Scottish writer Scott Creighton claims to have discovered secrets about Egypt that will change our understanding of civilization. His new book, released yesterday, is entitled The Secret Chamber of Osiris: Lost Knowledge of the Sixteen Pyramids (Bear & Company, 2015), and it comes (redundantly) with an endorsement and foreword from Rand Flem-Aths, the Canadian author who believes that Atlantis was located in Antarctica. Before we begin discussing Creighton’s book, I’d like to take a moment to offer a comparison. Here on the left is Creighton discussing the pyramids, and on the right is Sir John Mandeville, the medieval fraud, writing around 1357:
Have we really made so little progress since the Middle Ages?
Apparently not, since Creighton’s major thesis is taken directly from medieval pyramid lore, as he explicitly admits. Let me offer another comparison. After scoffing at Egyptologists for declaring the pyramids tombs, Creighton explains that he believes they were actually designed to preserve Egyptian culture from Great Flood:
… first sixteen pyramids built in ancient Egypt were perceived as and would come to represent the allegorical “dismembered body of Osiris,” the ancient Egyptian god of agriculture and rebirth, and that through the agency of Osiris it was hoped that the kingdom could be reborn after an anticipated cataclysm—the great deluge of Thoth.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s (intentionally) almost identical to Islamic-era pyramid myths of the Middle Ages, like those found in Al-Maqrizi’s Al-Khitat of the 1400s:
It was argued that these monuments were tombs, but this is not true; their builder erected them because he foresaw the Flood and he knew that this cataclysm would destroy everything on the surface of the earth, except what could be stored in buildings such as these two pyramids [at Giza]. Thus, he stored within them all the valuables and treasures he could, and the Flood having occurred, then subsiding, the entire contents of the pyramids became the property of Bansar bin Mizraim bin Ham bin Noah. (1.40, my trans.)
To be fair, there is a small difference. For the Arab rulers of Egypt, the pyramids were not symbolic of Osiris, god of the dead, but rather belonged to Hermes. So there is that innovation in 600 years. Well, actually, no… The “deluge of Thoth” Creighton speaks of? That would be the same Thoth identified with Hermes, who in both Christian and Islamic lore predicted the Flood and prepared to save knowledge from its effects (Syncellus, Chronicon 41; Sa‘id al-Andalusi, Al‐tarif bi-tabaqat al-umm 39.7-16; Al-Maqrizi, Al-Khitat 1.40; etc.).
So, in short, Creighton makes common cause with medieval fantasists but seems confident that he can dress up very late myths in the clothes of science.
He begins by adopting the “science” of Robert Bauval, the fringe writer who proposed back in 1994 the so-called Orion Correlation Theory, which holds that the pyramids were designed to map out the stars of the constellation Orion on the ground. Bauval had taken inspiration from Robert Temple’s Canopus correlation theory—that Egyptian cities were planned to map out the constellation Canopus across Egypt—in a copy of Temple’s 1976 ancient astronaut book, The Sirius Mystery, that he happened to read at an airport. Following this, Creighton takes the fact that the Great Pyramid and Menkaure’s pyramid have indentations on teach face, making them technically eight sided, as connected somehow to the Templar cross—because Templars and Freemasons must always follow in the wake of any mystery. Hilariously, Creighton takes as true the claims of Freemasonry’s mythologizers that they are the successors to the Templars and thus to the Egyptians themselves, on the word of the mystical Victorian Mason Frank C. Higgins. He takes Higgins’s claim that the Templar Cross is a “fourfold triangle” and a “flattened pyramid” to mean that it therefore represent and eight-sided, flattened Great Pyramid. “It seems then,” Creighton writes, “that the Templar Cross depicting the eight-sided pyramid suggests that knowledge of the concavities of the Great Pyramid had been observed long ago and also that some significance was known to have been attributed to these curious features.” The Templars used primarily the cross pattee, but Creighton reads it as the Maltese cross to make it fit his ideas.
We then move on to claims that there are secret chambers at Giza, and here the weaknesses in Creighton’s research start to show. He cites Edgar Cayce, of course, but also cites the Hellenistic Kore Kosmou and Marcellinus’ late Antique Roman History (22.15.30), but both secondhand. He has never read either—he cites a website’s discussion of them as the source. He then cites the Arab pyramid legend of Surid, which he quotes from J. Davies’ 1672 English translation of the French edition of the twelfth-century author Murtada ibn al-Afif (Murtadi ibn Gaphiphus), likely from this website due to some tell-tale OCR errors (e.g., Sahaloe for Sahaloc) that don’t appear in print editions, and without citing the translator at all. The same story is given also in Al-Maqrizi and Al-Idrisi, as well as in the earlier Akhbar al-zaman. He then reports on Al-Maqrizi’s accounts, but secondhand again, this time from Mark Lehner’s summary of them in The Complete Pyramids. Given that I’ve made the text available in English since 2012, there isn’t really an excuse for not knowing the original.
After this, he cites more of the text of Sir John Mandeville from the passage I mentioned above—again secondhand, from Gary Osborn, as well as the so-called Egyptian Flood myth. This he takes from E. A. Wallis Budge’s From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt, in the form of a translation of the Papyrus of Ani, which refers to a future flood—though, to be technical about it, the flood passage was added in translation from a fragmentary papyrus and doesn’t appear in the extant Papyrus of Ani. Typical of Creighton, he confuses Budge’s commentary with the bits of translated text, even while acknowledging that Budge believed the flood was an anticipated event, not a historical one, for the Egyptians.
What I don’t understand is how anyone can claim to use such texts to rewrite history without actually knowing the texts themselves or their contexts. Anyway, from this he concludes that the Egyptians long considered the pyramids to be talismans protecting against a flood. I guess that makes them of a piece with the Sphinx, since the same source Creighton cites (Al-Maqrizi at 1.10, quoting Al-Quda’i) says that the Sphinx “is said to be a talisman against high sands, and was intended to prevent sand from invading the cultivated land of Giza.” I guess Creighton didn’t read that part… or any part… of the texts he claims support his views.
Oh, and all of these medieval legends Creighton declares “ancient” because he is not able to tell the difference between the Old Kingdom of Egypt and the Middle Ages. By declaring the medieval pyramid myths to be both ancient and true (though only selected myths), Creighton therefore has a quasi-historical basis for his claim that the pharaohs built the pyramids as part of an effort to preserve Egyptian culture from the Flood. Because of this assumption, he therefore concludes that the pyramids are chock a block with hidden chambers full of cultural detritus.
This, however, is all remarkably scholarly compared to Creighton’s next chapter. There he takes as legitimate the Emerald Tablets of Thoth the Atlantean, the 1930s fraud by Maurice Doreal (Claude Doggins), a neo-Theosophist who claimed that the poem he plagiarized from H. P. Lovecraft, Frank Belknap Long, and other weird fiction writers was a genuine Hermetic text from Atlantis. From clues in the tablets, he creates an elaborate geometric map from various angles in the pyramids to point toward what he thinks is the lost chamber of Osiris.
What on earth am I to make of a book based on a hoax? It doesn’t help that later in the book he also accepts—from secondhand sources, of course—the medieval myth of Princess Scota, the supposed Egyptian who escaped to Scotland. I wrote about that here.
Next up, he tries to explain that the first sixteen pyramids built in Egypt form an image of Osiris when read north to south—even though the Egyptians viewed south as “up.” Somehow, this also means that the Giza pyramids aren’t part of Osiris at all but part of his headdress! This is especially confusing since Creighton also endorses the Orion Correlation Theory whereby the same pyramids are the belt stars of Orion, the constellation identified with Osiris in Egyptian times. Somehow they are both groin and crown of the same god! The Egyptians, according to Creighton’s chart, somehow managed to mangle the whole correlation and failed to finish it. They also left out such seemingly important parts of the god as his face and his crook and staff. Satellite photos provided on successive pages demonstrate that the “correlation” is greatly exaggerated in the above diagram and instead, as we might expect, the pyramids’ locations are much better explained by the curves of the Nile Valley.
Having dispensed with his theory, Creighton next tries to prove it with a variety of hoary pyramid claims. The pyramids, he says, are too big to be tombs (Mandeville covered this in 1357!) and are too anonymous to be monuments to kings. He argues that the interior of the Great Pyramid was purposely insecure (though the Arabs who expended considerable effort to open it in the Middle Ages would surely disagree), and—of course—that there aren’t any mummies in the pyramids, so they couldn’t have been tombs. Here Creighton’s acceptance of Al-Maqrizi and his fellow medieval writers betrays him, for Al-Maqrizi reported, from an earlier writer, that when the pyramids were opened, the Arabs found within sarcophagi “closed with lids of stone which, once removed, let one see within them a man lying on his back, perfectly preserved and dried and on whose flesh is still visible the hair.” Regardless of whether this (and many parallel accounts) are literally true, the fact the Creighton wants us to accept Arab legends when it comes to Surid before the Flood but not their own accounts of (relatively) recent Arab history speaks volumes about his slipshod historiography and failure to consult primary sources. He does have an “out,” though. He concedes that someone might have re-used the pyramids as tombs later on.
He then accuses former Egyptian antiquities minister Zahi Hawass of having masterminded a conspiracy to keep people like him from visiting the geometric point where he calculated the chamber of Osiris must be hidden.
After this Creighton offers some linguistic claims in which the Scotsman argues that he understands hieroglyphs better than all of the assembled experts in the world. He would like to revise the translation of Giza’s ancient name of Akhet Khufu (the horizon of Khufu). He would like us to see Akhet not as the horizon but as an ibis, akhet, following Mark Lehner, who saw it as symbolic of the soul through its connection to the root for “radiant light.” Creighton, though, would like to change akhet to mean “light of wisdom,” and thus the pyramids to be a knowledge source, while also allowing it to mean something like “great flood” because the ibis was associate with the Nile flood.
Remember—all of this is in service of proving medieval legends true!
After this point, Creighton is intellectually spent, and the book starts to break down. Creighton devotes a chapter to trying to prove Zecharia Sitchin was right about the quarry marks in the Great Pyramid being fakes, which is frankly irrelevant to any of the arguments in this book since Surid is, by the evidence of the texts he cites, the builder of the Great Pyramid and also Khufu. This side trip seems to exist solely to imply the existence of a conspiracy—though later Creighton will admit that he thinks the pyramids are 7,000 years old rather than 4,500 as in standard chronology. Following this, he collects testimony from various catastrophist authors, handbooks of mythology, and Wikipedia that there really was once a Great Flood as well as terrible droughts. He then argues—and I wish I were making this up—that the pyramids once functioned as granaries, or “arks or recovery vaults to store massive quantities of grain and other seed types”! This is straight out of medieval legend, as John Mandeville (Travels, ch. 7) and Gregory of Tours (History of the Franks 1.10) wrote in calling the pyramids the “granaries of Joseph,” after the Biblical story of Joseph and Pharaoh. You see, he thinks soot found in the pyramids proves that they were once filled with grain, which, upon decaying, exploded. If that isn’t enough, he also accepts a strange scientific paper from 2007 that argued that because there weren’t enough hours of sunlight to grow the plants wooly mammoths ate in Siberia, earth obviously underwent a rapid geographic pole shift caused by superheated ions from a Mars-sized rogue planet passing by, thus causing Siberia to shift north and Egypt to slip south. Oh, and the planet evaporated, leaving no evidence to prove it was the real cause of the end of the Ice Age. Therefore, Creighton concludes, the Great Pyramid shows evidence of being aligned to stars before (Queen’s Chamber shafts) and after (King’s Chamber shafts) this dramatic pole shift.
After this, he claims that the Renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti drew Khufu’s pyramid as the Ark in his Florentine Baptistery Gates of Paradise image of Noah’s Flood. The Ark is indeed shown as a pyramid, but not due to a conspiracy but because Origen, in Genesis Homily 2, which Creighton has not read and knows only from a brief secondhand reference, said that he thought the three-story Ark had to be smaller on each successive level, creating a truncated pyramid. This text is paralleled by Philo in Questions and Answers on Genesis 2.5 and also Clement in Stromata 6.11, both unknown to Creighton. The conceit is this: The ark is 300 X 50 cubits at the base, but according Genesis 6:16, the Ark was but one cubit at the top, above the window. Therefore, these authors concluded it must slope upward to get to that small size, rather than have a little protrusion at the top. Here’s Clement’s version: “And the length of the structure was three hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty, and the height thirty; and above, the ark ends in a cubit, narrowing to a cubit from the broad base like a pyramid, the symbol of those who are purified and tested by fire” (trans. William Wilson). It’s silly, but what happens when you apply logic to myth. Most of the ancient authors explained this in great detail, but because Creighton doesn’t know the originals, he can read into a secondhand summary of Origin a conspiracy dating back to Egypt: “Perhaps these early writers and artists had access to ancient texts, now long since lost, that described the early, giant Egyptian pyramids in precisely such terms—as arks.”
A further chapter proposes that the Egyptians raised the pyramids by lifting their blocks with hot air balloons. For evidence, he cites the infamous Dendera “Light Bulb,” which he instead reads as a hot air balloon being filled. This is, of course, irrelevant to the question whether medieval legends (which mention no balloons) are accurate accounts of the past. Again, Creighton is selective in what he wants us to assume is true.
The next chapter summarizes the book, this time restating conclusions as facts and suggestions as closer to certainties. To this he appends an elaborate defense of the claim that bull bones found by Belzoni in Khafre’s sarcophagus in 1818 are not an intrusive burial as modern Egyptologists believe but rather the whole purpose of the pyramid—to mark it as a cenotaph of Osiris’s bull soul: “For conventional Egyptology to continue to insist that the earth and bull bones discovered by Belzoni in the stone container of G2 were nothing more than a later intrusive burial serves only to misinform and mislead; it’s a ploy designed solely to prop up and perpetuate a flawed paradigm (i.e., the pyramid tomb theory).”
The book concludes with satellite imagery of 2009 excavations at the part of Giza that Creighton claims sacred geometry indicates is of extreme importance. He suggests that Zahi Hawass ordered the excavations as a direct result of Creighton publishing most of the information contained in this book in the forums of Above Top Secret and Graham Hancock’s website. He speculates that the Egyptian authorities uncovered immensely powerful artifacts from the site, though the subsequent fall of Hosni Mubarak and Zahi Hawass would suggest that it didn’t do them any good, much less restore Egypt to world-historical power.
In the final analysis, Creighton claims to have ideas that will change our understanding of history but bases them on secondhand research, cherry picking, and appeals to conspiracy. It’s appropriate that Creighton is so interested in trying to prove medieval legends true since his own book is just as dependent on secondary summaries, excerpts, and ignorance as the worst texts of the Middle Ages.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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