Hancock’s Egypt

It is in Egypt that Graham Hancock’s search for his ‘lost civilisation’ begins, with his support for a controversial attempt to redate the Great Sphinx of Giza. Boston geologist weathering on the Sphinx was to become a major element in its redating, as he identified the main factor in the considerable weathering over most of the body as precipitation. Given that the rainfall of Egypt has remained at a low (if variable) level in historic times, Schoch suggested that the weathering ought to have occurred at a date considerably earlier than the conventional date of the monument, c 2530 BCE. Schoch’s preferred date was the Neolithic Subpluvial of 7000-5000 BCE for the weathering, meaning that the Sphinx would have to be at least 2,500 years older than conventional Egyptologists believe.

The Great Sphinx of Giza in 1988
The Great Sphinx of Giza in 1988

However, Hancock would like to push the date back yet further and he does so via a few poorly disguised falsifications. He claims that the Sphinx is a symbol of Leo and that, because it is facing precisely due east, it was designed to face the rising sun when it was in the constellation of Leo at the vernal equinox. He does not explain why this should be the case and presents no evidence to show that the Egyptians ever regarded the Great Sphinx as a symbol of the constellation Leo (indeed, he fails to demonstrate that they even recognised a constellation the same as Leo). However, according to Hancock, the sun rose in Leo at the vernal equinox between 10,970 and 8830 BCE.

Hancock also believes that the three principal pyramids at Giza were built to represent the stars of Orion’s belt. The belt of Orion also reached its lowest point in the sky during this time, although Hancock fails to explain why this might be considered important. By combining these two elements of astronomical non-data he dates the layout of the whole complex to c 10,450 BCE. This is fully eight thousand years older than the conventional dating. It is worth noting, incidentally, that by this point, the three principal pyramids of the Giza plateau – those of Khufu, Kha‘efrē‘ and Menkaurē‘ (Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus in their Latinised Greek forms) – have also been redated to this remote period.

The Valley Temple that occupies a site immediately south of the Sphinx is next drawn into the argument. Hancock points to the stark simplicity of the temple, with its square sectioned columns, lack of inscriptions or reliefs and its construction techniques and suggests that it cannot be contemporary with the certainly Fourth Dynasty mastaba tombs scattered across the plateau. These tombs show greater architectural elaboration and were profusely decorated. In his view, the Valley Temple must be immeasurably older and therefore contemporary with his redated Sphinx. He does not justify his equation of ‘simple’ decoration with an earlier date and he ignores the evidence of archaeological dating.

To the rear of the New Kingdom temple at Abydos is a structure that Hancock has compared with Kha‘efrē‘’s Valley Temple at Giza (due to some architectural similarities). The Osireion – Shrine of Osiris – has square sectioned pillars devoid of bas reliefs and hieroglyphic inscriptions, like the Valley Temple, to be sure, but it does have inscriptions on walls and lintels that name Seti I (Pharaoh c 1290-1279 BCE), who is known to have been the founder of the main temple at Abydos. Hancock prefers to regard these inscriptions as later impositions – not an impossible hypothesis. However, he goes far beyond what can be deduced by ordinary archaeological means and assumes (for the consistency of his unique chronology) the temple to be earlier than known Egyptian civilisation.

Problems with the early dating

Around 10,450 BCE, when Hancock proposes that the Great Sphinx (and, by implication, the Valley Temple of Kha‘efrē‘’s pyramid and the Osireion at Abydos were built) the Western Desert was still in its period of greatest aridity. Even in the Nile valley, rainfall was minimal. This would have made life difficult for humans. During what is known as the Late Palaeolithic Alluviation, beginning before 20,000 BP and lasting until about 10,500 BCE, the Nile brought less water than today. This was caused by two main factors: firstly, the world-wide dryness caused by the ‘locking up’ of water in the huge ice caps of the Pleistocene glaciation and secondly, because the White Nile did not drain into the Nile valley at this time, its northward path blocked by sand dunes in the Sudd. At the same time, the slower river carried more sediment, which built up the floodplain until it was some 25-30 m higher than today. The river was sluggish and would have flowed in numerous braided channels. As the ice caps shrank after c 10,500 BC, an increase in rainfall at the headwaters of the Blue Nile in East Africa, combined with the White Nile breaking through the dunes in the Sudd, led to a brief period of exceptionally high floods, known to geologists as the ‘Wild Nile’. This increased flow, probably starting c 10,000 BCE, eroded the sediments that had accumulated during the previous eight thousand years. Within a few centuries, the Nile had become a powerful stream, flowing in a single deeply incised channel, with a narrow floodplain that was prone to heavy flooding. Nevertheless, rainfall in the Nile valley itself remained low until about 9000 BCE, making settled life in the valley difficult.

These unfavourable climatic conditions virtually preclude the use of the Nile valley by the remnants of Hancock’s ‘lost civilisation’; hunter gatherers would have found few plants or animals to exploit, while farmland would have devastated by frequent floods and the shifting of the numerous braided river channels. Population levels would have been small and communities necessarily mobile. Moreover, the sites of the Great Sphinx, the Valley Temple and the Osireion were covered by a considerable depth of alluvial deposits at this time; if they had been built in the eleventh millennium BCE, they would have been at the bottom of pits 25 to 30 m deep! This geological evidence makes archaeological questions irrelevant. It is difficult to see how a society capable of building monuments designed to be permanent could have flourished in such an environment and why, in such an unstable landscape, they would seek or expect to build permanent monuments.

31 Replies to “Hancock’s Egypt”

  1. The relevance the astrological alignments of the Sphinx and the Pyramids have is found when you examine the rest of Hancock’s work around the world. Which shows various other structures and sites that also had many astrological alignments. When you consider that he thinks all these sites to be linked, you can see why he felt this to be important.

    Surely if they were descendants of a supposed paradise-like civilisation then these inhabitants would have some means of surviving in somewhat harsh conditions. Also, did the conditions of the area change to suit the Ancient Egyptians who thrived in the area thousands of years later? On this last point, I don’t mean to be challenging, I’m genuinely curious!

  2. An argument I see made often is that evidence from workers’ settlement and the adjacent temples should be dismissed because they are of a date later than the pyramids. Is there evidence other than carbon dating to prove the connection between the pyramids and the rest of the Giza complex?

  3. Three comments…
    1) IIRC, there’s recent evidence that the workers’ settlement was repeatedly subject to flash-floods, so rebuilt again and again. This would make the original establishment date hard to determine. Hopefully, the occupants got out alive…

    ( Having your workers’ facilities demolished with some regularity might provoke a popular notion that the Gods are *not* happy with your schemes. Puts a spoke in the logistics, too. Perhaps these prompted abandonment of the Giza Plateau ?? )

    2) My understanding of Egyptian religion / mythology is that the priority was to have a worthy pyramid / tomb and temple ready by the time mummification was complete. Expanding the necessary temple complex to what we find on the ground may have taken generations of additions and rebuilding.

    3) Regarding the Sphinx and its ancient weathered back-side, the same skewed logic would make US’ Mt Rushmore mega-sculptures millions of years old…

    1. “Regarding the Sphinx and its ancient weathered back-side, the same skewed logic would make US’ Mt Rushmore mega-sculptures millions of years old…”

      That’s a silly argument. The Sphinx was created by cutting out the limestone around what would eventually become its body. Different story with Mount Rushmore.

      Use your common sense. The head and the body of Sphinx show different levels of erosion. The “Lost Civ” types are unto something, but then they go into ridiculous speculations about mystical energies, 12.000 year old cultures, UFOs and what not.

      The Sphinx really remains a mystery. But egyptologists rarely admit that. Possibly because they are are afraid that they will give credence to Hancock & Co

      I’m reminded of a brief conversation that I once had with a physicist (really, a science nerd). I told him how fascinated I am by the fact that cave paintings and wooden figurines seem to appear “only” about 40.000 ago, although the human race is around 100-200.000 years old. His reaction was: “No, no, the theory of evolution has been proven to be correct!”

      1. The differential erosion of the Sphinx isn’t that much of a mystery: for long periods, it’s been buried up to its neck in sand that left only the head exposed. It suffers from groundwater that seeps out from the limestone into which it was carved: seepage at times when it was buried may have been more rapid than when exposed, or vice versa.

        The Sphinx may be difficult to date, but its context needs to be taken into account. There is nothing at the Giza plateau before the Fourth Dynasty (and, indeed, nothing before its second king, Khufu). What would be the purpose of the Sphinx if there was nothing else there? It is in an abandoned quarry. What was the stone quarried to make? We know from the other quarries of Giza that they provided the blocks from which the various masonry structures of the plateau were constructed (not just the pyramids, of course!). That being the case, if the Sphinx quarry really were earlier than the Fourth Dynasty, there ought to be some sort of contemporary masonry structure nearby using stone from the quarry. Where is it? And remember that the Egyptians themselves credited the invention of building in stone to Imhotep, vizier of Djoser of the Third Dynasty: the archaeological evidence backs this up. That’s a real problem for Hancock and his followers.

        1. “It suffers from groundwater that seeps out from the limestone into which it was carved: seepage at times when it was buried may have been more rapid than when exposed, or vice versa.”

          Robert Schoch’s argument is that such a degradation could only have been caused by – falling – water. He says that the top part of the Sphinx’s body, made out of harder limestone, is more eroded than the lower part, made out of softer limestone. Which can only make sense if you have precipitation. Now, the guy’s a geologist, so it’s beyond my area of expertise. There has been an interesting debate between Robert Schoch and another geologist – Colin Reader. Reader wants to redate the Sphinx to Early Dynastic/ Predynastic times. I have found a compendium of the debates surrounding the Sphinx on this website “http://www.davidpbillington.net/sphinx2.html”

          “There is nothing at the Giza plateau before the Fourth Dynasty”

          I believe there are some mudbrick mastabas dating from the 2nd and 3rd dynasties. At least on the south field. Besides, the Saqqara necropolis isn’t far off. Add to that the possibility that whatever mastabas were near the pyramids or the Sphinx would probably have been removed. I can’t remember exactly which 5th or 6th dynasty pharaoh built his pyramid right on top of a tomb of a second dynasty pharaoh! If I remember correctly, there were jars and other artifacts from previous dynasties found inside Djoser pyramid complex (which means that they were removed from somewhere else i.e. tombs could simply be “moved”, especially if the previous ones had been desecrated).

          “What would be the purpose of the Sphinx if there was nothing else there?”

          Good question! Well, obviously religious. But that doesn’t say much:-).

          “What was the stone quarried to make?”

          I’d say that Schoch would argue that the limestone blocks were used to make the Sphinx temple. I think he claims that it was built contemporaneously with the Sphinx.

          “And remember that the Egyptians themselves credited the invention of building in stone to Imhotep, vizier of Djoser of the Third Dynasty: the archaeological evidence backs this up. That’s a real problem for Hancock and his followers.”

          Mmmm… debatable, to say the least. Recent excavations have dated the Gisr el-Mudir structure to the time of the 2nd dynasty. But that’s still mere decades or at most a couple of centuries before Djoser’s time.

          As a conclusion: I really can’t understand this “we’ve got all the answers” attitude. As someone who’s passionate about late roman/early middle ages history, I know how you can build complex theories upon the flimsiest of evidences. People don’t know this, but a large part of the discipline that we call history works this way. I credit Hancock with a certain popularization of history. His speculations may be “wild”, but I’d be willing to wager that a lot of young people took up history or more specifically Egyptology because they were intrigued by Hancock’s thesis. There are unsolved mysteries in history.
          For example, was there a real “King Arthur”? If not, was he based on a real person? What would that person have been like? A Briton? A Roman? A bit of both? Did he manage to defeat the Saxon invaders? If so, how? Did the Britons send word for help to Aetius or to Aegidius?
          It is speculated that the native Britons finally lost ground to the Anglo-Saxons because of a plague. Was this the bubonic plague known as “Justinian’s plague”? How did it reach Britain? Was there contact or trade between Britain and Gaul? Or between Britain and the Eastern Roman Empire?

          Or what exactly did Constantine see before the battle of the Milvian Bridge? Was he hallucinating? Was it a sign from God? Was it a meteor? A strange weather phenomenon?

          For me, personally, this is fascinating stuff.

          Or let’s take Egypt. How great was the influence of Mesopotamia upon Early Dynastic/Pre-dynastic Egypt? We know that the niches which decorated the early mastabas, temples and palaces bear striking a resemblance to structures from the same period found in Mesopotamia. Were the first pyramids inspired by Sumerian Ziggurats? Was Egyptian writing inspired by Sumerian writing? There is of course that famous flint knife dated to 3450 BC which shows (what appears to be) a Sumerian god holding two lions. How does that fit into the history of Predynastic Egypt?

          Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood. I do believe there is value in disproving “bad archeology”. Ancient aliens theories and the like may be fascinating, but they also pull the general public ever deeper into… what I would call “historical ignorance”. At the same time, historians and archeologists must keep an open mind, lest we learn nothing from history. Remember that historians had for centuries thought that the Trojan War was merely a myth, before amateur archeologist Heinrich Schliemann proved them wrong. Same thing with the Mycenaean civilization. Arthur Evans discovered the mythical palace of Knossos and with it, a whole unknown civilization – the Minoans. And I haven’t even gotten into all the cities and cultures that were previously only known from a few verses written in the Bible.

          Well, I have extended my train of thought more than I intended to. This is the original documentary (that aired almost exactly 20 years ago) which presented (among other stuff) Schoch’s erosion theory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtK4hHzB4Bs
          It has entertainment value, and if you ignore the “sci-fi stuff”, it makes some interesting points.
          Schoch’s main points in short form: http://www.robertschoch.com/sphinxcontent.html
          Honestly, I don’t think that you’ve paid close enough attention to his arguments. Personally I don’t trust Schoch when he talks about “10.000 year old civilizations”, but I do pay close attention when he speaks about geology. Remember, this guy has a PhD in Geology from Yale University.

          1. Thanks for the detailed reply. Yes, I know that Schoch believes that the erosion can only have been caused by falling water, but many other geologists disagree. This is an argument that can’t be resolved by archaeological means (although Tom Aigner demonstrated as long ago as 1980 that at least some of the blocks from the quarry were used in the Sphinx Temple). The implications of the geological data are archaeological, though. What is intriguing is that Rudolph Kluper and Stefan Kröaut;pelin have suggested that the pluvial Schoch believes responsible for the supposed water erosion may not have ended until as late as c 1500 BCE. This allows it to have been carved in the Fourth Dynasty and still show evidence for erosion caused by rain. They have also shown a shift in population from the Western Desert to the Nile Valley in the period c 5300-3500 BCE: the implication is that at the time Schoch would have the Sphinx constructed, the main focus of population lay to the west, not in the Valley.

            That’s interesting about the 2nd/3rd Dynasty mastabas on the plateau: I’ll look into those, but they are mudbrick and wouldn’t be the destination for blocks from the Sphinx quarry. The idea that the core blocks of the Sphinx Temple came from the quarry seems to have been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt and has been known for more than thirty years; they could also have provided the core blocks of Kha‘efre‘’s Valley Temple. It occurs to me that the southern wall of the Sphinx Temple runs parallel with the northern wall of Kha‘efre‘’s Valley Temple and causeway. Had the Sphinx Temple been earlier than Kha‘efre‘’s Valley Temple and causeway, there would have been no need for this design feature, given the symmetrical nature of the rest of the building. It’s usually assumed to be a Fourth Dynasty structure, but I wonder if it might be later than the time of Kha‘efre‘ (even if only by a few years).

            I don’t believe that we have all the answers, nor do I believe that we ever will. There will always remain intriguing questions about the past, as you rightly point out. Arthur as a leader of the Britons? Possible. Britons wiped out by a plague during the period of Anglo-Saxon settlement? Less plausible, I think (there is actually good skeletal evidence for Britons “becoming” Anglo-Saxons: recent studies in eastern England by David Klingle suggest that some of those buried in “Anglo-Saxon” cemeteries are the descendants of those buried in earlier “Romano-British” cemeteries). I could go on, but I won’t. All I want to do is show that I am perfectly willing to embrace new ideas that go against what I have previously accepted; this is something that Bad Archaeologists seem incapable of doing.

            1. I also forgot to say that the reason I mentioned Imhotep is that the commenter I was responding to, Chris haft, accused me of ignoring what the Egyptians said about their own past. If he wants to be consistent, he has to explain why they believed that there was no building in stone before Djoser’s Step Pyramid complex. On which subject, I still wonder about the date of the Great Enclosure, which appears to be associated with jar sealings of Kha‘sekhemwy. If I had lots of money to spend, that would be my excavation site of choice…

              The irony of these arguments about Graham Hancock is that the inspiration for creating this site was his Fingerprints of the Gods. I picked up a copy at Manchester Airport whilst waiting to fly to a holiday in Gran Canaria. The weather was appalling in the Canaries and I did a lot of reading, including Hancock’s book. It made me so cross that he used evidence whose misinterpretations by previous Bad Archaeologists has been so thoroughly debunked in print over the years that I decided I would do something about it when I got home. I started work on a website but rapidly became diverted from Hancock’s work because I went back to earlier misuses of some of the things he wrote about. One day, I will get round to writing proper refutations of his arguments!

          2. You immediately disregard that as Keith points out just above your comment the sphinx was, for a long time, buried to its neck in sand which would explain why the harder limestone above (i.e. the head), if indeed it is in fact harder, would be more eroded than the lower, softer limestone of the body.
            I think a lot of people who try to deny that Keith IS providing factual evidence merely have difficulty with reading comprehension.

  4. The most compelling evidence you have offered is the weathering on the sphinx which I have also had my own questions about however you are ignoring the fact that there is a mountain of evidence given to us by the Egyptians that tell us that they are a much older civilization than what we believe do you just ignore this fact or just view it as them spouting bull shit?

    1. Well, if you want to follow what the Egyptians claimed about themselves, you have to remember that they believed that there was no building in stone before the second king of the Third Dynasty, Djoser. Archaeology agrees with this.

  5. I do not disagree with your critique of Hancock´s ideas. That said, I also do not agree with the orthdox view of ancient Egypt…why no mummies, it helps to have some evidence to back up your proposals. Additionally, if Egypt was a civilization and they did build the pyramid then they were first ordeer magicians because they skipped right on past the need for gaining architectural, engineering and stonemasonry….should we not find cities where they learned and plied their trade? So, no I do not buy into the idea tha the Egyptians were special humans transcendent to all other cultures…both the alternative and the orthodoxy yarn spinners have no proofs at all…

    1. You say “if Egypt was a civilization and they did build the pyramid then they were first ordeer magicians because they skipped right on past the need for gaining architectural, engineering and stonemasonry”. What about the early pyramids built in the century before the Great Pyramid? What about the millennium of architectural development before the Great Pyramid? The Egyptians of the Fourth Dynasty had long experience of manoeuvring large blocks!

      1. Otherwise unsubstantiated claims about the technical skills of Egyptians in the 4th dynasty and conjecture about Egyptian architectural development in the proceeding thousand years still provides no evidence that there was ever any hint of funerary artefacts in the Great Pyramid nor evidence that the place had ever been penetrated by thieves. The structure of the chambers, tunnels and cavities are not adequately explained by the conjecture of ‘expert Egyptologists’ that the Great Pyramid was built as a tomb and the commonly presented ‘history of Egypt’ is frequently not consistent with the actual archaeological evidence.

        Herodotus wrote of many Egyptian stories about themselves but the stories are not conclusive evidence of facts from Egyptian history. You could go into the London streets and ask people what they think about themselves but there is no certainty that their opinion will be in any way consistent with what ‘expert Academics’ think that ‘Londoners’ think about themselves or even the culture of London generally.

        Where discussion of Graham Hancock is concerned your posts rarely contain reference to any actual evidence of your opinions, or actual evidence supporting the conjecture you are defending, you seem to be concerned only with your preoccupation with discrediting a handful of the sources Hancock has referenced and you do not present any kind of ‘good archaeology’ to back up your opinions about any of the more fundamental aspects of Hancock’s claims. For example where do I find evidence of any of the ‘archaeological facts’ you mention in the ‘Problems with the early dating’ section above?

        My understanding of Hancock’s work is that he is attempting to provide an alternative interpretation of the archaeology and historical sources because as always the traditional interpretation of what the facts imply is generally not consistent with the full set of actual facts and the tradition of ‘academic’ opinion is for the most part compromised by livelihood invested in teaching from text books written by the lecturer and the desire to see that livelihood maintained or substantiating and maintaining the value of artefacts collected and/or purchased by the employer of the ‘expert’.

        The distinct lack of reference to any kind of actual evidence in your opinion pieces is only likely to convince readers who habitually believe whatever they read and is a demonstration of the ‘bad archaeology’ that you claim you are attempting to discredit.

  6. I don’t think the original Britons were wiped out by epidemics. The genetic differences between the indigenous population and the invaders was not large enough for that to work. Instead, the Germanic-speaking invaders installed themselves as a new elite. This meant their childhood mortality rate become lower as they could afford to properly feed their kids even at times of famine. As their number of descendants increased they of cause grew poorer. But due to the Apartheid-like system the installed by the conquerors they rarely descended all the way down to the poorest. They Germanic peoples also banned marriage between themselves and the conquered Celtic peoples. By the time this ban was abandoned most of the population descended from Germanic peoples. The two groups should not be thought of as biologically separate, however. (That would be racist superstition.) If two groups of humans has the opportunity to physically meet they *will* interbreed, endogamy or not. So it is not surprising that some people buried in “Anglo-Saxon” cemeteries are descendants of ones buried in “Romano-British” ones.

  7. Keith said:

    “He claims that the Sphinx is a symbol of Leo and that, because it is facing precisely due east, it was designed to face the rising sun when it was in the constellation of Leo at the vernal equinox. He does not explain why this should be the case…”

    Whether or not it “should” be the case, it’s a possibility. In ancient or prehistoric matters, sometimes possibilities are all that can be asserted. More about that in my reply to further comments.

    “…and presents no evidence to show that the Egyptians ever regarded the Great Sphinx as a symbol of the constellation Leo”

    He probably wasn’t referring to Dynastic Egyptians. The shape of the Lion Statue (which, if of pre-Pharoh origin, wasn’t built as a sphinx), including its recumbent position, closely resembles the sickle-and-right-triangle configuration of the brighter stars in Leo. Look at a diagram of Leo alongside a side-view of the Lion Statue. It’s an intriguing and suggestive resemblance.

    ” (indeed, he fails to demonstrate that they even recognised a constellation the same as Leo).”

    Leo, 2nd only to Scorpio, is a constellation that _looks like_ what it’s called. I don’t claim that there’s evidence (other than the Lion Statue itself) that the 11,000-years-ago people there identified Leo as a lion. But it sure looks like one. It looks like a lion lying down upright, with its head up, and its front and rear fore-legs along the ground. …which happens to be the Lion Statue’s position too.

    “However, according to Hancock, the sun rose in Leo at the vernal equinox between 10,970 and 8830 BCE.”

    Roughly around 11,000 years ago. If someone wants the exact period during which the vernal equinox was within the sickle and right-triangle region’s ecliptic-longitude range, it could be easily determined. When the vernal equinox was near the middle of that constellation (the sickle and the right-triangle), in ecliptic longitude, it was roughly 11,000 years ago, based on a brief look at a website that states a the ecliptic longitude of a few stars in Leo. Calculate it precisely if you want to, but the result won’t be much different from that.

    Keith mentions adverse climate at that location during periods around then. If what he says is correct, especially the more extreme statements about that region being under a lot of silt, then that could disprove the early origin of the Lion Statue.

    If he’s right about that region being uninhabited during that time, that, too would argue against a large statue being built there.

    But, without checking, it’s difficult to say: Arguments must be interpreted taking into account our all-too-human prior attachment to a theory. Of course that’s true for both positions.

    “What would be the purpose of the Sphinx if there was nothing else there?”

    It’s known that the vernal equinox has often been regarded as significant. In fact, even in modern times, the sun’s arrival at the vernal equinox is widely reported in the media every year.

    It’s known that other early cultures built alignments with the equinox sunrise.

    I don’t know what other “purpose” Keith wants the Lion Statue to have.

    “It is in an abandoned quarry. What was the stone quarried to make?”

    Must it be that the Lion Statue was built in an abandoned quarry? Might not the enclosure have been dug for no reason other than to carve a statue in the bedrock?

    We hear suggestions of how the Lion Statue’s erosion could be from groundwater or flooding. But I haven’t heard an explanation for why that caused vertical erosion-grooves, or why the erosion (according to Schoch) was greater at points higher on the Lion’s sides.

    If those explanations work, then the erosion-evidence is inconclusive. If they don’t work, then the Pharoh-built theory is in trouble.

    The Sphinx-head is considerably less weathered than the Lion-body. Could that be because it was carved more recently? Was its limestone really that much more erosion-resistant?

    The Sphinx-head is very disproportionately small, for the lion-body. If that doesn’t _demand_ an explanation, it could at least use an explanation. It suggests or calls for an explanation. A pre-Pharoh origin of the Lion Statue is an explanation for the small head. …if the Pharoh’s carved the initial lion-head into a Pharoh-head.

    That, even without the weathering argument, asks for, even if it doesn’t demand, an explanation.

    The Egyptologists, the Historians for Dynastic Egypt, have been assuming, understandably, that the Lion Statue is part of their Dynastic Egypt. So used to that are we that the suggestion that the Sphinx pre-dates the Pharohs and the Pyramids, sounds highly controversial and contrary to archaeology (or just archaeologic assumption?). It’s as if someone suggested that George Washington wasn’t really a U.S. president, as regards the controversial impression made. But, objectively, how controversial, really, is the suggestion that Lion Statue and Pyramids aren’t even close to being of the same period?

    Carving limestone in-situ is hardly beyond the technical capability of people 11,000 years ago. Where’s the objective controverisal-ness?

    Michael Ossipoff


    1. Did Leo look like a lion 11,000 years ago?


      Of course the stars, including our own solar-system, are all moving with respect to eachother, and therefore the stars are constantly, but slowly, moving in the sky. (It’s referred to as proper motion). So it could be asked if Leo looked like a lion 11,000 years ago.

      If you closely compared the modern and 11,000 year old Leo configurations, using a transparency, many or most of the stars in Leo’s sickle and right-triangle would have noticeably different positions at those two times. But the motion has been slight, and the lion appearance was already there 11,000 years ago.

      The most significant displacement would be the rearmost (leftmost) star in the sickle. (Gamma Leonis). It was a bit farther to the right. As a result, the sickle’s blade was more rounded, 11,000 years ago, The sickle, 11,000 years ago, looked even more like a sickle than it does today (or, rather, tonight). …and every bit as much like a lion’s mane as it does today.

      The other relatively big difference was that the right-triangle, representing the upright-resting lion’s haunches, was a bit longer than it is now, but not enough to affect Leo’s resemblance to an upright-resting lion.

      When was the vernal equinox in Leo?

      By “in Leo Proper”, I mean “having an ecliptic longitude between the ecliptic longitude extremes of the lion asterism (the sickle and the right-triangle). …in other words, “having an ecliptic longitude between the ecliptic longitudes of Epsilon Leonis and Beta Leonis.

      The vernal equinox was in Leo Proper between 10,080 years ago and 12,370 years ago.

      In other words between 8080 BC and 10,370 BC.

      Keith has described some remarkably harsh conditions in the prehistoric Nile Valley, during certain periods. For example, he says that it went right from too arid to live in, to torrential rains. ….with no mild period in-between?

      So, Keith, what was the climate at Giza between 8080 BC and 10,370 BC?

      Will Keith cite sources to substantiate a claim that that location was unliveable or un-buildable during the time when the vernal equinox was in or near to Leo Proper?

      Of course, for the Lion Constellation to be astronomically-significant, with regard to the equinox, the equinox needn’t to have actually been in Leo Proper. It could have merely been nearer to Leo Proper than it was to any other grouping of similarly bright stars.

      We, in modern times, of course have various meanings for “in Leo”. It could mean within the arbitrary boundaries drawn for the constellations by various people. Or it could mean within a particular 30 degree region of the ecliptic.

      It isn’t know if the putative builders of the Lion Statue named the constellations, or, in particular, the ones atlong the ecliptic, or whether they divided the ecliptic into equal divisions.

      But, if the vernal equinox was closer to Leo Proper than to any other similarly bright star-grouping; or was within some anciently-defined boundary around that asterism; or was in a ecliptic longitude division named for the lion asterism–then that would be enough for a Lion Statue facing the equinox sunrise to be asstronomically meaningful.

      By the way, there’s nothing unprecedented about prehistoric people building things with astronomical alignment. For example, Stonehenge was built by a prehistoric people about whom very little is known.

      As I said, the only thing that makes a prehistoric Lion Statue controversial is the fact that Egyptologists have been (understandably and forgiveably) assuming that the Lion Statue is part of their Dynastic Egypt. Dynastic Egypt is what they study. It’s what they’re expecting to find at Giza.

      Michael Ossipoff

      1. Okay, Michael, I’ve resisted responding to your lengthy posts, largely because I have a day job and don’t have the time to chase up the reference material I’d need for a detailed rebuttal. This time, though, you have challenged me.

        Here are some references for the “Wild Nile” floods of 10,500 to 10,000 BC and subsequent population decline that would have made life at Giza impossible during the late Upper Palaeolithic: Vermeesch, P M (ed.) Palaeolithic Living Sites in Upper and Middle Egypt, Leuven 2000; Butzer, K W ‘Late Quaternery problems of the Egyptian Nile: stratigraphy, environments, prehistory’ in Paléorient 23, 151-73. The period from the “Wild Nile” flooding down to about 6000 BC, when early agricultural communities begin to appear, is one of the least well represented in Egyptian prehistory. There just aren’t the sites. So where was the population to build the Great Sphinx? Why did that population leave only the one monument? Where is the rest of the iconography of this supposed Sphinx building culture? Where is the evidence to show that the epipalaeolithic/Mesolithic peoples of the Nile Valley were interested in creating this sort of monument (and, before you say “Göbekli Tepe”, that is a very different sort of site, not in the Nile Valley and not carved from bedrock)?

        Now it’s my turn to provide a challenge. Can you cite any evidence that the Egyptians (before the Ptolemaic period) regarded what we call Leo as a constellation and that they saw it as a lion?

        Sunrise at Giza, vernal equinox 10,000 BC. The sun is not in Leo, which is below the horizon, marked by a red line.
        Sunrise at Giza, vernal equinox 10,000 BC. The sun is not in Leo, which is below the horizon, marked by a red line

        1. Hi Keith–

          Let me start with the star-map you posted, and its caption, which says that it shows the vernal equinox sunrise in 10,000 BC.

          It portrays the vernal equinox to be around Gemini and Taurus.

          That map-&-caption combination is incorrect. What’s its source?

          1. The easiest and quickest way to settle the matter would be to search Google for “Precession Calculator”. I don’t know if there is such a website, but, if there is, it would be the quickest and easiest way to answer the question of where the vernal equinox was in 10,000 BC, or when it entered Leo.

          But, if it doesn’t, it still isn’t necessary to take my word for it. Below (#3 in this list), I show, from an astronomer’s website, a chart of ecliptic longitudes. Additionally, there is no shortage of websites that will give that information, if you search Google for “Celestial Co-ordinate Transformation Calculator”. But I’ll get to that below, and discuss how to use that information to settle this matter. But first, my own answer:

          2. Here’s the vernal equinox’s position in 10,000 BC, given in 2000 co-ordinates (to locate it on modern maps).

          Right-Ascension: 11 hours, 14 minutes, 28 seconds

          Declination: 4.89

          That’s in Leo, fairly close to the star Sigma Leonis. It’s toward the far west end of Leo. At that time, the vernal equinox had only fairly recently entered Leo. As I said in my previous post, the vernal equinox was in Leo Proper between 8080 BC and 10,370 BC.

          3. The matter of where the vernal equinox was in 10,000 BC can be settled by finding out an ecliptic longitude. For that purpose, below, is the table that I referred to. Or, as I said, search Google for “Celestial Co-ordinate Transformation Calculator”.

          To make use of that ecliptic longitude information, I’ll state a few definitions. No need to take my word for those definitions–They’re easily found on the web.

          The ecliptic is the Sun’s path around the sky. On the ecliptic, a point’s ecliptic longitude is its distance along the ecliptic, in degrees, eastward from the vernal equinox. So ecliptic longitude must be given for a particular year. Nowadays it’s given for the year 2000. That will be so, until we get closer to 2050 than to 2000,at which time it will be given for 2050.

          The Earth’s precessional period is 25,772 years. The equinoxes move westward around the ecliptic at a rate of 360 degrees per 25,772 years.

          So that means that, in 10,000 BC, 12,000 years ago, the vernal equinox was east of where it now is on the ecliptic, in the amount of (12,000/25,772) X 360 degrees. …And, as stated above, a point’s distance east along the ecliptic from the 2000 vernal equinox is called “that point’s 2000 ecliptic longitude”.

          So, in 10,000 BC, the vernal equinox was at a position whose 2000 eclliptic longitude is about 167.62 degrees.

          So it’s just a matter of finding where, on a 2000 map, the 2000 ecliptic longitude is 167.62 degrees.

          One solution would be to use one of those celestial co-ordinate transformation calculators on the Internet. But the table below is sufficient.

          It’s from an astronomer named John Pratt. He’s a university astronomer with a PhD in the subject. His website can be found by searching Google for “Sidereal Ecliptic Longitude, Pratt”. The title of his website is “Co-ordinates for Constellations”, or something like that.

          He gives the 2000 ecliptic longitudes of some stars:

          I’ll quote his introduction and show his table. “Longitude” refers to ecliptic longitude:

          Table 2 lists for each constellation the 2000.0 longitude and location in the figure of its beginning and ending stars, and both the total and the corrected constellation lengths. The data in the table are derived from Hirshfeld and Sinnott (1982). First, each of the criteria is discussed in order of priority and then an overall rating independent of priority is calculated.

          Name Begins Pos. 2000.0 Lon. Ends Pos. 2000.0 Lon. Total
          Length Corrected
          Vir Xi Vir Head 173.34 Mu Vir Foot 220.13 47 45
          Lib Mu Lib Claw 224.17 Theta Lib Claw 239.87 16 16
          Sco Del Sco Head 242.57 Iota Sco Tail 267.52 25 25
          Sgr Gam Sgr Point 271.26 62 Sgr Tail 297.07 26 26
          Cap Xi Cap Horn 302.49 Mu Cap Tail 325.83 23 23
          Aqr Eps Aqr Strap 311.72 108 Aqr Stream 350.30 39 24
          Psc Beta Psc Head 348.58 Alp Psc Knot 29.38 41 39
          Ari Gam Ari Horn 33.18 Tau Ari Tail 53.40 20 20
          Tau Omi Tau Side 51.16 Zeta Tau Horn 84.78 34 31
          Gem Eta Gem Foot 93.44 Kap Gem Shoulder 113.67 20 20
          Cnc Mu Cnc Foot 119.48 Alp Cnc Claw 133.64 14 14
          Leo Kap Leo Nose 135.30 Nu Leo Feet 175.04 40 40
          Table 2. Zodiac constellation boundary stars according to Ptolemy.

          Note that the ecliptic longitudes in Ptolemy’s Leo range from 135 to 175 degrees. Above, I showed that the 10,000 BC vernal equinox had a 2000 ecliptic longitude of 167.62 degrees. The vernal equinox was in Leo in 10,000 BC. …toward the west end of Leo, as I’d said.

          Or you could just ask an astronomer.

          One more thing: On a star-map, on any projection that I’ve heard of, the horizon _doesn’t_ map as a straight line. Of course it crosses the equator diagonnaly in the east, as your illustration shows, but it’s parallel to the equator at the horizon’s north and south. That gives it a wavy curved shape. It doesn’t map as a straight line.

          You said that the wild-Nile flooding lasted till 10,000 BC. Note that most of the vernal equinox’s time in Leo Proper was after 10,000 BC. Additionally, I pointed out that the vernal equinox needn’t have been _in_ Leo Proper in order to motivate a Lion Statue facing the equinox sunrise. Only sufficiently near to it–maybe closer to it than to other bright star-groupings. Maybe within some ancient constellation-boundary around Leo Proper. Or maybe within some division of the ecliptic, where the ecliptic is uniformly divided into equal sections, as modern and ancient astrologers do.

          So the wild-Nile flooding, and any aridity that preceded it, doesn’t even pertain to much of the 8080-10,370 BC period, much less to the period after it when the equinox could still be significantly close to Leo Proper.

          It had been my understanding, from Internet articles, that the region wasn’t deserted during 8080-10,370 BC and subsequent years. But I could have misunderstood the articles. So, was the region around Giza actually uninhabited during 8080-10,370 BC, and up to around 7000 BC?

          If not, then the argument about uninhabitedness and adverse climate aren’t conclusive, as regards the Lion-Statue/Leo connection.

          If the stones at the new Turkey site were quarried and moved to the site, wouldn’t that be more difficult than carving limestone in-situ? I mention that because you spoke of the differences between the two sites. You asked about signs of high population at Giza at that time. How high a population does it take to carve a large statue in limestone? Does the evidence of potshards, etc. conclusively show that there weren’t enough people there to do that?

          And need it always be the case that a people who made one monument must make more of them? …or other artistic products? Ok, I don’t deny that the absence of other works could argue against the Lion Statue being built then. But that was a long time ago, and how sure are you that anything they built or drew would be found now? Maybe they did most of their art in sand, or on parchment. Or maybe most of what they did was stolen by later inhabitants, but the Lion Statue was too big to carry away.

          I don’t deny that the absence that you speak of lowers the probability of the prehistoric Lion Statue. Likewise the evidence that there wasn’t a thriving high population there. But it was so long ago…are you sure that those things conclusively rule out a prehistoric Lion Statue?

          I just regard it as an intriguing possibility.

          (I don’t call it a Sphinx, because, if built thousands of years before the Pharohs, it wouldn’t have a Pharoh’s head–more likely a Lion’s head, to match its body).

          As for the matter of whether the people at that time and place recognized Leo as a lion, or even as a constellation:

          I clarified in my previous post that I don’t claim that there’s any independent evidence that they perceived Leo as looking like a lion, or designated it so.

          But there are two things that suggest it:

          1. Leo Proper _looks_ just like a lion. The sickle-blade is the mane. The right triangle is the haunches. Leo Proper looks just like a lion in upright resting position. …that’s with front and read lower legs along the ground, body upright, and head up.

          As I’d said, look at the Sphinx and a diagram of Leo, side by side. A lion statue in the Sphinx’s position could very plausibly have been made as a representation of the lion ;perceived in Leo Proper.

          2. The fact that a Lion Statue was built facing the equinox sunrise _suggests_ (doesn’t prove) that it was built when the equinox was in or near Leo Proper, and that the builders recognized Leo Proper’s obvious and clear resemblance to an upright-resting lion.

          So there are at least 3 things that suggest t he intriguing possibility of a prehistoric Lion Statue:

          1. The fact that someone built a Lion Statue facing the equinox sunrise, and that Leo Proper looks very much like a lion.

          2. The fact that the Sphinx’s head is very disproportionately small for its body (suggesting that wasn’t initially built with a human head)

          3. The vertical erosion grooves on the Lion Statue’s body, and the fact that that vertical erosion is more pronounced higher on the Lion Statue’s body.

          #1 is intriguingly suggestive

          #2 calls for an explanation. The Sphinx’s head has always looked disproportionately small to me, and it never occurred to me that there might be a good explanation, till I read about the pre-Pharoh origin theory.

          #3 is a real problem for the Pharoh-built theory, unless you can explain how flooding or groundwater with dissolved CO2 are compatible with #3. Or, someone said that there _was_ sufficient rainfall in and since Dynastic times, to do that. Is that true? If so, then that would eliminate #3.

          Anyway, if #3 isn’t answered, then the Pharoh-built theory is in trouble. Otherwise, it is inconclusive.

          Michael Ossipoff

  8. Keith–

    Another way to show that the Vernal equinox entered Leo Proper around 10,000 BC, 12,000 years ago:

    Look at a star-map of Leo. Notice that, just a little west (left) of Leo Proper, the celestial equator intersects the ecliptic. That’s the Autumnal Equinox. It’s directly opposite the Vernal Equinox. The Vernal Equinox was there (25,772 divided by 2) years ago. That’s 12,886 years ago. It passed the west edge of Leo Proper a little after it passed the current Autumnal Equinox. So it would have entered Leo Proper just slightly less than 12,886 years ago. …i.e. just slightly after 10,886 BC.

    That’s consistent with my statement that the Vernal Equinox was in Leo Proper from 10,370 BC to 8080 BC.

    Michael Ossipoff

    1. If the sun, in the star-map that you posted, is at the vernal equinox, then that’s the equinox of about 4443 BD.

      …admittedly given with more precision than accuracy, and based on the fact that the sun is shown between Gemini’s feet and the tips of Taurus’s horns.

      Michael Ossipoff

      1. Sorry, that was intended to say 4443 BC.

        At first it seemed that people would know what I meant, but then I realized that it looked as much like “AD” as like “BC”.

        Michael Ossipoff

  9. Keith–

    Two topics:

    1. The year represented by your map

    2. Not disagreeing or telling you your business
    ….just wanting to be sure about the information and its import.

    When I determined the year represented by the map that you posted, someone else was using the computer, and so I just based my estimate on the fact that your map showed the sun between Gemini’s feet and the tips of Taurus’s horns. That estimate was about 4440 BC.

    Later I took a more detailed look at the map, and estimated that the Sun’s position on your map is the position of the Vernal Equinox in 4620 BC.

    The map-position-measurement allows a few decades of error in the year.

    The precessional rate isn’t constant. It, too, varies cyclically. I didn’t account for that, and that could result in some error as well.

    Where was the map from, and how was it captioned, represented, and used by its source? Is it standardly-used by prehistoric Lion Statue debunkers?

    I don’t subscribe to Hapgood’s or Hancock’s vanished prehistoric city-building, empire-building, world-exploring civilization, because there’d remain a lot of artifacts of it–and there aren’t. If they were living on coastal plains, and the oceans rose, then did they just sit around and drown? They’d move inland, uphill, and build more cities, etc.

    As I said, we visitors to this website shouldn’t tell you your business, and I’m just interested in your information about conditions and population from the end of the Wild Nile (around 10,000 BC?) up to maybe around 7000 BC, and your interpretation of what that information means.

    …because, as I said, the Vernal Equinox was in Leo Proper between 10,370 BC and 8080 BC, and was likely perceived to be nearer to Leo Proper than other significant bright star groupings for another thousand years.

    As I understand it, you’re saying that a thriving civilization and large population, like that of the Pharoh-Egyptians, would be more likely to build a big stature than would a sparse population such as inhabited that region during the Age of Leo (the time defined in the paragraph before this one).

    …and that a civilization known to have built other big monuments is more likely to have built a big monument than is a people who aren’t known to have built other monuments.

    …and that those reasons reduce the probability that the Lion Statue is prehistoric instead of Pharoh-Egyptian. I don’t disagree with that.

    Those considerations reduce the likelihood that the Age of Leo population there built the Lion Statue–and also make it more remarkable and impressive if they did.

    But are you saying that those considerations conclusively rule out a prehistoric Lion Statue?

    Weren’t there other monuments, including astronomical monuments and tombs, that were built by pre-city people about whom little is known, and who weren’t building a lot of other monuments all over? Is there some minimum number of monuments that a people would build? After all, building the Lion Statue would have been quite a job in those days, if you say that one statue is a lot to expect of them, then surely a whole lot of monuments, even moreso, too much to expect. As you said, there weren’t that many people there.

    So: Less lilkely, or outright ruled-out?

    And the Pharoh-built theory has its problems:

    The small head of the Lion Statue.

    The head is a lot less weathered than the body, More erosion-resistant rock? So the higher-up rock is more erosion-resistant? Is that why (according to Schoch) the upper sides of the Lion Statue are more eroded than the lower sides?

    Then there’s the vertical erosion. I haven’t heard an explanation for how groundwater dissolving the limestone, or flooding, would make vertical erosion-grooves, or do more erosion higher up on the body.

    Was the erosion-resistance high on the body lower than it was lower on the body, but also lower than it was on the head?

    Why aren’t the Pyramids eroded as much? More erosion-resistant material?

    It would seem that the erosion-resistance of the rocks, and the builders’ choice of the head’s size, all conspired to make it look as if the lion statue were built long before there were Pharohs.

    Michael Ossipoff

  10. Here’s a table, from Wikipedia, of positions of the vernal equinox in some ancient times:

    Constellation Year entering Year exiting
    Taurus 4500 BC 2000 BC
    Aries 2000 BC 100 BC
    Pisces 100 BC AD 2700

    Note that the vernal equinox entered Taurus in 4500 BC

    That’s consistent with my estimate that it was where your map showed it (about to enter Taurus, from Gemini) in 4620 BC.

    Michael Ossipoff

  11. Topics in this post:

    1. An image from Wikipedia
    2. Precessional-Rate Variation
    3. Suggestive &/or conclusive evidence

    Fine, then this is a monologue. I’ll complete it now.


    Below, I’ll try to post an image from Wikipedia. I’ll try to post it in 2 different ways.

    It’s a star-map showing the vernal equinox’s position in 4000 BC. You’ll notice that it’s toward the left end of Taurus, it having only recently entered Taurus, consistent with what I’d said, and with the Wikipedia table in my previous post.

    The table and image from Wikipedia, the fact that the autumnal equinox is just slightly to the left of Leo, and astronomer John Pratt’s table showing ecliptic longitudes in Leo, all confirm what I said, about when the vernal equinox was in Leo Proper.

    Here’s my attempt to post the image:

    The Wikepedia article from which I got the table and image can be reached by searching Google for “Precession of the equinoxes”.

    Variable Precession-Rate:

    It, additionally, has a formula for an approximation of accumulated precession. It’s a quadratic approximation to accumulated precession, which means that it implies a linear approximation to the precessional-rate. The precessional rate varies cyclically, with a period of 41,000 years. The variation is caused by variation in the gravitational tidal pull by the Sun, Moon, and planets, on the Earth’s equatorial bulge.

    The time of interest for this discussion is about 30% of a precessional-period cycle (not to be confused with the roughly 26,000 precessional cyclel). For that large a fraction of a precessional period cycle, a lilnear approximation to the precessional rate is a definitely a rough approximation. Fortunately, the precessional rate doesn’t vary much, so the result is still reasonably accurate. Certainly better than my previous assumption that the present precessional rate was always in effect. The precessional rate has been and currently is increasing. That means that the equinox entered Leo Proper a little before I said it did.

    According to the formula at Wikipedia (you can find the formula there, so there’s no need for me to copy it here), the vernal equinox entered Leo Proper in 10,726 BC.

    I didn’t calculate when it left Leo Proper, but, by my previous estimate (using the current precessional rate, it left about 2290 years after it entered. My hurried calculation is that, at the lower precessional rate then, it left Leo Proper in 8300 BC.

    As I said, the precession rate doesn’t vary by much, and so that linear approximation to the precessional rate is acceptably accurate.

    Suggestive &/or Conclusive Evidence:

    My purpose here has been to ask some questions about what conclusive evidence there is, regarding the Lion Statue’s origin, and to ask for answers to some of Schock’s arguments.

    I haven’t heard answers to Schock’s arguments.

    I asked how the _vertical_ deep erosion grooves are explained by flooding or ground water dissolving. No answer.

    I asked why (according to Schoch) the Lion Statue’s body eroded more at higher-up points than at lower points. How is that consistent with ground water or flooding? No answer.

    I asked why the Pharohs chose to make the Pharoh-head on the Sphinx so disproportionately small, compared to the body.

    I asked the origin of the map that you posted, and how its source captioned, represented and used it. Is it standardly used by debunkers?

    The fact that the map-&-caption combination is incorrect, and the fact that the vernal equinox was where I said it was around 10,000 BC, doesn’t prove that the debunkers are wrong. What it _does_ prove is that debunkers’ evidence isn’t always correct. We’re all human, and anyone can, subconsciously, want to use an argument or evidence-piece without verifying its authenticity or accuracy.

    I agree that, for something like the Lion Statue, the first builders to consider would be a busy-building civilization and high population like the Pharoh-Egyptians. …instead of a sparsely populated, less organized people without a reputation for building things. But there’s a first time for anythjing.

    I suggest that the Lion Statue _could_ have been built by a community during the time when the vernal equinox was in Leo Proper, or else closer to it than to other bright star groupings, or within some reasonable ancient constellation-boundary around it, or in some ecliptic division containing it.

    Less likely? Sure, but when the alternative (Pharoh-construction) has big problems and objections, then something less likely isn’t as unlikely.

    Did the Pharohs and their contemporaries build things of exposed ordinary limestone (or whatever material the Lion Statue is built of)? If so, how does the weathering compare?

    Sometimes the absence of answers are, themselves, answers. Sometimes silence is an answer.

    Michael Ossipoff

  12. When a posting includes several subtopics, I like to list them, just in case the first one doesn’t interest anyone.

    Subtopics in this post:

    1. Keith’s still-unidentified erroneous star-map
    …Scientific standards for evidence

    2. The matter of erosion is evidently inconclusive

    3. “Where is the evidence to show that the epipalaeolithic/Mesolithic peoples of the Nile Valley were interested in creating this sort of monument?”

    1. Keith’s still-unidentified erroneous star-map:

    Where to start? Keith posted, above in this topic-page, a star-map which he claimed showed sunrise at Giza, at the vernal equinox, in 10,000 BC. As he pointed out in his caption, the sun is nowhere near Leo, in his star-map.

    Then I posted several demonstrations that Keith’s star-map (or his claim about it being for the vernal equinox in 10,000 BC) is incorrect.

    Because this is repetition, I’ll be brief:

    a) Any star-map showing the celestial equator and the ecliptic will show them intersecting just a very little to the left (east) of the constellation Leo. That’s the autumnal equinox. It’s directly opposite the vernal equinox, on the ecliptic. In other words, it’s halfway around the ecliptic from where the vernal equinox is.

    In other words, the autumnal equinox is half of a precession cycle from where the vernal equinox is. Half of a precessional cycle ago, the vernal equinox was where the autumnal equinox now is.

    A precessional cycle is about 26,000 years. You can look it up anywhere. Half of a precessional cycle is about 13,000 years.

    So, about 13,000 years ago, the vernal equinox was where the autumnal equinox is now. In other words, in 11,000 BC, the vernal equinox was where the autumnal equinox is now.

    In other words, in 11,000 BC, the vernal equinox was just slightly to the left (east) of Leo.

    The distance to Leo, from where the autumnal equinox now is (where the vernal equinox was around 11,000 BC), measured in ecliptic longitude, is equivalent to a few centuries of precession.

    In other words, the vernal equinox reached Leo a few centuries after 11,000 BC.

    That’s entirely consistent with my estimate that the vernal equinox entered Leo in 10,726 BC.

    b) I’d estimated that the vernal equinox was where Keith’s map shows the sun, in 4620 BC. Keith’s map shows the sun between Gemini and Taurus, about to enter Taurus from Gemini.

    According to Wikipedia, the vernal equinox entered Taurus in 4500 BC.

    That’s entirely consistent with my estimate for when the vernal equinox was where Keith’s map shows it, about to enter Taurus.

    Now, maybe you tend to believe Keith anyway, because, after all, he’s a scientist. A scientist wouldn’t be wrong, right? Ordinarily, there is much justification for that trust in scientists. That’s because scientists are ordinarily very careful, responsible and ethical about their evidence, their use of evidence and their presentation of it.

    Ordinarily, a scientist checks and verifies his “evidence” before he publishes and uses it.

    Ordinarily a scientist is willing to tell you where he got his evidence or information. That’s just basic.

    Regrettably, Keith is violating both of those standards:

    He evidently didn’t check or verify that his map and his caption for it were accurate or correct.
    I don’t fault Keith for that. No doubt someone represented the map to him as being accurate. I don’t blame Keith for believing them.

    But Keith’s refusal to disclose the map’s source, and how that source represented and captioned the map. That’s another matter. It certainly seems to be an intentional violation of a basic scientific standard, the standard of disclosing the source of information that one uses to support one’s position, when that disclosure has been requested several times.

    He still refuses to say where he got it. He’s been asked several times now, for the source of his star-map, and for information about how that source represented it, captioned it, and used it.

    That refusal to divulge where he got the map, and how it was captioned and represented by its source, implies a knowledge that the map, or his caption for it, isn’t, or might not be, accurate, or that his source isn’t or might not be reliable.

    Scientific evidence standards, and basic honesty, call for Keith to answer the questions about the map’s source, and how that source represented and captioned the map.

    In some other discussion, elsewhere, about the age of the Giza Lion Statue, I noticed a Defender of the Orthodoxy something like, “…and no, the vernal equinox wasn’t in Leo in 10,000 BC.”

    That suggests that maybe Keith’s map is standardly used or believed by Defenders of the Orthodoxy. Then maybe it’s time to get that error out in the open on a larger scale. If hoaxers

    somewhere are using the map, or its incorrect information, then I want to be told about it, so that I can go to that other forum, and do some debunking of my own.

    So how about it, Keith? Where did you get the map?

    The only reason why I make an issue of this is that some people might believe Keith about the map, merely because Keith is a scientist, and because the map was generated by means of a computer. As for the latter, maybe you’ve heard the computer saying, “Garbage in, garbage out”.

    …and because it’s important to keep (ourselves and others) to scientific standards for the use and representation of evidence and information.

    2. The matter of erosion is evidently inconclusive

    In keeping with the evidence and information standards referred to above, I’ll admit now that, from what I’ve been able to find, the matter of the Lion Statue’s erosion, and its bearing on the issue of its age, must be regarded as inconclusive.

    I haven’t been to Giza.

    If Schloch is saying that the Lion Statue has deep, predominantly vertical, erosion grooves high on its sides, and that they’re considerably more likely to have been caused by direct rainfall than by anything else…

    …and if comparable direct rainfall erosion is absent from structures known to have been made by the Pharohs, of exposed limestone from the same stratum as that used in the deeply vertically eroded upper sides of the Lion Statue …

    …Then it would seem that the Lion Statue’s erosion conclusively rules out a Pharoh-built origin for the Lion Statue.

    But, from what I’ve been able to find on the Internet, I can’t say for sure that that’s what Schoch is saying.

    So, for honesty, I must admit that the Lion Statue’s erosion, with regard to the matter of whether the Lion Statue could have been carved by the Pharohs, is inconclusive.

    3. “Where is the evidence to show that the epipalaeolithic/Mesolithic peoples of the Nile Valley were interested in creating this sort of monument?”

    Keith asked that question, as an argument against a prehistoric origin for the Giza Lion Statue.

    It was a long time ago. How reasonable is it to demand information about the interests and psychology of people living as early as 10,000 BC.

    Before I continue, let me quote something else that Keith said, after that question:

    “(and, before you say “Göbekli Tepe”, that is a very different sort of site, not in the Nile Valley and not carved from bedrock)?”

    Yeah that’s “handwaving”, unless you specify how those matters bear on the subject.

    Yes, Gobekli Tepe isn’t carved from bedrock, and the Lion Statue is. But quarrying rock, and carrying it a half-mile or more can’t be easier than carving limestone in-place.

    “Not in the Nile Valley”? Specifically, why is that relevant?

    I can guess a few possible reasons that could be intended:

    a) During _some parts of_ the Age of Leo, there was adverse climate at Giza.

    _”Some parts of”_ is the operative phrase. The Age of Leo covers a lot of years, and I doubt that you’re going to claim that Giza was unliveable, unbuildable, or uninhabited for the entire Age of Leo.

    Also, in your article at the beginning of this page, you speak of a time of the region’s greatest aridity ever, followed by the Wild Nile flooding. …with no mild and favorable climate-period inbetween??

    b) Maybe you were referring to the fact that, in the Nile Valley, the prehistoric inhabitants have competition, in the form of the Pharohs. Maybe you’re saying that the Pharohs, known to have done a lot of building, are the obvious first candidates for any large stone construction at Giza.

    Yes, that seems reasonable, and I don’t disagree. Because, at this time, the erosion seems inconclusive, then we can’t rule out the Pharohs (and their subjects) as the carvers of the Giza Lion Statue. In fact, they may well be the most likely Lion Statue sculptors.

    …unless it can be found that Schloch _does_ say the things that I specified above, in which case, unless the Defenders of Orthodoxy can refute him, the Pharohs would be ruled out as the Lion Statue’s sculptors.

    Anyway, I addressed Keith’s admonition to not bring up Gobekli Tepe, because Gobekli Tepe indeed _does_ say something in answer to Keith’s questioning of the prehistoric inhabitants’ having the organization, technology and motivation to construct a big monument.

    I’m quoting, below, some things pointed out by Philip Coppens. But first I’ll just summarize its relevance here: Non-city-building, pre-pottery, hunter-gatherers built the astonishingly impressive stone constructions and artwork at Gobekli Tepe. …and at other similar places, and did so around 10,000 BC—the same time suggested by some for the Giza Lion Statue’s carving.

    If a later civilization had also built things in the same region, wouldn’t Keith be expressing doubt that the prehistoric population could have and would have built the Gobekli Tepe temple?

    That would seem to lay-to-rest the notion that such a people couldn’t build an impressive project.
    Later in this post, I’ll include a link to Coppens’ article from which these quotes were gotten.

    Let me start by quoting this line from Phillip Coppens’ article, before I quote his statements that support it:

    Phillip Coppens wrote:

    Even if a structure like the Sphinx were suddenly found to be 10,000 years old, the immediate reaction might now perhaps be: “So what? It is not that unique.”

    …in the context of Gobekli Tepe and similar finds.

    …or at least that would be the reaction of someone not already wedded to and committed to the self-designated “Orthodoxy” of Egyptology, which, according to Coppens, was “set in stone” in the 1840s.

    Here’s a link to Philip Copens’ article, from which the quotes below were taken:


    Here are some quotes from that article, which seem relevant to the question of whether non-city-building prehistoric, pre-pottery people could build an impressive project. I’ll leave out the “[quote]/[unquote]” marks, but I emphasize that I’ve only quoted paragraphs and passages that seem directly relevant to the subject at hand. I don’t even claim that the quotes are all in the same order in which they were found in the article. So here are the quotes, listed together within one set of quote-marks:

    [beginning of list of quotes]

    Klaus Schmidt has labelled Göbekli Tepe “the first temple” and “a sanctuary of the Stone Age hunter”. He sees the site as part of a death cult, not specifically linked with a sedentary group but a type of central sanctuary for several of the tribes living in the region.

    So far, though, Göbekli Tepe has no evidence of habitation and therefore appears to have been purely a religious centre.

    Once again, it appears that, just as the ancient Egyptians did, the civilisation that constructed Göbekli Tepe had far greater regard for their religious buildings than for any structures of a “practical” or more materialistic nature. Still, with only Complex B excavated to floor level, no tombs or graves have been found to date.

    Some have voiced criticism as to whether hunter-gatherers could have created such a structure as Göbekli Tepe. The many flint arrowheads (and the lack of construction tools) found around the site would seem to support this criticism, and one could even see these artifacts as part of sacred hunts rather than as part of the daily activities to put food on the table—if indeed tables even existed then.

    Schmidt maintains that the hunter-gatherers convened at the site at certain times of the year.

    As well as appearing to have ritual significance, Göbekli Tepe, with its large and exquisitely decorated stone blocks, reveals that its creators had an extraordinary ability and familiarity with stone masonry and carving. That our ancestors in 10,000 BC were so skilled is an archaeological discovery that is wiping out long-cherished beliefs about the origin of civilisation.

    What is known is that Göbekli Tepe and its sister sites have pushed back the age of monolithic building much further in time. Previously, we looked to the likes of Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, but now we find that our ancestors were hauling massive stones to build their constructions around 12,000 years ago. Even if a structure like the Sphinx were suddenly found to be 10,000 years old, the immediate reaction might now perhaps be: “So what? It is not that unique.”

    In any case, it is clear that Göbekli Tepe is not alone. It may be receiving much of the focus, but another site, Karahan Tepe, 63 kilometres east of Urfa in the Tektek Mountains, deserves attention. Discovered in 1997 and investigated by archaeologist Bahattin Çelik of the Turkish Historical Society, it has been dated to c. 9500–9000 BC. It has a number of T-pillars as well as high reliefs of a winding snake and other carvings similar to those at Göbekli Tepe. Covering an area of 325,000 m2, Karahan Tepe is much bigger than Göbekli Tepe.

    It is too early to draw any extraordinary conclusions from these sites, apart from the fact that our history is no longer as we know it. But just as Jericho proved in part that the Bible contains historical facts, these sites may yet substantiate some of the Sumerian myths which claimed that agriculture, animal husbandry and weaving had been brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Du-Ku, which was inhabited by the Anunna deities. Though it’s unlikely that this mountain was Göbekli Tepe, we are probably in the correct general vicinity here at the frontier of the Taurus Mountains.

    Around 8000 BC, descendants of the creators of Göbekli Tepe turned on their forefathers’ achievements and entombed their temple under thousands of tonnes of earth, creating the artificial hill—a “belly”—that we see today. Why they did this is unknown, though it was a decision that preserved the monument for posterity but also involved an extraordinary amount of time and effort. Schmidt argues that the local landscape began to change around that time: as the trees were chopped down, the soil began to lose its fertility; the area became arid and bare, and the people were forced to move elsewhere. Could it be that they began to make their descent and, millennia later, established what is known as the Sumerian civilisation? Such a scenario is just one possibility.

    Even in ancient Egypt, religious constructions were often abandoned if not dismantled after a while because they belonged to a particular “cycle” of time that had since passed. If that were the case with Göbekli Tepe, it would mean that knowledge of astronomy is older by millennia. The past five decades have so radically reshaped our understanding of the period 10,000–4000 BC, specifically the level of “civilisation” our ancestors had achieved in those days, that this shouldn’t at all come as a surprise. And it seems that it’s a given that somewhere, even older towns are waiting to be uncovered.

    However, it is equally clear that entering into the mindset of these hunter-gatherers—how they saw these animals and what they believed happened to the dead—is a difficult subject which will require years of study. Alas, it is an area where few archaeologists dare to tread, and in all likelihood they will hop from one site to the next, as they’ve done for several decades, and will “only” uncover the fact that civilisation is much older than we’ve assumed. Already, other sites are vying for Göbekli Tepe’s fame. The previously mentioned site of Jerf el-Ahmar, located along the Euphrates in Syria, has been dated to 9600–8500 BC. Other sites will certainly soon submit their applications. It’s likely they will all reveal that they are part of our history, but not as we know it.
    [end of quotes from that article by Philip Coppens]

    I might add that the walled city of Jericho, too, is known to date from the Age of Leo.

    [Reported at another website of Philip Coppen]:

    Finally, when interviewed about geologist Robert Schoch’s theory that the Sphinx is much older than the the pyramids, Hawass stated: “If geologists prove what Schoch is saying, still in my opinion, as an Egyptologist, the date of the Sphinx is clear to us.”22 In short, no matter what the evidence, Hawass claims it is all “clear” to him. It is clear that for Hawass, Egyptology is a religion, not a science. Many would agree that this is indeed the case for “Egyptology under Hawass”,


    I comment: That’s consistent with the fact that Keith himself refers to an “Orthodoxy” that he’s defending. When you call it “The Orthodoxy”, that sounds a lot like “The Dogma”.

    [Continuing the quote from the 2nd article by Philip Coppens]:

    Though Hawass can and should be blamed for many things, it is equally a matter of record that Egyptology as a science is seriously in need of spring-cleaning. It might perhaps come as a surprise to learn that since c. 1840 the paradigm of Egyptian history has remained firmly in place. Serious scientific evidence has often been put aside to maintain a dogma, and Hawass and many other “scientists” are religiously sticking to it.

    [Here’s another paragraph that I’d like to quote from the Coppens article to which I provided a link]:

    …with highly elaborate depictions of animals and anthropomorphic figures. With no evidence of a contemporaneous village within the vicinity of the Göbekli Tepe ruins, it is believed that the site served exclusively as a ceremonial center. The earliest sanctuary for communal ritual activity known to date, the Göbekli Tepe ruins have led scholars to reconsider the origins of religion and human civilization.


    Michael Ossipoff

  13. Michael Ossipoff again:

    Regarding Keith’s star-map:

    1. The straight horizon in Keith’s star-map can be explained if the map is Cylindrical Equidistant, in the altazimuth co-ordinate system–the horizon co-ordinate system. That explanation for the straight horizon didn’t occur to me before, because I’d never before encountered a Cyllindrical Equidistant star map in the horizon co-ordinate system. The only Cylindrical Equidistant star-maps I’d seen, up to that time, were in the equatorial co-ordinate system.

    2. Regarding the fact that Keith’s caption claims that the map shows the vernal equinox between Gemini and Taurus in 10,000 BC:

    Here is a link to a webpage of an astronomer. In one of its paragraphs, this page says that, in 10,500 BC, the vernal equinox was in Virgo, at the following equatorial co-ordinates:

    Right Ascension (RA): 11 degrees, 40 minutes

    Declination: + 2.2 degrees

    That position is only about 1.5 degrees to the east (left) of Denebola (Beta Leonis, the left tip of Leo’s right-triangle), when Denebola’s proper motion, over the past 12,500 years is taken into account.

    So that webpage, of an astronomer, confirms that Keith’s star map is far, far in error.

    Actually, evidently the astronomer, Tony Fairall, was using software that applied the current precession-rate over the entire 12,500 year interval between 2000 AD and 10,500 BC. Actually, the precession-rate has been increasing. For the entire interval of interest, the rate was slower than it now is. That means that the vernal equinox of 10,500 was actually a bit farther west (right) than Fairall says.

    If the Wikipedia’s quadratic approximation to accumulated precession is applied to the year 10,500 BC, it’s found that the vernal equinox was actually in Leo Proper (Leo’s sickle and right-triangle asterism) in 10,500 BC.

    Admittedly, a quadratic approximation to accumulated precession, implying a linear approximation to the precession-rate, is a very rough approximation, when applied over a 12,500 year interval. But most likely even that rough approximation is more accurate than an assumption that the precession rate hasn’t changed.

    Michael Ossipoff


  14. I don’t doubt for a moment that the Ancient Egyptians could build their country’s pyramids. Yet some details on how they were built may still be discussed. Did they use curved, outside ramps or inside ones? In the later case they would have been open at the corners to allow for the turning of the stones. This would explan why at least some of the stones are marked “this side up”. Also, there are hollows at at the corners of the largest pyrmids wich could well once have been connected to sloping tunnels. If so, these tunnels would have been blocked when they were not needed any more.
    The uppermost part of the pyramid of Khufu would have been built with a straight ramp trough the Grand Gallery. Then they would have used pulleys to get the relatively small stones up the ramp too steep for ordinary sleads. Furthermore, the inside ramps would have made it easier to adjust the outside walls of the pyrmanids. What do you think about this hypothesis?

  15. I take issue that a random grouping of stars “looks like a lion,” and would look like a lion to any culture at any time. The assertion seems ridiculous on its face. Is there ANY evidence to support this silly-seeming assertion?

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