The Giza Hall of Records
By Haley Rueske
The Giza Hall of Records is a theoretical hidden library containing the scholarly work of a lost ancient civilization. Although the records have never been found, some pseudo-archaeologists believe they exist and insist that they are proof of a civilization that predates the Ancient Egyptians and is even more advanced than our own society today.
Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Egypt became increasingly popular as well as available to a larger audience than in past centuries. Thanks to advances in technology it became much easier to distribute information to mass populations thus making learning about the mysteries of Ancient Egypt accessible to almost everyone and not just scholars and the rich. Sally MacDonald and Micheal Rice explain how the increase in the popularity of Egypt around the world affected the information that was being produced. They maintain, “particular agendas of contemporary politics have played their part in representing a view of Egypt which is little influenced by the realities of its history or the achievements of its people.” Because excitement and mystery was associated with Egypt, and high profits, the country became a widely used theme on television and in movies, which portrayed the region with sinister overtones, sacrifice, and cataclysmic events. By the 1980’s television documentaries were more concerned with the unexplained aspects of Egypt than with the achievements of the Ancient Egyptians and presenters and experts on the topics tended to lack any real authority in the subject they were discussing. Tim Schadla-Hall and Genny Morris noted that the glamorization of Ancient Egypt has made it "almost impossible for anyone except a dedicated specialist to distinguish between bone fide academic documentaries on Ancient Egypt and 'alternative archaeology,' fantasy, and even science fiction programs involving Egypt. It was during this time period (the nineteenth and twentieth
century) that the idea of a lost civilization that existed before the Ancient Egyptians began to spread around the pseudo-archaeological community, initiated by a Minnesota Congressman, Ignatius Donnelly. Donnelly had read the readings of Plato and concluded that the ancient civilization of Atlantis, which Plato discussed, had indeed existed at some point and was the very first civilization before being completely wiped from the face of the earth by a natural disaster. Later on, in the century that followed, Edgar Cayce, known as The Sleeping Prophet, claimed he learned through his psychic abilities that the Sphinx in Egypt was actually much older than what traditional Egyptologists believed and that the magnificent structure was home to a hidden chamber which contained the scholarship and records of Atlantis, a very advanced lost civilization. To this day, the Giza Hall of Records claimed by Cayce to be hidden under the Sphinx has yet to be discovered.
The traditional narrative that pseudo-archaeologists put forward is that the pyramids and the Sphinx are too technologically advanced to have been built by the Ancient Egyptians themselves. Those who argue this theory believe the Ancient Egyptians didn’t have the tools or manpower necessary for moving and sculpting the large pieces of stone they used to build the structures. To account for the Egyptian’s supposed inability to produce the large and complicated pyramids, pseudo-archaeologists believe a very advanced civilization, that has since been wiped from the planet completely, actually built the pyramids or at the very least gave the Ancient Egyptians what they needed to do so themselves. Other pseudo-archaeologists believe that extraterrestrials came to Earth and assisted in the building of the pyramids and the Sphinx before leaving behind the information hidden in the “Giza Hall of Records.” Picknett and Prince point out that, “most alternative theories are not content with merely revising accepted history and understanding of Ancient Egypt, but take a prophetic line, suggesting that it has direct relevance for our own time, usually in some mystical way linked with imminent changes on a worldwide scale,” and this can be seen throughout the narrative surrounding the hidden library. Edgar Cayce, for example, predicted in the 1930’s that the discovery and opening of the library would propel the world into a “New Age” at the Millennium, while pseudo-archaeologists like Nigel Appleby believe the natural disaster that required the information to be locked away so long ago is going to happen again, possibly in the near future. He told the Daily Telegraph in 1998, who was critical of his alternative background, that he hopes the hidden library contains information about preventing the natural disaster that wiped out the lost civilization, should it happen again.
The ideas of a lost civilization and a hidden hall of records were brought to the public by Ignatius Donnelly and Edgar Cayce in the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, and are still speculated about today, with no definitive proof for either. In 1990 John West, with the help of Boston University geologist Robert Schoch, was able to study the Sphinx in Egypt and concluded that the weather damage had been done by water, not wind and sand, so therefore the
Sphinx was much older than what the current archaeological record shows. This was important because Schoch is an academically trained geologist that Egyptologists cannot ignore. Schoch’s claims about the later date of creation of the Sphinx became widely accepted among the pseudo-archaeological community and Egyptologist were forced to respond because there was evidence from someone who was supposed to be a credible source.
Another pseudo-archaeologist, Graham Hancock, believes the work of Schoch provides the same conclusion as his college Robert G. Bauval’s Giza-Orion correlation theory, and that is that the construction of the pyramids and the Sphinx began in the year 10500 B.C. as Edgar Cayce claimed back in the 1930’s. Their book, Message of the Sphinx, published in 1996, argued for the predictions made by Cayce, claiming that there was an ancient civilization older than the Egyptians that stored their records in a hidden chamber for mankind to discover at the Millennium. They also argued that the hidden library could be found via astronomical correlation. Because these men had credible evidence regarding the date of the creation of the Sphinx there were open debates between Egyptologists and pseudo-archaeologists. “However,” Picknett and Prince state, “the orthodox camp invariably found itself on the defensive, being expected to justify its opposition to the alternative ideas such as the Giza-Orion correlation and the antiquity of the Sphinx.” The BBC came to the rescue in 1999 when it aired the show Horizon, a science documentary series. Two episodes of the show, Atlantis Uncovered and Atlantis Reborn, presented a critical analysis of the theories behind Atlantis and the Giza Hall of Records which, according to Picknett and Prince, was very successful in getting the public to consider in information given to them, critically and recognize pseudo-archaeology when they saw it.
While there are many people in the field of pseudo-archaeology who believe there is no way the Ancient Egyptians were capable of building the pyramids, Egyptologists maintain that the evidence clearly points to the Ancient Egyptians as the builders of the pyramids and the Sphinx. Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner assert that alternative archaeologists, like Schoch and West, are not taken seriously by Egyptologists because they “ignore the evidence of the Old Kingdom Egyptian society that surrounds the Sphinx.” Evidence, for example, like the remnants of the large Egyptian labor force that built the Sphinx and the pyramids as well as the geological evidence that matches the structures to Khafre’s Pyramid Complex. They point out that Schoch does not use enough evidence to support his claims and that the little evidence he does site is not accurate, i.e. video animations, and doesn’t include proper comparisons when looking at the environmental damage to the Sphinx. Many others who believe in the hidden hall of records base their belief on the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce, who claimed to have been able to see the future while in sleep-like trances but was never able to provide any definitive evidence for the lost civilization or their records. It is essential for people who are interested in learning about Ancient Egyptian history to look out for phony and bias evidence, like Edgar Cayce's readings, when doing their research and drawing conclusions. The motives (i.e. financial gains, fame, religious & political agendas) of a person claiming to have discovered new information should alway be considered. Cayce serves as a good example as someone who was very religiously motivated and who's psychic readings were used to persuade people to believe in him. It’s important to know that it’s okay to challenge the knowledge we think we know, but it needs to be done with evidence that has been thoroughly vetted and critically studied by people who are qualified to do so. It’s important to challenge what we know because if we don’t, we rule out potential answers and hinder our ability to think. Using evidence in the ways that pseudo-archaeologists do, however, can lead to the spread and acceptance of misinformation that alters the way we think and what we believe. Arguing that the Ancient Egyptians were not smart enough or technologically advanced enough to build the pyramids and the Sphinx is very racist and ethnocentric, especially when there is so much evidence that says otherwise.
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