A few days ago, I discussed a bit about the mysterious Arabic manuscript of Abenephius, or the Rabbi Barachias Nephi, which the Renaissance polymath Athanasius Kircher claimed to have had in the 1630s. Suspicion has long lingered over the claim, especially since Kircher never let anyone see more than one page of the text, and his story about who wrote it and what it contained changed over time. When I discussed this the other day, I mentioned that Daniel Stolzenberg believes that the fragments of Abenephius quoted by Kircher in his three major works of Egyptology, Historia Obelisci Pamphilii (1650), Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652-1655), and Sphinx Mystagoga (1676), contain enough evidence of an Arab-Islamic origin (despite claims of Jewish authorship) that he believes the fragments to be the genuine remains of a lost medieval Arabic manuscript treating this history of the hieroglyphs and Egypt.
When I discussed Ibn Wahshiyya’s book on hieroglyphics yesterday, I briefly mentioned that there is some evidence that the text might be a forgery, and that evidence came from Athanasius Kircher, the eccentric Renaissance polymath whom you will remember as the man who investigated reports of giant human skeletons, among other oddities. Kircher wrote several books on Egyptology, and in researching his failed attempt to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics I encountered the fascinating but bizarre question of Abenephius, an Arabic-language writer whom Kircher relies upon for information about ancient Egypt but whose very existence is in doubt. What’s infuriating is that his reality would help solve a vexing problem in pyramid mythology related to the question of the origins of Surid, the alleged builder of the Great Pyramid before the Flood in Islamic lore.
Today I thought I would do something a little different. When I wrote earlier this week about the medieval pyramid myth, I realized that the discussion must be a little confusing for those who have not been following along for years, and it is a really complicated story. So, I put together an article in which I have explained the development of the story in a rather bare-bones chronological way that I think will save a lot of time in the future by creating a resource to point to. This article covers only the pyramid myth, and even then only the most basic details. A lot of ancillary material, including the legend of Philemon and his relationship to Noah, or the involvement of the Islamic angels Harut and Marut, was just too complicated to add here. Perhaps in the future I can do further timelines for the Watchers and the Pillars of Wisdom to flesh it out more. At any rate, this took a long time to put together, so enjoy.
As regular readers know, I have a special interest in the medieval pyramid myths that arose in Arab-Islamic Egypt because these stories are foundational for all later pyramid mysticism, from the occult mysteries of Giza to the claim that a lost civilization was responsible for their construction. The stories, told in three major variants, attribute the construction of the monuments of Giza variously to Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary king Surid (possibly a fictionalized version of Khufu), or the fictitious giant Shaddad ibn ‘Ad, the builder of Iram of the Pillars. In most versions, one of these men erected the pyramids to preserve scientific knowledge from the coming of Noah’s Flood, having seen the Flood coming thanks to prophetic dreams and astrological signs.
In Radio Interview, Giorgio Tsoukalos Tries and Fails to Use Medieval Pyramid Legends to Prove Alien Contact
A few days ago, my longtime semi-nemesis Giorgio Tsoukalos gave a rare interview to Jimmy Church of Fade to Black radio to promote the return next week of Ancient Aliens for its twelfth season and ninth calendar year on the air. Tsoukalos more or less conceded that the whole Ancient Aliens series is merely an outgrowth of the two-hour original pilot, to which its 120 hours have added little, and that the pilot, in turn, was developed as a knockoff semi-tie-in to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, itself an ancient astronaut movie. According to Tsoukalos, executive producer Kevin Burns created the show as “a love letter to Chariots of the Gods.” That seems about right.
Today I am doing something a little different. After writing about Sphinx mysteries yesterday, it reminded me that I never got around to creating an online version of James Bonwick's 1877 book Pyramid Facts and Fancies, which for better or worse remains one of the most important collections of viewpoints on the Great Pyramid every produced. While the book is a useful compendium, it has many, many flaws. In 2012 I published an annotated version as Pyramidiots, and I always meant to get around to making that available online but never did because it is such a pain in the neck to format. So, today I present an online version of my annotations to Pyramid Facts and Fancies, outlining the sources behind 47 of the most popular theories about the Great Pyramid. The fascinating thing about it is that since 1877, we have not really added anything to the initial list, just variations on the same. As I wrote in my introduction to the book in 2012:
Last week I mentioned the information about the Great Sphinx provided by the traveler George Sandys, who in 1610, so far as I know, became one of the first to link the Sphinx to the constellation of Leo, a claim which is today an article of faith among fringe historians such as Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval. At the time, I noted that Shaw doubted the religiously oriented claim that the Pyramids of Giza were either the granaries of Joseph or the remnants of constructions by Hebrew slaves. Today I’d like to note a very interesting variant that occurs in the work of another traveler, Thomas Shaw, who wrote in 1738 of his trip to Egypt. Mostly it’s interesting for what Shaw leads us to: the original source of the claim that the Sphinx represents the constellation of Leo.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.