Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Secret Caves of Giza

Beneath the pyramids of Egypt lies a lost underworld of catacombs, hewn chambers and cave tunnels that have remained unexplored for hundreds of years. They are alluded to in ancient texts and Arab legends, but have been left unexplored until today. They have now been rediscovered and investigated for the first time. What exactly does this subterranean realm tell us about the pyramids, their relationship to the stars and the mythical origins of Egyptian civilization? Discover for yourself as we explore the “Lost Caves of Giza.

Giza cave underworld

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Cave Complex Allegedly Found Under Giza Pyramid
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

 An enormous system of caves, chambers and tunnels lies hidden beneath the Pyramids of Giza, according to a British explorer who claims to have found the lost underworld of the pharaohs.
Populated by bats and venomous spiders, the underground complex was found in the limestone bedrock beneath the pyramid field at Giza.
"There is untouched archaeology down there, as well as a delicate ecosystem that includes colonies of bats and a species of spider which we have tentatively identified as the white widow," British explorer Andrew Collins said.
Collins, who will detail his findings in the book "Beneath the Pyramids" to be published in September, tracked down the entrance to the mysterious underworld after reading the forgotten memoirs of a 19th century diplomat and explorer.
"In his memoirs, British consul general Henry Salt recounts how he investigated an underground system of 'catacombs' at Giza in 1817 in the company of Italian explorer Giovanni Caviglia," Collins said.
The document records that the two explored the caves for a distance of "several hundred yards," coming upon four large chambers from which stretched further cave passageways.
With the help of British Egyptologist Nigel Skinner-Simpson, Collins reconstructed Salt's exploration on the plateau, eventually locating the entrance to the lost catacombs in an apparently unrecorded tomb west of the Great Pyramid.
Indeed, the tomb featured a crack in the rock, which led into a massive natural cave.
"We explored the caves before the air became too thin to continue. They are highly dangerous, with unseen pits and hollows, colonies of bats and venomous spiders," said Collins.

According to Collins, the caves -- which are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years old -- may have both inspired the development of the pyramid field and the ancient Egyptian's belief in an underworld.
"Ancient funerary texts clearly allude to the existence of a subterranean world in the vicinity of the Giza pyramids," Collins told Discovery News.
Indeed, Giza was known anciently as Rostau, meaning the "mouth of the passages."
This is the same name as a region of the ancient Egyptian underworld known as the Duat.
"The 'mouth of the passages' is unquestionably a reference to the entrance to a subterranean cave world, one long rumored to exist beneath the plateau," Collins told Discovery News.
Collins' claim is expected to cause a stir in the Egyptological world.
Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has dismissed the discovery.
"There are no new discoveries to be made at Giza. We know everything about the plateau," he stated.
But Collins remarks that after extensive research, he found no mention of the caves in modern times.
"To the best of our knowledge nothing has ever been written or recorded about these caves since Salt’s explorations. If Hawass does have any report related to these caves, we have yet to see it," Collins said.

The Secret Caves of Giza

"Giza Cave" Controversy Continues

Dr. Zahi Hawass,  Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has just entered the  "Giza cave" debate.  In a blog posting on his website, complete with pictures, he debunks Collins' claim that a massive cave system lies hidden beneath the Pyramids of Giza and clearly states that that "there is no underground cave complex at this site." 
Dr. Hawass' firm statement prompted the immediate reaction of British explorer Andrew Collins and Egyptological researcher Nigel Skinner-Simpson, who claim to  have rediscovered the entrance to a cave system explored by Henry Salt and Giovanni Caviglia in 1817.

Using the official statements,  I've created a sort of three voice, round table debate, so that everybody can try to draw conclusions on their own considering the various points of controversy.
Since this three voice debate is based on excerpts of the official statements, I strongly recommend to read these statements in their entirety. 

Here is Dr. Hawass's blog posting, and here is Collins and Skinner-Simpson's official response. For sure this is not the end of the story.
The debate begins with Dr Hawass posting a satellite image that indicates the precise location in the plateau’s northern cliff-face of the rock-cut tomb (named by Collins and Skinner-Simpson "Tomb of the Birds") from which the caves are claimed to extend.
Dr. Hawass mentions a book called Porter and Moss: A Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings, which contains information about all the sites in Egypt.
Dr. Hawass: If you consult this resource, it will tell you that this “cave” is a rock-cut tomb that was found and opened in 1816-1817 by Henry Salt. Salt was the British consul in Egypt, not an archaeologist, who worked with Giovanni Caviglia to discover this tomb. When they explored it, they called it a catacomb because it contains some tunnels and corridors cut deep into the rock. Anyone who enters this tomb may feel they are in a maze corridor because of the multiple tunnels, and it seems more than its 35 meters long. Henry Salt and Caviglia noticed that the structure was similar to catacombs known from the Graeco-Roman Period. Years later, Howard Vyse and John Shae Perring came to examine the rock cut tomb. It has also recently been re-explored by my office, the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Collins: Dr Hawass is wrong here. He is not taking into account the existence of the natural caves, which exit the tomb for at least the 100-120 meters, and arguably the “several hundred yards” that Salt reported that he and Caviglia reached before coming upon the four spacious chambers. Remember also that Caviglia journeyed “300 feet further” in one direction, and that clearly they never reached the end of the tunnels, which arguably extend even further beneath the pyramid field.
Skinner-Simpson: Dr. Hawass mentions the standard reference work Porter and Moss and says it contains information on all the sites in Egypt and what has been found. I was of course aware of this work... It is a work I refer to constantly and it was my first port of call years ago when I first wanted to know more about the tomb. I would be most grateful if Dr. Hawass could cite a full reference as to where in this volume it mentions Salt’s discovery of the rock-cut tomb, as I have never been able to find any mention of it.
Dr. Hawass: Andrew Collins and Nigel Skinner-Simpson came to Egypt in order to rediscover the tomb. They thought that they were the first to fully explore the tomb although it had been found almost two centuries ago and has been explored and reported by many scholars.
Collins: If such reports do exist, then we would be more than happy to receive copies, and update our findings and conclusions accordingly...It would be naïve to imply that we were the first to “rediscover the tomb”, as it is clearly visible in the northern face of the plateau’s Moqattam formation. Moreover, we openly acknowledge that Salt and Caviglia in 1817, and Vyse and Perring in 1837. We simply came here to check whether the tomb did indeed lead into a system of natural caves.
Dr. Hawass: "This rock-cut tomb is about 150 meters from my excavation in the western field and extends from north to south with the entrance in the north. About 3.2 meters high, the entrance leads south into the front hall, shaped like an inverted T. From there two halls are visible, one to the right and one to the left. The left leads to a big room cut into the rock, about 6 meters long, which contained Latin inscriptions on the ceiling, showing that this tomb has been opened throughout the ages. To the right there is another square hole cut into the rock, which leads to a descending passage filled with sand, and contains pottery sherds, bones and other artifacts. There are other passageways cut into the rock from the main corridors, but these are short tunnels.
Collins: Dr Hawass’s statement that we have simply become confused by the maze-like layout of the tomb, and in doing so have labelled it a cave complex is simply not correct. Firstly, the tomb itself is relatively basic in its construction. After entry via a massive, deep-cut façade, you come upon a double lobed anteroom, with two worn, square-cut pillars. This leads you into a north-south corridor, at the rear of which is a raised area cut out of the living rock, with an east-west altar or bed-like platform carved out of the back wall. On the left before you reach the raised area is a large room, as described by Dr Hawass, and on the right is a small opening in the rock into a large cave chamber, which Dr Hawass refers to as “leading to a descending passage.” Although entirely natural, the room has been partially hewn to give it a more rectilinear appearance. A large natural cave compartment can be found in its northwest corner, while a small hole on the south side of this enormous compartment leads into a cave tunnel that we travelled for some considerable distance. It is here that Salt and Caviglia, and arguably even Vyse and Perring, came in the early nineteenth century. There is no confusion here, we entered a natural cave system that permeates the limestone bedrock of the plateau’s Moqattam formation.
Dr. Hawass: It can be clearly shown that this tomb has been entered recently due to finds of modern debris and gypsum plaster coating the walls, as well as the modern lighting found in one of the chambers. Also, this tomb is known to have been used as a storeroom by George Reisner during his excavations at Giza in the 1910’s to 1920’s.
Skinner-Simpson: Mr. Collins and I were in no doubt that the front part of the tomb has been visited in modern times for the reasons cited by Dr. Hawass. What was in doubt and the cause of our interest was the extent to which the rear or "cave" section of the tomb has been examined in modern times given the extremely unpleasant environment within, and that there appears to be a possible continuation at the furthest point reached.
Dr. Hawass: My academic opinion, based on the offical report, is that this is likely a catacomb cut during the Graeco-Roman Period that was used for the burial of sacred animals, similar to the catacombs at Saqqara and Tuna el-Gebel.
Collins: I agree that the site was indeed the focus of a local bird cult, and it might even be the lost raptor cemetery known to have existed at Giza, and alluded to in the book Divine Creatures by Dr Salima Ikram (2005). Such bird cults flourished initially during the Late Period, and continued to expand during Graeco-Roman times...Even if the tomb was constructed in Graeco-Roman times, there is no reason to conclude that the natural caves were not previously accessible to the outside world.
Dr. Hawass: These burials of sacred animals are well known in Egyptological literature, and were made for the purpose of offering to the gods, they have nothing to do with the idea of a lost civilization or other unscientific ideas that people come up with and circulate on the Internet.
Collins: We are quite aware of the purpose of bird cemeteries, and would not use this, or the existence of the caves, to prove the existence of a lost civilization. What I will state, however, is that the caves perhaps form part of an interconnected cave system that GPR work has suggested exist in the eastern part of the plateau (see Abbas et al, 2006), and that the “several hundred yards” travelled by Salt and Caviglia has to have taken them somewhere. It is my suspicion that the underlying northwest-southeast orientation of the plateau’s Moqattam formation will have directed them into the vicinity of the Second Pyramid, where the four chambers Salt and Caviglia entered, along with the “labyrinthick” passages that continued into the darkness, might still await discovery.
Dr. Hawass: I hope people who wish to learn more about the Giza tombs will consult academic sources, for example books published by scholars such as myself and not rely on unsupported Internet accounts.

Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi

Dr Zahi Hawass revealed the location of the entrance to the so-called ‘Giza Caves

Photo: Giza caves?  copyright:  Andrew and Sue Collins, 2009


  1. seems like all these ppl are tryn to hide our true past all over the world they either dismiss or lie and when it is completly obvious they gate them up so no more public research can be done...why do they want to hide the orgins of man ? i think the museum in iraq was a inside job of the us army to prevent ppl from seeing the truth and all the new atrifacts thats never been seen b4

  2. When you explore a undiscovered historical site, don't do it for money or any childish Glory...

    By the way ! Zahi Hawass is an archaeologist for American tourists in search of Hollywood trilogies adventures, just like Donald Duck ;
    Didn't you know ?
    coin coin Hawass !

  3. I am wondering about the live televised millennium dig that exposed the underground catacombs at giza. What was found? Besides the dozen or more catacombs going off in every direction. They were man made definitely. we watched and seen with our own eyes. As well as the Egyptian coffin submerged in a well. Until production was shut down by the Egyptian military. whats new with that? some people might be morrons but we are not. We have been checking ever since to see if there is any more news about this. this will not stay hidden for long. Especially for us who have seen the truth. STOP HIDING THE TRUTH. HUMAN KIND ARE NOT ALL SLAVES.

  4. by the way... im glad Hawass is gone. maybe the truth will come out soon.rather than the lies he tells