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The Great Sphinx Dating Debate - page four

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  a photograph of Dr Robert M. Schoch at the Great Sphinx on the Giza plareau, Egypt  

Comments by Robert M. Schoch on the Geological Analysis of Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald
found in chapter 7 ("The Age of the Sphinx") of "Giza: The Truth".

[Copyright 2000 by Robert M. Schoch. All rights reserved]

Dr. Robert M. Schoch continues the debate ...


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Books about the Great
Sphinx & Pyramids

"Pyramid Quest: Secrets of the Great Pyramid and the Dawn of Civilization"
Dr Robert M. Schoch
Robert Aquinas Mcnally

EU English Edition

"How is it that the Great Pyramid exercises such a gripping hold on the human psyche adding cryptic grace and framing myriad claims of New Age "pyramid power"? In "Pyramid Quest", Robert M. Schoch and Robert Aquinas McNally use the rigorous intellectual analysis of scientific inquiry to investigate what we know about the Great Pyramid and develop a stunning hypothesis: this ancient monument is the strongest proof yet, that civilisation began thousands of years earlier than is generally thought, extending far back into a little-known time.

In tracing that story, we come to understand not only the Great Pyramid but also our own origins as civilised beings."

"Voices of the Rocks:
A Scientist Looks at
Catastrophes and
Ancient Civilizations"

Dr Robert M. Schoch

EU English Edition

"The great 19th-century battle between catastrophists and uniformitarians seemed to end with the notion of global cataclysms being dismissed as a back door to the supernatural.

But the catastrophist theory has gradually become more and more plausible, so that now, less than a hundred years later, it is widely believed that mass extinctions are linked to meteor strikes."

"Voyages of the
Pyramid Builders"

Dr Robert M. Schoch

an image/link direct to this product at
EU English Edition

"Is it a mere coincidence that pyramids are found across our globe? Did cultures ranging across vast spaces in geography and time, such as the ancient Egyptians; early Buddhists; the Maya, Inca, Toltec, and Aztec civilizations of the Americas; the Celts of the British Isles; and even the Mississippi Indians of pre-Columbian Illinois, simply dream the same dreams and envision the same structures?

In this dramatic and meticulously reasoned book, Schoch, like anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl in his classic Kon-Tiki, argues that ancient cultures traveled great distances by sea. Indeed, he believes that primeval sailors traveled from the Eastern continent, primarily Southeast Asia, and spread the idea of pyramids across the Earth, involving the human species in a far greater degree of contact and exchange than experts have previously thought possible."

"Giza: The Truth"
Ian Lawton
Chris Ogilvie-Herald

an image/link direct to this product at
EU English Edition


"It has also been suggested that Sphinx has been heavily weathered by the action of subsurface ground water being sucked up into the pores of the rock by capillary action (Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald, page 316). There are a couple of problems with this hypothesis.

First, I have yet to see any evidence that this is actually occurring to any significant extent today, much less in the past. If it is a significant factor in producing the weathering profile seen on the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure, then it should also produce the same features (and to the same degree) on rock-cut structures carved from the same limestones and at the same elevation or lower found immediately to the south of the Sphinx enclosure. Yet such "capillary weathering" is not evident there. Second, such "capillary weathering", if it does indeed occur to any significant degree in the present day, may well be the result of rising water tables due to sewerage from the adjacent village that has been progressively encroaching on the Giza Plateau.

James Harrell is the major proponent of the "wet-sand" theory to explain the weathering and erosion of the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure. He has suggested that sand piled up for centuries in the Sphinx enclosure has been wetted by rainfall, Nile floods, and capillary action sucking water up into the overlying sand. Persistent flooding, however, would be expected to cut a wave bench into the Sphinx and the enclosure, and there is no such feature.Also, wet sand around the bottom of the Sphinx enclosure does not explain the obvious and pronounced weathering on the upper portions of the walls of the enclosure.

Indeed, the major problem with the wet-sand hypothesis is that there is no documented mechanism known by which wet sand piled against a limestone surface will produce the weathering and erosional profile seen on the body of the Sphinx and on the walls of the Sphinx enclosure. Sand, even wet sand (if it ever occurred in the Sphinx enclosure - - there is no evidence that it did to any significant degree), may actually have served more to promote the preservation of the Sphinx.

Interior of the Great Sphinx Temple ruins
Copyright © 1999, Dr. Robert M. Schoch

Furthermore, capillary action, far from being a mechanism cable of keeping numerous feet of piled sand wet over many centuries, is negligible in loose sands in arid areas. Harrell's "wet-sand" theory simply does not work as an explanation for the weathering and erosional features of the Sphinx and Sphinx enclosure.

Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald (page 320) write "Schoch has emphasised that the enclosure walls are generally more eroded at the top than at the bottom, which appears at odds with the fact that the upper layers tend to be harder. However, Lehner argues that even the relatively uneroded eastern end of the south wall shows that it was deliberately cut with a slope in the original excavation of the enclosure." Thus, Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald imply that my observations are invalidated. However, as I already pointed out in the 1995 letter to "Archaeology", I have never implied that the walls of the Sphinx enclosure were originally absolutely vertical.

In a published illustration (in J. A. West, 1993, Serpent in the Sky, Quest Books, Wheaton, IL, p. 227) I show them at an approximately 80 degree angle before being weathered. However, the fact remains that even taking such a small slope into account the harder layers at the top of the section have been in general eroded back further than softer layers lower in the section, thus corroborating the hypothesis of an older Sphinx.

On page 320 of their book, as if to put the final "nail" in the coffin of an older Sphinx, Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald write:

"Finally, West and Schoch have increasingly fallen back on the evidence of the deep, rounded, vertical hollows in the west and south walls of the Sphinx enclosure, insisting that these are too ("too" is stressed by being placed in italics by L and O-H) obviously weathered by precipitation for the other arguments about weathering to matter. We have sympathy for this view, but again Gauri appears to have an answer. He suggests that they represent faults in the rock originating from the time when the structural deformation of the whole Plateau caused the rock strata to tilt, perhaps millions of years ago, and that they were widened into cavities or channels by the 'hydraulic circulation of the underground water'. They were then exposed when the bedrock was excavated from the Sphinx enclosure."

Again, as I pointed out in the 1995 letter to "Archaeology", the limestones of the Giza Plateau are criss-crossed with fractures or joints, and these joints date back millions of years, and possibly some of them may be due to geologic faulting (but see comments by Coxill quoted below). However, the joints are not opened up as fissures everywhere on the Giza Plateau. Vertical fissures such as those on the Sphinx enclosure wall can only be produced by water, primarily precipitation, and do bear on the age of the Sphinx.

Basically the precipitation runoff follows paths of least resistence and thus works its way into weak joints and fractures. This is dramatically illustrated on the western wall of the Sphinx enclosure and the western portion of the southern wall (which have been subjected to substantial runoff) versus the eastern portion of the southern wall of the enclosure where the fissures are much less extreme; the eastern portion of the enclosure has not taken the brunt of the runoff.

My critics, including Gauri, Lehner, Hawass, Lawton, and Ogilvie-Herald, do not distinguish between naturally occurring joints, on the one hand, and open fissures developed only through weathering processes on the other hand."

Dr Robert M. Schoch's response to criticisms by Ian Lawton & Chris Ogilvie-Herald in their book
"Giza: The Truth" continues on:

page five


"The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh"
W. M. Flinders Petrie

an image/link direct to this product at
EU English Edition

"Based on the author's work in Egypt in the 1880s, this unusual volume addresses one of history's greatest puzzles -- how were the pyramids of Gizeh built? Before Petrie undertook this study, the Great Pyramid was a byword for paradox - something that was generally familiar, yet not accurately known. No measurements or detailed examination had been performed. Petrie set out to apply mathematical methods to the study of the pyramids and surrounding temples, with the objective of understanding the methods and abilities of the ancient workers.

The result, presented in this volume, is a complete set of measurements of the pyramids, both inside and outside. These provide the foundation for the rest of the book, which deals with the architectural ideas of the pyramid builders, the mechanical methods they used, and a comparison of previous theories with the facts that Petrie had newly established."

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