by Judith Paulson


from MM2000 Website

recovered through WayBackMachine Website

Spanish version


The greatest Sphinx of all,

called by Arabs the "Father of Terrors,"

is the Great Sphinx of Gizeh...



Up from Legend

A Sphinx is a being with the head of a human and the body of a lion. In ancient Egypt, the head might assume the face of the reigning pharaoh who, along with the Sphinx, was the earthly representation of the sky-god, Horus.


In addition, the lion symbolizes kingship and courage. From Egypt, the idea of the Sphinx spread to Syria, Phoenicia, and Greece where the sphinx assumed the head and bust of a woman, and added an eagle's wings and a long serpent's tail. In Greek legend, it was the Sphinx who put forth a riddle to all passersby and devoured those who failed to guess the correct answer.


Oedipus solved the riddle and so caused the Sphinx's death. In later Greek literature, the Sphinx became a wise and mysterious woman.



The Great Sphinx at Gizeh

The greatest Sphinx of all, called by Arabs "Abu el-Hol," the Father of Terror, is the Great Sphinx of Gizeh, who gazes enigmatically across the Nile towards the rising sun with its back towards the three great pyramids. Its head and bust were carved from a natural outcrop of solid limestone and the paws were built up with stone.

The head of the Great Sphinx measures 19 feet from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin, the face is 20 feet wide, and 91 feet in circumference. Remaining flecks of paint indicate the Sphinx may once have been painted bright red. The upper portion of the paws extend forward 56 feet, the body is 172 feet long (total body length is 242 feet), and the height to the top of the head is 66 feet.

Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1448-1420 B.C.) mentioned that the Sphinx was older than the Pyramids and generally considered to have been buried in sand until Thutmosis IV (18th Dynasty, 1420-1411 B.C.) had a dream of a god telling him to clear the sand away. The stela he put up between the paws was discovered when the Sphinx was cleared of sand in our time.


A partially-eroded hieroglyphic phrase - translated as "praise to Un-nefer [Khafre] the statue made for Atum-Harmakhis" - was found near the bottom of the stela. Egyptologists point to this as evidence that Khafre built the Sphinx. Others disagree. Some time after it was excavated, the inscription flaked off. Now only drawings remain.

In 1379, as reported by the Arab author Al Maqrizi, a man named Saim el Dahr hacked off the Sphinx's nose. The sacrificial altar now seen between the paws was constructed by the Romans. Medieval and renaissance visitors took pieces of the Sphinx's headdress and face for talismans and remedies. During the 17th and 18th centuries, invading Marmalukes and French soldiers reportedly used the head for target practice.


This article is one of two about the controversies swirling like sand about the Great Sphinx on the Gizeh plateau. This first article will treat the passages in and under the Sphinx.


The second article will deal with the controversy surrounding the age of the Sphinx. A third article will concentrate on the Great Pyramid and an update on the airshaft or star-shaft in the Queen's chamber.



The Newly Rediscovered Passage in the Sphinx


Halfway between the Sphinx's front paws and its curved tail, workers restoring the Egyptian Sphinx became intrigued by a patch of rocks and discovered an ancient passageway leading deep into the statue's body.

The team consulted thousands of old photographs and discovered a photograph taken during a 1926 restoration which was begun after the Sphinx was dug out of the sand.


The photo showed a man standing at the entrance to this passage. The passage was sealed with new blocks but restorers at the time never recorded what, if anything, had been found.


Priority for examining this tunnel appears to be low.




Chamber(s) Beneath the Sphinx?

The Sphinx began its life as an outcrop of rock which was excavated from the limestone bedrock of the Gizeh plateau.


The Sphinx Temple is in front of the Sphinx and adjacent to the Valley Temple to the south. Both temples were originally close to the Nile which has changed course over the centuries. Their huge, 70-ton, monolithic blocks - as compared to those used in the pyramids (3.5 tons) - are thought to have been quarried from the Sphinx enclosure.

The Valley Temple is at the end of one of the world's oldest paved canals, a 1600-foot causeway that leads to a Mortuary Temple in front of the Pyramid of Chephren (or Khafra, the middle pyramid) - about 150 feet have been excavated so far. Ancient tunnels run under the Valley Temple, but researchers do not know what they were used for and have not begun excavating. Causeways also link the Khufu (or Cheops, the Great Pyramid, to the northeast) and Menkaura (or Mycerinus to the southwest) pyramids to their respective valley temples along the ancient course of the Nile.

The Giza plateau has been called the Underground Galleries with good reason. However, additional seismographic evidence is accumulating that several cavities lie buried underneath the Sphinx.


The first work was done in 1978. Physicist, Lambert Dolphin, writing in the sci.archaeology newsgroup, said:

"In 1978, my colleagues and I (from SRI International, Menlo Park, CA), as part of a grant from the Edgar Cayce Foundation, performed a closely-spaced resistivity survey all around the Sphinx. We then performed high-frequency seismic sounding over the entire platform and in front. Thirdly, we drilled several four-inch boreholes on the small anomalies we did find (cracks) and inserted a downhole TV camera to inspect them.


"I have heard the recent claims but not seen any of the data and would be delighted to see it. Otherwise, I will continue to believe that the area under and around the Sphinx is undisturbed bedrock."
[see also: Dolphin, L.T., E. Moussa, E., et. al. "Applications of Modern Sensing Techniques to Egyptology." Menlo Park, Calif., SRI International, September 1977.]

The work continued in 1987.


In "The Pyramids and Temples of Egypt: An Update, by Zahi Hawass," (in Petrie, W.M. Flinders. "The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh." London: Histories and Mysteries of Man, Ltd, 1990, Appendix, p. 102) mentions that Waseda University in Japan, applied for a license to work on the Gizeh Plateau in 1987. Their request was approved and they began work January 13, the same year.


The last site the Japanese team investigated with ground-penetrating radar was the "Sanctuary of the Sphinx." South of the Sphinx, they found the existence of a hollow 2.5 m. to 3 m. underground and indications of a groove on the Sphinx body extending beneath the Sphinx.


North of the Sphinx, they found another groove similar to the southern one which may indicate a tunnel underneath the Sphinx connecting the south and north grooves. In front of the two paws of the Sphinx, another hollow space was found one to two meters below the surface that also may extend underneath the Sphinx.


This work was confirmed and incorporated into the film, "The Mystery of the Sphinx" made in 1992-1993 about,

  • author/Egyptologist, John Anthony West

  • Robert M. Schoch, Professor of Geology at Boston University

  • geophysicist/seismologist, Thomas Dobecki from the Houston firm, McBride-Ratclif & Associates

Shown on NBC, the film was produced by Boris Said of Magical Eye, Inc., and Bill Cote of BCVideo; and, according to some reports, was partly financed by members of the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.). Headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, A.R.E. is the organization that promulgates the work of psychic, Edgar Cayce, the sleeping prophet.


Cayce predicted it would be discovered that the Sphinx had been built in 10,500 B.C. by survivors from the break-up of the continent of Atlantis. In addition, concealed beneath it, a Hall of Records would be discovered that would contain all the collective wisdom from their lost civilization and the true history of the human race. Cayce predicted the Hall of Records would be found and opened by 1998.


In the film, Dobecki is shown taking seismic readings of a known underground chamber behind the rump of the Sphinx to establish a reading for a known underground chamber, then took seismic soundings of the area beneath the area in front of the Sphinx where a cavity was indicated by seismic readings similar to the posterior cavity.

This anterior (front) cavity was rectangular in shape and measured nine meters by 12 meters and was about five meters below the surface.


Dobecki and Shoch wrote:

"Both teams' [SRI and the Japanese] showed best agreement in the detection of a possible rubble-filled void in the area of the Sphinx's paws as well as indications of potential cavities or tunnels extending under the Sphinx as detected along its flanks."
[Dobecki and Schoch, 1992; Seismic Investigation in the Vicinity of the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt, "Geoarchaeology," Vol 7, No 6, pp 527-544]

John West and Professor Robert Schoch of Boston University put in an application to the Egyptian authorities to resume their research in 1995 but their application was refused.

According to Zahi Hawass, chief inspector of the Giza pyramid plateau, he is not playing favorites in the granting of licenses to explore for hidden chambers.


According to "Venture Inward," (Nov-Dec, 1996), he said:

"I am not stopping anyone from investigating in Egypt. They simply must meet [the condition] that requires that anyone wanting to do research in Egypt be connected with a recognized university or museum."

But is there anything to be discovered under the front paws of the Sphinx?


At the conference on "The Origins of the Egyptian State" at UCLA in November, 1995, Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner showed slides of a core sampling done by the University of Pennsylvania. They found a ground anomaly below the paws of the Sphinx consisting of a lighter material (but solid) than the surrounding stone. This could be sediment deposited by flooding but the area has yet to be excavated.


Or, if it has been excavated, results have not been made available to the public or the press.



1996... More Rumors than News

Currently, rumors abound about what is going on in, around, and underneath the Great Sphinx.


Graham Hancock, who just published a new book entitled "The Message of The Sphinx" reported in handouts on his book tour as well as on radio talk shows like Art Bell, that Dr. Joseph Schor, head of the Schor Foundation, associated with the Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), and an alumnus of Florida State University was backing an excavation underneath the Sphinx for a news documentary on a major Network.


Rumors indicated that everyone from the Egyptian's Supreme Council of Antiquities (S.C.A.) to A.R.E. to Florida State University to the Schor Foundation were conspiring to thwart other work. Was there a conspiracy?

Hard evidence and solid news has been difficult to come by, but A.R.E., for one, claims it has not sided with Joseph Schor against such authors as Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, and John Anthony West in the controversy surrounding the Sphinx.


According to "Venture Inward," (Nov-Dec, 1996), John Van Auken, of the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) said:

"The A.R.E is not taking sides. We even had Hancock and Bauval speaking at Virginia Beach this year. Our objective is to get to the truth, no matter who gets the credit."

In April, 1996, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (S.C.A.) granted a one-year license to a team academically sponsored by Florida State University and financially sponsored by the Schor Foundation to conduct surveys around the Sphinx and the Giza necropolis using seismic equipment and ground-penetrating radar.


Dr. Joseph Schor is quoted as saying:

"We do not work for the Edgar Cayce Group.... The major purpose of the Schor Foundation and the Florida State University is to aid in the preservation and restoration of the Pyramids and Sphinx. In addition, we are surveying the underground of the Giza Plateau to find faults and chasms that might collapse. This will increase the safety of the plateau."

Meanwhile, Graham Hancock, on the Art Bell radio show, stated that metal objects had been found in some of these newly-excavated cavities but nothing was confirmable in hard news reports.


Reports also surfaced of a promotional film starring none other than Zahi Hawass, director of the Gizeh site. Florida State University denied involvement in the film after they were credited as participating without their knowledge or permission.


Dr. Daniel Pullen wrote:

"There are a number of rumors, reports, and queries on the Internet about current explorations around the Sphinx and elsewhere on the Giza Plateau, filming on the Plateau, and the role of the Florida State University.

"A small team of three geologists and one archaeologist from the Florida State University went to Giza in early April 1996, at the invitation of Dr. Joseph Schor, an alumnus of FSU, and the Schor Foundation, in order to determine whether or not we might be able to address the current controversy over weathering, dating, and construction of the Sphinx and other monuments on the Giza Plateau.


The Florida State team consisted of Dr. Alan Zindler, Chair of Geology and head of geochemistry at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Dr. Leroy Odom, Professor of Geology and geochemist at the NHMFL, Dr. James Tull, Professor of Geology and structural geologist, and Dr. Daniel Pullen, Associate Professor of Classics and archaeologist.


We spent five days at Giza exploring the monuments and geology so that we could gather sufficient on-site information to evaluate the prospect of any future project which address the three concerns of weathering, dating, and construction. If such a project does come about, we will announce it.

"While we were invited to consider participation in a film or video, the Florida State University and the FSU team declined. Unfortunately the promotional video used to invite our participation by including the name of the Florida State University in the credits was circulated without our authorization and the continued association of the Florida State University with this promotional video is incorrect."
[from Daniel J. Pullen, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, Florida State University ( in the Usenet newsgroup, sci.archaeology]

The film in question was reportedly financed by Dr. Schor and was a short promotional film. It begins with Dr. Zahi Hawass, chief inspector of the archaeological sites at Gizeh, scrambling into a tunnel leading under the Sphinx.


When he reaches the bottom he turns to face the camera and says:

"Even Indiana Jones will never dream to be here. Can you believe it? We are now inside the Sphinx in this tunnel. This tunnel has never been opened before. No one really knows what's inside this tunnel. But we are going to open it for the first time."

The film's narrator then says...

"Edgar Cayce, America's famous Sleeping Prophet, predicted that a chamber would be discovered beneath the Sphinx - a chamber containing the recorded history of human civilization. For the first time, we'll show you what lies beneath this great statue... a chamber which will be opened tonight, live for our television cameras."

The excavations were supposed to have been put into a film to be shown in a television documentary in September or October, but, to this date, there has been no documentary... and even less news.



Latest Rumors

The latest wrinkle began this fall when Tsen Horn wrote in sci.archaeology of an un-named source who claimed Zahi Hawass had been transferred from his position with the Egyptian's Supreme Council of Antiquities to an area in the Nile delta.


In addition, he wrote:

"This means that the Florida State University project will now resume operations. Boris Said has just left for Egypt and will be working with the F.S.U. team that plans to dig into the tunnel that runs from one of the pyramids to the chamber underneath the paws. I understand that they will not be going in through the pyramid or the Sphinx enclosure, but rather outside, where nothing will be damaged. I am not absolutely sure, but I think they plan to dig a hole and put a camera down to see, before they would actually go in.

"Mr. Said has brought six technicians from Fox television with several crates of equipment. The plan is to begin digging on November 6 and then go in the chamber sometime in January."

Tsen Horn has been to Egypt since this was posted and has been unable to discover additional information and now doubts his source for the information in the post above, which was followed in sci.archaeology by a summary post from Doug Weller:

"Earlier this year a team from F.S.U. visited the [Gizeh] plateau and, after some exploratory work, submitted a proposal for some studies on the plateau. This proposal focused on two aspects. One was to collect samples that might be suitable for dating structures (cosmic-ray exposure ages, C14, light exposure ages, pollen, etc.) and to study classical stratigraphic relationships around the Sphinx Temple quay.

"Another proposal was submitted at the same time by Joe Schor which would involve exploration of what he thinks the geophysical data indicates to be underground voids. Evidently, one option in Schor's proposal is excavation of some sort. I don't know the status of this proposal.

"The second aspect of the F.S.U. proposal has to do with construction of some of the monuments (e.g., the possibility that the entire Sphinx Temple was carved in place and not built of large blocks removed from around the Sphinx), and how original relief on the plateau might have been used in construction of the pyramids.

"If you haven't guessed yet, the people involved in the F.S.U. proposal are geologists. I believe that there is some advice from an archaeologist but direct involvement will depend upon availability at the time of the trip.

"Boris Said and Schor have indeed been making a video which one hopes will be much more scientific than that made by Boris and West. IF F.S.U. is involved in this at all, it will only be with their approval and right to view any final editorial cuts. I don't know where/how it will be broadcast. F.S.U. has insisted on this after an earlier video was made with the university's name in credits without their permission. That video was made before F.S.U. actually visited Egypt in April.

"Approval for the F.S.U. proposal has not yet been obtained. Schor has stated to my informants that Hawass was replaced, which confirms some rumors I've seen.

"So as far as November the 6th is concerned, the F.S.U. team has no plans to be in Egypt and certainly doesn't include any tunneling in any aspect of their proposal.

"The geophysical, subsurface data, can be interpreted to represent voids underground. Interpretations are model dependent, and while they might be man-made features, they could be natural karst features from dissolved limestones (which can be seen intersecting the surface around and on the plateau).

"To the geophysicist, the simplest way to model the data is to do so with simple geometric shapes and volumes. When his model then results in something drawn as a rectangular void - it does not necessarily reflect reality - but we shall see.

"To recap about F.S.U. - their geologists, and perhaps an archaeologist, will, if their application is approved, collect samples for dating (as agreed with Schor) and make further observations of rocks that might satisfy their curiosity regarding construction techniques. This will probably be a fairly short investigation."

However, the claim of Zahi Hawass' transfer was contested by Greg Reeder (also in sci.archaeology) of "KMT" magazine:

"A question has been raised in AA&ES as to Zahi Hawass' compatibility with Nur el-Din's replacement, Ali Hassan, who is more conservative than his predecessor; however, my sources in Cairo say, 'As of 22 October, this allegation [that Hawass was replaced] was untrue. Zahi is still in charge of the plateau. He was gone briefly for a week on the UCLA trip, but seems fine otherwise.'"

The UCLA trip occurred last August and Dr. Hawass held a news conference at the California Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles where he highlighted recent discoveries and new excavations.


Dr. Hawass was interviewed by Linda Moulton Howe on the October 6,1996, Art Bell radio show.

When asked if he still plans to open the door at the north end of the Sphinx on November 1, 1996, Hawass replied (rest of interview follows):

Zahi Hawass (HAWASS): No, I am not going to open it now. We have other things really to do.

Linda M. Howe (HOWE): How are you going to... because it's so interesting. It sounds like it should be very interesting to see what's in there?
HAWASS: I know but that door was opened in 1922 before. We are going to re-open it again.

HOWE: What did they see in 1922?
HAWASS: They entered inside and they found nothing.

HOWE: What happened between the August news conference and now to change that opening up of that door in the Sphinx?
HAWASS: We are just going to open it when we will reach the restoration. We are restoring the Sphinx now and this is what we care about - the restoration. And this will be opened. You know, those people should know that there is nothing in the door. There is nothing in the door, it has been opened before and it is not really a big deal to open it.

HOWE: And what you're going to do is wait until you've got the restoration completed before you open the door or...?

HOWE: When will the restoration be completed?
HAWASS: Um, we don't know. You know in archaeology, ma'am, we are very slow because the monuments are very precious. You do not - we are not "Raiders of the Lost Ark," we are caring about the monument.

HOWE: Right
HAWASS: You know what I am talking about?

HOWE: Right. In the news conference in August, you said you thought the restoration would be done in 97. Is that still possible?
HAWASS: Maybe, maybe.

HOWE: And then at that point, somewhere in 97, the opening of the north side door in the Sphinx...
HAWASS: But you have to know that there is nothing in that door, really.

HOWE: It was very interesting to see your news conference and to see how much work that you have been doing and, um, how many, I think there were 10 different pyramid sites now available and open to the public in, ah...
HAWASS: OK, this is really what I care about, those people who met at the conference at Delaware [The "Return to the Source: Rediscovering Lost Knowledge and Ancient Wisdom" conference was held September 27-29, 1996, at the University of Delaware], they attacked me everywhere because I do not open the pyramids to amateurs. And I will never - we will never - means... I am not the person who really only decides. I am one person on the committee. But those people who made this conference in Delaware are really not correct. It's not true that any kind of work is going to be done in the pyramids. By anyone. Except the Egyptian government - except us.

HOWE: Ah, well, let me see, for clarification. There was a man named Richard Hoagland who read an invitation on a radio program, I believe last weekend, who said that he had received an invitation to come the last week in October for the opening of some sort of excavation?
HAWASS: Ma'am, that is not true, believe me. That is not true. And I am the only one that is in charge of the pyramids and there is nothing like this is going to be happening.

HOWE: Well, maybe you could confirm for me, has the Egyptian government, working with scientists, discovered any underground chambers in and around the Sphinx?
HAWASS: There is nothing. There is an expedition from Florida State University working last April in the Giza Plateau and that's it.

HOWE: What did they discover?
HAWASS: We don't know. Just, you know, many people who use radar, they wouldn't know if they are right or not. But we cannot let anyone to hurt the Sphinx. The Sphinx is a national monument and we cannot let any one to hurt the Sphinx or excavate room. We are restoring the Sphinx. We are caring about the Sphinx. We cannot let people to drill, to open Sphinx. I mean, this is an international heritage. It's for everyone. We are really permitting scientists only. We cannot permit amateurs to work on our monuments.

HOWE: Right, well, I was referring to... I thought, perhaps, scientific investigation. There was a man in New York, a Mr. Schor, I thought, that was underwriting an expedition at the end of October?
HAWASS: That Mr. Schor worked last October with Florida State University. They applied to work around the Sphinx. It still, there is the permanent committee, which is the only committee that they permit scientists to work. They did not look at that proposal yet.

HOWE: Oh, I see. So there has not been any authorization for the ex...
HAWASS: Nothing, nothing.

HOWE: And yet, I understood that, anyway, Mr. Schor was preparing to go to Egypt in the end of October? Is that...
HAWASS: I'm telling you that I am not the one who permits things like that - there is a permanent committee who meets maybe about 20 days from now, we don't know really when, and that committee are the only ones that decide if anyone gets to work or not.

Seems Dr. Hawass is still in charge. However, as of December 1996, there has been no documentary... and, evidently, no excavations. Or have there...?

On his radio show, Art Bell set the latest "wild, unsubstantiated rumor" in motion when he told of a journalist friend who attended a meeting having to do with the opening of the Sphinx chambers.


According to this un-named friend, round-the-clock guards have been placed at the Sphinx where chanting has been heard, and a blue light seen, coming from the chambers. The guards are supposed to have been frightened by the phenomena. In addition, a drill they were using was said to have broken after encountering something reportedly harder than diamond.


None of this can be confirmed through traditional news sources.

  • Has Zahi Hawass been replaced?

  • Will John Anthony West be allowed to continue his research?

  • Are there chambers under the Sphinx?

  • Is A.R.E. and/or F.S.U., and/or the Schor Foundation involved?

  • Who really was replaced and/or transferred in Egypt?

  • Are there blue lights, broken drill bits, and frightened guards?

  • Has Steven Spielberg or Cris Carter considered making a film of this mystery?

And from another of my sources, I heard that the transfer of Hawass is, perhaps, being confused with the replacement of Dr. Abdel Halim Nour Eldin, Minister of Culture.


We'll see.

But the Sphinx goes on...