“SECRET CHAMBERS REVEALED” ...

       ... and the mystery of the second and third 'doors' in the Great Pyramid -  Part 1  Part 2


© Robert G. Bauval 2002

A channel to Sirus

On the 5th of August 2002 at Cairo, an hour or so before sunrise, the bright star Sirius appeared just over the eastern horizon. It had not been visible for 70 days but now it shone brightly for a few seconds, sending sparks of purple and golden-white in the eastern skyline. This marked the so-called heliacal rising of Sirius, when in ancient Egypt the whole population celebrated the rebirth of the Nile and also the birth of the divine pharaoh. Because of the phenomenon of Precession, this event changes slowly with time, and in the epoch of the Pyramid Builders, also known as the Old Kingdom (c. 2600-2200 BC), it took place near the 21st June (Gregorian), the time of the Summer Solstice. At that time the waters of the river Nile would begin to rise, marking the start of the Flood Season and the regeneration of the crops and husbandry, and thus of Egypt itself. The Heliacal Rising of Sirius also marked the ancient Egyptian New Year´s Day, when great celebrations were seen all over the land.

On the 5th of August 2002, an important notice appeared on the main website of the National Geographic. This notice proclaimed that on September 17 a "Secret Chamber" inside the Great Pyramid of Egypt would be revealed to the world and that the opening of this chamber would be televised 'live' to 141 countries around the world.




Inside the Great Pyramid are two chambers, one know as the King’s Chamber and the other as the Queen’s Chamber. From the north and south walls of each of these chambers emanate small channels or shafts. The cross-section of these shafts is very small, about 20 x 20 cm. The shafts first run for a few meters horizontally before turning upwards sharply to rise within the solid core of the pyramid. Those from the King’s Chamber piece the pyramid all the way to the outside, but those in the Queen’s Chamber stop some 65 meters within the core of the monument. It has long been known that these shafts have stellar alignments and were directed to important stars associated to the rebirth rituals of the pharaohs. In 1964 Alexander Badawy and Virginia Trimble had worked out that southern shaft of the King’s Chamber had pointed to Orion’s Belt when the Great Pyramid was built. In 1987 I discovered that the alignment of the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber had pointed to Sirius. Orion was identified to Osiris, the god of resurrection, and Sirius was identified to Isis, his sister and also his wife. Osiris and Isis were the mythological parents of the pharaoh. The shafts, therefore, were magical devices associated to the cosmic birth and rebirth of the pharaohs. Knowing this, it was, to say the least, a very strange synchronicity that on the 5th of August, the day of the Heliacal rising of Sirius in Egypt, the National Geographic chose to announce to the world that they were about to commence a daring exploration inside the “Sirius Shaft” and attempt to see what was behind a small trap door discovered in 1993 by a German Engineer, Rudolf Gantenbrink.




The Mother of All Documentaries

This was going to be the mother of all archaeological documentaries; one of those great moments in factual television history that everyone had waited for since March 1993. This was when Rudolf Gantenbrink, a German Robotic engineer, used a miniature robot called Upuaut II to explore the mysterious shafts of the Queen’s Chamber and discovered a small ‘door’ with copper handles at the end of the southern one, some 65 meters away from the wall of the chamber. Since then the whole world had wanted to know what was behind this mysterious ‘door’. And now, after nearly ten years of excruciating delays and with Gantenbrink himself out of the picture, the Egyptian authorities had taken over the project and had finally given the green light to a new ‘joint-venture’ team formed between Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) , the National Geographic Society of America (NG) and i-Robot (an offshoot of MIT Laboratories at Boston). This high-powered new ‘team’ was to be headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, one-time Director of the Giza Pyramids and now, since May 2002, the new Chairman of the SCA. Hawass had also been appointed by National Geographic as their ‘Explorer-in-Residence’, an elitist designation given to only seven other scientists in the world.

It was also announced that a state-of-the-art hi-tech robot named ‘Pyramid Rover’ costing over $ 250,000 had been specially designed by i-Robot. A point was made by National Geographic that i-Robot had supplied the robots that had been used to search for victims of the September 11th attack in New York. This new exploration of the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber was to be aired ‘live’ to 141 countries by National Geographic Television (NGT). But that was not all. It was also announced that FOX TV had bought the broadcast rights for the ‘live’ transmission in the USA. The provocative title of the program was ‘Secret Chambers Revealed’ and this, when coupled with the high profile team, was seen as a guarantee of wonderful things to come. Huge expectations of a hidden chamber with pharaoh’s treasures and golden mummies were encrusted in the public’s imagination. An aggressive promotional campaign was put into motion, and the public was teased to a frenzy with banner titles like:

"Egypt: Secret Chambers Revealed: 4500 years ago, a door was sealed for eternity. On September 17, we open it LIVE."

"Egypt: Secret Chambers Revealed: For the first time ever, come on a journey into the mysterious and never-before-seen secret chambers of the Great Pyramid of Khufu."

It was also announced that Dr. Hawass would also open, live, for the first time a sarcophagus of an ‘overseer of the pyramids’ and there were hints of a potential great find. Yet this was only to be the side show, for the real interest was the exploration by the new robot in the Great Pyramid and, more especially, how it would reveal what is behind the small ‘door’ in the shaft. Since 1993 there had naturally been much speculation whether it was the entrance to a 'secret chamber', and it was thus was not surprising that now the millions of potential viewers around expected that National Geographic would, indeed, open this 'door' and reveal a ‘secret chamber’ ‘live’ on the 17 September as they so boldly advertised. After all, this was a prestigious and highly respected institution with a reputation for credibility and scientific sobriety. Although normally shy to speculate on a potential archaeological discovery of this kind, National Geographic allowed their promotional departments a wide margin of license to hype this show. The same was done by Dr. Hawass and Dr. Lehner, the latter also a ‘grantee’ of National Geographic and a main participant in the show. Both men went on promotion tours ‘show’, in Asia, Australia and Europe. In an interview given to the British Daily Mail, Lehner exclaimed:

"What do I think is in there? I think it might be a serdab. A serdab is a sealed room for a Ka-statue, a statue of the dead king which embodied his Ka or life spirit. The oldest pyramid of the hundred major pyramids of Egypt is the step-pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara; and that has a serdab.... Because his stone box is tilted, he (the statue of Djoser) is looking straight at the sky. It is almost as if he is sealed in a stone capsule, about to be launched towards Orion."

And Dr. Hawass told the same newspaper that,

"There might be a papyrus of Khufu's sacred book, which has never been found. We know it once existed. The Egyptian priest who first wrote out the list of the pharaohs of Egypt gave potted historied against each name. And one entry is: 'Khufu also wrote the Sacred Book.' As Khufu was the man who built the biggest pyramid, his Sacred Book might reasonably be expected to explain how, and more importantly, why."


Such bold speculation was most uncharacteristic of these two men. Indeed, in 1993, when Rudolf Gantenbrink found the ‘door’ Lehner was quick to downplay the find and insisted it was just a stone block. The same went for Hawass in the subsequent years. So what had changed the viewed of these scholars to the point of making a complete 180 degrees turn? Was it because they were now part of a big promotion campaign for a big bucks ‘live’ worldwide broadcast? The game, of course, was to hook sponsors and advertisers with a dazzling array of on-air and off-air possibilities who could stamp their products and logos on ancient Egypt and, more excitingly, on the Great Pyramid and it potential ‘secret chamber’. The off-air opportunities entailed organizing ‘road shows’ of ‘lectures’, ‘interviews’ and ‘exhibitions’ with Hawass and Lehner, no doubt, imaged as real ‘Indiana Jones’. A plethora of ‘creative thinking’ came up with lecture series for Lehner to complement its ‘global programming event’, while ‘exhibitions’ were organised in the Far East for Dr. Hawass. According to National Geographic Channel marketing manager Jacinta Lenehan, these events were designed to promote programming which in turn offered substantial leverage for advertisers and sponsors:

“World-renowned Egyptologist Dr Mark Lehner will deliver, for the first time on Australian soil, his lecture ‘Who Built the Pyramids?’ to audiences in Sydney and Melbourne. In addition to the educational publicity road show that surrounds his visit, these events will be free to the public and offer advertisers and other partners an additional forum for involvement with National Geographic. The channel is striving for greater interactivity with viewers and its advertisers so these events are not simply about sponsors stringing up banners and plastering logos. At such events, sponsors have the opportunity to showcase and align their products with the National Geographic brand and be involved in comprehensive marketing and communications initiatives targeting the many demographics. It is all about participation and integration between the channel and the brands.”


The Desert Fox

In March 1999 FOX TV had bought the exclusive rights for a two-hours ‘live’ special ‘Opening the Lost Tombs: Live From Egypt’. To assist Hawass in the show was FOX’s presenters Maury Povich and Suzy Kolber. According to Mahmoud Kassem of the Cairo Times (Vol. 4, Issue 13, 1-7 June 2000), ‘for over a month a legion of American television producers, aided and abetted by Video Cairo and Israeli freelance cameramen, have bewildered residents of the town of Bawiti with their Indiana Jones costumes, convoy of busses and vast satellites.’ The ‘lost tombs’ that was waiting to be opened ‘live’ were that of Queen Khamerernebty II, whose small crumbled pyramid lies south of the third Pyramid at Giza, and also that of an ‘unknown’ person. In addition, the mummy of a nobleman called Nefer at Saqqara was to be ‘examined’ in front of the cameras. This, apparently, was the first time that an ancient Egyptian tomb was to be excavated ‘live’ on television, and naturally FOX TV made a big media deal of this. The whole ‘promotion campaign turned out to be pure Hollywood schmaltz. Richard C. Carrier, an American archaeologist who witnessed the whole event, was to write:

I couldn't believe my eyes. It was a Sunday night, on the ten o'clock news. Right between a report on Y2K and another on a fine against a local construction company, Fox 5 News in New York saw fit to give us a "special report" on who built the pyramids. The graphic behind the announcer, on a backdrop of the Gizeh pyramids, asks the question: "Alien Architects?" The announcer plugs the upcoming Fox television network special "Opening the Lost Tombs: Live From Egypt," then segues into the story with the campy introduction, "There are many mysteries in Egypt, like the pyramids. Who built them and how did they do it?" With that she introduces Fox News correspondent David Garcia, who begins his voice-over to video of the pyramids: "The ancient future, a civilization of contradiction." Immediately we hear another voice in an Arabic accent, "a pyramid was a tomb," followed immediately by another similar voice, "the pyramid has never been a tomb… Ater we are told that the pyramids have never been a tomb", correspondent Garcia continues, "Still, modern day scholars debate not only what they are, but why they are -- who, or what, built them?" He treats both claims as if they are exemplary of real scholarly debate. Does Garcia really think that? He could not be reached for comment.


Then we see a man identified onscreen as Fadel Gad, Egyptologist. What news does he have for us? Why, just this: "Were the Egyptians thinking of UFOs at that time? Yes! A very sophisticated, highly intelligent species that had intercepted this planet Earth and had caused the evolution and the exploration of the human consciousness." A real Egyptologist is saying this? This is what Fox News is reporting. Though I later found that Mr. Gad has extensive field experience and a master's degree in Egyptology, he has authored no known publications, and is not a member of the International Association of Egyptologists. But there is one more thing: Fadel Gad just happens to be a CO-executive producer of "Opening the Lost Tombs." This is not mentioned in this news report. Here is a real blurring of the line between news and entertainment, with producers being portrayed as unbiased experts on news stories to drum up interest in their future entertainment programs... Why hype what could have been a beneficial and educational examination of an ancient tomb with such foolishness? The answer is clear: Lies sell better than truth...”

Mara Greegrass, an archaeologist, also wrote a scathing review in CSICOP-on line, and concluded by saying that “‘Opening the Lost Tombs’ was an embarrassment to archaeology, to Egyptology, and to television.”

Another archaeologist, Chris Andersen, wrote that,

“I was unsure what the point of this show was supposed to be but as a professional archaeologist I was progressively embarrassed, dismayed, disgusted, annoyed, angered, and appalled by this program on all levels… This show proved to be an embarrassment both to Hawass and the Supreme Council of Antiquities, to Egypt, and to archaeology as a whole. By taking advantage of every opportunity the show provided in order to trot out every hare-brained bit of pseudo-scientific claptrap to come down the pike from Edgar Cayce and Atlantis to the "face" on Mars, the Fox Network and Mr. Povich effectively dishonoured the ancient Egyptians who created these magnificent monuments and served only to add fuel to the fire of all the "New Agers" and other irrational cranks, crackpots, and "conspiracy theorists" who would rather believe in "X Files" than the often awe-inspiring accomplishments of our own ancestors. What's more, the manner in which the tombs were entered and "investigated" was clearly very thoroughly stage-managed, and very poorly even at that. Even my 10- and 13-year old sons could immediately tell that the mummy found in the wooden sarcophagus had been very recently placed there…And with all due respect to Dr. Hawass, no archaeologist worthy of the title would have torn apart a newly-discovered sarcophagus with his bare hands just to see what was inside!

This sorry performance was followed soon after by the appalling scene of your female reporter (Suzy Kolber) stomping around a stone sarcophagus in the Queen's tomb, all the while audibly crunching what turned out to be human bones beneath her feet - a fact which was confirmed for all the world to see by Dr. Hawass a bare few moments later. This broadcast performed a real disservice to the causes of archaeological exploration, cultural heritage preservation, and public education. And all for the sake of television ratings!”


Seemingly un-discouraged by such criticism from his peers, a year later Dr. Hawass again participated with FOX TV on yet another ‘live’ extravaganza titled ‘Opening the Tombs of the Golden Mummies Live!’with Hollywood superstar Bill Pullman and presenter Lisa Guerrero. Again, this show proved to be a great embarrassment to both the Egyptians and the scholarly community. The most damning scene was when Hawass and Pullman used their heavy desert boots to kick open a sarcophagus during the ‘live’ broadcast. The Al Ahram Weekly, a popular English language newspaper in Egypt, summed up the public outrage:

“A lot of people might consider the events that culminated in Bahariya Oasis early Wednesday morning as a farce…Opening the Tombs of the Golden Mummies Live! was "the second time in recent years that Fox has mined ancient Egyptian history for compelling subject matter..." says the web-site. Mined it for money is more like it…. In the pre-press for the show, co-producer Leslie Greif said, "I can only tell you that the man inside the mummy [which will be opened up live for the cameras] is dead." Then he added wistfully: "Just think of the ratings we would get if he were alive." Actor Bill Pullman of Independence Day fame would be "discovering" the mummy with Zahi Hawass, Director-General of Giza Plateau. Veteran announcer Hugh Downs and Fox Sports reporter Lisa Guerrero were the co-hosts.

Fox had everything covered. There was a separate team standing right outside the "location" filming live promos to Fox affiliates across the US -- doing the all-important lead-up to the show, pumping the audience's expectations.... We're only hearing the announcer's side of the conversation as he speaks with the 5 and 6 O'clock news anchors in Cleveland, Ohio, Miami, Florida, etc... "I understand they found something very, very special," he's saying, a big grin on his face, "just earlier today, that will be opened tonight, someone who was a ruler in the area, so it's going to be special today." David Moss does this over and over again. Live with another affiliate, Moss is almost bursting with this false excitement. "You know when you are a little kid who is reading a book about mummies and you think the mummy is going to get up and come alive... well tonight, it's going to happen for real, live!". Another surreal moment: Lisa Guerrero describes the wine-making region of ancient Bahariya as the "Napa valley" of Egypt, falling into the trap of comparing Ancient Egypt with modern America….The show makes it all look so simple, with archaeologists and movie stars discovering the tombs of mummies, to the delight of couch potatoes across the world. Zahi Hawass, referred to as the "animated" Dr Hawass on the web site, is indeed the star here, while everyone else is an extra. Hawass says Fox likes him because he can provide an American-style commentary on history. "No other Egyptian archaeologist can give them that... This needs action, and easy to digest information." At one point on the show he claims that "this is the most interesting moment in the history of archaeology." At another point, Pullman asks Hawass how much these mummies are worth, and Hawass says, "It's priceless. This is history. We learn from history, we never sell it." That said, the Supreme Council for Antiquities got $100,000 from Fox for the right to film, an increase on the $65,000 paid for the previous special at the Pyramids.”

Double Standards

But if Egyptologists were deeply embarrassed and shocked by such performances, there were a precious few who vented their opinion. Hawass is, after all, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and as such wields total authority and power over all matters to do with archaeology in Egypt. But such silence was in stark contrast to their reactions when, in 1993, Rudolf Gantenbrink and myself announced the discovery of the ‘door’ in the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid in the press. This time Egyptologists happily came out in droves to give their support to Dr. Hawass who condemned us for ‘sensationalism’, for ‘speculation’ and for trying to make money out of Egyptian antiquities. I was loudly attacked for having let the international press speculate on a ‘secret chamber’ behind the ‘door’ and more so for breaking the news first to the British press. ‘Charlatan’, ‘unscientific’ and ‘unprofessional’ were among the kind words they had for me in the media. So angered were Egyptologists that pressure was put on the German Archaeological Institute to keep Gantenbrink away from any further exploration, and the whole project was shelved for almost 10 years. Yet now, ironically, Dr. Hawass and the Egyptologists were letting the promotional machine of FOX and National Geographic have a field day with “Secret Chambers Revealed –Live”.

Door to Door Salesman

If you have watched “Secret Chambers Revealed” on the 17 September 2002 (16th September in the USA), you may perhaps agree that the whole show was a gigantic teaser and a ‘promo’ for Dr. Hawass. Wearing red shirt down to his thighs and Indiana Jones type hat, he was hailed by presenter Laura Greene as the ‘most famous archaeologist in Egypt’. Dr. Hawass beamed and told Greene: ‘welcome to my beautiful country, Egypt’. Throughout the show Hawass was sweating profusely and often looking non-pluses in the ‘live’ scenes. ‘I have been waiting all my life for this moment!’, he told Laura‘…to reveal the secret of the Pyramids…’. When asked to explain the task of the robot, he looked flirtatiously at Laura and said: ‘as you can see, the shaft is very small, so we will have to use the robot and not you, Laura!’ Later, when poor Laura reminded Hawass that he was awaited by Schadler elsewhere to attend to the opening of the sarcophagus, he exclaimed: ‘I know your heart will be broken to see me go, but I will be back soon!’

The opening of the overseer’s sarcophagus turned out to be a big flop, as ‘live’ discoveries go. No golden mummy, not even a simple wrapped mummy, just a pile of old bones. True, they were 4500 years old, but not very exciting for Joe Bloggs who waited all night for the big moment. Hawass was undeterred. He lovingly brushed the dust off the skull which he called a ‘beautiful face’ and declared to the world that this proved that the Egyptians had built the pyramids and not ‘slaves’, and that all the ‘idiots’ who spoke of lost civilizations and such nonsense’ must now shut their mouths. All this, mind you, ‘live’ to 141 countries around the world. He then appeared to talk on behalf of the 4500 year old dead man, saying that he was happy that he could tell the world for him that the Egyptians were a great people. Asked by the presenter, Jay Schadler, to give his expert comments on the disappointing skeleton, Hawass spurted out:

“He is looking at the rising sun. But the most important thing I want you to learn from this is that these are the fingerprints of the workmen, the Egyptians who built the pyramid! This can shut the mouths of all these idiots who talk about lost civilisations and all this kind of nonsense. This man is existing, he’s a skull, at the time of Dynasty 4 when mummification was very rare… Give me this brush… I can clean this beautiful face and let this man tell the world that the Egyptians were the builders of the pyramid… this is really a message from this ‘Sut Weser’ (the name of the alleged ‘overseer’), and I’m glad that this man saved his body...”

Then Jay Schadler attempted to help Hawass with the point he clearly wanted to make:

“This is one of those principal points that you want to make, isn’t it, Zahi? That the Egyptians were not the slave culture…”

Hawass beamed: “Exactly!…Pyramids had to built by love… This is exactly what I expected… and when I look at his face (the skeleton), I can really see him alive in front of me and telling the world about the Egyptians, they were like us…”

Trying to look serious and excited at the same time, Schadler cut him short by saying:

“So now begins the hard archaeology in some ways. But one incredible discovery for tonight! I can’t quite believe that we’ve had this one… more perhaps ahead over at the Queen’s Chamber…”

Hawass then rushed back inside the Great Pyramid where the robot was now readied to insert a fibre optic camera through a small hole that had been drilled in the ‘door’. ‘I guess this is the moment of truth’, whispered Laura. ‘Zahi, talks us through…’, Laura pleaded. But all that Hawass could say was ‘I only see the camera…’

The next day, Sandra Laville of the Daily Telegraph who had watched the whole painful experience, gave this account of what followed:

“After 4,500 years and centuries of speculation the answer to one of the riddles of the Great Pyramid of Giza was about to be answered. In front of a live television audience…there were gasps from those watching the flickering pictures transmitted via a tiny probe. "We can see . . . " said Dr Zahi Hawass, the commentator broadcasting to millions of viewers, "we can see . . . another sealed door..." A collective breath was exhaled as Dr Hawass struggled to recover from what appeared to be the greatest of anticlimaxes. "What we have seen tonight is totally unique within the world of Egyptology," he said, with utter conviction. "The presence of a second door only deepens the intrigue." But for many who watched the ambitiously entitled ‘Pyramids Live: Secret Chambers Revealed’ broadcast by Fox TV on the National Geographic channel, no amount of spin could transform a rather boring limestone slab into the gold and treasure some had predicted would be discovered.”


Amazingly, unable to fully believe the behaviour of Dr. Zahi Hawass Dr Aidan Dodson, fellow in the department of archaeology at Bristol University, said: "Most people expected this privately. This whole thing was blown out of all proportion by the lunatic fringe of alleged archaeologists and pseudo scientists. These people have written best-selling books saying the pyramid holds links to Atlantis behind this door and that archaeologists have deliberately refused to examine this shaft because it shows civilisation was 10,000 years older than originally thought. It wouldn't surprise me if Dr Hawass did this just to put these people down once and for all."

So much for scientific, unbiased logic. But the truth was easy for all to see: Dr Zahi Hawass had taken Egyptology on yet another embarrassing ‘live’ romps around Egypt’s antiquities. Many felt that he could have, for instance, stayed calm and give his professional view on the finding of the ‘second door’ but instead it went this way:

Laura: “This is really the moment of truth that we’ve all been waiting for, isn’t it Zahi? The camera is now lined up… we are going to follow its progress through the hole to find out if and what is behind that stone door…Let’s see what’s happening. OK, the lights are on, you can see the camera making a steady progress across the hole now. Now Zahi, talk us through what’s happening…!”


Zahi: “Just the camera getting into the hole now, but I can’t see anything…”

Laura: “OK… now, oh my God, look at that! There’s shrieks inside here, I gotta tell you, this team of archaeologists have been waiting for this moment for months and months…This is incredibly exciting! What are we seeing, Zahi…?”

Zahi: “ We can see… another… sealed door…another… another sealed door…but it looks to me we have a discovery… But it looks like it’s really something, we are here in front of a discovery, and I’m really happy we did this, we found another sealed chamber…Laura, this is very important, this is something I am very proud that finally we revealed the first mystery of the Great Pyramid of Khufu…We will study this, we will find out how we can reveal more secrets of the Pyramid, but this is very important that what we are showing now… it shows the amazing [?] of those people, the great Egyptians…”



It was clear to all, and certainly to presenters Jay Schadler and Laura Greene that Zahi Hawass was extra keen to remind the world that it was the ‘great Egyptians’ who built the pyramids and not ‘slaves’. But how could the finding of the ‘second door’ and ancient skeleton ‘prove’ this? And even if they were slaves, surely they were also Egyptians? So what was the problem? Did Zahi have something else in mind that prompt such declarations? He was well-known in Egypt for often declaring to the press that he was at ‘war’ with all those who ‘attacked Egyptians’ by claiming that it was the ‘Jews’ i.e. the quintessential ‘slaves’ of ancient Egypt, that had built the pyramids. For example, not long ago, in an Arabic-language publication, Hawass accuses Jews of "stealing the pyramids" by claiming to have built them. "The Jews are thieves of history and civilization" he is quoted by Egyptian reporter Mushira Moussa:

"The discovery of the tombs of the workmen who built the pyramids was tremendously important to Egyptians because it proved that the greatness of Egypt was a project of both Egyptian genius as well as Egyptian labor. It is especially important vis-à-vis Israeli claims that it was their Jewish slave ancestors who built the pyramids, but also vis-à-vis theorists who would have that the pyramids were built by Atlanteans or aliens."


We can detect in the above statement certain key words like "greatness ofthe Egypt", "Egyptian genius", "Jewish slave ancestors" which are reminiscent to what Hawass also said to National Geographic presenter, Jay Schadler and Laura Greene and later to the press. This question thus begs the asking: had Hawass been making the same point i.e. that it was not ‘Jewish slaves’ who built the pyramids on the National Geographic show?

At the Press Conference at the luxurious Mena House Hotel after the show (and where I was also present) Dr. Hawass was visibly agitated. No sooner had he started talking that he told the press that there were ‘bad people’ who had booked to stay overnight at the Mena House hotel just to sabotage the event (later it was reported by the Shark al Awsat newspaper that he also had been more specific by saying that one of these 'bad persons' was a Jew). Dr. Hawass exclaimed:

“I feel that the opening of the sarcophagus and that skeleton that we found shows the importance of the discovery and this completely discards the theory about the pyramid built by slaves, because slavery cannot build something genius like building the pyramid, and I will tell the public that everyone who tries to talk against the Egyptians should shut their mouths!”


What had provoked such an outburst? And who were those ‘bad people’ who supposed had secretly booked at the hotel overnight to ‘talk against the Egyptians’?

The next day I was shown an article that had appeared on the 15th September, two days before the show, in the popular Arab newspaper Al Shark Al Awsad bearing the provocative title “Is there a connection between the secret chamber inside the Great Pyramid and the coming of the Messiah?”:

“At 3 am. On the 17 September, when Arabs in Egypt prepare for the morning prayer, it will be 8 pm. In America, where Jews will prepare for the feast of Yom Kippur. At this precise moment, a secret door will be opened by Dr. Hawass in the Great Pyramid…”


The author of the article, Egyptian based writer Ahmed Osman, went on to say that the American prophet, Edgar Cayce was famous for interpreting prophecies in the Bible, and had made claims that a secret chamber would be opened at the Pyramid which would announce the coming of the Messiah. It was well known that Dr. Hawass and Dr. Lehner had had close connections with the son of Edgar Cayce in the 1970s and 1980s, and that Lehner’s education at the University of Cairo had been funded by prominent members of the Edgar Cayce Foundation. There had even been rumours that Hawass’s own education in America had been fixed by Cayce members. Jews believed that Yom Kippur was the Day of Atonement, when the long-awaited Messiah would one day come and rule Israel and the world. Understandably this raised the question whether the airing of the show on Yom Kippur in America was a coincidence or not. Osman was not the only one to raise an eyebrow. During the press conference at the Mena House hotel, a reporter from the Al’Jazeerah asked Hawass why he had chosen this specific day for opening the secret chamber in the Pyramid. He was rudely shouted down by Hawass and his friends, the actress Nadia Lutfy, and it seems that this put an end to the press conference.

Later Hawass delivered his coup de grace to the Al Gomhoreya newspaper:

"The results of the robot's exploration… refutes the allegations reiterated by Jews and some western countries that the Jews built the pyramids."


[For more on this, see my article: Egyptology and anti-Semitism ]


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