Yesterday I had a bit of a mishap with the vacuum cleaner. It caught the Velcro strap that is used to tie up my computer’s AC adapter, and it sucked the whole cord in, destroying the connecter at the end. And of course my laptop uses a non-standard adapter, so there is no place within 50 miles that sells a compatible one. The manufacturer’s billing system crashed when I tried to order a replacement, which meant that the shipping deadline passed. Now, thanks to the holiday weekend, I have to hope that it will arrive on Friday or else I will be sans computer until next week.
Malcolm Hutton (who is not the late actor of the same name) is an elderly retiree who taught himself hieroglyphics under what he claims is the tutelage of “an unseen and unknowable force.” This week he published an article on Ancient Origins promoting a forthcoming book in which he plans to reveal the tiresomely “true” history of ancient Egypt, as revealed by Robert Schoch, Robert Bauval, Scott Creighton, Graham Hancock, and the other members of alternative Egyptology’s Super Friends. Hutton has very little original to add except to claim that his revisionist hieroglyphics prove that Khufu didn’t build the Great Pyramid.
His argument is rather dull, but not unexpected. It is founded on the old lie that Col. Vyse forged the quarry marks in the so-called “relieving chambers” of the Great Pyramid as a way to link an otherwise anonymous structure to Khufu. To this he adds the argument that Khufu’s hieroglyphic name as given in the Abydos King List, which begins with a sun disc, cannot transliterate to “Khufu” because the disc is the symbol of Ra and therefore must always be vocalized as “Ra” or “Re,” never “Kh.” The trouble seems to be that Khufu’s name is typically written with a circle inscribed with lines, conventionally called a sieve, not a round circle with a central dot, the symbol for Ra’s sun disc. The sieve is Kh, but the Abydos list does not have the lines crossing the circle. I do not know enough about hieroglyphs to know why this is the case, but it is my understanding from what I have read that a plain disc (with neither sieve lines nor a Ra dot) could represent both Ra and Kh, and could be understood by context. Hutton insists on a single reading and says that this proves that the name of Khufu is a hoax.
Hutton chose not to explain how any of this would work. He believes that there was a pharaoh in the Fourth Dynasty, though he disputes the vocalization of his name, and he agrees that cartouches exist with this name on them. Consequently, it is hard to see how his alternative hieroglyphics dispute the fundamental narrative of Egyptian history except in the purely philological question of how to pronounce Khufu’s name. Hutton’s claim, ultimately, is that because “Khufu” is a fake name, then the cartouche that features a sieve rather than a solar disc in the Great Pyramid must be a fake. This might have been an interesting argument except that he lifted it entirely from Scott Creighton’s 2012 book The Giza Prophecy (where he acknowledges that a plain disc can mean Kh). The same claim can be found in Ralph Ellis’s 2010 book Eden in Egypt. As I understand it from secondary sources, all of these claims originate in one made by Zecharia Sitchin in Stairway to Heaven, though I have not seen the book in question. Sitchin had incorrectly claimed that the relieving chamber cartouche gave Khufu’s name with a disc rather than sieve, making it Ra-Fu, because Vyse was fabricating it from an incorrect textbook. It appears that after it became obvious that Sitchin was wrong (since the cartouche in the relieving chamber in fact uses a sieve) more recent authors have cast about for ways to make the sieve incorrect by trying to find examples of the disc. The Abydos king list, for what it is worth, was carved in the reign of Seti I, more than 1,000 years after Khufu reigned.
Hutton further repeats a long list of fringe history favorites: Robert Schoch’s re-dating of the Sphinx, Robert Bauval’s Orion Correlation Theory, and a more unusual claim that has popped up a few times: that the two lions depicted sitting back to back on the New Kingdom Dream Stela are actually a depiction of the Great Sphinx and a forgotten “second” Sphinx of the same vintage. This claim comes from a couple of Arab-Islamic writers who spoke of a mud-brick Sphinx across the Nile from the stone one at Giza. It’s probably a misunderstood story or an exaggeration, since the earliest Islamic accounts of Egypt—and all the Greco-Roman ones—lack this detail. It does not appear in the Akhbar al-zaman of c. 1000, for example, but as late as c. 1400 al-Maqrizi mentions a statue of what seems to be Isis that popular legend held to be the twin of the Sphinx before Muslim Egyptians destroyed it in search of treasure. But such things are not what modern writers imagine; everyone from Flinders Petrie (!) to Graham Hancock has sought—and failed to find—another colossal stone statue of a human-headed lion. It’s not impossible that one existed, but there isn’t any evidence for it from the people who would have been in the best position to have seen one—the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Hutton, though, goes far beyond other writers’ claims and, in a forthcoming book coauthored with Gerry Cannon, says that he thinks that the second Sphinx is located on the Giza plateau, right next to the extant Sphinx, in a mound in front of the Great Pyramid. According to Hutton, Cannon—another retiree, this one having spent twenty years on a fruitless quest for the Ark of the Covenant—and he will reveal the “truth” about this mound only with the new book.
In short, Hutton repeats many fringe history claims, simplifies them more than they originally were, and posits a vast conspiracy to suppress a truth gained entirely from fringe books. I can’t wait to see how he and Cannon spin that into an entire book about the so-called “second Sphinx.”
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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