The Age of the Sphinx and Water Erosion: Colin Reader vs. Robert Schoch

PaleoBabble readers have likely heard about Dr. Robert Schoch’s theory of water erosion and the Sphinx. It’s been used by alternative researchers to argue for an advanced Egyptian civilization back to 10,500 BC, far earlier than the beginning of dynastic Egypt. Schoch is a geologist, and so his work has garnered serious attention. Dr. Colin Reader is also a geologist, and he isn’t buying what Schoch is selling. I’d invite readers to check out this recent essay by Chris White on the Reader-Schoch debate to get up to speed.

Colin Reader’s views on the Sphinx have been around for some time, as this lengthy 1997/1999 piece posted on Ian Lawton’s website indicates. Reader postulates an early dynastic origin for the monument that we know as the Sphinx (it underwent an evolution in appearance by human hands up to and including the reign of Khafre). This idea pre-dates an Old Kingdom (Khafre) origin, but is nowhere near the chronologically distant past where Schoch has it. He writes (see the Ian Lawton link):

The origins of the Sphinx as an icon are unclear. On the basis of the sequence of development that I propose, I consider that the concept of the man-headed lion was an evolutionary one, originating in the Early Dynastic association of the lion with solar worship and culminating in the Fourth Dynasty association of the Pharaoh with the sun-god – an association made manifest by re-carving the head of the Great Sphinx in the form of the divine king, perhaps during the reign of Khafre.

16 thoughts on “The Age of the Sphinx and Water Erosion: Colin Reader vs. Robert Schoch

  1. Being an amateur, I have no idea, but, I just wonder how many of the pagan kings tried to be seen as or were viewed as either gods themselves or were to become a god upon exit from the physical body?

    I’m starting to think it was more common than I used to think.

    • this is common in the star religion of the pyramid texts, which transitions to the solar cult of Old Kingdom, and other phases of Egyptian religion include other changes.

  2. Both have well argued accounts as far as I can tell. Schoch’s would definitely be the most shocking to the standard model if true. It would seem that the sine qua non of the theory would come down to the geophysical analysis that was done to the structure. Some more work would need to be done to prove it or toss it to the dustbin. At minimum, it brought the attraction for further work to be done that still needs to re-evaluate some of the dating process.

    If Schoch is correct, than the drawing board would have to start entertaining more seriously, some of the odd metanaratives of the West’s cultural memory. I’m reminded of Joscelyn Godwin’s work Atlantis and the Cycles of Time or Jan Assmann’s “cultural memory” hypothesis that he plays out in many of his books (and thereby extend that idea out further).

    Ancient E.T. need not apply.

    • I just got Godwin’s book on Atlantis. It’s on my 2013 reading list. I enjoy his material.

  3. @ MHS thanks for the essay: so far we only miss texts about who started the construction of the Sphinx..

  4. Hi, just found this site, further drilling down is necessary. But to this post:

    To me this is still up in the air for further review, but really in the end the Sphinx seems to be older than what has been acknowledged by current Egyptologists are currently stating. I would also add that from my understanding the Great Pyramid is attributed to Kufu(sp?) sorry, only based on some old graffiti and that the GP is basically clean of writing, etc… still learning about it, so that could be wrong, but it might coincide with the “older than thought” theory.

    Currently looking for more 10500BC stuff, maybe i’ll find more on your site.

    Thanks for your info!

  5. Dating the sphinx seem to be such a challenge; in my opinion The sphinx could not be older than the quarries around it,,

    Also it is kind of difficult to really know what type of erosion the Sphinx suffered.
    A lot of of research were made and it is said the The Nile shifted to the East the past 5000 years and existed branches of the Niles that vanished. So if it true, what did the nile look like before? What about inundations?

    Also not that I want to add paleobabble to this site, but last time I visited
    youtube, I watched a short video of Edgar Cayce pertaining to The Sphinx
    and the Nile, he basically claimed that the Nile use to cross Africa to the Atlantic. The video claimed that they recently have a google map of the area. see video (I hope this amuse you, robert scoch is commenting )

    And finally to arose curiosity see a Herodotus reconstructed map

  6. So far Reader seem more plausible than Schoch; there appears to have some history with the Sphinxes that seem to begin with the 4th Dynasty.
    Queen Hetepheres IIm unkown burial site.

    Example :

    In that time , they seem to have inter-married between sister and brothers, she married her brother Djedefre and may may have married Khafre.
    Djedefre is the only on of this family that did not have his pyramid at Giza, but at Abu Rawash, this Pyramid was also deconstructed; some believe by Augustus.

    It also seem that this family had an history of moving sarcophagus or mummy around, it also transformed monuments into tombs (mastaba)
    Also of Note : Sneferu, Khufu’s gather , the first builder of the flat Red Pyramid also appear to have married one of his sister named Hetepheres.

    So my opinion is this : the Sphinx foundations probably date Sneferu as a Mastaba, repaired by Khufu and completed in final form by Khafre..
    The Sphinx relates to one of the Hetepheres

  7. This to add on on the Hetepheres,

    Hetepheres I, wife of Pharaoh Sneferu and mother of Khufu
    Hetepheres A, daughter of Sneferu, wife of Ankhhaf
    Hetepheres II, daughter of Khufu, wife of Prince Kawab and pharaoh Djedefre
    Hetepheres B, daughter of Djedefre
    Hetepheres C, wife of Baka (son of Djedefre)

  8. I am not to convinced about anubis – the burial site pertains to reincarnation and bloodline — The first sphinx you see is Hetepheres II a reincarnation of Sekhmet lion -goddess- protector of Pharaons

    Sekmet- is closely related to Hathor- the goddess having taken a different form : see Menkaura with Hathor and is wife : both women depicted have the same facial features as the Goddesses Hathor and Bat

    Menkaura and goddesses

    Hetepheres :

    In brief this familiy want to show they are the Royal Blood and descendants
    Of the First Pharaon – see Narmer tablet

  9. Also one last point i want to make – basically all Egyptian Sphinxes have their tail to the right including Nubian sphinxes

  10. @ David McCome
    just to add on on the theory that the sphinx relates to Sekhmet and the
    dynasty bloodline with the woman- Sekhmet;Hathor-Bastet was the mother of Pharaons; a belief that subsisted all the way to Ramses, all the way to Narmer who is believed to have married a queen , priestess of Hathor.

    Herodotus reported that all cult and temple involving lioness-goddess involved the watering of goddess to appease her blood thirst.

    It is possible that the Sphinx would had been watered in the same fashion and it would explain its water erosion when none occurred around the site.

    Herodotus also say that Khufu was a tyrant ; it is yet possible it is true since his crown prince Kawab and visier was the priest of Anubis;the first priest you hear worshiping Anubis; You can imagine Kawab instigating terror with the population , workers etc and being unpopular to be a ruler.
    Kawab was the only 4th royal priest of Anubis, however cult and temple of Anubis only flourished during the XI- XIII dynasties

    Khufu was succeeded by his other son Djedefre and it appears that he wanted to depart from His father rule. (building pyramid outside Giza).

    He dies and he is replaced by Khafra another ruler depicted as a tyrant : apparently closed cult temples.. Who knows what rebellion happened?

    The best explanation is that the sphinx was originally artificially watered
    for ritual reasons and was probably built to reflect on of the queens’ face.


  11. Apart from the sphinx is Giza; there is the sphinxes inscribed on the Narmer tablet. I looked up internet archives and i was surprised to discover that the lion king was semitic and the lineage of kings descended from Sumeria ( I didnt know).It appears that the pharaoh were obsessed with the lineage of ancient queen and kings and here what I found: the most ancient setkmet– from sumaria

    • the sphinx is not on the Narmer Palette.

      All ancient cultures used religion to legitimize dynastic rule (this only ended in Europe in the 17th century — “divine right of kings”). “It’s the will of the gods that you’re my slaves and I’m your master.” I don’t see a mystery there.

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