How Old Are The Pyramids
by Joseph Robert Jochmans
The controversy raised by John Anthony West and Robert Schoch concerning the true age of the Great Sphinx is now beginning to overcast the other famous monuments which share space on the Giza plateau—namely, the three pyramids that were supposedly built by Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkhare in the Fourth Dynasty. Were these Pyramids constructed only 4,300 years ago, or—like the Sphinx—is there evidence they could be far older, dating instead to perhaps 12,000 years ago?
Let’s begin first with looking at the age of the Great Pyramid. The conservative historians’ entire case for dating the Great Pyramid to the Fourth Dynasty rests upon two major pieces of evidence. The first is the story of Herodotus, who in 443 B.C. visited Egypt and recounted how Pharaoh Cheops (the Greek name for Khufu) built the Great Pyramid during his reign with 100,000 men in 20 years. However, we now know this story is highly questionable. Even his contemporaries called Herodotus the "Father of Lies." Not only do the construction estimates he gave not work, but Herodotus, as an Initiate in the Egyptian Mystery Schools, was sworn to secrecy regarding the true nature of the Pyramid, and he more than likely copied a fictitious tale about the monument that was then in circulation among the common masses. The Greek historian’s account stands in sharp contrast to most other Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Hermetic, Coptic and medieval Arabic scholarly sources which agree that the Great Pyramid was not constructed during the time frame of Pharaoh Khufu or Dynastic Egypt, but was the product of the "Age of the Gods" thousands of years earlier.
The second piece of evidence is the existence of painted hieroglyphic inscriptions found in the air space chambers above the King’s Chamber, which include the name of Pharaoh Khufu. They were supposedly discovered by Col. Richard Howard-Vyse in 1837, when he forced his way up to these chambers using gunpowder. But there are certain facts showing these inscriptions were in actuality forgeries.
At the time Col. Howard-Vyse began his quest to find chambers above the King’s Chamber, his digging concession from the Egyptian authorities, as well as his financial support, were both running out. It was necessary for him to make a major discovery as soon as possible in order to continue his work. He was hoping that the area above Davison’s Chamber (the first air space chamber, discovered by Nathaniel Davison in 1765) would contain a large, hidden room or vault, and was severely disappointed when instead he brought to light only another air space chamber, which was far from the "dramatic discovery" he needed.
Only two months before, his rival, the Italian explorer Captain Caviglia, had stirred archaeological circles with his find of quarry inscriptions in some of the tombs around the Great Pyramid. These quarry inscriptions took the form of hieroglyphs daubed on the building blocks with a red paint, and had been used by the builders of the Old Kingdom as directions for where the blocks were to be placed. A number of modern researchers now suspect that, in the battle for archaeological oneupman-ship, Col. Howard-Vyse sought to overshadow Caviglia, and gain renewed support for his own projects, with a similar but more spectacular "discovery," by imitating these quarry inscriptions inside the Great Pyramid itself. Forging such inscriptions would have been fairly easy, since the Arabs still use similar red ochre paint, called moghrah, that is indistinguishable from that of the ancients.
The question has never been answered, why do inscriptions appear only in the air space chambers that Col. Howard- Vyse opened, but none were found in Davison’s Chamber, with which the Colonel had nothing to do, discovered earlier, in 1765?
Serious problems also arise when we examine the nature of the inscriptions themselves. Samuel Birch, a hieroglyph expert of the British Museum, was among the first to analyze the air chamber paintings, and noted a number of peculiarities among them which remain unresolved to this day. These "peculiarities" represent serious mistakes on the part of the forger. Birch noted, for example, that many of the daubings were not hieroglyphic but hieratic. Now hieratic was a form of written shorthand first developed during the Middle Kingdom, or at least a thousand years after the Fourth Dynasty. In one location, directly after a royal cartouche, the title is given, "Mighty in Upper and Lower Egypt," in a form that made its first appearance during the Saitic period of the 6th century B.C., a full 2,000 years after Khufu’s reign.
In another place, the hieroglyph symbol for "good, gracious" was used as the number "18," a usage found nowhere else in the entire body of Egyptian literature. In fact, Birch and later Egyptologists such as Carl Richard Lepsius and Sir Flinders Petrie were disturbed at the number of exceptions of usage in the air space chamber, inscriptions found by Col. Howard-Vyse that have absolutely no parallel throughout 4,000 years of hieroglyphic writing.
In perhaps the most blatant example of forgery, in Col. Howard-Vyse’s chambers one finds great confusion concerning the appearance of the name Khufu. At the time these chambers were being opened, the Pharaoh’s cartouche had not yet been fully revealed from other excavations, and there were several possibilities to choose from. As a result, a number of crude hybrid forms appear throughout the air chambers, such as "Khnem-Khuf," "Souphis," "Saufou," etc. The problem with the first example, "Khnem-Khuf," is that we know today that it signifies "brother of Khufu" and refers to Khafre, Khufu’s eventual successor. For years, this appearance of a second king’s name has not been explained, and as Gaston Maspero observed in The Dawn of Civilization: "The existence of the two cartouches of Khufu and Khnem-Khufu on the same monument has caused much embarrassment to Egyptologists."
Adding to this further is the fact that, where the right hieroglyph name for Khufu does appear, it is spelled wrong. The hieroglyph sources available to Col. Howard-Vyse in 1837, Sir John Gardner Wilkinson’s Material Hieroglyphia, and Leon de Laborde’s Voyage de l’Arabee Petree, incorrectly depicted the first symbol of Khufu’s name as an open circle with a dot in the middle—the sign of Ra, the sun god—instead of a solid disk, which is the phonetic sound kh. Col. Howard-Vyse made the fatal error of copying this mistake in the uppermost of the air space chambers, so that, when strictly translated, the name given is Raufu, and not Khufu. Again, nowhere else in all of Egyptian literature, except in the air space chamber inscriptions, is this aberrant spelling for Khufu found.
This last mistake is the final blow showing that Col. Howard-Vyse and not the original builders of the Great Pyramid was the true source who caused the red-painted markings to be inscribed. And with that the proof that the Great Pyramid was built by Pharaoh Khufu in the Fourth Dynasty also vanishes.
Actually, we have the testament of Pharaoh Khufu himself that he only did repair work on the Great Pyramid. The Inventory Stele, found in 1857 by Auguste Mariette just to the east of the Pyramid, dates to about 1500 B.C., but according to Maspero and other experts, shows evidence of having been copied from a far older stele contemporaneous with the Fourth Dynasty. In the Stele, Khufu himself tells of his discoveries made while clearing away the sands from the Pyramid and Sphinx. He dedicated the account to Isis, who he called the "Mistress of the Western Mountain," "Mistress of the Pyramid," and identified the Pyramid itself as the "House of Isis."
The Stele describes how Pharaoh Khufu, "gave to her (Isis) an offering anew, and he built again (to restore, renovate, reconstruct) her temple of stone." From there, the Pharaoh inspected the Sphinx, according to the text, and related the story of how in his time both the monument and a nearby sycamore tree had been struck by lightning. The bolt had knocked off part of the headdress of the Sphinx, which Khufu carefully restored. Egyptologist Selim Hassan, who dug out the Sphinx from the surrounding sands in the 1930's, observed there is indeed evidence that portions of the Sphinx were damaged by lightning, and the mark of ancient repairs is very apparent. Also, he noted, sycamore trees once grew to the south of the monument, which had been dated to a great age.
The Stele then ends with the story of how Khufu built small pyramids for himself and his daughters, wife and family, next to the Great Pyramid. Today, the ruins of three small pyramids are indeed situated on the east side of the monument. Archaeologists have found independent evidence that the southernmost of the three small pyramids flanking the Great Pyramid was in fact dedicated to Henutsen, a wife of Khufu. Everything in the inscription thus matches the known facts. If these facts can be believed as true, then the additional information that Khufu was only a restorer of the Great Pyramid and not its builder, must also be treated as historically true.