Geophysical Studies around the Sphinx (1978)

Detailed reports were written for the 1974 and 1976 field seasons of our team's geophysical work in Egypt. An even more extensive and ambitious project was undertaken in the spring of 1978 but no formal report was ever written. In the absence of a written report and because of many requests, the following notes have been prepared by Project Leader Lambert Dolphin.

In 1978, further work using the high-frequency seismic sounder, resistivity, aerial photography was sponsored by a group of private investors (RSI) from Milwaukee. The leader of the field work for RSI was mining engineer Kent Wakefield. The investors gifted to the Egyptian Antiquities Organization a large 4 inch drilling rig with compressor and accessories as part of this project. A downhole borehole television camera was also acquired and given to the A.O. at the close of the field season. The drill made it possible to drill holes in bedrock in and around the pyramids using only air (instead of water) to remove cuttings.

As an add-on to the above project, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach, Virginia was under the leadership of Dr. Hugh Lynn Cayce. A.R.E asked us to conduct special studies in and around the Sphinx. Some of the readings recorded by the late Edgar Cayce concerned the Sphinx.

The resistivity work done in 1976 around the Sphinx was very brief and wide electrode spacings were used. The 1978 resistivity work was much more thorough and our team used (as I recall) one-foot electrode spacings. Patti Burns and John Tanzi of the SRI team did the 1978 resistivity work, however none of us has been able to locate our logs and print outs. We were not funded for additional data analysis and the results of the resistivity work done on-site were relativity uninteresting. The few minor resistivity anomalies the team mapped were compared with high-frequency seismic soundings over the same area (the Sphinx platform and the Sphinx Temple floors). On the basis of these anomalies decisions were made in the field about where to drill holes in the bedrock.

With permission from the Giza Inspectorate we drilled a total of 5 four-inch drill holes on each the significant resistivity/seismic anomalies. Three holes were in the temple area below the sphinx and two were in the platform (bedrock floor) around the sphinx itself. We originally had hoped to drill at least six more holes around the Sphinx, but this was not not done because of the limited time and budget as well as because of the concerns of the A.O. that we might in some way damage the Sphinx.

In theory we had permission to drill holes wherever we wished and the five hole drilled were on the largest seismic and resistivity anomalies. We could have drilled to depths of 100 feet if we had chosen to, but in cooperation with Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner we agreed that we should not drill more holes than we really needed to, and to refrain from drilling to great depths well below the water table. As soon as a hole was drilled, it was inspected with the downhole television camera. In each case the anomalies on borehole television were seen to be only minor natural cracks in the bedrock. It quickly became clear that both the resistivity and seismic sounder were unusually sensitive and that all the anomalies seen with either of these instruments were indeed minor. We concluded that there were no major rooms, cavities or voids, or even filled cavities under the Sphinx, under the Sphinx Platform or under the Sphinx Temple.

A cavity full of water would be a very strong seismic target and also would be very obvious on resistivity. A rubble filled tunnel would likewise give strong seismic signals and a big resistivity anomaly. Any such cavities would surely have shown up on seismics and resistivity both in 1978.

Hugh Lynn Cayce was a very gracious sponsor and spent considerable time with us during the time the field work was being done. He mentioned that the Cayce Foundation had less confidence in Edgar Cayce's readings in archaeology as compared to his medical readings and healing work. Yet A.R.E had ongoing interest in exploration in and around the Sphinx. Ongoing work has in fact continued by Dr. Joseph Jahoda ( Dr. Jahoda should be contacted for details.

My overall impression is that the entire Sphinx area had no significant anomalies other than minor cracks here and there. On the phone with me late in 1998 Dr. Jahoda said he did (or was aware of) radar work in the Sphinx area recently, but I can not imagine anyone getting useful radar readings there in view of the high radar losses in the rock at all useful radar frequencies as shown by our 1974 work.

At the time (1978) the Sphinx survey work did not seem any more important that any of the other tasks we had in front of us, and the Cayce funding allowed only a limited amount of time and effort. Hugh Lynn and I talked in detail on site after the work for A.R.E. was finished. I remember he felt quite satisfied with our work, and that he was of the opinion that his father's best work was in healing people and not in archaeological predictions. I had the distinct feeling Hugh Lynn was at that time satisfied there was no Hall of Records anywhere under the Sphinx. I liked Hugh Lynn, and respected him very much. Joe Jahoda has always been congenial, friendly, helpful--to this day.

In my opinion the 1976 seismic anomalies under Belzoni's chamber are far more worthy of further attention. I personally think the question of possible chambers under the Sphinx is a dead issue. I just don't believe there are any there.

In 1978 we also made used the seismic sounder to thoroughly explore the walls and floor of the subterranean pit under the Pyramid of Cheops. This pit was hewn out of very solid bedrock. No seismic echoes were seen in any direction which suggests that there are no tunnels, cavities, or voids within a radius of 100-125 feet of the walls and floor of the Subterranean Pit.

No seismic echoes were seen when looking vertically up into the pyramid from the Subterranean Pit. The first layer of masonry of the pyramid lies 38 meters above the roof of the pit, and the floor of the Queen's Chamber is 50 meters above the Pit. Both these targets are outside the useful range of the seismic sounder.

Additional Comments in Response to Questions:

1. A resistivity electrode spacing of 1 meter means one is very sensitive (optimized) to anomalies of the order of 1.5 meters depth. However we always not only sounded using 1 meter spacing, we had a switch box which allowed us to select electrode spacings of 2, 4, 8, 16 meters. We routinely ran all these profiles. For example with the electrode spacing set on the switch box to 8 meters we would see "optimally" any anomalies at 12 meters depth. This does not mean we would only see anomalies at that depth. In fact we would expect to see much deeper than 12 meters. The whole point is that the different electrode spacings we selected when doing each traverse allowed us to sweep from very near the surface to very great depths. Had there been a room 100 feet down I expect we would have seen it easily.

In 1976 and 1978 our team concluded that rubble packed or water filled rooms could possibly escape detection using resistivity. In light of our further experience since 1978 with resistivity at many other field sites, I would change my opinion on this and now say that even rooms full of rubble or water would probably have showed up on resistivity.

2. The spark sounder experiments we made in 1978 were much too tentative to drawn any conclusions at all. We gave up on this method because the results were so ambiguous. Much more work was needed for this to become a viable method. (The spark gap sounder was an experimental seismic device which used a capacitor discharge through a spark gap under water in a borehole to "illuminate" the entire area with a strong seismic pulse. We then listened to the received signal using a receiving transducer coupled to the bedrock at various locations on the surface).

3. Our high frequency seismic sounding all around the Sphinx area had a useful range of 125-150 feet and even a small crack will send back echoes. We did see such small cracks, but nothing bigger. It was mainly the cracks that were obvious seismically that we decided to drill. The resistivity results were much more modest and less interesting. These negative seismic results are even more credible than resistivity. The latter is crude, the seismic system is very sensitive to any discontinuities at all in the bedrock. TV camera inspection of the anomalies showed they were indeed only small cracks.

4. I remember our discussions at Giza about additional bore holes. A.R.E. naturally would like to have us drill more holes, but we had other work going on that needed our time and effort. Additional funds would of course allowed more drilling and had there been any additional significant seismic and/or resistivity anomalies we would have pressed for additional holes. As mentioned, there was also the issue of possible damage to the monuments. The boreholes were plugged with concrete afterwards, but still the Antiquities Organization was understandably very touchy about drilling holes unless we had fairly strong evidence from geophysics to do so. I was the one who made the final decision to not drill more holes.

In conclusion, only natural anomalies, flaws, and cavities were found under the Sphinx and under the Sphinx Temple. To this day I remain skeptical about the existence of any rooms, cavities, tunnels or voids under the Sphinx.

July 21, 1999

On the Age of the Sphinx:

January 21, 1992

Dr. Robert M. Schoch
Associate Professor of Science
College of Basic Studies
Boston University
871 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

Dear Prof. Schoch,

Last week my friend and colleague of many years, Dr. James Hurtak, gave me a copy of your draft paper How Old is the Sphinx dated 10 January. I had seen newspaper accounts of your work and it was a pleasure to read your excellent paper. Jim and I sat down yesterday for several hours and went through your paper in detail. Jim will be sending you his own comments very shortly he and I are in close agreement on a number of points. We both support and endorse your work and very much hope you can do more research on the age of the Sphinx and related subjects.

The international Egyptological community is exceedingly rigid in its dating of the Egyptian dynasties and its reconstructed history and kings lists. Your suggestion that the Sphinx may be as old as 5000 to 7000 BC is where the problem lies, I think. Such an ancient date for anything real happening in Egypt is certainly considered as live heresy in the field of classic Egyptology. Never mind the facts or any new evidence that could suggest otherwise, especially when such evidence comes from an individual who is outside the golden circle of academic elites!

I strongly urge you to tone down your paper for now so as to eliminate references to specific dates as old at 5000-7,)00 BC, even if you privately continue to believe the Sphinx is that old.

For example, anyone who tries to move the date of he Exodus of the Jews from Egypt by a hundred years or so generally stirs up a huge uproar among Egyptologists, each of whom has his pet theory and his own private Kings List which must be defended at all costs. See for example Bryant Wood, Biblical Archaeological Review, March/April 1990.

Had you presented your research findings without assigning a probable date for the time the Sphinx began to be constructed I expect the protestations would have been minor. I do like your thoughtful presentation of the evidence that the Sphinx was built and modified over a period of time. On the other hand you should be aware of the sloppy construction the Egyptians were guilty of in building the pyramids.

The interior blocks of the pyramids were planed on the top and bottom but often left rough-hewn on the sides. Lots of mortar was then used to fill in the cracks. Casing stones were often fitted on the exterior without a lot of care being given to the outside face of the limestone block just beneath. How can I be sure the Sphinx wasn't built that way on the interior?

Local limestone from Giza varies in quality over a huge range (as you have noted). I have always felt that the Sphinx just happened to be built on a part of the Plateau where there is a lot of very poor and highly variable limestone. The Egyptians call it "rotten" limestone when it is iron-stained, soft and friable. You might want to discuss further in your paper the gradations, porosity, hardness, compositions, etc., in Giza limestones that can be seen in and around the monuments. While most of the stone for the monuments came from the two main quarries at Giza, certainly a lot of stone (especially casing stone) was shipped across the Nile from the Mokattam Hills quarry above the City of the Dead. The limestone from the East Bank Mokattam Hills quarry is of much higher quality as I'm sure you are aware. And of course one finds Aswan granite at Giza also.

Egyptian chronologies have always been tightly interrelated to Biblical chronologies. The latter are now fairly well fixed in time, within a hundred years or so in most cases, for events from the time of Abraham to the present. I believe you'll find that any new ideas about Egyptian chronologies are invariably strongly coupled with the work of other Middle Eastern archaeological scholars in Israel, Persia, Turkey, etc.

A good case can be made for shrinking the history of Ancient Egypt so that the Third Dynasty corresponds with the time of arrival of the 'Israelites into Egypt under Joseph (c. 1900 BC. This would mean that even 2700 BC would be too old a date to assign to the Sphinx by several hundred years at least. To illustrate the complexities of actually reconstructing Egyptian history taking into account the many pieces of

evidence that are extant, I have photocopied for you a Monograph written in 1986 by a brilliant graduate student, Brad Sparks, then at UC Berkeley. I regard Brad's work highly and you will note that he has not hesitated to become proficient in classical Egyptian and Middle Eastern history by spending many hours in the library.

I am uncomfortable with any suggestion that the Sphinx can be divorced and isolated from the rest of the monuments in the Giza Necropolis. The Sphinx could conceivably be the oldest man made object at Giza, but I can not imagine it standing alone all by itself for centuries before the pyramids were built.

For over a decade a small group of my own colleagues in physics and math, in Australia, Canada and the United States, have been studying all the available measurements of the velocity of light. Careful statistical analysis now shows that the velocity of light is not a fixed constant of nature, but that it has decreased with time. What this means is that atomic clocks have been slowly down with respect to dynamical clocks. There are profound implications for dating methods that are now emerging. Radio Carbon dating is fairly accurate in the near time period we are dealing with in regard to the Sphinx except that dates such as the age of Jericho may have to be moved to the more recent as we understand more about the actual rate at which the atomic clock has slowed with respect to dynamical (calendar) time.

Conservative Bible scholars would prefer to place the Flood of Noah at about 3500 BC, just on the internal evidence of the Bible and the fairly tight Biblical genealogies which appear to have very few gaps in them. This means the building of the Tower of Babel and the rebuilding of civilization from Noah's three sons would have come shortly after that, or about 3400-3300 BC. (Our latest estimate for the date of the flood based on what we think is the observed decay rate in the speed of light, would place the flood at about 3536 BC. The book of job can be fitted in to about 2900 BC, during which epoch some Bible scholars would place the Ice Age(s). This would mean that earth's climates were radically disrupted in the time period just before Egypt was populated.

Classical Egyptologists all seem to agree that the Egyptian civilization sprang up out of nowhere around 3000 BC, but they have no solid evidence to offer as to the roots and sources of the Egyptian peoples. You have correctly identified the fact that much of Egyptian history has been reconstructed by scholars somewhat arbitrarily, building on very little solid evidence or even upon artificial reconstructions. Brad Sparks' paper will surely confirm this further.

In contrast with fuzzy notions about the actual origin of Egyptian civilizations among most Egyptologists, Genesis 10-11 is clear is ascribing the repopulation of the world after the flood to the three sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Mizraim, a son of Ham is the ancestor of the Egyptians. (Misr is a still one of the names for Egypt in use today, for example there is a Bank Misr.) Some Bible scholars in fact believe Mizraim is identical with Menes Narmer).

Egypt is the subject of many prophetic passages in the Bible, because of Egypt's past, present and future relationship with the people of Israel. The Egyptian people are not really Arabs, for example, and that helps to explain why many Egyptians today consider Islam a foreign, imported religion in their modern restlessness to seek out there own ancient roots amongst the pharaohs.

The rapid emergence of ancient Egyptian civilization migrating out of ancient Babylon, is therefore Biblically reasonable if the dating for early Egyptian dynasties is placed at about 3000 BC at the earliest. Human population growth is always fairly rapid in any case-and populations of the order of a few million people are quite possible in only a few hundred years. (The present world population can easily have been generated in only 50 generations according to the standard population growth equation).

Personally, I have always felt intuitively that the Egyptian pyramids were linked to
the Babylonian ziggurats and derived from them. The root Egyptian root word for
pyramid (pyr) seems to mean "the place of ascent", i. e., the place where the spirit of
the pharaoh climbs up to heaven to be like God. (See for example Ahmed Fakhry,
The Pyramids, U. of Chicago Press, 1961).

Of course modern science treats the great age of the universe and the antiquity of man as solidly established facts-and Biblical chronologies pointing to the recent rise of our modern world as hopelessly incorrect.

Evolutionary theory is, however, a mythology invented for the Western mind, and as you have probably discovered, when you get the Egypt you often find the inscrutable Oriental mentality leans towards other world views than that of the modern West. Islam has no room for evolutionary theory for example, though modern Egyptians have received a thin veneer of education in Western science in recent decades. (See Ian T. Taylor, In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order, flyer enclosed, for a critical history of scientific thought in the West over the past two hundred years). Evolutionary dating schemes based on our Western scientific weltanschauung are really completely unsatisfactory for reconstructing Egyptian and Biblical Middle Eastern history.

For all the above reasons and considerations, I think that your tentative conclusion that the Sphinx dates to 5000 to 7000 BC will not be readily accepted in the international community of Egyptologists, even if you happen to be correct! My personal inclination would be to attempt to look for evidence that the Sphinx (and all the Giza monuments) were in fact more recent than 3000 BC.

I share your anxieties about the New Age movement in Europe and the United States. During our work in and around the pyramids in 1974, 1976 and 1978 we were besieged by the usual assortment of cultists, nuts, freaks and strange characters (Peter Tompkins was one of many whom we got to know personally). However we were told that this phenomenon of mystical attraction to the pyramids was true also in Herodotus" time! Of course we are today in a season of history (with Western Civilization breaking down) when many people are rootless and searching for some new spirituality that will put things back together for them again, though not in the old Judeo-Christian framework.

Our resistivity work and drilling around the Sphinx in 1978 was in fact sponsored by the A. R. E. in Mark Lehner's early days, however that did not prevent us from advising them that we did not find the legendary Edgar Cayce Hall of Records under the right paw. I share your views that Mark has done a lot of good and praiseworthy research. I had several deep conversations with Hugh Lynn Cayce before he died about his father Edgar Cayce's unconventional Middle Eastern chronology. Hugh Lynn was quite candid with me about his own suspicions that his father may have been way off base in this one area of his psychic "readings."

I do think your paper needs some important additional work in the interest of thoroughness. You may want to show some calculations and charts and data on weathering contributions from each of the various sources. You could present your findings in graphical form perhaps to show upper and lower time limits for each source of weathering. That way the reader could have his own shopping list for bracketing the possible age of the Sphinx depending upon how much weighting is placed on each of the weathering factors.

You are obviously a very well qualified and competent scientist, however you may find yourself thoroughly discredited by ad hominem attacks coming from within the relatively closed community of Egyptologists. Sadly much of modern science has become rigid and closed-minded, not at all open to new ideas especially from an outsider who is not an initiated member into the existing sacred "scientific" priesthood.

As I mentioned above, in the field of Egyptology you are also impinging on the entire Oriental mystique ("the inscrutable Oriental mentality" Ali Hassan used to call it). You are running onto very old historic traditions that have to do with cultural roots that are basically Biblical. Never mind that many Western Bible scholars these days are liberal and essentially not believers in the God of the Bible, they are still building on the work done by others before them who were believers and who did hold to a straight forward literal interpretation of Scripture.

Your analysis of weathering factors presented in your paper, as far as it goes, is outstanding, in my judgment. I liked your careful description of the local Giza Plateau geology. What surprised my Science and Archaeology team in 1974 was the high relative humidity in Cairo, which is due to the moist prevailing winds blowing South most of the year, off the Mediterranean. In February 1974 we found that 83% relative humidity at Giza was typical. The Giza Plateau ground water tables are also high as you note , and the limestone porous and wick-like. From the standpoint of ground-penetrating radar, Giza limestones are terribly lossy due to the high clay and high moisture content. It is hard to find worse limestone anywhere when it comes to probing into rock by radar. Seismic sounding (at high frequencies, for example 30 kHz) allows penetration of the order of 200 feet in Giza limestone for the purpose of detecting small cavities and voids. (A copy of our 1976 report is included for your information). Most of our 1978 work is unpublished.

If you have visited the prominent shaft tomb part way up the Khafre causeway towards the pyramid from the Sphinx, you will recall there is standing water at the bottom. I remember visiting this tomb in 1974 with Ali Hassan (or perhaps it was Gamal Mokhtar). I recall being told by someone in the AO that pumps had once been installed in this tomb but had not succeeded in lowering the water level very much.

In your analysis of weathering you have not mentioned the March-April Khamsin winds which blow violently from the West, out of the Sahara desert, every year. Some years the winds are very strong and every nook and cranny in Cairo becomes thoroughly infiltrated with fine dust. I would expect this seasonal source of wind erosion could be quite significant some years. If you ever visit Egypt in the early Spring you'll see first hand that these winds bring a lot of misery. They can blow with surprising strength, accounting for the refilling of the Sphinx enclosure ("ditch") in short order, for example.

Even more important I believe in understanding the Sphinx weathering is the role of atmospheric pollutants. Intuitively I think the situation may be quite similar to that in Athens. I just happened recently to see a rerun of an excellent National Geographic Special on the Parthenon over the holidays. The deterioration of the Acropolis has been horrendous in the last century or so-and almost all of this is due to air pollution. The Parthenon is marble not Egyptian limestone and the types of pollutants in the air of Athens are probably a bit different from Cairo, but you ought to discuss the air pollution factors thoroughly in your paper. I would think you could easily get a video tape of the Nat'l Geographic film, and then contact some of the Parthenon conservators for details.

Cairo's city air is horrendously polluted. I expect that ancient brick factories along the Nile contributed much pollution well before the Russians built the Helwan steel plant, and prior to the motor vehicle onslaught in the last half-century. I have always suspected intuitively that the deterioration of the Sphinx has accelerated rapidly in the last century or two due to man made air pollution factors. I hope you can discuss the pollution factor contribution to erosion quantitatively. It seems to me that the air pollution issue all by itself is worthy of a lot more study.

If you have ever visited the Sphinx very early in the morning hours in wintertime you will note that the dew fall can be quite heavy. With the relative humidity above 80% in the day time when the air temperature is 80 degrees F or higher, a lot of moisture condenses out as dew on cool winter evenings.

I would think this raises the possibility that "acid rain" is a very important factor in erosion of the Sphinx in the present era. The head and body of the Sphinx, especially would be corroded faster I would think.

I have never seen any estimates of the erosion rates from air pollution at the Sphinx. The Aswan-granite facings in the Sphinx temple are crumbling fast at Giza, but not at Luxor where it is not only drier but also where the air is much less polluted.

Every tour guide and every Egyptian AO expert I have talked to about the Sphinx makes mention of the effects of air pollution on the accelerated rate of deterioration of the Sphinx. They may all be relying on intuition, but the issue does need addresses by a competent scientist such as yourself.

Water erosion from higher rainfall in the very distant past ( 12,000-5000 BC) just doesn't sit well with me. It's too vague and unsupported and no one will buy such an early date for the Sphinx. But you have not mentioned flash floods in Egypt! I remember visiting some Middle Kingdom M tombs in Upper Egypt that were situated in a Wadi. These monuments had been heavily damaged by flash floods in the intervening centuries.

It hardly ever rains in Cairo (as you document), however flash floods are known and feared in Egypt and probably can be documented to some extent by a little research effort. I would think that a single flash flood of rain and hail and driving wind might accomplish a great deal of erosional damage to the Sphinx?

Your seismic reflection studies are excellent and I certainly concur with your suggestion that there is much more that can be done to bring modern geological methodology to bear on the weathering processes and the history of the Sphinx. The best way to conduct reputable research in Egypt that will stand the test of critics is to employ a multi-disciplinary approach and to work ~s a team in partnership with Egyptian colleagues from the AO or from one of the Universities in Cairo.

I located a paper by an old friend Prof. E. M. Shazly, retired from Ain Shams University and the Egyptian Remote Sensing Center. He has written on the ancient history of the Nile valley and the Sahara. A copy of this paper is enclosed.

You may want to get a copy of a recent, fascinating book (Kenneth J. Hsü, The Mediterranean was a Desert: A Voyage of the Glomar Challenger Princeton University Press, 1983). Hsü documents the fact that the Mediterranean Sea was once an inland sea that dried up completely and only partially refilled in cycles before drying up again. Large deposits of salt were found everywhere under the bottom of the present sea during a recent, extensive core-drilling program. The evidence also points to a dramatic eventual refilling of the Mediterranean by means of a gigantic waterfall at the Straits of Gibraltar. This refilling began about 5.5 million years ago in atomic time. Marine deposits under the Nile Valley as far south as Aswan show that the previous salt sea once filled a deep gorge (which is now the filled-in Nile Valley). As the Mediterranean Sea refilled, men from the Fertile Crescent area probably moved into the lands around the Mediterranean Sea to settle there, and of course the climate there began to be hospitable as we know it today. The filling of the Nile with fresh water sediments about the same time made Egypt inhabitable, so we can in principle begin to estimate the time the ancient Egyptians settled along the Nile. A date of 5.5 million years BP in atomic time corresponds with about 3500 BC in dynamical time in the speed-of-light-decay scenario.

I am sending also some miscellaneous items for your leisure reading. I certainly support, endorse, and affirm you in your fine work and hope you will not be discouraged by all the flack in the media. Much of it is irrational and comes from threatened egos and wounded pride, but if you persevere I expect you can make some wonderful new contributions in this field.

I do want to urge you to be cautious and careful and conservative and not to announce your work prematurely. I believe it is especially important that you round out the evidence for all the weathering processes by type and by rate as suggested above. It would be a shame if your critics discredited you early on so that your future work went unnoticed or unfunded.

Please don't hesitate to let me know how I can be of any further encouragement to you.


Lambert Dolphin