Chapter 13: Forging the Pharaoh’s Name

…Forgery as a means to fame and fortune is not uncommon in commerce and the arts, in science and antiquities. When exposed, it may cause loss and shame. When sustained, it may change the records of history.

…This, we believe, has happened to the Great Pyramid and its presumed builder, the Pharaoh named Khufu.

…Systematic and disciplined archaeological re-examination of pyramid sites that were hurriedly excavated a century and a half ago (many times by treasure hunters), has raised numerous questions regarding some of the earlier conclusions. It has been held that the Pyramid Age began with Zoser’s step pyramid and was marked by successive progression toward a true pyramid, which finally succeeded. But why was it so important to achieve a true pyramid? If the art of pyramid building was progressively improved, why were the many pyramids which followed the Giza pyramids inferior, rather than superior to those of Giza?

…Was Zoser’s step pyramid the model for others, or was it itself an emulation of an earlier model? Scholars now believe that the first, smaller step pyramid that Imhotep built over the mastaba "was cased with beautiful, fine white limestone" (Ahmed Fakhry, The Pyramids), "before this casing was complete, however, he planned another alteration" – the superimposition of an even larger pyramid. However, as new evidence suggests, even that final step pyramid was cased, to look like a true pyramid. The casing uncovered by archaeological missions of Harvard University led by George Reisner, was primitively made of mud bricks, which of course crumbled soon enough – leaving the impression that Zoser built a step pyramid. Moreover, these mud bricks, it was found, were whitewashed to simulate a casing of white limestone.

…Whom then was Zoser trying to emulate? Where had Imhotep seen a true pyramid already up and complete, smooth side and limestone casing and all? And another question: If, as the present theory holds, the attempts at Maidum and Sakkara to build a smooth, 52 degree pyramid had failed, and Sneferu had to "cheat" and build the presumed first true pyramid at an angle of only 43 degree – why did his son at once proceed to build a much larger pyramid at the precarious 52 degree – and supposedly managed to achieve that with no problem at all?

…If the pyramids at Giza were only "usual" pyramids in the successive chain of pyramid-per-Pharaoh – why did Khufu’s son Radedef not build his pyramid next to his father’s at Giza? Remember – the other two Giza pyramids were supposedly not be there yet, so Radedef had the whole site free to build as he pleased. And if his father’s architects and engineers mastered the art of building the Great Pyramid, where were they to help Radedef build a similar imposing pyramid, rather than the inferior and quickly crumbling one that bears his name?

…Was the reason that no other pyramid but the Great Pyramid possessed an Ascending Passage, that its unique Ascending Passage was successfully blocked until A.D. 820 – so that all who emulated this pyramid knew of a Descending Passage only?

…The absence of hieroglyphic inscriptions in the three pyramids of Giza is also a reason for wondering, as James Bonwick did a century ago (Pyramid Facts and Fancies):

"Who can persuade himself that the Egyptians would have left such superb monuments without at least hieroglyphical inscriptions – they who were profuse of hieroglyphics upon all the edifices of any consideration?"

…The absence, one must surmise, stems from the fact that the pyramids had either:

  • been built before the development of hieroglyphic writing,
  • or were not built by the Egyptians.

…These are some of the points that strengthen our belief that when Zoser and his successors began the custom of pyramid building, they set out to emulate the models that had already existed: the pyramids of Giza. They were not improvements on Zoser’s earlier efforts; rather, they were prototypes which Zoser, and Pharaohs after him, attempted to emulate.

…Some scholars have suggested that the small satellite pyramids at Giza were really scale models (about 1.5) that were used by the ancients exactly as today’s architects use scale models for evaluation and guidance, but it is now known that they were later augmentations. However, we think that there was indeed such a scale model; the Third Pyramid, with its obvious structural experiments. Then, we believe, the larger two were built as a pair of guiding beacons for the Anunnaki.

…But what about Menkara, Chefra and Khufu, who (we have been told by Herodotus) were the builders of these pyramids?

…Well indeed – what about them? The temples and causeway attached to the Third Pyramid do bear evidence that their builder was Menkara – evidence that includes inscriptions bearing his name and several exquisite statues showing him embraced by Hathor and another goddess. But all that this attests to is that Menkara built these auxiliary structures, associating himself with the pyramid – not that he built it. The Anunnaki, it is logical to assume, needed only the pyramids – and would not have built temples to worship themselves, only a Pharaoh required a funerary temple and a mortuary temple and the other structures associated with his journey to the gods.

…Inside the Third Pyramid proper, not an inscription, not a statue, not a decorated wall have been found; just stark, austere precision."

There were artifacts and mummies found with Menkara’s name, but when analyzed, these showed to be false pretenses.

…The Second Pyramid is likewise completely bare. There is nothing at all to indicate that Chefra built it.

…What then about Khufu?

…With one exception, which we will expose as a probable forgery, the only claim that he built the Great Pyramid is reported by Herodotus (and, based on his writings, by a Roman historian) Herodotus described him as a ruler who employed his people for thirty years to build the causeway and the pyramid. Yet by every other account, Khufu reigned for only twenty-three years. If he were such a grandiose builder, blessed with the greatest of architects and masons, where are his other monuments, where are his bigger-than-life statues?

…There are none, and it would seem from the absence of such commemorative remains, that Khufu was a very poor builder, not a majestic one.

And so it is found that in reviewing the different Pharaohs, they had built their temples, satellite buildings, and causeways, surrounding the pyramids of Giza already in existence. Therefore:

With the ready-made pyramids thus taken, the Pharaohs who followed were forced to obtain pyramids the hard way: by trying to build them… As those who had tried this before (Zoser, Sneferu, Radedef), their own efforts too ended with inferior emulations of the three olden pyramids.

…At first blush, our suggestion that Khufu (as the other two) had nothing to do with building the pyramid associated with him may sound very farfetched. It is hardly so. In evidence, we call upon Khufu himself.

…Whether Khufu had really built the Great Pyramid was a question that began to perplex serious Egyptologists more than a century and a quarter ago, when the only object mentioning Khufu and connecting him with the pyramid was discovered. Puzzlingly, it affirmed that he had not built it: it already existed when he reigned!

…The damning evidence is a limestone stela which was discovered by Auguste Mariette in the 1850s in the ruins of the temple of Isis, near the Great Pyramid. Its inscription identifies it as a self-laudatory monument by Khufu, erected to commemorate the restoration by him of the temple of Isis and of images and emblems of the gods which Khufu found inside the crumbling temple. The opening verses unmistakably identify Khufu by his cartouche.

…The common opening, invoking Horus and proclaiming long life for the king, then packs explosive statements:

He founded… the House… of Isis… Mistress of the pyramid… beside the House of the Sphinx…

…According to the inscription on this stela (which is in the Cairo Museum), the Great Pyramid was already standing when Khufu arrived on the scene. Its mistress was the goddess Isis – it belonged to this goddess and not to Khufu.


Goddess Hathor (center),Mycerinus (Menkara) and Goddess Hare Nome.


Goddess Hathor and Horus.

…Furthermore, the Sphinx too – which has been attributed to Chefra, who presumably built it together with the Second Pyramid – was also already crouching at its present location. The continuation of the inscription pinpoints the position of the Sphinx accurately, and records the fact that part of it was damaged by lightning – a damage perceivable to this very day.

…The "Inventory Stela," as it came to be called, bears all the marks of authenticity. Yet scholars at the time of its discovery (and many ever since) have been unable to reconcile themselves to its unavoidable conclusions.

Unwilling to upset the whole structure of Pyramidology, they proclaimed the Inventory Stela a forgery – an inscription made "long after the death of Khufu" (to quote Selim Hassan, Excavations at Giza), but invoking his name "to support some fictitious claim of the local priests."

Other Egyptologists however, gave credit to the Inventory Stela "and Maspero (Gaston) accepted the contents of the Stela as factual data concerning the life and activities of Khufu."


Inventory Stela of Khufu.

…Why then the reluctance to call the artifact authentic?

…"The Inventory Stela was condemned as a forgery because only a decade or so earlier the identification of Khufu as the builder of the Great Pyramid appeared to have been indisputably established. The seemingly conclusive evidence was markings in red paint, discovered in sealed chambers above the King’s Chamber, which could be interpreted as mason’s markings made in the eighteenth year of the reign of Khufu. Since the chambers were not entered until discovered in 1837, the markings must have been authentic; and if the Inventory Stela offered contradictory information, the Stela must have been a forgery.

…But as we probe the circumstances of the red-paint markings and ascertain whose the discoveries were – an inquiry somehow never undertaken before – the conclusion that emerges is this: if a forgery had taken place, it occurred not in ancient times, but in the year A.D.1837, and the forgers were not "some local priests" but two (or three) unscrupulous Englishmen…

…The story begins with the arrival in Egypt on December 29, 1835 of Colonel Richard Howard Vyse, a "black sheep" of an aristocratic English family… He was especially thrilled by the tales and theories of one Giovanni Battista Caviglia, who had been searching for a hidden chamber inside the Great Pyramid… Caviglia rejected to have Vyse as co-discoverer… Vyse had befriended a crafty go-between by the name J.R. Hill, then a copper mill superintendent. Now he was introduced to a "Mr. Sloane," who whispered that there were ways to get a Firman – a concession decree – from the Egyptian Government to sole excavations rights at Giza.

Vyse did not get the rights. But Sloane and Col. Campbell, the British Consul did, with Caviglia as work’s supervisor.

…But instead of searching for the hidden chamber, Caviglia and his workmen were busy digging up mummies from tombs around the pyramids.

…"The excavations at the tombs showed that the ancient masons sometimes marked the pre-cut stones with red paint. Such markings, Caviglia said, he found at the base of the Second Pyramid, but when examined with Vyse, the "red paint" turned out to be natural discolorations in the stone.

…What about the Great Pyramid? Caviglia, working there to discover where the "air channels" were leading from the "King’s Chamber," was more than ever convinced that there were hidden secrets chambers higher up. One such compartment, reachable via a crawlway, was discovered by Nathaniel Davison in 1765.

Caviglia however, was more interested in searching for mummies, which every museum then desired.

…On February 11, the two had a violent argument. On the twelfth, Caviglia made major discoveries on Campbell’s Tomb (named by Caviglia): a sarcophagus inscribed with hieroglyphics and masons’ red-paint markings on the stone walls of the tomb. On the thirteenth…

Caviglia was discharged and ordered away from the site. Caviglia returned for his belongings. He made many "dishonorable accusations" against Vyse.

…Was the row a genuine disagreement, or did Vyse artificially bring matters to a head to get Caviglia off the site?

Plots followed, dismissals, new men coming and going from and to the works. Mr. Sitchin gives a detailed story of all the dealings of these men. Hidden Chambers were discovered in the pyramid, but as usual they were all empty. When Vyse was satisfied:

…His work was done, he found hitherto unknown chambers, and he proved the identity of the builder of the Great Pyramid, for within the cartouches (found) was written the royal name Kh-u-f-u.

…To this discovery, every textbook has been attesting to this very day.

…The impact of Vyse’s discoveries was great, and their acceptance assured, that he managed to quickly obtain a confirmation from the experts of the British Museum in London.

…When the facsimiles made by Mr. Hill reached the Museum, and when their analysis reached Vyse, is not clear, but he made the Museum’s opinion (by the hand of its hieroglyphics expert Samuel Birch) part of his chronicle of May 27, 1837. On the face of it, the long analysis confirmed Vyse’s expectations: the names in the cartouches could be read as Khufu or variations thereof: just as Herodotus had written, Cheops was the builder of the Great Pyramid.

…But in the excitement which understandably followed, little attention was paid to the many if’s and but’s in the Museum’s opinion. It also contained the clue that tipped us off to the forgery: the forger’s clumsy mistake.

…To begin with, Mr. Birch was uneasy about the orthography and script of the many markings. "The symbols or hieroglyphs traced in red by the sculptor, or mason, upon the stones in the chambers of the Great Pyramid are apparently quarry marks," he observed in his opening paragraph; the qualification at once followed: "Although not very legible, owing to their having been written in semi-hieratic or linear-hieroglyphic characters, they possess points of considerable interest…"

…What puzzled Mr. Birch was that markings presumably from the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty were made in a script that started to appear only centuries later. Originating as pictographs – "written pictures" – the writing of hieroglyphic symbols required great skill and long training, so, in time, in commercial transactions, a more quickly written and simpler, more linear script referred to as hieratic came into use. The hieroglyphic symbols discovered by Vyse thus belonged to another period. They were also very indistinct and Mr. Birch had great difficulty in reading them:

"The meaning of the hieroglyphics following the prenomen in the same linear hand as the cartouche, is not very obvious …The symbols following the name are very indistinct."

…Many of them looked to him "written in characters very nearly hieratic" – from an even much later period that the semi-hieratic characters. Some of the symbols were very unusual, never seen in any other inscription in Egypt:

"The cartouche of Suphis (Cheops)," he wrote, "is followed by a hieroglyphic which it would be difficult to find a parallel." Other symbols were "equally difficult of solution."

…Mr. Birch was also puzzled by "a curious sequence of symbols" in the upper-most, vaulted chamber (named by Vyse "Campbell’s Chamber"). There, the hieroglyphic symbol for "good, gracious" was used as a numeral – a usage never discovered before or since. Those unusually written numerals were assumed to mean "eighteenth year" (of Khufu’s reign).

…Whoever daubed the red-paint markings reported by Vyse had thus employed a writing method (linear), scripts (semi-hieratic and hieratic) and titles from various periods – but none from the time of Khufu, and all from later periods. Their writer was also not too literate: many of his hieroglyphics were either unclear, incomplete, out of place, erroneously employed or completely unknown.

…Turning to the main issue on which he was requested to give an opinion – the identity of the Pharaoh named in the inscriptions – Birch threw a bombshell: there were two and not just one, royal names within the pyramid!

…Was it possible that two kings had built the same pyramid? And if so, who were they?

…One cartouche was then read Saufou or Shoufou; the other included the ram symbol of the Khnum and was then read Senekhuf or Seneshoufou.

After some considerations:

…Conceding that the two names could have stood for what the ancient King Lists had called Suphis I (Cheops) and Suphis II (Chephren), Birch tried to resolve the problem by wondering whether both names, somehow, belonged to Cheops alone – one as his actual name, the other as his "prenomen." But his final conclusion was that "the presence of this (second) name, as a quarry-mark in the Great Pyramid, is an additional embarrassment" on top of the other embarrassing features of the inscriptions.

…England’s most noted Egyptologist, Flinders Petrie, spent months measuring the pyramids a half century later. "The most destructive theory about this king (Khnem-khuf) (as it is nowadays read) is that he is identical with Khufu." Petrie wrote in The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, giving the many reasons voiced by then by other Egyptologists against such a theory. For any number of reasons, Petrie showed, the two names belonged to separate kings. Why then did both names appear within the Great Pyramid in the locations in which they did? Petrie believed that the only plausible explanation would be that Cheops and Chephren were co-regents, reigning together.

…Since no evidence to support Petrie’s theory has been found, Gaston Maspero wrote almost a century after the discovery by Vyse that "the existence of the two cartouches Khufui and Khnem-Khufui on the same monuments has caused much embarrassment to Egyptologists" (The Dawn of Civilization). The problem, in spite of all suggested solutions, is still an embarrassing one.

…But a solution, we believe, can be offered – if we stop attributing the inscriptions to ancient masons, and begin to look at the facts.

…The pyramids of Giza are unique, among other things, for the complete absence of any decoration or inscriptions within them – with the outstanding exception of the inscriptions found by Vyse. Why the exception? If the masons felt no qualms about daubing in red paint inscriptions upon the blocks of stone hidden away in the compartments above the "King’s Chamber" why were there absolutely no such inscriptions found in the first compartments, the one discovered by Davison in 1765 – but only in the compartments found by Vyse?

…The cartouches and royal titles daubed upon the walls of the compartments were imprecise, crude and extra large… They are in sharp contrast to the precision and delicacy and perfect sense of proportion of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, evident in the true masons’ markings found in those same compartments.

After some more comparisons, Mr. Sitchin continues:

…In other words: cannot all the puzzles be solved, if we assume that the inscriptions were not made in antiquity, when the pyramid was being built, but only after Vyse had blasted his way into the compartment?

…We know from Vyse’s chronicles that, by day, he had sent in Mr. Hill to inscribe the chambers with the name of the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Nelson, heroes of the victories over Napoleon. By night, we suspect, Mr. Hill also entered the chambers- to "christen" the pyramid with the cartouches of its presumed ancient builder.

…Having looked up Wilkinson‘s Materia Hieroglyphica (the one and only book repeatedly mentioned in Vyse’s chronicles, (Sir) John Gardner Wilkinson), we can sympathize with Vyse and Hill: its text and presentation are disorganized, and its plates reproducing cartouches are small, ill-copied and badly printed. Wilkinson appears to have been uncertain not only regarding the reading of royal names, but also regarding the correct manner by which hieroglyphs carved or sculptured on stone should be transcribed in linear writing. The problem was most acute concerning the disk sign, which on such monuments appeared as either a solid disk, or as a void sphere, and in linear (or brushed-of) writing as a circle with a dot in its center. In his works, he transcribed the royal cartouches in question in some instances as a solid disk, and in others as a circle with a dot in the center.

Mr. Sitchin’s research in this matter of authenticity of forgery does not end here. Several more pages are dedicated on his book regarding the doings of Vyse-Hill-Perry and others, but in conclusion to this chapter he continues:

…While most Egyptologists have accepted without further investigation the claim that Khufu’s name was inscribed in the Great Pyramid, the works of Sir Alan Gardiner suggest that he had doubts on the subject. In his Egypt of the Pharaohs, he reproduced royal cartouches with a clear distinction between the hieroglyphs of Ra and Kh. The cartouche of Cheops, he wrote, "is found in various quarries, in the tombs of his kinfolk and nobles, and in certain writing of later date." Conspicuous by its absence in this list is the inscription in the Great Pyramid… Also omitted by Sir Alan were any mention of Vyse’s discoveries in the Third Pyramid and even of Vyse’s name as such).

…If the proof of the construction of the Giza pyramids by the presumed Pharaohs stands shattered, there is no longer reason to suspect the authenticity of the Inventory Stela, which stated that the pyramids and the Sphinx were already there when Khufu came to pay homage to Isis and Osiris.

…There is nothing left to contradict our contention that these three pyramids were built by the "gods." On the contrary: everything about them suggests that they were not conceived by men for men’s use.

…We shall proceed to show how they were part of the Guidance Grid that served the Spaceport of the Nefilim.

Continue to Chapter 14: The Gaze of the Sphinx


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