The Water Shaft - The Facts

EGYPTNEWS Dateline: 27th November 1998

Over the past year there has been much speculation and rumour concerning the so-called "water shaft" under the causeway which connects Khafre's (Chephren's) Pyramid to the Valley Temple. Allegations and claims of tunnels leading to the Sphinx, the Pyramids and even an underground city have been all been voiced over the Internet.

Both my co-author, Ian Lawton, and I wish to dispel those rumours and present the facts as known to us.

In April 98 Ian and I joined forces to research and write a book covering the history of exploration at Giza to the present day. Our aim, in focusing on Giza, is to document the explorations, the discoveries, the theories, the hunt for secret chambers and the politics connected with the Giza Plateau and its immediate environs.

In October 1998 whilst on a research mission in Egypt we were presented with an 'opportunity' to access all three levels of the "water shaft". Driven by the desire to explore the underground chambers, check the rumours and see it for ourselves, we took up this 'opportunity' and viewed it firsthand.

Before preceding with a brief description, we would like to point out that another researcher and writer, Nigel Skinner-Simpson, has done much to bring this shaft to the world's attention. His objective and factual reporting is to be commended and can be viewed at "The Shaft, The Subway and The Causeway"

Upon climbing down 20 or so feet to the first level chamber of the "water shaft" one proceeds north to a set of two ladders that drop down some 45+ feet. There is nothing worthy of note at this upper level. Climbing down to the second level and turning round to view this chamber, which is oriented north - south, one sees seven rock cut sub-chambers: 3 on the right, 3 on the left and one at the far northern end. Most are empty except for one sub- chamber on the left and another on the right. Within these two sub-chambers lie granite sarcophagi, with lids slid to one side and empty save for some rubbish. These most probably date to the 26th Dynasty.

Over to one's right, on the eastern side, is another vertical shaft proceeding down to the third level, perhaps some 25 feet below the second level. Reaching the bottom of the ladder and facing the shaft wall, one turns around to see a most unusual rock-cut chamber some 100+ feet below ground level. This third chamber or level is orientated east - west.

Within the centre of this, is a sarcophagus set in a rectangular depression in the ground, covered by a shallow level of natural water. Surrounding the coffer is a raised level of rock/soil that forms a rectangle around the depression, some 2-3 feet wide. On the outside of this is an outer channel filled with water, itself surrounded by the chamber walls.

In the north-western corner of the chamber wall is a channel that diminishes in size, and could have once been a natural water inlet. In any case it becomes far too small to form a secret passageway to the pyramids. All levels in the "water shaft" are unadorned and without hieroglyphs. Although this is an unusual and perhaps unique chamber, there are no secret passageways heading towards the Pyramids, Sphinx or underground cities.

As to the history of the "water shaft", during the 1930's the eminent archaeologist Dr. Selim Hassan excavated and explored down to the second level and he attempted to hand-pump the water from the third level but without success. On 4 March 1935 The Daily Telegraph published a column on the discovery of this shaft by Dr. Hassan. Sub-headed "Colonnaded Hall in Rock", this article, as now, fuelled much speculation. But the simple fact of the mater is that Hassan observed the third level through the water without exploration. There is still evidence to suggest that it once had two, if not four, rock-cut pillars rising at the corners of the raised surround to meet the roof of the chamber, although only rough protrusions on the ceiling and surround still exist now to support this view.

Throughout the intervening years the third level of this shaft was known about but left unexplored due to the high level of the water table. By the time of the Schor Foundation/Boris Said expedition of 96/97, the water level in the shaft had dropped significantly. Said and Dobecki, a seismologist, entered the third level and discovered a sarcophagus lid partially buried in detritus. Conducting GPR surveys over the lid they deduced that a possible anomaly/void/tunnel may exist, traversing on an east-west access. We believe, having seen the chamber post-excavation, that this anomaly was caused by not only the hollow of the coffer lid and the hollow coffer itself, but also the depression the coffer was set in. We are of course open-minded to the slim possibility of a subsequent level existing below the coffer. However one should remember that we are some 100+ feet below the surface of the plateau at this point, and any further investigation beneath the chamber will be below the current level of the water table. Likewise at the Sphinx enclosure some150 meters lower down the plateau, any excavations below the rock surface would quickly reveal, water, and its subsequent table.

During the recent "Questing Conference" on "Alternative Egypt" organised and hosted by Andrew Collins, Robert Bauval gave a presentation during which he showed a video he claimed was part of the Schor Foundation/ Boris Said explorations of 96/97.

The video portrayed team members rappelling down an open shaft and entering a subsequent side shaft. The film then cut to the discovery of a sarcophagus lid being exposed by a team member, and at this point Bauval asked for the video to be stopped. As a number of other researchers have voiced their complaints that the video shown by Robert Bauval does not give a true representation of the facts and location of the "water shaft", we feel it necessary to enlighten the public as to the video's content.

First, the open shaft shown in the opening sequence is definitely not the entrance to the "water shaft": it is more likely "Campbells Tomb", an open shaft near the "water shaft", or something similar. The real entrance to the "water shaft" is much smaller and concealed below Khafre's Causeway. According to Boris Said, the producer of the video, the reason for the open shaft being portrayed as the entrance to the "water shaft" was twofold: First to conceal the real entrance from adventurers; and second to give the video a sense of excitement. He does not deny that the open shaft is not the entrance to the real "water shaft".

Second, the video was filmed before recent excavations: during the Spring of 1998 Dr. Zahi Hawass conducted an archaeological exploration of the third level, during which they used modern pumping equipment to reduce the water level sufficiently to conduct an exploratory archaeological excavation. Then the detritus above the coffer was removed, and the lid was lifted and slid back into the chamber entrance, presumably revealing the coffer to be empty (it certainly was by the time we saw it).

These results were presented at the end of Hawass' lecture at the A.R.E. in August of this year, along with a slide show. From his descriptions and from what we have seen there is no reason to suspect any cover-ups, withheld information or access to underground cities/passageways.

Of particular interest during the A.R.E. convention, Zahi Hawass' commented that he believed the third level of the "water shaft" to be, at least symbolically, the "Tomb of Osiris". Were his comments deliberately chosen to have connotations with the Hall of Records, or the Chambers of Creation, and was the discovery timed to coincide with Cayce's predictions regarding 1998? No doubt more will be revealed if he carries out his engagement to speak on the "water shaft" at the National Geographic at the beginning of December.

We hope this "press release" will help to clear up a number of rumours and confusions. This is the primary aim of our book, which we hope, written from an entirely objective viewpoint, will clarify the great many other rumours and inaccuracies surrounding the Plateau. These include secret tunnelling in the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, the Hermes affair, the search for the Hall of Records and a variety of other intrigues and apparent cover-ups.

Chris Ogilvie-Herald & Ian Lawton

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