The Shaft, The Subway & The Causeway / 7
In 1999, Doctor Hawass gave a number of lectures which included a section on the shaft under the causeway or "Tomb Of Osiris" as it has become known. The subject was also discussed in radio broadcasts by Boris Said and J. J. Hurtack amongst others. As time permits, information on these lectures, broadcasts and other reports will be added to this page.
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Doctor Hawass - University of Pennsylvania 11th April 1999The following report was written in 1999. Unfortunately its publication was endlessly delayed, firstly due to problems in verifying some of the points and secondly because this site has gone through a period of inactivity due to health problems. As a result, the report seems to duplicate some of the information to be found on the good Doctor's own site, but hopefully it contains enough additional information to make its belated publication worthwhile.
The presentation described below was given shortly after the "FOX Opening The Lost Tombs" television broadcast. At the time, Doctor Hawass was being attacked on various internet websites and in discussion forums for allocating such a short segment of the programme to the "Tomb Of Osiris". The general assumption seemed to be that it was Hawass who was calling the shots on the programme and that maybe he was trying to hide something. In his talk, he made it clear that he thought FOX made a big mistake in not allocating more time to it. This episode clearly illustrates the dangers of attacking someone trying to do a very difficult job without knowing all the facts first.
On April 11th 1999, Doctor Hawass gave a presentation at the University of Pennsylvania, part of which dealt with the 'Tomb of Osiris'. He started by describing the location of the shaft as being about ninety feet underneath the ground between the second pyramid and the Sphinx. He explained how the shaft had been known about by many egyptologists for a long time.He said that in recent times it has become a source of rumour and talk amongst the New Age fraternity who claim that it conceals evidence of a lost civilisation, and that they have been talking about it everywhere.
Doctor Hawass went on to explain the method used to explore a ninety foot deep shaft. He said, "First, the workman will tie you in the middle and then throw you down. Thank God my workmen like me!" Not surprisingly, this caused much hilarity.
He explained that the main problem with excavating the shaft was that it penetrated to the level of the water table and that it is difficult to take water from a shaft. The water would have to be drained and metal work stairs installed before any excavations could start. He said that this work was the most difficult he had ever undertaken and that he thought FOX TV made a big mistake in only allocating five minutes to it because of its significance. He added that for the audience to understand it fully, proper explanatory plans and diagrams.would have to be made for the people to see.
Doctor Hawass went on to describe the excavation of the second level chamber located sixty feet underneath the causeway. The chamber extends for fifty feet in length and was littered with stone rubble, pottery and pieces of bone. From the pottery, Doctor Hawass has dated the second level to 500 B.C., a time known as the Saite period. On excavating the chamber, Doctor Hawass said that he found six rooms cut into the rock, two of which contained red granite sarcophagi which were empty.
Doctor Hawass next went on to illustrate how the third level is reached via another shaft that descends to a depth of ninety feet and explained that it was this area that was full of water. Osman Contractors of Cairo were engaged to pump the water out in an operation which took one month to complete. Doctor Hawass said that he almost lost his ears and his eyes in the process because of the noise and the dirt and that it was for this reason that it was the most difficult work that he had ever undertaken.
Having drained the water, Doctor Hawass found a wall in the form of a rectangle in the centre of the chamber. At each corner of the rectangle there were the remains of a pillar, and in the centre there was a large sarcophagus surrounded by water. Doctor Hawass decided that this was the location that Herodotus, the father of history, had been referring to when he talked about Khufu's burial and of seeing water near the Great Pyramid. He explained that Herodotus had not actually seen such things himself, rather that he had been told about them by the guide that he met on the Giza plateau.
Doctor Hawass next explained how he found the hieroglyphic word for 'House' engraved in the ground. At the time of the New Kingdom, 1550 BC, the Giza plateau was known as "The Place of Osiris, Lord of the Underground Tunnels". Osiris was said to be the Lord who was controlling the tunnels at the Giza plateau and to be buried underneath the pyramids. When the excavations first started, Dr. Hawass thought that he had found a tunnel going towards the Sphinx because he could see water flowing into it, but he was deceived because on investigation it was found to form part of the engraved hieroglyphic word "pwr", meaning "House".
At the beginning of the excavations, Doctor Hawass was keen to obtain some artifacts from the chamber, but he could not do this himself because of the water. To more mirth, Doctor Hawass described how a rope was tied around a workman who was then thrown into the water! He swam around and returned with pieces of wood, pottery and bone. These artifacts provided enough evidence to allow Doctor Hawass to date the location to 1550 B.C., the time of the New Kingdom. Hawass stated that the water is now only 1 ft. deep and the artifacts can actually be seen.
Doctor Hawass said that the work had been started nine months previously (giving a date of July 1998 as this presentation was given in April 1999) and that although it had been most exciting, he did not talk about it at all until it was shown on the FOX TV Special in March 1999. Notwithstanding his silence on the matter, rumours of a new discovery circulated on the Internet and people came from all over the world, asking to see the new tunnel that had been discovered.
In commenting further on the sarcophagus, Doctor Hawass said that nothing was found inside it. This did not surprise him because he said he would not expect to find anything inside a symbolic tomb of the God Osiris.
Doctor Hawass next went on to talk about the shaft in the north west corner of the chamber. He explained how a boy was roped up and sent into the shaft to see where it led. It could only be explored to a distance of around nine feet because beyond that point it became too narrow to continue. He added that the shaft headed exactly towards the Great Pyramid.
Doctor Hawass said that the chamber is similar in construction to the Osirion in Abydos. Many people date the Osirion to dynasty four - the Old Kingdom - but Doctor Hawass thinks that it should be dated to the New Kingdom. He stressed that the chamber itself needs more excavation because he believes it to be very important and that he will then be able to discover a lot more about this Tomb of Osiris.
In closing his description of the excavation of the "Tomb of Osiris", Doctor Hawass returned to the subject of the tunnels. With reference to the tunnel in the north west corner, he asked, "Does this tunnel go from here to the Great Pyramid or is there a tunnel from the Osiris Tomb to the Sphinx?" He answered himself by saying that he did not really think it was true and that he thought that the tunnel had been made in the late period by followers of the Lord Osiris, Lord of the Underground Tunnels. When nothing was found, they left the tunnel unfinished. Doctor Hawass said that he hoped to settle the matter in two months time by using a small camera to investigate the shaft. This would presumably equate to June 1999 because the presentation was given in April 1999.
End of report postscript...
In an interview published in the spanish language archaeological magazine "Revista de Arqueologia", Dr Hawass is reported as saying that in December 1999 he completed the excavation of the "Tomb of Osiris" and found that the northwest corner tunnel ended after a distance of four metres.
Doctor Hawass - Nile Television, Cairo, Summer 1999
The following transcript is taken from an interview aired on local egyptian channel Nile Television in the summer of 1999. Doctor Hawass sounds wonderfully relaxed in the interview and his enthusiasm for his subject shines through. He gives a brief airing of his views on so-called Pyramidiots before talking at length about the watershaft. This is Doctor Hawass in his own words. The occasional word is missing - marked as unintelliglble - where, even after numerous attempts at understanding what the good doctor says, his rapidity of speech and accent defeat this western ear!
Interviewer: Let's talk about other great discoveries. One of the greatest discoveries of all time the pyramids of course. It is rejoining old neighbours I guess from what we've been reading about your new discoveries there. Would you talk to us about that?
Hawass: You mean discoveries in the pyramids area?
Interviewer: In the pyramids area.
Hawass: Your heart will kill you! You know there is lots of important discoveries as I was telling you that you should visit me some day to see all of that. But I will tell you maybe, because of the time of your show, that I will tell you about the last, the latest thing. One of the latest, because I'm saying all the time you cannot say in archaeology that you are lucky. You cannot be lucky and you are lazy. You have to look for something and it will come to you. That is why, you know, before I excavated at the Giza plateau one of our great Egyptian archaeologists, Selim Hassan wrote in one his last book and he said, "The Giza plateau is completely finished. You cannot discover anything anymore." I will tell you something. When I came - I wrote my doctorate degree at the University of Pennsylvania about Giza and therefore I can tell you anything about each piece of sand in the plateau. And I love the pyramids. It's became a part of my life and this why when I do an excavation I know what I'm doing. Then one of the important things that I were thinking all the time, there is a watershaft that I would like take you one day but you would have to come by in jeans laughs.
Interviewer: I will and I take your offer and I accept your invitation. When you come back from the states we'll probably do that.
Hawass: This watershaft, it's about thirty metre underneath the ground between the Sphinx and the second pyramid. And I never thought in my life that I would enter inside because it's full of water all the time, and even people used to take water to drink, guides who live in the area used to swim in the area and there is lots of rumours and talks. You know, one day I think we should talk about this - rumours of the pyramids. You have now millions, they call them the New Age and this New Age people, you know they believe that before the year two thousand there's something going to be discovered to show (unintelligible) and all these things not true at all and I do debate all of the words and they do - if you open the internet and say pyramids you will find out how much they attack us and how much they say nonsense and when you close the Great Pyramid for a year they said we closed it because we're hiding things there. If I tell you stories about this you would not believe it....we have pyramidiots. And those pyramidiots, they believe in something and they think that's going to be happened. But you know, I always believe that those people they can dream and it's very important for them to dream. It's our job to give them little bit of reality and that's what we are doing now as an archaeologist.
Then this rumours about this shaft, they say there is a tunnel from the shaft to the Great Pyramid and I did read on the internet there is a tunnel from the shaft to the Sphinx. Then one day, you know sometimes I do things by what I'm thinking like sometimes I close my eyes and I think about my work and this where comes an idea and I talk about it and put it in a book - comes like this - then one day I said to myself I did not see this shaft. I wrote about it in a footnote in my dissertation but I never described it, I never thought function of this shaft, then why not go. Then I told the people I'm going there.
You know, sometimes in archaeology when you go to a shaft like this and there is no stairs, how can you get in? How do you go in a shaft? You know how many metres this room, like three metres - a shaft fifty metres is very high. It's scary. We do it very easy. The workmen will have ropes and they tie in the middle and they throw you little by little until you reach the depth inside in there and when you do your work they bring you back. But we did make stairs and things like that. The first level there was nothing. The first level was over ten metres under the ground. The second level was about twenty metres and we found six rooms cut in the rock, and inside the six rooms we found bones, we found pottery shards, and also we found some big large granite sarcophagus. Of course, granite came from Aswan, about six hundred miles from Cairo. This sarcophagus was large big sarcophagus. I really wanted first to know the date of this second level. From the study and the excavation that we did in the second level we found out that this is dated to five hundred BC. We call it in Egyptology the Saite period which is two thousand five hundred years ago. But the third level is the most exciting thing.
When we did go to the third level thirty metres down the whole area was covered with water. Then what I did first, you know, we had two boys working with us then we had to tie the two boys and we had to, with ropes, and we have to throw them, not to throw them, throwing is a bad word! They jumped in the water and it was very important for them to jump in the water then they can collect artefacts from the water. They dive. They go down and go down deep. The water was about three or four metres in the shaft but it's nice good water and good taste, you can drink of it. Then the two boys got many bones, pottery and wood. The bones and the wood, we can use them later by carbon date 14 but I want to know quickly the date of this area.
One of the pottery I found, it's painted and I found out that this is dated to three thousand years ago, the New Kingdom. How can I know what's happening there? How can I drain this water out? You know, this is the most difficult work I ever did in my life. You are working in mud and dust and water. Pumping the water, you know it makes noise. I almost - I have to tell you - lost my ears and my eyes because when you pump the water there is noise and therefore things will enter inside and therefore I insist I have to stay by myself and do the work because, but we were afraid that the third level would collapse because pumping water you can really scientifically know you (unintelligble) that's why we had to put some test plaster in the wall, (unintelligible).
I really have to tell you that Mr. Ismael Osman from the Arab Contractor was very nice to help us in giving us one of his people to help us in draining water from the shaft. It took us one month until began to appear two things - remains of four pillars. I hoped that I could bring some because I did make a - we draw how it looks like, then four remains of four pillars. Inside there is a big large sarcophagus surrounded by water. Now if you read Herodotus, you know Herodotus is the father of history, who came to Egypt in five hundred BC and he came to the Giza plateau. He was the first tourist ever come to Egypt, and he met by guides which if you go to the plateau by yourself now, all these guides they will tell you anything you like. They will not tell you really. Some of them of course they do have scientific information about the pyramids but some of them to take your money they will tell you something very interesting.
And therefore those are, their grandfathers met Herodotus. But Herodotus in his book, he wrote a very important sentence and he said "I saw". He said "I hear that Cheops was buried in a big large sarcophagus and they told me there is water near the Great Pyramid." (Interviewer: Nobody took that seriously) But we were thinking all the time - if Herodotus saw this where it is? Where is this large sarcophagus? Where is this water near the Great Pyramid? Of course, you know, people make some exaggerations sometimes. The water shaft about one hundred metre from the Great Pyramid but they said it's near the pyramid and that is what Herodotus talked about. Of course, as an old man he will never go down thirty metres but the guides who maybe used to go in the hot weather and swim in that shaft, they saw the sarcophagus and they talked about it.
But what's more interesting is not that only. This is the first discovery of the shaft. The second - you know, when I began to excavate then I had to open the sarcophagus. It's large. The lid is about only I believe only about twenty tons. We had to raise it and go inside and see what's inside. Then I found nothing. Could this was a symbolic burial for the god Osiris. Because I found also before this there is a sign or a hieroglyphic which called 'pr' which I - it's like that. This sign in hieroglyphic means 'pr', means 'house' and here is the four pillars and the sarcophagus is here and there is water here. That's exactly it. (Interviewer: If we can just show that to our audience on ) That's exact it, 'pr' 'wsr' the place of the god Osiris who's actually is buried, in fact actually symbolic burial for the god Osiris.
Giza plateau was called in the New Kingdom 'pr wsr', place of Osiris, Lord of the underground tunnels. Meant Osiris is ruling the underground tunnels and we do have one symbolic tomb like this located in Abydos in Upper Egypt. Then what's happened that maybe people in the late period, they heard about that Osiris connected with tunnels, then they came and they dug one tunnel on the west wall of this room and when I get inside this tunnel I could not. Then I sent a young boy who's very fit and he walked inside that tunnel for about six metres and was stopped and became very narrow like this. And that we could not really continue searching to see if this tunnel goes far or not but I believe we will have a camera, an optic camera sended and find out the depth of this.
But this is show you how interesting is archaeology. It's adventure, it's wonderful and is really I think to talk about other discoveries you need two or three shows talk about that but this is one of the most interesting one which the people all over the world will discover that and I do talk about it in my webpage in the internet to show the people that really what's really found inside this shaft.
Dr Hawass at National Geographic, December 1999
The following transcript is of part of a lecture entitled Secrets Of The Pyramids given by Doctor Hawass to the National Geographic Institute in Washington D.C. on the 9th December 1999. Unfortunately, the webcast of the lecture does not appear to be available on the National Geographic site anymore. The section below appeared forty five minutes into the lecture.
[slide of causeway]
The most important discovery also that I made at Giza is what's underneath the causeway of Khephren - this watershaft that was the place of rumour to everyone. Everybody really was thinking that it had a tunnel to the Great Pyramid or the Sphinx. I excavated this shaft.
[slide of first shaft]
This is the first level...
[slide of second shaft]
...and went down to the second level after fifty feet.
[slide of second level chamber from the entrance]
I found out that the second level dated to five hundred bc, two thousand five hundred years ago, and inside you have this sarcophagus.
[slide looking across to the entrance to the third level - base of the shaft]
Once down the third level...
[slide showing diagram of the third level]
...and we found out two important discoveries here. This is to show how the third level looks like. Four pillars, inside this large sarcophagus. Herodotus was the father of history. When he came to Egypt, he wrote "I saw Khufu buried in a big large granite sarcophagus", and the second thing he said, he saw water near the Great Pyramid. But he did not go down (indistinguishable). The guides on the plateau told him and he wrote to us about this, then this is what Herodotus saw. My second discovery after I excavated this. I found that this a symbolic tomb for the God Osiris for Giza plateau was called in the New Kingdom three thousand years ago "Pr Wsir Nb Rostau" - "In the place of Osiris, Lord of Rostau". Rostau means underground tunnels. And this really, what we (indistinguishable) through...
[slide showing eastern side of the third chamber, very brief]
[slide showing man in water]
It was full of water. I had to throw young men - we tied them with ropes like this. We threw them in the water. Then they will dive, and they will bring up artifacts and I found out through the diving that this is dated to about three thousand years ago.
[slide showing Hawass crouching (looks like) on the wall to the left of the sarcophagus lid]
When I excavated this area I found a little shaft here. I was so excited that this could be the shaft that people say that it goes to the Sphinx but I found that this is not a shaft...
[slide showing the hieroglyph Pr]
...it is the sign Pr in hieroglyphic, means a place.
[slide showing diagram of the third level and indicating "Pr"]
...before symbolic of Osiris because this is "Pr", place of Osiris, Lord of the Underground Tunnels.
[slide showing two men in the water]
We continued the excavations, collecting artifacts.
[slide showing the top of the second level] It was the most difficult work I that I ever did because draining water, taking water from ninety feet up there, it was very difficult, and this shows how we took even the sand up ninety feet up in the ground.
[slide showing the third chamber from the entrance]
To show the remains of the four pillars; inside, this is the shape of the sarcophagus.
[slide showing the lid being raised]
We took the lid up and when we looked inside the sarcophagus...
[slide showing people looking under the raised lid]
...we could not really find anything. This why it is a symbolic burial.
[slide showing man scrambling up to the "tunnel" in the north west corner]
But in the west wall we found this tunnel and we sent this (indistinguishable)...
[slide showing the tunnel from the eastern side of the chamber]
...to the tunnel and we found this tunnel goes about twelve feet only, and we do not really know if this tunnel go to the Great Pyramid or not. We need an optic camera to use and we will do this also in January (see note below) when these people use the radar, to find if this tunnel goes to the Great Pyramid or not.
[slide showing Osiris]
But at least the Giza plateau was connected with the God Osiris since the New Kingdom.
Note: The intention had been for the Schor Foundation to be issued with a permit in January 2000 to undertake one last search for the alleged Hall of Records underneath the Sphinx. The "tunnel" in the third level of the "Tomb of Osiris" was to be investigated at the same time. As far as is known, this expedition never took place.
Sphinx: Mystery In Stone - ZDF 2002
The television programme "Sphinx: Mystery in Stone" made by Digital Drama Filmproduktion for ZDF in 2002 contains a section on the "Tomb Of Osiris", a transcript of which is given below. The programme features some nice shots and illustrations of the second and third levels but contains some factual inaccuracies. For example, it states that a team of archaeologists started to investigate the shafts and rooms under the causeway in February 2000. It also says that the shaft was filled with water until 2000 when archaeologists pumped it out. This is clearly incorrect because Dr. Zahi Hawass presented it to the world in the FOX TV special "Opening The Lost Tombs" broadcast in March 1999. The programme also states that the tunnels were dug "no later than 660 B.C. when the Osiris cult was particularly important" which clearly conflicts with Dr. Hawass' view that the third level dates to the New Kingdom period when the Giza plateau was known as the "Place of Osiris, Lord of the underground tunnels." It is also surprising that when talking about the "tunnel" cut into the west wall Dr. Hawass says he needs an 'optic camera' to see if it connects to the Sphinx when it actually goes off in the direction of the Great Pyramid. At one time it was thought that there was a tunnel leading to the Sphinx, this being the one that Boris Said and his team thought they had detected under the sarcophagus lid before the chamber was cleared, but this was located towards the east end of the chamber and turned out not to be the case.
In February 2000 a group of archaeologists began to explore a network of underground rooms. The opening was found about halfway down the causeway linking Chephren's pyramid to his valley temple. Immediately rumours began to fly claiming it was the final burial site of Cheops or the hidden hall of records.
The shaft was filled with water until 2000 when archaeologists pumped it out. Few outsiders have been allowed inside - for good reason. The first shaft drops ten metres straight down. In the shadow of the sky-scraping pyramids Egyptians tunnelled a labyrinth of chambers. The first level is empty. Another shaft drops vertically to a second chamber with six niches carved from its walls. In two of these side-rooms archaeologists found granite sarcophagii weighing tons. Somehow craftsman managed to carry them down the shafts tens of metres underground. Those buried here were probably high-ranking aristocrats. Bone fragments, pottery shards and wood all date from around 500 BC or at least 2000 years after the Sphinx and pyramids were built.
The third chamber lies almost thirty metres underground. Here archaeologists made a sensational find. The Greek historian Herodotus once wrote that the final resting place of Cheops was a subterranean tomb where water surrounded a grave. The description by Herodotus matched what modern archaeologists found. But Doctor Zahi Hawass, director of the Giza excavations believes the Greek historian may have confused stories about Cheops with those of Osiris.
"I found out two important discoveries about the shaft. The first important - about the shaft is that it is the shaft that Herodotus talked about but no-one even know about it until I excavated it. I took the water and I found the sarcophagus. The second important discovery, that I found this is like the Osireon. It is connected with the god Osiris. Symbolically Osiris is buried here for he is ruling the underground tunnels at the Giza plateau. And that is really my favourite discovery. It is the most exciting work I ever did in my life. When someone ask me 'what is your favourite discovery' I say the Osiris shaft."
The symbolic burial place of the god Osiris still holds many riddles. ..
"But I did not solve all the mystery. There's still, there's something that I did not solve. That shaft, on the west side, when I entered inside, it goes for nine metres but at the end it became very narrow. We need an optic camera to send it, to see if this shaft is connecting us to the Sphinx or not."
Was there a link between the Osiris shaft and the Sphinx? Since the year 2000 archaeologists have explored the Osiris shaft, tunnels carved beneath the Giza plateau. They're searching for a connection to the Sphinx but have found none so far. The tunnels were dug no later than 660 BC when the Osiris cult was particularly important. At that time, the worshippers paid homage to Osiris, offering him small stelae and statuettes. They hoped to appease the god of the afterlife to ensure their own immortality.
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