PART TWO of a Two-Part Portrait of Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (for Part One, Click Here).
In the first article in this series, we were introduced to the grinning Lion of Egyptian Archaeology, Dr. Zahi Hawass. Seated only one rung below the Egyptian cabinet, his power over the investigation of antiquities in Egypt – some of the oldest on the planet, and by any measure, the repository of reams of knowledge still ungleaned – is absolute. His supporters say he has ushered in a golden age of Egyptian archaeology, and his skill at courting the media has been extremely useful in raising funds for research.
And yet, there are disturbing signs of a capricious and tyrannical streak to the good doctor that bear examination. For example, in 2003, Dr. Joann Fletcher, an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York (U.K.) and Consultant Egyptologist for Harrogate Museums and Arts, and an expert in ancient mummies and their tattoos, hair and wigs, received permission from Hawass to conduct research into tomb KV35 in the Valley of the Kings, which has so often proved to be a treasure trove of mummies. On that expedition, Fletcher claimed to have found the mummy of Nefertiti, a claim roundly dismissed by Hawass, who then had her unceremoniously ejected from the project and the Valley of the Kings, saying only that she had "broken the rules".
While some suggest Fletcher committed no graver error than to go the press before Dr Hawass could, thereby depriving him of the media attention he so craves, others say Fletcher's conclusions were erroneous, she broke the rules, and she deserved censure. In any case, this treatment of a leading Egyptologist was remarkable enough that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation felt moved to a commission a five-part documentary special chronicling the entire episode.
Even stranger are the events surrounding investigations instigated by the German robotics engineer Rudolph Gantenbrink. Hired in 1992 and 1993 to install ventilation fans in the Great Pyramid, he was intrigued by what were often called 'air shafts', blind tunnels ascending on a diagonal from the center of the structure. After convincing the Supreme Council of Antiquities – which would have required Hawass' cooperation, as he was at that time Chief Inspector for the Giza Pyramds -- to allow him to investigate, he deployed a succession of small robots armed with cameras to climb various shafts.
What he discovered in a shaft rising from the Queen's Chamber using his robot Upuat II, and what was broadcast to millions in a subsequent documentary, became known as "Gantenbrink's Door", a smooth stone slab with copper fittings blocking the air shaft. The findings were spectacular, and theories about what were to be found behind the door -- including a hidden chamber -- ran rampant. Hawass, however, condemned Gantenbrink, and his colleague Dr. Robert Bauval, for sensationalism and speculation.
It was later that year that curious events began occurring, as described by authors Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince in their book 1999 book The Stargate Conspiracy. Dr. Hawass was fired, then reinstated a month later, following a scandal over a stolen Fourth Dynasty statue. His immediate superior, Dr Muhammed Bakr, who was then President of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and the man who had fired Hawass, was himself then fired shortly thereafter. Bakr subsequently complained of a 'mafia' which had been controlling the pyramids for 20 years.
The door remained unopened for another 10 years, until Hawass, by now promoted to his Secretary-General position, coordinated a joint Fox-National Geographic special – Secret Chambers Revealed -- to explore the shaft with a specially designed $250,000 robot called Pyramid Rover, built by the American company i-robot (which three years later was commissioned to develop prototype combat robots for the U.S. Army's Future Combat System). By this point, the original robot genius, and the man who had done more research on the shaft than anyone, Rudolph Gantenbrink, was barred from the project, after disagreeing publicly and privatelyl with Hawass one time to many. Viewers of the special watched in awe, as the robot drilled through the now ironically named Gantenbrink's Door, inserted a fibre-optic camera, and discovered….
...another door. The disappointment was palpable, but Hawass dismissed it, calling the find a major discovery: "I'm really happy we did this, we found another sealed chamber…Laura, this is very important, this is something I am very proud that finally we revealed the first mystery of the Great Pyramid of Khufu…We will study this, we will find out how we can reveal more secrets of the Pyramid, but this is very important".
Shortly afterwards, National Geographic announced the discovery of a third doorin another shaft (the northern shaft), and thus the mystery continues, as does the persistent search for a mysterious hidden chamber.
So we have ample evidence of Hawass acting both peremptorily and even erratically. He is on record as opposing alternative history theories and 'pyramidiots' on the grounds that they slight the proud Egyptian people. He's engaged in public feuds with theorists such as Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock, and John Anthony West for their "far-out theories", and yet has endorsed bizarre and un-historical projects such as placing a golden capstone on the pyramid to celebrate the millennium, a plan which faced objections from academics at the University of Cairo and was ultimately cancelled.
One of the things most worth noting about this proposal is the existence of a Masonic prophecy that a 'New Order of the Ages' will be inaugurated when a gold capstone is placed on top of Khufu's pyramid (this is the meaning behind the truncated pyramid on the U.S. dollar bill). Even stranger, Edgar Cayce, 'the Sleeping Prophet' predicted this same event, saying in one of his prophecies that it would act as a 'symbol' for the rediscovery of the legendary 'Hall of Records' of Atlantis. This will become significant as we explore Dr Hawass' background further, as it appears that he – as well as his highly influential colleague Dr Mark Lehner, about whom Hawass has said "you can sometimes have a brother who is not of your blood" -- has significant ties to the Cayce organization.
Before we look deeper, we need to go back to 1946, when Stanford University founded the
Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to conduct commercial research and bring extra funds into the institution. The goal of fully accessing commercial funding was never really achieved, although SRI did become self-sustaining by gaining numerous government contracts. By 1993 it was one of the largest independent research institutes in the world, with 75% of its funding coming from the U.S. Department of Defense.
By the early 1970s, one of the fields in which SRI was heavily involved was remote sensing. It was using these emerging technologies to non-destructively probe the pyramids on the Giza plateau for hidden chambers, while at the same time, it was also conducting extrasensory remote viewing research for the CIA's Office of Technical Services and Office of Research, involving figures such as as Ingo Swann and Uri Geller.
At roughly the same time, a young Mark Lehner was selected by Hugh Lynn Cayce, Edgar Cayce's son and heir, to become the 'inside man' in Egyptology for the Association for Research and Enlightenment, which had been founded by the senior Cayce in 1931. The ARE paid for Lehner to attend the American University at Cairo, and in 1974, according to Picknett and Prince, he wrote: that "the great pyramid was built as a repository of knowledge, and a temple of initiation for the White Brotherhood." It was also in that year that Lehner met Hawass, and the following year, introduced Hawass to his benefactor, Hugh Lynn Cayce.
Only three years later, SRI – now doing resistivity technology studies on the Great Sphinx, and funded by the ARE – discovered subterranean anomalies which appeared to represent cavities. According to Picknett and Prince, this discovery spurred Hugh Lynn Cayce into founding, in 1978, the Sphinx Exploration Project in an attempt to verify his father's predictions about the Sphinx and the Atlantean Hall of Records, and he enlisted not only SRI but the Egyptian Antiquities Organization (the forerunner of the Supreme Council of Antiquities), represented by none other than Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawass. Shockingly, the team discarded their previous non-invasive techniques and began drilling beneath the right paw of the Sphinx. Nevertheless, while some additional 'anomalous chambers' were discovered, there was no Hall of Records.
Nevertheless, Hugh Lynn Cayce was grateful to Hawass for helping Lehner, the Cayce Foundation and the ARE, and doubtless also saw him as a useful person to have on-side. According to Robert Bauval, and as posted on his website, Cayce paid for Hawass' Ph.D, which proved to be the Egyptologist's ticket from being a mere Chief Inspector with a Bachelor of Arts to the powerhouse he has become today.
Can this possibly be true? Can the scourge of pyramidiots, the champion of an Egyptian-only origin for the pyramids and the Sphinx, the battler of alternative history proponents like Bauval, Hancock and West, be a puppet of the Association for Research and Enlightenment? A tool to ensure that Cayce affiliates and no one else is allowed to search anywhere near where secret knowledge kept safe since the sinking of Atlantis is predicted to be located?
It's hard to say. The Hugh Lynn Cayce quote supplied by Bauval is hearsay and as such, fails to meet the standard required for such as shocking claim.
But if true, it would explain a lot. It would make sense of much of Hawass' bizarre behaviour. It would also explain why on his own personal site 'The Plateau', there is information confirming that Hawass delivered lectures at the ARE's Virginia Beach headquarters as late as 1997, and why a lecture on April 4, 2001 (also mentioned on his website) at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles was conducted on behalf of an organization with the suspicious name of American Research Centre, with queries for further information being forwarded to the American Research Centre for Enlightenment, known to have been affiliated with the ARE since the 1970s.
So, can we prove Hawass is a pawn of the New Age Cayce followers who are desperately seeking the lost remnants of Atlantean knowledge? No.
But if he were, he could hardly be doing a better job.