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.

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Zahi, Pyramids, and Playing to the Camera

I was recently alerted (thanks, Jennifer!) that the Fantasy (er…History) Channel is airing a new series (begins 9/8) called “Chasing Mummies.” Naturally, it features everyone’s favorite camera-shy Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass. The most interesting episode may be the second in the series, entitled “Bats.”  Here’s the promo:

It’s time for Leslie, the Executive Producer, to do Zahi a favor, and it requires going where few cameras have been before — to the mysterious caves below the Giza Plateau. Zahi is determined to disprove the theories of the so-called “pyramidiots,” who believe that there are secret underground chambers leading to the Sphinx. Little did anyone know that these caves were home to thousands of bats! If that wasn’t enough for Zahi, he’s also agreed to make an appearance at a local wedding celebration and as viewers have learned, Zahi’s likes to celebrate the dead…not the living!

Hmmm. Zahi going underground into the cave system under the Giza Plateau — you know, into the caves that he initially said didn’t exist (after news of their discovery broke; Zahi: “We know everything about the plateau – amateurs cannot find anything new”). Zahi later said these caves (that I guess came into existence after his opinion) didn’t need discovering (I presume because he didn’t discover them). Ya gotta love him.

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Hidden Chambers Under the Sphinx?

Well, I guess if you define “chamber” as “a cavity” the answer is yes.  But that’s pretty vague.

Here’s an update regarding Zahi Hawass’ investigation of what might be under the Sphinx. No, I don’t think anyone’s going to find a “Hall of Records,” but I do have to admit I don’t completely trust Zahi’s announcements on anything. If there were anything interesting, he’d find a strategy for self-promotion in it before he went public.  Just my opinion.

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The Weathering of the Sphinx: Alternative Models

Those who follow alternative archaeology on the Sphinx know about Robert Schoch’s geological water erosion hypothesis. Schoch’s analysis argues that water erosion of the Sphinx indicates it is much older than the pyramids and the pyramid age. Now new wind-swept models are emerging (here and here). Though this link doesn’t directly challenge Schoch and his arguments, I have to wonder if it will at some point.

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