilized as criteria in dating the relative ages when fresh rock surfaces were first exposed to the elements.[5] Such methodologies have been widely used to date Quaternary land surfaces in particular, but the same concepts can also be applied to other dating problems-such as the age of the initial carving of the Sphinx relative to other cultural features found on the Giza Plateau.


There appear to be four distinct forms or modes of weathering exhibited in this specific geologic area:


(1) Precipitation-induced weathering is seen on the body of the Sphinx and in the ditch or hollow in which it is situated. This gives a rolling and undulating vertical profile to the weathered rocks and is very well-developed and prominent within the Sphinx enclosure. The rocks displaying this mode of weathering also often contain prominent vertical crevices and other solution features, as well as cross-cutting diffusion fronts.[6] Many of the vertical and inclined solution features follow joints and faults in the bedrock.

(2) Wind-induced weathering and erosional features are seen on structures that are attributed unambiguously to Old Kingdom times. In this mode of weathering, the original profiles of the carved faces of tombs and other structures are still clearly visible (sometimes containing easily legible hieroglyphic inscriptions); but the softer, less competent layers of rock have been "picked out" by wind and sand abrasion, with the consequent formation of deeply eroded "wind-tunnel" features.

          This wind-induced weathering is distinctly different in nature from the precipitation-induced weathering; it is well exemplified on various Old Kingdom tombs and structures south and west of the sphinx, which have been carved from the same sequence of limestones as the body of the great sculpture itself.


(3) Present on the body of the Sphinx, as well as on other Giza Plateau structures (and essentially forming an overlay on many precipitation-induced and wind-induced megascopic weathering features), are weathering features that are interpreted as resulting from relatively recent (within the last couple of centuries) efflorescing of dissolved and recrystallized minerals (such as halite) on the rock surfaces, which have subsequently flaked off and deteriorated the stone.[7]

(4) Weathering due to the dissolution and recrystallization of calcite and other minerals in the rocks is visible within various tombs and other chambers cut into the bedrock of the Giza Plateau. This may occur on a daily basis, as water condenses on the cool surfaces of these man-made caves, and subsequently evaporates once again as the temperature rises. This condensation and evaporation cycle gives the surface of the rock-and any carvings it may bear-almost the appearance of melted wax, at times covered with a very fine coating of mineral crystals. This is the most minor component of weathering observed on the Giza Plateau. It is preserved in only a limited number of artificial cave-like structures, such as tombs directly north of the Sphinx on the eastern edge of the Plateau.


          Of the four modes of weathering listed above, some rocks may show one mode overlain by another-thus, in particular cases, the various modes of weathering may be somewhat difficult to sort out. On the whole, however, they are clear and distinct from one another at the Giza site.

What is interpreted as precipitation-induced weathering is the oldest predominant weathering mode identified on the Plateau. It is found to any significant degree on only the oldest structures there, such as on the Sphinx body and the walls of the Sphinx enclosure. Of course, it still rains at Giza on occasion, and thus precipitation-induced weathering can be said to exist on all structures on the Plateau to some small degree; here we are talking in generalities and attempting to look at the broad picture. In many places this precipitation-induced weathering mode has superimposed upon it wind-induced weathering. Presumably the major portion of this precipitation-induced weathering occurred prior to the onset of the current and regime exhibited at Giza (i.e., prior to the modern climatic regime of the Sahara Desert).


          On the Sakkara Plateau, some ten miles (sixteen kilometers) to the south of Giza, there are fragile mud-brick structures, mastabas, that are indisputably dated to the First and Second dynasties-presumably several hundred years earlier than the standard dating of the Sphinx-that exhibit no evidence of the precipitation-weathering features seen in the Sphinx enclosure. As noted above, well-documented Old Kingdom tombs at Giza, cut from the identical sequence of limestones as the body of the Sphinx, exhibit well-developed wind-weathering features, but lack significant weathering which is precipitation-induced. For these reasons it can be concluded that the well-developed precipitation-weathering features seen on the Great Sphinx and its associated structures predate Old Kingdom times and, in fact, may well predate dynastic times altogether.


        The other two modes of weathering noted above appear to be, on the whole, very recent phenomena that have been most active since ancient times. Other researchers have focused attention on such weatherings relative to the Sphinx, particularly the damage currently being done by mobilized salts.[8] These studies are of extreme importance in the attempt to halt the current destruction of the monument; but it must be remembered that such studies of weathering agents currently damaging the Sphinx may not be of relevance in any attempt at determining the genesis of ancient weathering and erosional features which are observable on it, as well.[9]


          If the Great Sphinx of Giza was weathered heavily, and at an early period in its existence, by precipitation, this suggests that it initially may have been carved prior to the last great period of major precipitation in this part of the Nile Valley. Egypt was subjected to erratic floods and what is sometimes referred to as the "Nabtian Pluvial" (a period of relatively heavy rainfall) from 12,000 or 10,000 to about 5,000 years ago; and it has been suggested that there were sporadic but relatively heavy rains during the Fourth Millennium (4000 to 3000 B.C.), and a less and climate along the Nile as late as 2350 B.C. (with relatively wetter conditions and unusually high Nile inundations recorded sporadically during historical times).[10]


        Thus, on the basis of the climatic history outlined above, one might tentatively suggest that the Great Sphinx was sculpted in very early dynastic times, or in the Predynastic Period (late-Fourth Millennium or earliest-Third Millennium B.C.). However, one must account for the considerable weathering that appears on the walls of the Sphinx hollow, on the body of the sculpture itself, and on the walls of its associated temples-weathering that was possibly covered up or repaired during the Old Kingdom (ca. 2600-2400 B.C.). One must also take seismic data into account (see below)-in particular, the fact that it indicates the subsurface dissolution of the limestone beneath the floor of the Sphinx enclosure is very deep and non-uniform. These latter considerations suggest the possibility that the initial carving of the Great Sphinx may have taken place several millennia earlier than its standard attribution.



Redating the Sphinx

Redating the Sphinx: A Prehistoric Sphinx?
Redating the Sphinx: Geological Criticisms
Redating the Sphinx: Archaeological Criticisms
Redating the Sphinx: An Early Dynastic Sphinx?
Redating the Sphinx: The Sphinx Debate of 2000
Redating the Sphinx: The Continuing Controversy
Redating the Sphinx: Reflections on the Geology
Redating the Sphinx: Reflections on the Archaeology
Redating the Sphinx: Tentative Conclusions
Redating the Sphinx: References and Links for Further Study


Two-Stage Construction of the Sphinx and Valley Temples


          As far as can be determined, the core of the Sphinx Temple (and possibly the core of the Valley Temple) is constructed out of titanic limestone blocks taken directly from the ditch around the Sphinx.[11]Therefore, the limestone core of the Sphinx Temple (and also possibly the Valley Temple) must be as old as the great sculpture itself.


          The ancient Egyptians later faced the limestone cores of these temples with ashiars made of Aswan granite. Based on my field observations of the granite ashiars and the underlying limestone core blocks, I believe that the core blocks in both temples were exposed to the elements and underwent considerable weathering and erosion before the granite facings were installed. In places the backs of the granite blocks were cut in irregular, undulating patterns so that they complemented or matched the irregular weathering patterns on the limestone blocks which they were used to refurbish. In observing the Valley Temple in particular, one also notes that the limestone walls, where stripped of their granite facings, are not cut smoothly. Rather, they have a higgledy-piggledy surface pattern, where apparently the ancient Egyptians, before applying the Aswan-granite facings, slightly cut back and smoothed out the weathered surface of the walls, they did not, however, take off enough of this weathered surface to make the walls perfectly smooth.


          The general Egyptological community is in agreement that the granite facings on the Sphinx and Valley temples are attributable to King Khafre.[12] On site I found an inscription carved into the granite of the Valley Temple which appears,[13] on stylistic grounds, to be of Old Kingdom date. It seems a good assumption that the limestone core blocks would have been freshly cut-that is, unweathered-when initially used in construction of the Sphinx-associated temples. Therefore, it the granite facings cover deeply weathered limestone, the original limestone structures must predate by a considerable degree their granite facings. Obviously, if the limestone cores (originating from the Sphinx ditch) predate the granite ashlars (facings), and the latter are attributable to Khafre of the Fourth Dynasty, then the Great Sphinx was carved prior to the reign of that king.


Ancient Repair Campaigns to the Body of the Great Sphinx


          The body of the Sphinx has been subjected to various repair campaigns, beginning with the ancient Egyptians themselves and continuing up to the present day. The earliest of these repairs to sculpted surfaces of the monument were carried out using what appear to be Old Kingdom-style masonry techniques.[14] If the oldest repairs to the eroded body of the sculpture do date to Old Kingdom times, this is another strong argument in favor of a much earlier date for its carving.

          American Egyptologist Mark Lehner has analyzed the repairs to the Sphinx [15] and concluded that, despite his own evidence to the contrary, "To seek agreement with known historical facts [e.g., his contention, among other things, that the Sphinx was carved in ca. 2500 B.C. by order of Khafre], we should probably expect the earliest restoration to have been done in the New Kingdom [ca. 1500-1000 B.C.].[16]

In summary, in order to save the attribution of the Sphinx to King Khafre and ca. 2500 B.C., Lehner suggests that the earliest level of "large-block" (Old Kingdom-style?) masonry was added to the monument during the New Kingdom, over 1,000 years later. Furthermore, he points out that this still leaves only on the order of 500 years for the majority of the weathering and erosion experienced by the Sphinx to have occurred. Taking not only Lehner's work into account, but also the evidence for a two-stage construction of the Sphinx-associated temples (discussed above), the research that has been carried out concerning different modes of weathering on the Giza Plateau (discussed above), and the seismic surveys in the area of the Sphinx complex which give data on the subsurface depth and distribution of weathering around the monument (discussed below), and considering the fact that attribution of the carving of the Sphinx to Khafre is based on circumstantial evidence to begin with, I find one conclusion is inescapable: The initial carving of the core body of the colossal sculpture predated the time of Khafre. Lehner's own work is more easily reconciled with the hypothesis that the Fourth Dynasty Egyptians merely restored, refurbished and added on to the Sphinx and its neighboring structures, rather than being the original creators of this Giza Plateau complex.




[ Remnants of a Lost Civilization?    "Writer John Anthony West and Boston University geologist Robert Schoch contend that weathering of the Member II  layers indicates that the Sphinx was built between 5000 and 7000 BC. If  Egyptologists tend to ignore West and Schoch it is because the two mostly ignore the evidence of the Old Kingdom Egyptian society that surrounds the Sphinx, concluding that the monument must be the remnant of a much older civilization, otherwise unknown to archaeology. They do not explain how their lost civilization disappeared from the archaeological record, nor how the Old Kingdom society of Khufu, Khafre, and their cohorts are so abundantly represented in that record. Nor do they explain what happened to this lost civilization during the thousands of years between their mysterious Sphinx builders and the Old Kingdom (2575-2134 BC). Apart from these problems, the West-Schoch case is flawed in the specifics they cite about erosion on the Sphinx."   ZAHI & LEHNER  cmd]




Seismic Surveys of the Sphinx Area


          Seismic geophysical surveys indicate that the subsurface weathering of the Sphinx enclosure is not uniform. This strongly suggests that the entire Sphinx ditch was not excavated at one time. Furthermore, by estimating when the less-weathered portion of this area was excavated-and thus first exposed subaerially-one can tentatively estimate when initial excavation of the Sphinx enclosure may have begun. Dr. Thomas L. Dobecki, a seismologist with McBride-Ratcliff and Associates of Houston, Texas, assisted in carrying out some low-level seismic work in the vicinity of the Great Sphinx; this was done with the permission of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization.[17] We were able to gather a quantity of seismic data, and with this we have been able to establish subsurface geometries of the bedrock and have located several previously unknown sub-surface features. Seismic lines taken in front of and along the body of the sculpture on either side-east (seismic line S4), north (seismic line S1) and south (seismic line S2) of the monument-indicate that below the surface the limestone is weathered up to a depth of six to eight feet (1.8 to 2.5 meters). However, along the back-west side (seismic line S3) -of the Sphinx the identical limestone has been weathered only to a depth of approximately four feet (1.2 meters). These results were completely unexpected. The same limestone surrounds the great sculpture (the floor of the Sphinx enclosure where our seismic lines were taken consists of Gauri's [18] Rosetau Member, or Member 1), and if the entire body of the Sphinx was carved out of living rock at one time, it would be expected that the surrounding limestone would show the same depth of subsurface weathering.


          One possible interpretation of this seismic data is that, initially, only the sides and front (eastern portion) of the Sphinx body were carved free of the surrounding rock, so that the Sculpture projected as an outcropping, with what would later become the figure's rump or rear (western portion) still merged with the natural rock. To be more precise, the leonine rump was probably initially carved down only to the level of the upper terrace, which to this day remains immediately west of the sculpture within the general Sphinx enclosure; below the level of the terrace, the backside of the figure merged with the bedrock. Egyptian Egyptologist Selim Hassan [19] suggested that the Sphinx was originally meant to be viewed only from the front (rather than from the sides or rear), so that, with the Sphinx Temple in front of it, it seemed to sit upon a pedestal.Alternately, the rump or western end of the sculpture may have been freed from the bedrock originally, but only by a very narrow passage not sampled by our April 1991 seismic line.


          In order to determine accurately when the western end of the Great Sphinx was freed from the bedrock, and to establish a chronology of the possible widening of the passage between the rear portion of the sculpture and the west wall of the surrounding enclosure, more detailed work (including the collection of several more seismic profiles parallel to seismic line S3) will be necessary. However, it is already clear that the limestone floor behind the rump of the figure-which we sampled seismically in April 1991-was exposed later (i.e., possibly in Khafre's time) than the east, north and south limestone floors of the enclosure. Once the sides of the body and eastern end of the Sphinx were carved, the limestone floors surrounding these three sides of the sculpture began to weather; but what was to become the limestone floor behind the figure was still protected by a thick layer of solid rock.


          A reasonable hypothesis is that when Khafre repaired and refurbished the Great Sphinx and its associated temples in ca. 2500 B.C., he had the back (western end) of the colossal sculpture carved out and freed from the cliff (or enclosure wall). It is difficult to argue that the rump of the figure was carved any later than Khafre's time; the base of the rump has, like the rest of the core body of the Sphinx, been weathered and repaired with limestone blocks. Furthermore, one must account for the non-trivial four feet (1.2 meters) of subsurface weathering detected in the area behind the carved figure, between the rump and the enclosure wall. If, for instance, one hypothesized that the rump of the Sphinx had been freed during New Kingdom restoration efforts to the sculpture, how could we account for this deep subsurface weathering, given the prevailing and conditions on the Giza Plateau from New Kingdom times to the present and the historical fact that the Sphinx enclosure has been filled with desert sands for much of the period since the New Kingdom?


          As an alternative to the scenario that Khafre had the back of the Sphinx carved free from the bedrock, one could suggest that if the rear portion of the figure already had been freed completely from the adjoining limestone prior to the Old Kingdom, but was separated from the resultant cliff by a very narrow passage, Khafre may have had this passage widened and therefore uncovered the limestone floor that we sampled seismically. (Our seismic line was positioned very close to the western wall of the Sphinx ditch.) Thus, at this time (ca. 2500 B.C.), the limestone floor on the western end of the sculpture began to weather.


          Based on either this chain of reasoning, or the scenario suggested immediately above-and given that the weathering of the limestone floor of the Sphinx enclosure is fifty to 100 percent deeper on the front and sides of the figure than at its rear-we can estimate that the initial carving of the Great Sphinx (i.e., the carving of the main portion of the body and the front end) may have been carried out ca. 7000 to 5000 B.C. (in other words, that the carving of the core body of the figure is approximately fifty to 100 percent older than ca. 2500 B.C.). This tentative estimate is probably a minimum date; given that weathering rates may 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), the possibility remains open that the initial carving of the Great Sphinx may be even earlier than 9,000 years ago.


In Search of a Context for the Great Sphinx


          As a geologist, the current evidence taken as a whole suggests to me that the Great Sphinx of Giza is considerably older than its traditional attribution of ca. 2,500 Indeed, I am currently estimating-based on evidence at hand-that the origin of the colossal sculpture can be traced to at least 7000 to 5000 B.C., and perhaps even earlier. Of course, the Sphinx may not have looked like it does today some 8,000 years ago. The original surface details of the body have weathered away in the distant past, and the current head of the figure-which everyone agrees is almost surely the result ot recarving.

          Certainly, the Great Sphinx has suffered much work, repairs, refurbishing and abuse from prehistoric times onward to the present. Special attention seems to have been paid to it periodically, for instance during the
Old Kingdom (ca. 2500 B.C.), in New Kingdom times (ca. 1400 B.C.), in the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (or Late Period, ca. 650-400 B.C.) and during the Graeco-Roman era (ca. 300 B.C.-400 A.D.). During these periods of repair or refurbishing activity, the contemporary ruler often had the Great Sphinx excavated from the sands that quickly (in just a matter of decades) fill its hollow enclosure if left unattended and, after each re-excavation of the figure, repair whites were often mortared to the weathered body in an attempt to restore the sculpture to its original outlines.[20]


          As a general academic scholar, I have to ask myself whether the evident extreme age for the Great Sphinx that I am suggesting makes sense archaeologically and culturally. Dating this unique sculpture to the Seventh or Sixth Millennium B.C. (or perhaps even earlier)-is this compatible with the broad context of known archaeological remains? In other words, is there any context or precedent for a 7,000-or 9,000-year-old (or even older) colossal man-made monument? What were other Mediterranean peoples and cultures like at this time? What types of structures were they creating? In taking a quick look at the relevant archaeological literature, I found that in Egypt for the period from about 10 000 to 5000 B.C. there is little known today that would suggest there were peoples capable either technologically or organizationally-of carving the Great Sphinx or building its associated temples.[21] However, the relatively simple Neolithic sites known in Egypt dating to this period may, in fact, be 'backwater' peripheral or marginal settlements that were, and are, non-representative of the highest level of Egyptian cultural and technological attainment at this time. Quite possibly other cultural remains are, for the most part, buried deep under the Nile alluvium. In addition, rises in sea level since ca. 10,000 or 15,000 years ago may have submerged vast expanses along the Mediterranean coast inhabited by early cultures.[22]


          If we move beyond Egypt, however, we find that by the Eighth Millennium B.C. there were already major city-sites around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Two particularly well-attested examples are ancient Jericho in Palestine and Catal Hüyük in Turkey.

Catal Hüyük, a city built of mud bricks and timber, dates back to at least the late-Seventh Millennium B.C.. This was no primitive settlement, however; rather, the known remains demonstrate a sophistication and opulence previously unimagined by archaeologists for such a remote period in time. The inhabitants built elaborate houses and shrines, covered walls with paintings and reliefs, and apparently had a rich and complex symbolic and religious tradition.[23]


          Jericho dates back to the Ninth Millennium B.C. and the city-site included a massive stone wall and tower, and a ditch cut in the bedrock-all dating from ca. 8000 B.C. The remains of the stone wall are at least six and one-half feet (two meters) thick and still stand in places twenty feet (six meters) high (nobody knows how high it was originally). Outside of this protecting wall, a ditch was excavated into the solid bedrock to a depth of nine feet (2.7 meters) and a width of twenty-seven feet (8.2 meters). Inside the wall are the remains of a stone tower thirty feet (9.1 meters) in diameter, the ruins of this structure still standing thirty feet (9.1 meters) high. In the center of the Jericho tower is a flight of steps built from huge stone slabs. This construction has been compared favorably to the towers seen on the great medieval castles of Europe.[24]


          The evidence of Jericho, in particular, suggests that the Sphinx complex-the sculpture and its associated stone temples-would not have been a totally isolated phenomenon in the Neolithic world: Other massive stone structures were being built around the Mediterranean as early as 10, 000 years ago.


Where Do We Go from Here?


          This is a project that is continuing to develop and unfold. More research is needed. An immediate task to be undertaken, in my opinion, is additional seismic studies within the Sphinx enclosure specifically, and on the Giza Plateau generally. I would also like to eventually acquire permission to sample the limestones of the Plateau. With such samples, I could perhaps determine more accurately the exact nature and mode of weathering observable on the Sphinx and other structures of the Plateau; and there is even the possibility of attempting to date the exposure age of the surface of the rock (which, in turn, could date the initial carving of the Sphinx) by measuring the concentration of isotopes produced in situ on the surface of the rock by the bombardment of cosmic rays.[25] Likewise, it would be extremely useful to be allowed to take some cores of the limestone, especially on the Plateau immediately adjacent to the Sphinx ditch, in order to look at the various weathering products and mineralogical changes produced at depth. I am also interested in trying to obtain some isotopic dates on the earliest mortar used in conjunction with the first repair campaigns to the Sphinx.


          In presenting the hypothesis that initial carving of the Great Sphinx of Giza may predate its traditional attribution, it appears that I have stirred up much controversy within the Egyptological/archaeological community.[26] I have no desire to be the proponent of a controversial hypothesis; I am simply advocating a tentative assumption that, in my opinion, best fits the evidence. My purpose is not to be dogmatic-I do not claim to have the 'truth"-but simply to present a testable hypothesis relative to the age of the Sphinx. I am willing to see my explanation proven wrong on the basis of evidence outweighing the evidence which corroborates it. However, such empirical evidence as would falsify my hypothesis has, in my opinion, not yet been presented. I remain convinced, thus far, that the standard story told by Egyptologists as to when the Great Sphinx was created-namely, by Old Kingdom Egyptians during the reign of King Khafre-does not hold up under close examination.[27]



Redating the Sphinx -This is a very good historical account of the various papers written by many scientists and their findings and theories!


Redating the Sphinx: A Prehistoric Sphinx?
Redating the Sphinx: Geological Criticisms
Redating the Sphinx: Archaeological Criticisms
Redating the Sphinx: An Early Dynastic Sphinx?
Redating the Sphinx: The Sphinx Debate of 2000
Redating the Sphinx: The Continuing Controversy
Redating the Sphinx: Reflections on the Geology
Redating the Sphinx: Reflections on the Archaeology
Redating the Sphinx: Tentative Conclusions
Redating the Sphinx: References and Links for Further Study




[1] Recent work on the stratigraphy, sedimentology and general geology of the Giza Plateau is summarized in: T. Aigner, 'Event-stratification in nummulits accumulations and in shell beds from the Eoceine of Egypt,' in G. Einsele and A. Seilacher, eds., Cyclic and Event Stratification (Berlin, 1982), 248-262; T. Aigner, 'A Pliocene cliff-line around the Giza Pyramids Plateau, Egypt,' Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclimatol., Palaeoecol. 42 (1983a), 313-322; T. Aigner, 'ZurGeologie und Geoarchaeologie des Pyramidenplateaus van Giza, Aegypten,' Natur und Museum 112 (1983b), 377-388; T. Aigner, 'Facies and origin of nummulitic buildups: an example from the Giza Pyramids Plateau (Middle Eocene, Egypt),' N. Jb. Geol. Palaont. Abh. 166 (1983c), 347-368; K. O. Emery, 'Weathering of the Great Pyramid,' J. Sediment Petrol. 30 (1960), 140-143; K. L. Gauri, 'Geologic study of the Sphinx,' Newsletter of the American Research Center in Egypt 127(1984), 24-43; K. L. Gauri, 'How Old is the Sphinx?' Abstracts for the redating_the_sphinx Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Chicago, redating_the_sphinx), 202; K. L. Gauri and G. C. Holdren, 'Deterioration of the stone of the Great Sphinx,' NARCE 114 (1981), 35-47; Geological Survey of Egypt, Cairo, Geological Map of Greater Cairo Area (I 983), Scale 1:100,000; M. Lehner, 'The Development of the Giza Necropolis: The Khufu Project,' Mitt. des Deutschen Archaologischen lnst., Cairo, Abt. 41 (1985), 109-143; R. Said, The Geology of Egypt (Amsterdam, 1962); P. Said, The Geological Evolution of the River Nits (New York, 1981); R. Said, 'The geological evolution of the River Nile in Egypt,' Z. Geomorphol., N.F. 26 (1982), 305-314; R. Said, ed., The Geology of Egypt (Rotterdam, 1990); R. Said and L. Martin, 'Cairo Area geological excursion notes,' in F.A. Reilly, ed., Guidebook to the Geology and Archaeology of Egypt (Petroleum Exploration Society of Libya, Sixth Annual Field Conference, 1964), 107-121; R. M. Schoch, 'How Old is the Sphinx?,' Abstracts for the redating the sphinx Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Chicago, redating the sphinx), 202; R. M. Schoch and J. A. West, 'Redating the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt,' Geological Society of America, abstracts with programs 25:5 (1991), A253; M. Sears, "Nummulites: Time capsules of the desert sands," Rotunda, The Magazine of the Royal Ontario Museum 13:1 (Fall, 1990), 12-19.

[2] For instance, J. Baines and J. Malek, Atlas of Ancient Egypt (Oxford, 1980), 36, state that Khafre (= Chephren, = Khephren) ruled Egypt from 2520 to 2494 B.C.

[3] "As to the exact age of the Sphinx, and to whom we should attribute its erection, no definite facts are known, and we have not one single contemporary inscription to enlighten us upon this point": from S. Hassan, The Sphinx: Its History in the Light of Recent Excavations (Cairo, 1949), 75. The current standard attribution of the Great Sphinx and its associated temples to Khafre seems to be based on four major pieces of evidence: 1) a statue of Khafre recovered during the Nineteenth Century from the Valley Temple; 2) an ambiguous (and now effaced) inscription on a New Kingdom stela of ca. 1400 B.C.; 3) an alleged similarity between the face of the Great Sphinx and that of Khafre; and 4) the physical proximity of the Great Sphinx to Khafre's pyramid. As Hassan and J. A. West (Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt [New York, 1979], 215-220) and others have noted, all of this evidence is circumstantial and none of it proves that the Sphinx was carved by order of Khafre.

          At present the consensus among Egyptologists seems to be that the face of the Great Sphinx resembles the face of its reputed builder, Khafre. This is a relatively recent notion, and far from certain. The face of the sphinx is severely damaged, but what remains of it does not indisputably appear to resemble the face seen on known statues of Khafre. American Egyptologist Mark Lehner ('Computer rebuilds the Ancient Sphinx," National Geographic [April 1991], 32-39) has done work on restoring the battered face of the Great Sphinx, but his effort has not necessarily shed any light on what the face of the Sphinx originally looked like. Instead of attempting to reconstruct the face of the sculpture based on actual physical evidence, Lehner dogmatically insists that the monument was carved by Khafre's order and, therefore, the face must resemble that king; accordingly, he used a computer to reconstruct the face so that it looked like known portraits of the Fourth Dynasty ruler, remarking (National Geographic, 33) that "with the face of Khafre, the Sphinx came alive." Here Lehner clearly seems to imply that his reconstruction of the face of the Sphinx helps to confirm that the sculpture was created under Khafre; if so, this is simply a case of circular reasoning.


          Recently New York City Police forensic officer Detective Frank Domingo made a detailed analysis of the face of the Sphinx, as compared to the known face of Khafre (see article by R. Grossman, Chicago Tribune, Section 5, 24 February Redating the Sphinx, 1,5). In October of 1991, Domingo traveled to Egypt with the express purpose of measuring and examining the surviving facial features of the Sphinx and the statues known to portray Khafre. After thoroughly studying the problem, Domingo concluded definitely that the face of the great Sphinx is not the same face seen on statues of the builder of the second great pyramid. My hypothesis-that the initial carving of the Sphinx of Giza was undertaken prior to the reign of Khafre-is actually neither corroborated nor refuted on the basis of whether or not the face of the sculpture represents the likeness of Khafre. Even if the face of the Sphinx is a portrait of the Fourth Dynasty ruler, this does not falsify my hypothesis, as I believe that Khafre did, indeed, work on restoring and refurbishing the monument. He may have even ordered the recarving of the face of the Sphinx in his own image.

[4] Lehner has suggested (1985, 116) that along the eastern edge of the Giza Plateau (the area where the Sphinx is located) all land higher than an elevation of 60.7 feet (18.5 meters) above sea level remained above the annual inundations of the Nile during the Fourth Dynasty. In fact, Lehner (1985) found some suggestions of an Old Kingdom surface that is only 57.4 feet (17.5 meters) above sea level. As Lehner (1985, citing the work of K. Butzer) notes, the flood plains of the middle-Third Millennium B.C. (Old Kingdom times) have persisted in essentially the same form until the present day; there has not been a rise in the alluvial plain since the Old Kingdom period, as was once assumed.
Hassan (1949).stated that in the Old Kingdom, during the annual inundation of the Nile, barges could be floated right up to the edge of the Giza Plateau. Even in this century, unusually high Nile waters have flooded around the base of the Great Sphinx (Ali Hassan, personal conversation, June 1991).

          In April of 1991, using seismic techniques, we located the water table at an elevation of about forty-six to forty-nine feet (fourteen to fifteen meters) above sea level in the sand-filled courtyard area approximately 328 feet (100 meters) east of the Sphinx Temple, between the modern restaurant and the Sphinx and Valley temples. In this courtyard area, the bedrock surface is buried under approximately forty-nine to fifty-nine feet (fifteen to eighteen meters) of sand; that is, the surface of the bedrock in this local area is at an elevation of about 6.6 to 16.4 feet (two to five meters) above sea level. The pyramids of the Giza Plateau sit at a higher elevation than does the Sphinx; thus, the base of Khafre's pyramid is situated at an elevation of approximately 230 feet (seventy meters) above sea level.

[5] See reference and discussion in R.M. Schoch, Stratigraphy: Principles and Methods (New York, 1989), 261. [ back]

[6] See M. M. El Aref and E. Refai, "Paleokarst processes in the Eocene limestones of the Pyramids Plateau, Giza, Egypt," J. Afr. Earth Sci. 6 (1987), 367-377, who thoroughly describe these features.

[7] It has been suggested that subsurface moisture migrating up into the Sphinx and the surrounding rocks of the Sphinx enclosure may account for much of this activity (see Gauri and Holdren, 1981). Alternatively, or complementarily to the migration of subsurface ground water, similar weathering is actively taking place during the present day, due to the condensation of atmospheric moisture on the rock. As described by K. L. Gauri, A. N. Chowdhury, N. Fl. Kulshreshtha and A. R. Punuru ('Geologic features and durability of limestones at the Sphinx,' in P. G. Marinos and G. C. Koukis, eds., Engineering Geology of Ancient Works, Monuments and Historical Sites (Rotterdam, 1988), 723-729 [725-726]), 'the moisture is able to condense as droplets of water in the cool of the night. This moisture forms concentrated salt solution, a process augmented by the hygroscopicity of the existing halite. The salt solution enters the pores under the influence of capillary force. At sunrise, as the water begins to evaporate, crystals of salt grow producing crystallization pressure. Often one can hear in the morning the sound of popping stone resulting from pressures produced under the surface layers."

          K. L. Gauri, G. C. Holdren and W. C. Vaughan ('Cleaning Efflorescences from Masonry,' in J. R. Clifton, ed., Cleaning Stone and masonry, (Philadelphia 1986], 3-13) have suggested that much of the deterioration of the Sphinx is due to the migration of salts under the influence of water originating from the atmosphere. These authors (Gauri,, 4-5) state: "Burial of the Sphinx for centuries under the desert sand has, it appears, resulted in the migration of salts from the depth of the bedrock toward the surface. The authors deduced this phenomenon from observations made in the process of mapping the Sphinx geologically [Gauri, 1984], when sand was removed that had piled up in recent times against the rock surfaces bounding the ditch around the Sphinx. Even though the sand appeared dry at the surface, it was completely soaked with water a few inches below the surface. Also, the bedrock in contact with the sand was soaked with water. The source of this water is the atmosphere, and not the subsurface, because the water table lies many meters below the surfaces under consideration. Therefore, during the long burial of the Sphinx, the rock must have become wet to a considerable depth, and as it dried when exposed to the sun, salts must have become concentrated in the surface layers."

          As noted by Lehner (The ARCE Sphinx Project: A preliminary report,' NARCE 1 1 2 [I 980], 3-33), the vast majority of the weathering and erosion occurred to the Sphinx prior to ca. 1400 B.C. In places the walls of the Sphinx enclosure exhibit over a meter (3.3 feet) of erosion, and in places perhaps over two meters (6.5 feet) of erosion (see, for instance, the profile in Gauri, 1984, 32). It is hard to imagine that the mechanism of migrating salts, described in the quotation above, could be solely responsible for producing these deep-weathering features in the time span from 2500 B.C. (when Khafre allegedly had the Sphinx carved) to 1400 B.C. It is particularly difficult to reconcile Gauri et. al.'s proposed weathering mechanism with the observed surficial morphology of the rocks in consideration of the following points: 1) the Sphinx enclosure was probably buried in sand for at least half of the period between 2500 and 1400 B.C. (see Lehner, 1980); 2) the weathering patterns seen on the body of the Sphinx and walls of the Sphinx enclosure clearly exhibit features associated with precipitation-induced weathering (cf. El Aref and Retai, 1987); and 3) Old Kingdom tombs and other structures on the Giza Plateau that were carved from the same member of the Mokattam Formation do not exhibit the same weathering features to the degree seen on the Sphinx body and surrounding enclosure walls. If Gauri et al.'s mechanism of migrating salts since 2500 B.C. was the primary agent responsible for the weathering and erosional features seen on the body of the Sphinx, and on the walls of the Sphinx enclosure, then one should expect to observe such features of a similar nature and degree on the Old Kingdom tombs and other structures that are carved out of the same sequence of limestones as the body of the Sphinx, and that have been subjected to identical climatic and weathering conditions since they were constructed.

[8] See, for instance, the work by Gauri and his colleagues cited above, as well as the following: A. N. Chowdhury, A. R. Punuru and K. L. Gauri, 'Weathering of limestone beds at the Great Sphinx," Environ. Geol. Water Sci. 15 (1990), 217-223; K. L. Gauri and A. R. Punuru, 'Characterization and durability of limestones determined through mercury intrusion porosimetry,' in F. Zerra, ed., The Conservation of Monuments in the Mediterranean Basin (Proc. First Intern. Syrnpos. Bari, 1989), 255- 258; A. R. Punuru, A. N. Chowdhury, N. J. Kulshreshtha and K. L. Gauri, 'Control of porosity on durability of limestone at the Great Sphinx, Egypt,' Environ. Geol. Water Sci. 15 (1990), 225-232. See also, C. Hedges, 'Sphinx poses riddle about its fate: Experts ponder ways to save monument from man and time,' New York Times (10 March Redating the Sphinx), C4.

[9] In their work on the weathering of the Sphinx, Gauri and his colleagues (see references cited above) have suggested that, in general, the upper beds of the middle member (Member II or Setepet Member) of the core body or thoracic region of the Sphinx are more durable than the lower beds. These authors have calculated durability factors for different beds of this member; such factors range from about 100 (high durability) for the uppermost bed, just below the neck of the Sphinx, to about 11 for the lowermost bed of the member. There is a general trend of increasing durability factors, as calculated by these authors, going up section. Thus, their bed 4i (located approximately halfway up the body of the Sphinx) has a calculated durability factor of 75 (see summary of this work in Gauri et al., 1988).

          The primary factor that determines the durability of the various beds, according to Gauri and colleagues, is the relative pore-size distributions in the various beds (they calculated their durability factors on the basis of the relative volume of the pores in various beds). In summary, stone with a greater volume of large pores will tend to be more durable. The reason for this is explained succinctly by Gauri et al. (1988, 727-728): "The influence upon durability of the interconnected small and large pores may also be visualized qualitatively in terms of transport of water through stone. Large pores become easily filled due to the mass movement of water into the pores. But when pores communicate with the exterior of the stone through narrow throats, the throats influence the filling of the large pores. Small (narrow) capillaries have large suction. An abundance of these capillaries will fill the small and large pores completely. But if many large pores are present and the small capillaries are somewhat larger, some empty space may then continue to exist in the stone. When crystals begin to grow in a solution, the resultant pressure will be experienced on the walls of the completely filled pores, but such pressure will be 'released' in the empty space of the partially filled pores. Consequently, stone with a large volume of large pores and a small volume of narrow capillaries will be more durable."

          What determines the microporosity of a particular stone? It is a function of the original constitution of the rock as formed during deposition, diagenetic changes that modify primary textures and, finally, leaching of the rock matrix. The limestones composing the core body of the Sphinx are not uniform, as Gauri and colleagues have pointed out. These authors classify the lower half of Member II (their beds I through 3) as a sparse biomicrite and the upper half of Member II (their beds 4 through 7) as a packed biomicrite. In general, packed biomicrites might be expected to have a larger volume of large-pore space and, therefore, be characterized by higher durability factors than sparse biomicrite. Even taking this into account, Gauri et al's data show a consistent trend of increasing durability factors toward the top of the section within the packed biomicrites (beds 4-7).

          How might we account for the trend noted for the packed biomicrites? I would suggest that this trend is compatible with the hypothesis that the stone was subjected to leaching of the matrix-which opened the pores and increased durability-due to precipitation. As rain fell on the back of the Sphinx (or, at least. on the stone that was to become the Sphinx), and on the Giza Plateau in general, it would soak into and leach the rock from the top down giving rise to the pore-volume distribution seen in these rocks today.

          It is interesting to note that on the wall of the Sphinx ditch the beds for which Gauri and colleagues calculated the highest durability f actors are not consistently the least weathered and receded in profile (assuming that the wall of the Sphinx ditch was originally cut vertically or nearly vertically). For instance, utilizing Gauri's own data (Gaud, 1984, 32, fig. 3C), in an east-west profile of the rear of the Sphinx and the wall of the Sphinx ditch one sees that beds 1i and 2i-which both have low durability factors of 11-are greatly receded and undercut the overlying units of higher durability (beds 1ii and 2ii). However, in the same section, bed 2ii (with a durability factor of 76) is receded further back than is bed 1 ii (durability factor of 56). Likewise, bed 3ii (durability factor of 76) is receded back further than bed 3i (durability factor of 42), and beds 4i and 4ii (durability factors of 75 and 86 respectively) are receded further back than bed 3ii. In general, the amount that a bed has receded is not so much a function of its present-day durability factor, but primarily a function of its geometric position on the exposure. It would be logical that precipitation failing down from above would preferentially weather the uppermost beds and cause them to recede back at a faster rate than the lower beds. Again, this train of thought suggests that the Sphinx and walls of the Sphinx enclosure (or ditch) were subjected to precipitation-induced weathering.

          There have been a few other previous studies of note concerning weathering and erosion on the Giza Plateau. Emery (1960), and Said and Martin (1964) discussed briefly the weathering to the pyramids, but their work is not directly applicable to the present discussion. More pertinent to the topic at hand, El Aref and Refai (1 987) made a comprehensive macroscopic study of paleokarst processes and features on the Plateau, concentrating in particular on the area of the Sphinx enclosure. These authors pointed out many paleokarst features that are attributable to periods of seasonal rainfall. They illustrate and discuss solution holes, solution depressions, solution joints, symmetrical concentric cross-cutting diffusion fronts, and other dissolution features found on the body of the Sphinx and walls of the surrounding ditch. El Aref and Refai (1987, 376) note that "The karstic rocks are mantled by soil material and/or surficial calcareous duricrust. The solution features are partially or completely filled with clay precipitates together with concretions of iron and manganese oxides and collapse breccia fragments." (As a side note, these iron and manganese oxides often take on a red or ocher color. Lehner [ 1 991, 36] noted that "if you probe any seam in the masonry covering the lower part of the body [of the Sphinx], a red powder appears." This may simply be red earthy/clay material, typical karst sediments that one would expect in such a limestone terrane that has been subjected to weathering via precipitation. Lehner [1991] and Hassan [1949] have both suggested that the Sphinx and its surroundings were traditionally painted red. This putative red paint, however, may actually consist, in part, of natural weathering products of the rock, although the Sphinx may have been artificially painted red, as well). El Aref and Refai conclude (1987, 376) that "The development of these karst features and the associated sediments indicate that the study area was subjected to intensive seasonal rainfall and evaporation of temperate (Mediterranean) climatic conditions."

          Professor Farouk El-Baz has also noticed the anomalous and very ancient weathering seen an the core body of the Sphinx. However, in order to save the attribution of the sculpture to Khafre's reign, El-Baz has long promulgated his notion that the Great Sphinx of Giza is nothing more than a yardang (an aerodynamically stable natural erosional landform-essentially a wind-shaped hill) that was merely "dressed up" by the Old Kingdom Egyptians to look like a sphinx (F. El-Baz, "Desert builders knew a good thing when they saw it," Smithsonian [April 1981],116-121; F. El-Baz, "Egypt's desert of promise," National Geographic [February 1982], 190-221). Thus, El-Baz believes that the Old Kingdom architects and sculptors incorporated very ancient (pre-Old Kingdom) erosional features found on a natural hill into their sculpting of the Sphinx.
Relative to the Great Sphinx of Giza, El-Baz's yardang hypothesis is untenable. The body of the Sphinx was not carved from a natural hill or yardang. In order to carve the figure's body, the ancient Egyptians had to excavate a ditch or moat around it, so that the full sculpture now sits in a hollow or depression below the general surface of the Giza Plateau. This ditch or hollow is clearly an artificial, man-made excavation, and it is well-established that the blocks removed from it were used to build the two structures today called the Sphinx and Valley temples. Certainly, the core body of the Sphinx was not a natural hill that was heavily eroded prior to being sculpted into the human-headed leonine figure. The head may have originally been a yardang, but it has been too heavily modified by carving and recarving to tell for sure at this point.

[10] For a recent summary of the evidence bearing on the Holocene climatic history of northern Egypt, see Said (1990).

        W.C. Hayes summarized (in his Most Ancient Egypt [Chicago, 1965, K.C. Seele, ed.], 23) much of the classical work carried out on reconstructing the climate of this period in Egypt's history when he wrote: 'Toward the end of the sixth millennium B.C. Egypt and neighboring lands appear to have enjoyed another slight, but effective increase in temperature and precipitation and to have entered upon a prolonged sub-pluvial or relatively moist phase, extending from early Neolithic times until late in the Old Kingdom (ca. 5000-2350 B.C.) .... Since the end of the third millennium B.C. the climate of Egypt has been generally similar to that of the present day. Between 2350 B.C. and A.D. 700 the average temperature seems to have been, if anything, a trifle above and the average rainfall a little below the modern levels, but with at least two 'quite moist' spells, one in late-Ramesside times [ca. 1200-1100 B.C.) and one about 850 B.C."

          K.W. Butzer summarized his well-known work an the same topic (Environment and Archaeology: An Ecological Approach to Prehistory [Chicago, 1971], 584):The Nile Valley provides further details and confirmation of several moist intervals... A period of accelerated wadi activity that began 9200 B.C. terrninated by 6000 B.C. Shell proliferations suggest rather more vegetation in the wadis. A little later, ca. 5000 B.C., a red paleosol suggests a mat of vegetation and more frequent gentle rains. Finally, after a second dry interlude, accelerated wadi activity and extensive sheet washing-in the wake of sporadic but heavy and protracted rains-are indicated ca. 4000- 3000 B.C. Historical and archaeological documents suggest that the desert wadi vegetation of northern and eastern Egypt was more abundant as late as 2350 B.C., when the prevailing aridity was established.'

[11] See the work of Aigner (1983b) and Lehner (1980).

[12] See, for instance, Z. A. Hawass, The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt (Pittsburgh, 1990).

[13] See also I. E. S. Edwards, The Pyramids of Egypt (New York, 1985); L. Grinsell, Egyptian Pyramids (Gloucester, 1947); and Hawass (1990).

[14] Gauri and his colleagues (see, for instance, Punuru et al, 1990, 230) consistently refer to these in such terms as "Pharaonic veneer stones" that have experienced "5,000 years of exposure to local conditions," that is, they were applied during Old Kingdom times. Recently Egyptian Egyptologist Zahi Hawass (Abstracts for The First International Symposium on the Great Sphinx-Towards Global Treatment of the Sphinx, Cairo 29 February-3 March Redating the Sphinx [Egyptian Antiquities Organization, Cairo, Redating the Sphinx], 14) stated: "It seems that the Sphinx underwent restoration during the Old Kingdom because the analysis of samples found on the right rear leg proved to be of Old Kingdom date." [back]

[15] See Lehner (1980) and D. J. Hamblin ("A unique approach to unraveling the secrets of the Great Pyramids" [article about the work of
M. Lehner], Smithsonian [April 1966), 78-93).

[16] Lehner (1980), 18.

[17] Nineteen refraction profiles, two reflection profiles and a refraction tomography data-set were collected on the Giza Plateau during April 1991. The seismic work performed around the base of the Sphinx consisted of hitting a sledgehammer on a steel plate, thus generating energy waves that entered the rock, traveled into the subsurface, and reflected and refracted off of subsurface features. In the Sphinx enclosure, refraction profiles gave us information on the subsurface weathering of the rock. In addition, we located various voids, cavities and other subsurface features (the subject of a paper currently being prepared by Dobecki and me). For instance, the apparent thinner weathering around stations 150 to 160 feet (forty-five to forty-nine meters) on seismic line S2, taken along the south flank of the Sphinx, may not be real; it is probably due to induced resonance caused by a subsurface void. For a summary, in abstract form, of the April 1991 seismic survey of the Giza Plateau, see T. Dobecki, "How Old is the Sphinx?," Abstracts for the Redating the Sphinx Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Chicago, Redating the Sphinx), 202.

[18] Gauri (1984).

[19] Hassan (1949).

[20] For popular discussions of the history of the Great Sphinx since Khafre's time, see Baines and Malek, 1980; E. A. Wallis Budge, A Guide to the Egyptian Collections of the British Museum (London, 1909); Edwards, 1985; H. Goedicke, "Sphinx" in Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition 25 (1965), 403-404; Grinsell, 1947; Hassan, 1949; Hawass, 1990: Lehner, 199 1; J. Malek, In the Shadow of the Pyramids: Egypt during the Old Kingdom (Norman, 1986); W. M. Flinders Petrie, The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeb (with an 'Update" to the original 1883 edition by Z. Hawass, London, 1990); J. Putnam, Egyptology., An Introduction to the History, Culture and Art of Ancient Egypt (New York, 1990); and references cited in these works.

[21] See M. A. Hoffman, Egypt Before the Pharaohs (New York, 1979), for a review of Predynastic Egypt.

[22] M. Ters ("Variations in Holocene Sea Level on the French Atlantic Coast and Their Climatic Significance," in M. R. Rampine, J. E. Sanders, W. S. Newman and L. K. Konigsson, eds., Climate: History, Periodicity, and Predictability [NewYork, 1987], 204-237) notes that "in general, the mean level of the oceans has risen 60 m [200 feet) during the past 10,000 yr" [i.e., since 8000 B.C.]).

[23] See D. J. Hamblin, The First Cities (New York, 1973), for a popular discussion of Catal Hüyük.

[24] See Hamblin (1973) for a popular discussion of Jericho. Concerning Jericho and its potential relationship to Egypt, Hayes (1965, 92) had this to say: "Jericho lies a scant two hundred miles [320 km] to the east of the Nile Delta, and it would seem inevitable that a Neolithic, food-producing, village culture of the type attested there before 7000 B.C. should have reached northern Egypt from this immediately adjacent southwest Asian area in the course of the seventh or, at the latest, the sixth millennium B.C." Hayes (111) also points out that pendants found at the Sixth-to-Fifth Millennium site of Merimda (Merimde beni-Salame; see Hoffman, 1979, 168-169), on the western edge of the Nile Delta about thirty-seven miles (sixty kilometers) northwest of Cairo, are very similar to pendants found in the early-Neolithic levels of Jericho. Baines and Malek (1980, 20) state that "contacts between Egypt and the Near East are attested already in the Predynastic Period, and the name of Narmer, the latest Predynastic [Egyptian] king, has been found at Tel Gat and Tel Arad in Palestine." Baines and Malek (31) illustrate a "probable route" for trade between Egypt and Palestine, and even suggest that there may have been an early (latest Predynastic? or the beginning of the Dynastic Period?) Egyptian settlement in southern Palestine.

[25] See P. Bierman and A. Gillespie, "Range fires: A significant factor in exposure-age de- termination and geomorphic surface evolution," Geology 19 (1991), 641-644; T. Graf, C.P. Kohl, K. Marti and K. Nishiizumi, "Cosmic-ray produced neon in Antartic rocks," Geophysical Research Letters 18 (1991), 203. 206; and M.D. Kurz, "In situ production of terrestial cosmogenic helirn and some applications to geochronology," Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta 50 (1986), 2855-2862; and references cited therein.

[26] For comments made to the popular press by various archaeologists and Egyptologists, as well as general news coverage of the "Sphinx-age story," see, for example, articles printed in The New York Times, 24 October 1991 and 9 February redating the sphinx; The Washington Post, 11 November 1991 and 17 February redating the sphinx: Newsday (New York), 25 October 1991; The Independent (London), 14 October 1991; USA Today, 10 October 1991; The Boston Globe, 23 October 1991; The San Diego Union, 23 October 1991; Los Angeles Times, 23 October 1991; The Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 November 1991, 11 December 1991 and 15 January redating the sphinx; The Egyptian Gazette, 28 October 1991; Vancouver Sun, 28 October 1991; International Herald Tribune, 12 November 1991; The San Francisco Chronicle, 8 February Redating the Sphinx; The Daily Telegraph (London), 10 February Redating the Sphinx; and The Houston Chronicle, 23 October 1991 and 12 February 1999.

[27] My research concerning the age of the Great Sphinx would not have been possible without the help and cooperation of many individuals and organizations. In particular, I thank Drs. Mohamed I. Bakr, Ali Hassan and Zahi Hawass (all of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization) for permission to pursue geological and geophysical studies on the Giza Plateau. I thank Drs. Gabor Barakat, L. Abdel-Khalek, M. M. El Aref and Egial Refai (all of the Faculty of Science, Cairo University) for their interest, advice and help. Dr. Thomas Dobecki (McBride-Ratcliff and Associates, Houston) has provided valuable assistance with the geophysical studies on the Giza Plateau. Dr. Robert Eddy (College of Basic Studies, Boston University) first introduced me to John Anthony West, and it was as a result of discussions with West that I became interested in the problem of the age of the Sphinx. Thus, West is responsible for initiating this research and he, along with Boris Said, deserve credit for their hard work relative to the logistics of the Sphinx Project. Of course, all matters of fact and interpretation expressed in this paper are solely my responsibility.


Many thanks to Dr. Colette M. Dowell for piecing my article together from segments of unfinished papers and files.

Dr. Robert M. Schoch  ©  1992








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