Redating the Sphinx: References and Links for Further Study

by David P. Billington, Jr.

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The primary sources on the age of the Sphinx debate have been presented in the previous pages of this site. Links to the principal figures in the controversy are listed below, followed by references that provide general background on the Sphinx or Giza.

The redating of the Sphinx has been part of a larger controversy over alternative claims about Giza and the origins of civilization. A brief overview of these claims and the responses of critics follows.

Principal Figures

The names below link to the personal websites or faculty web pages of the six principal figures in the debate over the age of the Sphinx. Mark Lehner does not have a faculty web page but the Tour Egypt site has a profile to which his name links.

John Anthony West. The website of John Anthony West provides information on his guided tours as well as his thoughts. West also has a radio program over the Internet.

Robert Schoch. Robert Schoch also has a personal website that provides links to his principal articles and contains reports of his more recent travels and investigations.

Colin Reader. Colin Reader does not maintain a website.

Zahi Hawass. The new official site of Zahi Hawass gives his research, articles, and interviews.

Mark Lehner. Lehner's AERA website also describes his work on ancient Egypt.

James Harrell. James Harrell also has a page on his work in the archaeological geology of ancient Egypt, although he does not post his articles on the age of the Sphinx.

Basic References on the Sphinx



Christiane Zivie-Coche, The Sphinx: History of a Monument, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).

Originally published in French, this book describes the meanings of the monument along with its history.

Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids: Solving the Ancient Mysteries (London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997).

Lehner provides a mainstream archaeological account of the Sphinx as part of a description of the pyramids of Egypt.


Greg Reeder's Egyptology site includes links on Egypt, Giza, and the Sphinx, as does the Guardian's Egypt site. The Guardian's site also has a photographic tour of Giza that includes the Sphinx.

For School Teachers and Students


James Cross Giblin and Bagram Ibatoulline, The Secrets of the Sphinx (New York: Scholastic Press, 2004).

This award-winning book presents the monument for middle and high school students.


Among online sources for educators and students, the best overview of the Sphinx and the Pyramids is the website of the British Museum. The American public television series NOVA also has a useful site on the Pyramids.


Selim Hassan, The Sphinx: Its History in Light of Recent Excavations (Cairo: Government Press, 1949).

Hassan's report on the Sphinx is still the best account of the original excavations in the early twentieth century.

Mark Edward Lehner, Archaeology of an Image: The Great Sphinx of Giza, 3 vols. (Ann Arbor MI: University Microfilms International, 1991).

Mark Lehner's doctoral dissertation is the most complete scholarly study of the Sphinx to date and supports a Khafra date for the monument. A photocopy of the study may be obtained (for private use only) from UMI Proquest (formerly University Microfilms International). Note: the third volume of photographs is not available as copyright in the images is held by outside sources.

First International Symposium on the Great Sphinx, Book of Proceedings (Cairo: Egyptian Antiquities Organization Press, 1992). (Summary)

In early 1992, a symposium convened in Cairo to exchange information on the history and condition of the Sphinx and to discuss conservation strategies. The papers presented at the symposium are in the published volume of proceedings (not online). A follow-up summary of the environmental and conservation problems in need of further study may be found here (pdf file).

Karl W. Butzer, Early Hydraulic Civilization in Egypt: A Study in Cultural Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), especially pp. 12-13, 26-27.

Butzer provides an overview of the environmental history of late prehistoric and early historic Egypt.

Alternative Views

During the 1990s, several alternative writers claimed a late prehistoric significance for Giza that the evidence of an older Sphinx helped support.

Lost Knowledge? The psychic readings of the American Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) have been preserved by the organization he founded, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE). Among his readings were visions that the Sphinx was built at the end of the last Ice Age, c. 10,500 BCE, to guard a buried hall of records from the legendary continent of Atlantis. Cayce believed that this hall would be rediscovered in the late 1990s.

A foundation associated with the ARE funded archaeological work at Giza in the latter half of the twentieth century, including Mark Lehner's 1979 survey of the Sphinx and the 1984 Giza radiocarbon survey. The Cayce sponsors placed no conditions on their support but hoped that new research on the site would turn up evidence in support of the Cayce readings concerning the Sphinx.

The announcement of a possibly older Sphinx in the early 1990s revived public interest in the Cayce prophecies. At the same time, a 1994 book by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert, The Orion Mystery, correlated the Giza Pyramids and the Nile river with the belt stars of Orion and the Milky Way galaxy in 10,500 BCE. In 1996, Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval published Keeper of the Genesis [published in the United States as The Message of the Sphinx], in which they argued that the Sphinx was a repository of prehistoric knowledge. Hancock created a website devoted in large part to the search for a lost prehistoric civilization. Greg Taylor's Daily Grail site served as a clearinghouse for alternative views including these.

Matters became contentious on the alternative side when a rival group received permission to explore the Sphinx in 1997-98, a time when West and Schoch were not permitted by the Giza authorities to return. These goings-on were recounted from a perspective sympathetic to West in Secret Chamber by Robert Bauval. Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald, in Giza: The Truth, covered these events from a standpoint skeptical of alternative claims.

The failure of an Atlantean "hall of records" to be found in the late 1990s caused the attention of many to subside. However, there continues to be an interest in the age of the Sphinx and in broader ideas of lost civilization or lost wisdom. Conferences such as this one bring together alternative researchers, while scholars with a more orthodox interest in Atlantis have gathered in conferences such as this one.

Skeptics Respond. The Sphinx age debate escaped the critical attention of the two leading groups associated with debunking alternative claims, the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, which has recently changed its name to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Skeptics Society. The lack of interest by these groups owed partly to the technical nature of the subject and partly to the fact that the principals on both sides of the Sphinx controversy made an effort to hold each other to mainstream standards of science and scholarship.

Alternative claims about ancient Egypt in general and about the Sphinx age in particular nevertheless provoked a lively and at times heated debate with a large number of interested observers in the 1990s. In addition to the exchanges between the principals already described, observers debated the issue online in the public newsgroup sci.archaeology. Debate also occurred on several moderated list discussions, including the Yahoo Amun forum. Ian Lawton's Giza: The Truth site contains archived debate on alternative topics that pertain to ancient Egypt, including the Sphinx.

Graham Hancock's online message board attracted a number of critics who eventually formed a separate website and forum in the summer of 2001, the Hall of Maat, specifically to debate lost civilization claims. The forum soon extended its scope to include alternative theories more broadly related to archaeology and ancient civilization. The age of the Sphinx has been a recurring topic on this forum and the site includes an archive of papers on Giza. Some of the founders were involved in organizing the conference that was to have taken place in September 2001.

Several other websites have maintained content or links to skeptical perspectives on alternative archaeological claims. Douglas Weller and Paul Heinrich have long provided lists of links to critical perspectives on alternative archaeology, and Archae Solenhofen may add his perspective on alternative geology as well. Archaeologist Michael Brass has provided for a number of years a comprehensive website on topics in archaeology with a special focus on prehistory.

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