The most excellent PBS documentary series Nova has recently been filming a feature on the Great Sphinx at Giza which is due to air at the end of the year. They’ve even managed to get that shrinking violet, Dr Zahi Hawass, in front of the camera (amazing, I know) – and the Big Z has added an article to his website with information about his participation (along with Mark Lehner and Rainer Stadelmann), and three specific facets of his work with the Sphinx (original conservation, protection from groundwater, and laser scanning of the monument to preserve a record of it).
The research on protecting the Sphinx from groundwater also allowed Dr Hawass to put the boot into the alternative history triumvirate of Hancock, West and Bauval, via some new results from drilling within the Sphinx enclosure:
Perhaps the most important result of the groundwater project was that it enabled us to put to rest speculation about mysterious underground tunnels and chambers carved below the Sphinx by “ancient civilizations.” For years, I have debated people like John Anthony West, Robert Bauval, and Graham Hancock, who say that survivors of a lost civilization 10,000 years ago left secrets buried beneath the Sphinx. These people also claim that the erosion of the Sphinx was caused by water, and that this necessarily means that it dates back to long before the Old Kingdom. None of their theories has any basis in fact, but their supporters have insisted that we should drill holes to try and find these hidden chambers. I have always refused to permit such a project in the past, because there was no scientific basis for it. Because such drilling was a necessary part of our work to protect the Sphinx from groundwater, however, we did finally drill in the vicinity of the statue, and we found that there were no hidden passages or chambers there. The Sphinx is indeed a guardian of civilization and the record of the past, but it is the civilization of Egypt’s Old Kingdom that created it.
There was also discussion of the redating of the Sphinx, but without mention of Robert Schoch or John Anthony West. Instead, the question was restricted to “the debate over whether the Sphinx dates to the reign of Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid, or to that of Khafre, for whom the second pyramid of Giza was built.” Rainer Stadelmann provided the argument for the theory that the Sphinx was built during the reign of Khufu, while Dr Z and Mark Lehner argued for the ‘orthodox’ dating from the reign of Khafre.
Previously on TDG: