A Hilarious 1967 Japanese Illustration of Secret Pyramid Chambers and Robot Sphinx
There are times when I just don’t have the energy to seek out crazy stuff to write about. Sometimes I have to let the crazy come to me. Today’s subject is brief but interesting. It’s a graphic representation of a secret base located inside the Great Pyramid, and it comes to us courtesy of David S. Anderson (@DSAArchaeology) who posted it to his Twitter feed yesterday. Take a look:
I’m sure you’re all wondering what in the world this could be. It turns out that it is an illustration from a printed companion piece to a Japanese/American children’s adventure show called The King Kong Show, which aired on ABC from 1966 to 1969. In the series, a villain named Dr. Who used a number of schemes to capture King Kong, and a 1967 edition of Shōnen magazine carried diagrams of Dr. Who’s nefarious plans. The illustration in question illustrates a machine from episode 5, “The Jinx of the Sphinx,” in which Dr. Who uses a robot sphinx to wreak havoc in Egypt by ordering the robot to destroy the Suez Canal. The magazine illustration is an expansion of the ideas from the cartoon.
While It might seem to be a total cartoon fantasy, it’s interesting to note that the illustration has more than a little in common with popular fantasies about the Great Pyramid, such as the fanciful illustration of the relieving chambers, in reality very small, as five floors of elaborate rooms in a 1920s newspaper illustration, to the romantic phantasmagoria of winding passages, hidden chambers, and multiple floors of treasure chambers in Arab-Islamic pyramid lore.
It also is reflective, to an extent, of the way that popular conceptions of the interior of Egyptian pyramids stems from medieval fantasies more than from reality. Hollywood depictions of the interior of the pyramids, in everything from mummy movies to Count Duckula to the current remake of DuckTales imagine the pyramids as vast networks of rooms and chambers, and it’s interesting to speculate on exactly how popular culture came to embrace an image of the pyramids that is so opposed to reality.
I imagine the answer is composed of several parts: (a) medieval legends that inspired Romantic writers as they invented fantasy versions of Egypt for fiction; (b) the well-preserved set of winding halls and elaborate chambers surrounding Djoser’s step pyramid, which likely have been conflated with the pyramid itself; (c) conflation of pyramid burial chambers with the more complex and elaborate tombs of the Valley of the Kings, especially after the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb; (d) and probably the excitement that greeted the discovery of the elaborate decoration and inscription of Unas’s fifth-dynasty pyramid burial chamber in 1881.
11/2/2017 11:16:46 am
So that must be the new "void" discovered in the Great Pyramid of Giza, using muon-tomography, that is being reported on today. How timely!
11/2/2017 12:27:46 pm
Funny, as I was reading about that in the Guardian:
11/2/2017 04:08:47 pm
It looks like Dr. Who used the same interior decorator as the Fantastic Four, as seen in a similar cutaway of the Baxter Building in Fantastic Four Annual #3, two years earlier.
11/2/2017 05:16:00 pm
You also had the 80's cartoon The Mysterious Cities of Gold, where the three main characters are a Spanish orphan, an Incan girl and the last descendant of Mu. They searched for the Seven Cities of Gold and along the way, discovered advanced technology from Mu, like a solar powered ship and mechanical bird and a fusion reactor called the "Great Legacy". Oh, and both Mu and Atlantis were destroyed in a war due to "Weapons of the Sun".
11/2/2017 05:53:28 pm
Mysterious Cities was actually a French show, done with a Japanese animation company. (I suppose that does fit with the King Kong show, which was produced by Rankin/Bass, but animated in Japan as well.)
11/2/2017 06:08:07 pm
Really? I didn't get that far into Nadia, so that's interesting.
11/2/2017 09:13:24 pm
So that's where Giorgio Tsoukalos got the idea that Atlantis was a spaceship!
11/2/2017 09:39:52 pm
Most media references to Atlantis stick with Plato's description of a sunken island. I think the only other reference to Atlantis being a space ship is Stargate Atlantis.
11/2/2017 11:21:26 pm
Nadia was derived from a Toho Animation project shelved in the mid-1970s when the AAT craze was going strong. Hayao Miyazaki (of Studio Ghibli fame) was leading the project back then. Almost any Japanese anime SF series from the late 1970 to this day are contaminated by AAT theories. Even before the Mysterious Cities of Gold (the Japanese version played the alien stuff strong while it was not keep in the French version) was done, in 1980, a similar show called Hakugei no Mu (The Whale of Mu) played with the same concept... The funny thing is these shows were far more coherent than the litterature that inspired them. And I must credit the Mysterious Cities of Gold (the French version) for sparking my interest in precolumbian and old civilization... which lead to the fringe authors which didn't live up to my expectation.
11/6/2017 10:32:22 pm
The "12 episodes in the Middle" of Nadia (actually, episodes #25-36, or so - not quite the middle) were the result of the series getting shortened to 26 episodes from 39 or 52, then getting a last-minute reprieve like Babylon 5's 4th & 5th seasons - and like B5's 5th season, the resulting filler stuff to expand back out after the compression of story (to where most of the original near-end elements had been crammed into already-aired episode) was lacking.
Wim Van der Straeten
11/3/2017 10:58:20 am
I always knew Dr. Who wasn't a good guy.
11/2/2017 04:59:03 pm
I loved that show!
11/2/2017 10:13:11 pm
Man, I could have gone my whole life without remembering Godzooky.
11/3/2017 01:38:54 pm
Why is it that none of the drawing of the interior of space ships or pyramids have toilets?
11/4/2017 12:20:17 am
You answered my question concerning the lack of toilets shown for the pyramids, but not where they are on drawing of alien space ships. As for Jason's readers being smarter, I was at least smart enough to ask the question.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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