The Shaft, The Subway & The Causeway / 2

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The Boris Said Connection...

subway locationIn the autumn of 1997, I started hearing stories about a "well" in a shaft under the causeway linking the Sphinx to Khafre's pyramid. This "well" had been much publicised in forums such as the american Art Bell 'Coast To Coast' radio show. It sounded to me like the location being talked about was the place mentioned by Selim Hassan although there were certainly discrepancies in the descriptions. Art Bell visited the Giza plateau in late 1997. He was given carte blanche by Dr Hawass (then Director General of the Giza Plateau and Saqqara, now Undersecretary of State and Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities) to go anywhere he wanted on the Giza plateau. Bell published photographs of his visit (sadly no longer available) on his website, the first three of which were captioned as showing him at the "well" and descending the ladder into the shaft. He apparently declined the opportunity to visit the lower levels.

In September 1997, a documentary film maker named Boris Said appeared on Bell's radio show to talk about his recent work at Giza. According to Said, one evening back in 1992 he was taking a stroll on the Giza plateau when he came across one of the plateau guards who offered to show him something interesting for twenty dollars. When Said agreed, he was taken to the shaft in the causeway. They went down a rusty iron ladder into the depths of the shaft and at the bottom, entered what seemed to be a large cavern filled with water to within two metres of the ceiling. (The construction of the Aswan Dam is said to have raised the water table at Giza by around eight metres) He was told that the water in the chamber was so pure that from around 1965, it was used as a well for twenty years. Below the surface film, the water was very clear so Said dove down into it to take a closer look at the chamber. To the east end, he spotted what seemed to be a pile of stones with some of them moved to one side.This interested him because he had heard an old story of two boys going down the shaft to the chamber, finding a pile of stones and moving some of them to see what was concealed beneath. According to Said, in ancient times, stones were often piled up over the entrances to underground tunnels and sarcophagi as a form of protection.

In December 1995, Said entered into a joint venture agreement with Dr Joseph Schor. Schor was working under a five year permit, renewable annually, to conduct acoustic and radar surveys on the Giza plateau . Schor supplied one hundred thousand dollars for the venture as the financial sponser and was responsible for all scientific aspects of the work. Said was to be in charge of filming the work for a documentary programme for which he required his own photographic permit. It is worth noting that in April/May 1996 as part of the work, ground-penetrating radar detected what seemed to be a tunnel approximately two metres wide and about three metres below the surface emerging from the tail of the Sphinx and heading in a westerly direction under the causeway towards Khafre's pyramid.

In November 1996, Said returned to the shaft and on descending it found that it had an intermediate level at a depth of about twenty six metres. He had not noticed it in 1992 and came to the conclusion that some exploration work must have been done by persons unknown in the intervening period. The implication was that some kind of wall or barrier had been removed. He noticed two disturbed stone sarcophagii and an iron pump at this newly revealed level. The shaft continued for another fifteen metres to the chamber where he found that the water level had dropped by around five metres since his last visit. The chamber was quite spacious and clearly man-made judging from the appearance of the vertical walls, cut steps and right-angles.

Said next returned to the chamber in February 1997 to take some film of the location. His team scraped away at the dirt on the floor to clear a level area for the camera tripod. To their surprise, it quickly became apparent that a smooth hard surface was becoming exposed. Eventually, they uncovered a complete sarcophagus lid. Said says ancient texts contain many references to the use of a sarcophagus lid to cover the entrance to a sacred chamber or a secret tunnel so they decided to investigate further using ground-penetrating radar. This seemed to indicate that the lid was around thirty inches thick. Two and a half metres below the lid it detected a two and a half metre wide anomoly with what looked like a domed ceiling. This anomoly descended at a twenty five degree angle and headed in the direction of the Sphinx two hundred and seventy five yards away. The alleged tunnel emerging from the tail of the Sphinx and heading under the causeway now starts to assume a new significance.

The lid had been uncovered by removing three or four inches of surface material by hand and penknife etc. Said wanted Schor to ask Dr Zahi Hawass (Director General of the Giza Plateau and Saqqara) to investigate further, for example by digging a hole to enter the tunnel. Said said that he was unaware that Schor's permit was revoked at the end of 1996 and they were operating under his photographic permit, and that for this reason Schor was reluctant to take the find to the Egyptian authorities. Following this disagreement, Said and Schor parted company. Schor funded the venture and so had legal title to the film shot by Said, however Said had exclusive marketing rights meaning Schor would be unable use it in a commercial venture. As a result, it is very unlikely that Said's film taken at the time will ever see the light of day.

Said uploaded photographs of the shaft and chamber to his Magical Eye website to accompany the programme. Some exterior shots of the location showed team members descending into a different shaft. Said stated in the interview that this was a deliberate ploy to put others off the true location of the shaft at the time. Unfortunately, the photographs are no longer available on-line. Said's account as related on the Art Bell show contains some puzzling elements. It is hard to see how he could have missed the second level chamber on his 1992 visit because he must have crossed it to reach the shaft to the third level. Also, how much could he have seen swimming underwater in what was presumably a dark flooded chamber thirty metres below the ground? In another account, in his "Behind the scenes with the Magical Eye team on the Giza plateau" video, Said states that the sarcophagus lid was uncovered in November 1996 and that nothing further was done until the team returned in February 1997. There is also doubt as to whether Schor's permit was actually revoked as claimed by Said on the Art Bell radio show. Notwithstanding these points, Said played a major part in raising the profile of what would come to be known as the "Tomb of Osiris".

Sadly, Boris Said died of liver cancer on the 24th March 2002. His ex-colleague and friend John Anthony West has written an obituary which is well worth reading for a look back at Said's colourful life.

Enter Dr Hawass...

In May 1998, during a conference set up by Art Bell as part of an alaskan cruise, Dr Zahi Hawass made an announcement about a new discovery at Giza, saying that a shaft had been found about thirty yards below the second pyramid and that a new sarcophagus was found along with tunnels and a giant cavern. The tunnels were underwater so divers were used to conduct a preliminary search. At some point in the future, Hawass told the audience, an attempt would be made to pump out the water so that the investigation can proceed. Hawass was apparently very excited when speaking about this discovery. Notwithstanding the possible confusion between "below the second pyramid" and "under the causeway", this report seemed to be talking about the same location.

The discovery surfaced again when John Anthony West, an attendee and presenter at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E) conference held at Virginia beach in August 1998, gave a report on a presentation by Dr Hawass at the same conference. West reported that Dr Hawass had recently excavated a deep shaft found under the causeway midway between the Khafre pyramid and the Sphinx. The shaft was over a hundred feet deep, and opened into a kind of pillared chamber. In the middle there was a huge sarcophagus half submerged in water. By its style, Hawass placed the sarcophagus in the Saite Period (around 600 BC) and thought that the whole complex was reminiscent of the description given by Herodotus for the supposed tomb of Khufu. Hawass did not think it was Khufu's tomb but he did believe it might be a (or the) Tomb of Osiris, and in some way connected at least symbolically with the Oseirion at Abydos.

A press release on Dr Hawass's own website The Plateau reported that he would give two major lectures in December 1998 about the water shaft located under the causeway of Khafre's pyramid. It said Dr. Hawass excavated the water shaft and through diligent research established that it was the tunnel described by Herodotus when he visited Giza over a millenium [sic] ago. According to Dr Hawass, Herodotus said that a tunnel close to the Great Pyramid contained a sarcophagus with Cheop's mummy inside. The shaft was described as opening in the causeway connecting the Sphinx to the Khafre's pyramid. The press release said that Dr. Hawass would describe in his lectures how the shaft was scientifically analysed. Dr. Hawass did indeed present two lectures to the National Geographic Institute in early December 1998, but contrary to what he had earlier stated in his own press release, he made no mention of the shaft under the causeway.

As 1999 progressed, it became obvious that Hassan, Hawass and Said were all talking about the same location. In brief, according to Dr Hassan, the shaft descends to a rectangular hall in the eastern side of which is another shaft. This second shaft descends to another chamber which in turn has a third shaft in the eastern side leading to a colonnaded hall. This final shaft and hall were flooded. There was a clear similarity with the pillared chamber mentioned by Hawass in his A.R.E. presentation. For some reason, Boris Said only mentioned two levels, namely the intermediate level containing the two sarcophagi and the flooded chamber at the bottom of the shaft, equating to Hassan's flooded third level, but again it was clear he was talking about the same location.

The "Tomb of Osiris" (as it was now called by Hawass) featured in the "Opening The Lost Tombs" FOX TV Special transmitted on the 2nd March 1999 (see page 5). The illustrations of the location were inaccurate compared to the actual layout; presumably there was some "artistic license" to show the interiors of the chambers more clearly. Doctor Hawass subsequently posted an article entitled The Osiris Shaft on his website and featured the location in his 1999 lectures, for example at the University of Pennsylvania on the 11th April (see page 7) and on the 9th December at the National Geographic Institute in Washington D.C. News of the discovery spread and on the 17th June 1999, the Egyptian State Information Service posted an item entitled "Osiris' Tomb near Cheops' Pyramid excavated".

This still left the little problem of how H. Spencer Lewis associated the location with an alleged network of underground passages and chambers linking the Sphinx with the pyramids in the appendix to his book "The Symbolic Prophecy of the Great Pyramid"... Continue

The Shaft, The Subway & The Causeway - Contents

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