Regular readers will remember Scott Creighton, who has published a number of poorly researched books about Egyptian history containing various occult and fringe conspiracy theories. I criticized him in a previous review for writing about medieval Arabic-language pyramid myths as an accurate guide to ancient Egyptian practices, and it seems that he didn’t quite take the lesson.
Creighton has a new book coming out next year, and his publisher posted an excerpt on Amazon in which he finds a new way to misuse medieval pyramid myths. Get a load of this section in which he alleges that the recently discovered and still unexplored “void” in the Great Pyramid is some sort of “recovery vault” to restore life and knowledge after the Flood—the essence of the medieval myth:
This idea of a “Recovery Vault” is not unlike our modern-day seed vault on Svalbaard in the Arctic Circle, which opened in 2008. I did not, however, arrive at this Recovery Vault conclusion of my own accord--I took my cue from what the ancient Egyptian texts tell us:
Now this is an interesting mess. I suppose we should start by insisting quite loudly that the passage Creighton quotes is not an ancient Egyptian text. It is a paragraph from the Akhbār al-zamān, a tenth or eleventh century Arabic treatise on the history of Egypt.
Creighton has quoted from the version translated in Col. Richard William Howard Vyse’s Operations from 1837, which is both incomplete and wrongly attributed to the historian al-Mas’udi. In prior publications, Creighton had given al-Mas’udi as the author of the passage and identified it as medieval. Almost three years ago, Creighton had attributed the same text to Mas’udi reporting a Coptic oral tradition that dated back to the Old Kingdom. I criticized him for it, and now the same supposedly Coptic oral story has become both an ancient written text and “ancient Egyptian.”
As Abu Ma’shar and the actual al-Mas’udi testified in the ninth and tenth centuries respectively, the story Creighton believes represents an ancient tradition about the Great Pyramid was first applied to the Egyptian temples, particularly the great temple at the alchemical center of Akhmim, and not the pyramids. As Abu Ma’shar explicitly wrote: “Fearing the destruction of knowledge and the disappearance of the arts in the Flood, he [Hermes] built the great temples; one is a veritable mountain called the Temple in Akhmim, in which he carved representations of the arts and instruments, including engraved explanations of science, in order to pass them on to those who would come after him, lest he see them disappear from the world” (Ibn Juljul, Tabaqat al-atibbaʾ 9-10, my trans.). In turn, this traces back to Greco-Roman stories from Late Antiquity that referred to Egyptian temples and tombs in the same terms (e.g. Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History 22.15.30).
There is no record of the stories being applied to the pyramids prior to the late 900s CE.
My own book on the subject of pyramid myths and legends comes out in August 2021 from the trade division of Indiana University Press.
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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