At the end of 2014, I reviewed Scott Creighton’s book The Secret Chamber of Osiris (Bear & Company, 2015), in which the author admitted that he borrowed his background conceit—that Egypt’s monuments were antediluvian and intended to preserve knowledge from the Flood—from medieval Arabic pyramid lore. Now, two years later, Creighton is about to release another new book, The Great Pyramid Hoax (Bear & Company, 2017) in which he builds on his earlier acceptance of medieval mythology to posit a vast conspiracy to “hide” the true history of the pyramids from the public by fabricating Khufu’s name in one of the relieving chambers above the Great Pyramid’s King’s Chamber in order to suppress the antediluvian reality.
Creighton explored this material in his earlier book, but it wasn’t relevant to his argument then, so I did not discuss it in detail.
The new book opens with a foreword by Laird Scranton, whose credentials are described as being “a frequent guest on radio programs such as Coast to Coast AM and Red Ice Radio.” An ancient astronaut theorist (who has occasionally contacted me for criticism, and thanked me for it in one of his books), he praises Creighton for taking on the cadre of Egyptologists that he believes unfairly controls perceptions of Egyptian history.
Creighton begins his book by thanking Zecharia Sitchin for proposing that Col. Richard William Howard Vyse forged the painted cartouche bearing Khufu’s name while exploring the relieving chambers of the Great Pyramid in 1837. At least Creighton is smart enough to know that Sitchin’s claims received scathing criticism. Unfortunately, Creighton hopes to resurrect them with different evidence, and for an illogical reason: “At a stroke, the Great Pyramid is removed almost entirely from the historical context that conventional Egyptology has effectively shoehorned the structure into.” This is, of course, false: It does not follow that if the cartouche is fake that the pyramid is therefore antediluvian, or that nothing ties it to the culture of the Fourth Dynasty that produced it. Creighton believes that the only evidence that connects the Pyramid to the era of 2500 BCE is this single cartouche, which ignores all of the archaeology done in and around Giza for two centuries.
The opening arguments also have very strange framing. The scholars who have done academic work on the relieving chambers are simply lumped together as “Egyptologists” or “the mainstream” with few if any names noted, but the shades of difference among “respected authors” of the fringe, like Robert Schoch, Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, and Zecharia Sitchin, are discussed in detail. In other words, Creighton is steeped in fringe literature and seems to consider speculation to be coequal to research. It will surprise no one that Creighton includes no modern academic work on the relieving chambers at all in his bibliography, or modern work in Egyptology in general from this century (he mostly cites work from the 1880s-1950s), but does feature several postings from the Graham Hancock website message board alongside a list of fringe books.
Across his earlier and current books Creighton seems to argue an impossible point, that we cannot trust the claims of the Egyptians themselves but can trust those of the Arab historians writing thousands of years later. Thus, he rejects the Egyptian priest Manetho’s description of Suphis (a Greek corruption of Khufu) building the pyramid, taken from records as known to the Egyptians in the Hellenstic period: “Suphis reigned 63 years. He built the largest pyramid, which Herodotus says was constructed by Cheops. He was arrogant toward the gods, and wrote the sacred book; which is regarded by the Egyptians as a work of great importance.” But, in his previous book, he announced that he is open to the medieval myth that Surid built the pyramids in primeval times, before the Flood.
The evidence for forgery is unimpressive, comprised primarily of hypotheticals. In this case, Creighton argues that Vyse could have copied Khufu’s cartouches from Ippolito Rosellini’s 1832 book I Monumenti Dell’Egitto e Della Nubia, that he could have recognized the cartouches reading “Khufu” and “Khnum-Khuf” (another of Khufu’s names) as referring to the same man, and therefore would have used both in fabricating the inscriptions, and that he also unknowing copied a third name of Khufu that would not be identified until long after simply because he was using “a cache of authentic, old hieratic texts (perhaps painted onto stone or written with ink on papyrus) somewhere outside the Great Pyramid,” a claim he borrows from fringe historian Alan Alford.
In sum, Creighton’s forgery claim is based on an unprovable assumption for which there is no evidence, and which would require almost a greater discovery than the painted cartouches in the pyramid, namely a trove of authentic Fourth Dynasty texts of such length and complexity as to have allowed for the forgery. Oh, and for good measure Creighton proposes that most of the markings in the relieving chambers except for Khufu’s cartouches—both the ones Vyse would have recognized and the one he would not—are actually authentic.
Creighton believes that Vyse bribed his way into Parliament and was ruthless enough to commit fraud whenever it suited him. Beyond this, Creighton says that Vyse was a biblical literalist and therefore wanted to fake the inscriptions to prove that the pyramids had been built shortly after the Flood. Creighton doesn’t bother to analyze this logically: The Flood, in 1837, was assumed to have taken place in 2348 BCE in the chronology of James Ussher, give or take a century according to different chronologists. Because this date fits in general terms with the reign of Khufu, the evidence is a wash: It might suggest a motive, but it equally well supports the idea that Vyse would not have seen a contradiction between Egyptian and Biblical chronology and had no reason to want to fake anything. Thus, if one allowed for Manetho’s pharaohs from the first dynasty on to be real, you would have pre- and post-Flood pharaohs and would not, as Creighton thinks, stress out about finding artifacts in the Pyramid that contradicted the Bible.
Just as a note: Creighton, as I mentioned, accepts Islamic views on the Pyramid, which place it before the Flood, filled with the magical knowledge of the Nephilim. Such views managed to fit into the theology of the Qur’an as well as the Nephilim-centric view of Genesis. What, pray tell, could be in the Pyramid that would “contradict” Scripture?
For Creighton, the fear was that the Pyramid could predate Creation in 4004 BCE, which he wrongly views as an absolute date that no person before Darwin would dared have question. This is false. The Comte de Buffon famously calculated the Earth’s age at 75,000 years. Theologians argued about the length of time between Creation and Adam, and how best to calculate the time between Adam and Noah. Estimates varied wildly, and no particular set of dates was definitive. But even in ancient times no Christian scholar believed Manetho’s antediluvian kings truly reigned for the millennia attributed to them, and early chronologists like Julius Africanus, Eusebius, and George Syncellus spilled much ink cramming mythic history into Christian chronology. It really wasn’t a problem for nineteenth century Englishmen, not even those of deep Biblical belief. Some awareness of this on the part of Creighton would have been nice rather than an imaginary imposition of Church doctrine onto Egyptology.
Tomorrow I will conclude my look at Creighton’s book with the second half and the conclusion.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
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.