Tonight’s exceptionally boring episode of Ancient Aliens, S07E07 “Mysteries of the Sphinx,” takes us back in time—to the 1990s, when the Great Sphinx controversy roared thanks to claims by geologist Robert Schoch that he Egyptian monument was 10,000 to 12,000 years old. The claim found little traction outside of fringe history, largely because mainstream scholars believe Schoch is wrong to attribute the erosion of the Sphinx and its enclosure to water rather than to salt exfoliation. But in the world of the fringe historians, Schoch’s academic credentials provided them all the proof they need to make the monument the world’s oldest monolithic statue.
The show provides an overview of the Sphinx’s recent history and Egyptology’s traditional attribution of the monument to the reign of Khafre, and the stela in front of the Sphinx telling the story of Thutmose IV’s dream of the Sphinx. A reference to the “Eye of the Lord” on the stela is likened to “technology” by William Henry, and David Childress then calls it a “UFO spaceship” identical with the Aten, the sun disk worshiped by Thutmose’s grandson, Akhenaten. The show claims that archaeologists didn’t know there was anything more to the Sphinx than its head prior to 1925, but that isn’t right; historical accounts describe it as having a body long before. Pliny (Natural History 36.17) calls the statue a “monster,” which means that he knew it was more than just a bust, and Al-Maqrizi (Al-Khitat 1.41) notes that the Egyptians said that “the rest of the body is buried in the sand.”
Robert Bauval, the author of The Orion Mystery, asserts that a bit of rhetoric on Thutmose’s stela claiming that the Sphinx existed since the dawn of time should be taken as proof that the statue existed in the earliest of days, which Giorgio Tsoukalos says is the time when aliens walked the earth alongside humans, pretending to be gods.
This takes us to Robert Schoch’s erosion claims, which were rebutted by geologist August Matthusen many years ago. Schoch originally proposed that the Sphinx was a few thousand years older than conventional chronology proposes, placing it around 5,000 BCE, but now he states that he has extended this timeline back to 10,000 BCE, coincidentally the same time favored by Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, John Anthony West, and Atlantis theorists, who chose the date because it coincides with Plato’s dating of Atlantis (c. 9600 BCE), the Egypt of Edgar Cayce (c. 10,490 BCE), and the end of the last Ice Age (c. 10,000 BCE). It is probably not a coincidence that this new date helps Schoch to fit more comfortably into the fringe culture that has built up around the 10,500-9,500 BCE dating.
After the first commercial break, the show talks about the loss of the Sphinx’s nose, which popular legend attributes to Napoleon. Kathleen McGowan Coppens gives an embroidered paraphrase of Al-Maqrizi’s history of the Sphinx’s mutilation, which I will instead quote in the original: “In our time, a figure named Sheikh Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, one of the Sufis of the convent of Dervishes founded by Sa‘id al-Su'ada, set off in 780 (1378-1379 CE) to combat and destroy superstitions. He went to the pyramids and mutilated the face of Abu al-Hul, which has remained in that state down to the present” (Al-Maqrizi, Al-Khitat, 1.41). The various pundits on the show argue that the Sphinx’s head was re-carved by Khafre from an older lion sculpture, paraphrasing arguments made by Graham Hancock, who does not appear here.
Next, Robert Temple shows up! The Sirius Mystery author arrives to assert that the Sphinx is really a dog, not a lion, and Anubis. He made this claim in The Sirius Mystery in 1976, but there is no evidence for this claim. The body doesn’t look very doglike to me, particularly since the tail wraps around the statue like a cat. But since that has been heavily reconstructed, we can’t know for sure. David Childress and David Wilcock drop in to contradict the Sirius Mystery by asserting that Anubis was a literal dog-headed alien who flew in to Egypt at the dawn of time.
After the next break, we take a look underground at the cenotaph of Osiris, under the causeway leading to the Sphinx. The shaft-tomb was explored in a live TV broadcast in 1999 and is seen again here in new footage. The ancient astronaut theorists find the idea of a cenotaph—a symbolic tomb—ridiculous, so David Wilcock tells us that the sarcophagus is actually a teleportation chamber that allowed aliens to teleport “in and out of our reality.” William Henry dissents slightly in that he prefers to see the pyramids as teleportation chambers. Childress falsely claims that no pharaoh “or Egyptian dynastic mummy” has ever been found in a pyramid. This is a lie Philip Coppens used to tell on the show, and it is just as wrong as when he made the claim in early 2013. As I wrote then:
He appears to be referring to Horus-Sekhem-Khet’s unfinished pyramid, whose burial chamber was found sealed in 1953 and when opened in 1954 proved empty. Coppens discusses this in his Canopus Revelation (2004). Archaeologists believe that when the pyramid was abandoned, the burial chamber was sealed as a decoy and the king buried elsewhere. Somehow this one intact empty burial chamber becomes “many” when Coppens, in his final Ancient Aliens interview, misremembered his own work. In his book Coppens quotes Kurt Mendelsshon as lamenting the “too many empty tomb chambers,” but Mendelsshon was no archaeologist; he was a physicist who argued that the pyramids were symbolic tombs, cenotaphs, not actual tombs. But mummies have been found in pyramids, including that of Queen Seshseshet at Saqqara; and Al-Maqrizi preserved the report of those who first entered the Giza pyramids and claimed that “Bodies buried in the pyramid were, they say, wrapped in cloth frayed by time and that this was made of thread of gold impregnated with compounds that formed a mass of myrrh and aloe to the thickness of a span.” A good description of a mummy, no?
From this, we move on to Robert Bauval’s Orion Correlation Theory, which the show presents as though it were precise and perfect. The fact of the matter is that the three pyramids of Giza do not form a precise model of the constellation of Orion as it appeared in 10,500 BCE. Even Graham Hancock—Robert Bauval’s writing partner—reduced the claim to little more than artistic similarity in a 1999 interview: “I think that what we’re (he and Bauval) proposing, that the ancient Egyptians were making a pleasing symbolic resemblance to what they saw in the sky on the ground is a very reasonable argument.” That claim held sway only until the mainstream media stopped paying attention to Hancock and Bauval, at which point Bauval reverted back to his unsupportable earlier argument.
After the next break, we decide to talk about Edgar Cayce as though he were a legitimate source for ancient history rather than a recycler of Theosophical and science fiction texts—texts he even cited by name in his readings (reading 364-1)! Cayce claimed that the pyramids were built in 10,490 BCE (since, as Atlantean constructions they had to predate the destruction of the continent in 9600 BCE), and he related them to Lemuria, Theosophical Root Races, and Atlantis (reading 5748-6)—claims derived from Theosophy and Ignatius Donnelly. This brings us to Cayce’s claim that the Atlantean Hall of Records was located under the right paw of the Sphinx, something that archaeology and geology both failed to confirm.
After the next break, we’re off to Mars to look at images that were shown on Unsealed: Alien Files, where I reviewed them last year and noted that they were nothing more than natural formations captured at a fortuitous angle. This leads to a ridiculous segment in which Childress and others assert that Martians have an underground civilization equal similar to that of Giza. The Martian Sphinx is the real one hiding the Hall of Records, you see; I guess Cayce couldn’t tell the difference between the two—which calls into question all of his predictions, if you think about it too deeply.
Jason Martell falsely describes Zecharia Sitchin as a “famous linguist” and then adopts Sitchin’s unsupportable “translation” of Mesopotamian texts as discussing trips between Earth and Mars. But the show is just playing for time here—this is all material they’ve covered many times before.
After the final break, the show asks if there is a second sphinx that was buried or lost. This is an old, old idea. Al-Maqrizi wrote in the medieval Al-Khitat that the Arabs believed that a large stone statue in Cairo was the mate of the Sphinx and his equal and opposite. But there is no evidence that Giza had a second Sphinx, and even if it did, it implies nothing about aliens.
William Henry thinks that the Sphinx guards specific knowledge about how human beings can “resurrect ourselves […] as star beings” who can ascend to the sky to join “the extraterrestrials” in a glorious eternal communion. Even Robert Bauval thinks that the Sphinx holds the secrets of “our genesis.” It’s a far cry from when Pliny called it a monster and Al-Maqrizi reported that it was meant to be “a talisman against the sand and prevents it from invading the cultivated land of Giza.”
The folklore applied to the Sphinx keeps changing, but one thing remains the same: The legends told of the statue reflect the hopes and fears of those who stare into its eyes, not an essential truth about Egypt or the divine.
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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