Last week we posted some interesting/disturbing news about German archaeologists vandalising the Great Pyramid, while also apparently throwing doubt on the age of the famous cartouche of Pharaoh Khufu. That report, and others since, have been vague and sometimes contradictory regarding the individuals concerned - some saying they were students, others that they were aligned with certain academic institutions. As such, many questions have remained about the entire affair.
However posters at the Hall of Ma'at messageboard have been discussing aspects of it since October, and through their information and by following the links they've posted as well as recent news stories on the case, we can assemble a bit more of a picture of what happened. The two 'amateur archaeologists' are Dominique Görlitz and Stefan Erdmann, who (along with film-maker Frank Höfer) appear to have been granted official permission to access the Great Pyramid on the 17th of April, between the hours 6pm-8pm.
The pair seem not to have been officially affiliated with any institution; rather they are 'hidden history' enthusiasts who believe the Great Pyramid is much older than is currently believed. Both seem to be interested in numerous aspects of 'hidden history', from ancient aliens to secret societies, and - worryingly - perhaps some right-wing ideas.
Their trip to Egypt was apparently part of documentary-in-progress titled Das Cheops Projekt ('The Cheops Project'), for which they were seeking financial help through a crowd-funding campaign (which raised just €925 of their €46,000 target):
The research team around Dr. Dominique Goerlitz, Stefan Erdmann and filmmaker Frank Hoefer (NuoViso) is working independently and without and big sponsor in the background. Until now a part of the budget was privately financed. This contains shooting for several days in Egypt as well as examinations of the Great Pyramid and especially the King's Chamber and the relief chambers. This enabled us to take the samples of the king's cartridge. Furthermore we stay in contact with a prestigious institute for lab analysis in Germany which shall examine the samples of the cartridge. Many experts and pyramid researchers already have been interviewed or shown their interest.
With the elaborate film shootings and the expensive and the hard to get permissions to film in Egypt we could get the important samples (documented). This was privately pre-financed. More financial resources are necessary to bring the documentary to an end in short period of time. Especially the expensive lab analysis of the samples are only possible with a five digit amount of Euros.
Many of the videos associated with the project have been made private since the controversy broke, but the following trailer for Das Cheops Projekt remains accessible at the time of posting, and actually appears to feature footage of the vandalism occurring (at 1:31):
There's a couple of things worth noting about the video. Firstly, the chipping off of material in the video seems to not be on the famous cartouche of Khufu, as has been reported, but further to the right (pretty much where Dominique Görlitz is pointing in this image, with the Khufu cartouche at the far left of the picture). I'm not sure if this is the actual act which Egyptian authorities are talking about though - perhaps there were multiple areas chipped away?
Secondly, immediately before the vandalism part of the video, the two 'amateur archaeologists' are shown scaling a ladder, but this appears to be in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid for some reason. The Khufu cartouche can't be accessed from inside the King's Chamber, so I'm not sure what they were doing in there, unless it just worked best for the videoing (hopefully no further vandalism in that room!). But beyond that, what is more interesting is that they have a great big ladder in the Great Pyramid - this is not something you can just carry in to the GP at your own leisure, and seems to confirm the report that they were given official permission for their 'expedition' (although it's unlikely they were given permission to take material from the GP!).
So it would seem that though the pair were not aligned with the institutions that were claimed in early news reports, it is likely that they were given permission to access the monuments (and the Great Pyramid after hours). It may be that heads will roll internally for inadequate supervision of the duo during their time in the pyramid.
Regardless, if the above information is correct then I can only condemn the actions of Görlitz, Erdmann and Höfer. It is unlikely the 'samples' they took have any kind of scientific validity (from the area sampled, through to their method and the amount they chipped off), but what's far worse is that they took it upon themselves to damage one of the greatest monuments created by humans, dating back to the beginnings of written history.
I encourage research on these controversial questions, but certainly not by these methods.