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The Great Sphinx Dating Debate - page nine

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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."

"The Complete Pyramids:
Solving the Ancient

Mark Lehner
Richard H. Wilkinson

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

"For centuries the pyramids have inspired passionate theories about their origins, purpose and method of construction. In this full work on the major pyramids of Ancient Egypt, the author surveys the history, building and use of the pyramids. He examines both the practicalities and logostics of their construction and their conceptual aspects - their cosmology and iconography and their intriguing texts."


"As I have discussed in my book, "Voices of the Rocks" (published in the United States by Harmony/Crown, 1999, and due out in early 2000 in the UK), I have come out strongly in favor of not only an older Sphinx, but also a contemporaneous (thus older) Sphinx Temple (at least the limestone core being older than the Fourth Dynasty). Independently of Reader, John Anthony West and I have also concluded that part of "Khafre's" Mortuary Temple predates Khafre. Reader has now come to the same conclusion concerning "Khafre's" Mortuary Temple. I am pleased to see his confirmation.

One should note that Reader clearly accepts the Sphinx Temple as predating Khufu, and if it is correct that the Valley Temple was constructed from limestone blocks that came out of the Sphinx enclosure at a higher level than the blocks that were used to build the Sphinx Temple (as clearly stated by Lawton and Ogilvie-Herald in their book on page 329; I believe they are correct here), then the Valley Temple must also be pre-Khufu (as West and I have hypothesized and advocated all along).

Reader tentatively dates the "excavation of the Sphinx" and the construction of the Sphinx Temple, Proto-Mortuary Temple, and "Khafre's" causeway to "sometime in the latter half of the Early Dynastic Period [page 11]" (that is, circa 2800 to 2600 B.C. or so) on the basis of "the known use of stone in ancient Egyptian architecture (page 8)." I believe that Reader's estimated date for the excavation of the earliest portions of the Sphinx is later than the evidence indicates.

Sunset over the Great Sphinx between the pyramids of Khafre and Khufu
Copyright 1999, Dr. Robert M. Schoch

I would make three general points: 1) In my opinion, the nature and degree of weathering and erosion (degradation) on the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure is much different than what would be expected if the Sphinx had not been carved until 2800 B.C., or even 3000 B.C. Also, mudbrick mastabas on the Saqqara Plateau, dated to circa 2800 B.C., show no evidence of significant rain weathering, indicating just how dry the climate has been for the last 5,000 years.

I continue to believe that the erosional features on the Sphinx and in the Sphinx enclosure indicate a much earlier date than 3000 or 2800 B.C. It strains credulity to believe that the amount, type, and degree of precipitation-induced erosion seen in the Sphinx enclosure was produced in only a few centuries.

2) In his July 1998 paper Reader never addresses the seismic work that we pursued around the Sphinx, which is in part the basis I used to calibrate a crude estimate for the age of the earliest excavations in the Sphinx enclosure. In my opinion, the date estimate based on our seismic work is compatible with the type and amount of erosion and weathering seen in the Sphinx enclosure, and also nicely correlates with the known paleoclimatic history of the Giza Plateau.

3) I do not find dating the Sphinx on the basis of "the known use of stone in ancient Egyptian architecture" convincing. I would point out that massive stonework erections were being carried out millennia earlier than circa 2800 B.C. in other parts of the Mediterranean (for instance, at Jericho in Palestine).

Even in Egypt, it is now acknowledged that megalithic structures were being erected at Nabta (west of Abu Simbel in Upper Egypt; discussed in the text of my book, Voices of the Rocks") by the fifth millennium B.C. and the predynastic "Libyan palette" (circa 3100-3000 B.C.), now housed in the Cairo Museum, records fortified cities (which may well have included architectural stonework) along the western edge of the Nile delta at a very early date. I find it quite conceivable that architectural stonework was being pursued at Giza prior to 2800 or 3000 B.C.

Reader suggests that the head of the Sphinx may have originally been a prominent rock outlier that was first carved into some type of head (perhaps initially a lion, Reader suggests - - likewise, J. A. West and I hypothesized that the Sphinx may have originally been a lion in the 1993 video "The Mystery of the Sphinx") and later recarved. Independently, I have come to similar conclusions relative to the head of the Sphinx once having been a prominent rock outlier, and I have stated so publicly.

In my 1992 KMT paper I point out that while Farouk El-Baz's yardang (natural wind-shaped hill) hypothesis for the Sphinx as a whole is untenable, the head may have originally been a yardang (which would mean that it was some kind of rock outlier), but it is too heavily modified by carving and recarving to know for certain.

As far as I am concerned, Reader is one more geologist who has corroborated my basic observations and conclusions. The oldest portions of the Sphinx date back to a period well before circa 2500 BC."


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

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

In June 1999 Dr. Schoch spoke at a conference organised by the University of Bergamo, at Bergamo and Milan. The title of the paper he gave was "Erosion processes on the Great Sphinx and its Dating".

Also attending the conference were the respected dendrochronologist Prof. Mike Baillie, of Queens University, Belfast, whose paper was entitled "Dendrochronological Dating, Results and Open Problems", and the highly respected astrophysicist, Dr. Victor Clube, formerly of Oxford University, whose paper "Cosmology and Revelations" detailed the turbulent history of 'catastrophist' thinking over the past few centuries.

Other notable speakers included Alexander Tollman, Alan Alford and David Eccott, and the full abstracts are now available courtesy of Dr. Emilio Spedicato of Bergamo University. Two researchers from the Morien Institute also attended the conference, which was entitled: "New Scenarios for the Solar System Evolution and Consequences in History of Earth and Man".



"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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