CORRECTING CLAIMS REGARDING GEORGE REISNER AND SELIM HASSAN'S EXCAVATIONS AT GIZA
Andrew Collins and Nigel Skinner Simpson
it comes to exploring the necropolis at Giza, following up long overlooked leads
in old books and excavation reports can, just occasionally, lead to dramatic results
- our rediscovery in 2008 of a previously unrecorded cave complex in the plateau's
north cliff being a prime example. Yet sometimes early investigations or discoveries
at Giza become confused, especially when reported in the international press,
and this can lead to false or distorted claims being repeated by speculative writers.
Here is one example that we felt obliged to examine in order to set the record
On August 29 alternative history writer Stephen Mehler wrote to one of the authors (Andrew Collins) stating that Egyptian Egyptologist Dr Selim Hassan, in charge of "excavation work around the Sphinx and area from 1936-1938", discovered a tunnel linking the Sphinx with the Second Pyramid, and that this is "stated by American Egyptologist Dr. J.O. Kinnaman in a small book he wrote in 1940 - that was reprinted in 1999 and I referenced in my first book. Kinnaman knew Hassan and Petrie personally, and was there when the tunnel was found."
Mehler stated also that American Egyptologist George A. Reisner uncovered an important site called "Reisner's Shaft" near the Sphinx, and that his son drowned in a shaft there in 1938. This same claims are repeated in Mehler's book The Land of Osiris (2001), where on page 114 he states:
Egyptologist George Reisner excavated a great deal of the Giza Plateau during
the 1930s and investigated many of the tunnels. There is a shaft under the causeway
behind the Sphinx that is called Reisner's shaft
Reisner's son drowned
in one of these shafts in the late 1930s, when investigating how far down the
tunnels go. Dr J. O. Kinnaman mentioned in a book about the Great Pyramid he wrote
in 1940 that a tunnel leading from the Sphinx to the Great Pyramid had been discovered
the previous year, 1938-39, and was to be cleared and investigated.
O. Kinnaman (1877-1961), a former editor of the American Antiquarian and Oriental
Journal, was known for his writings on ethnology and biblical history. The
monograph by him cited by Mehler is The Great Pyramid in the Light of Archaeological
Research, published by Defender Publishers of Wichita, Kansas, in c. 1935
(no actual publication date was given in any printing). An updated version called
The Great Pyramid in the Light of Latest Archaeological Research had appeared
by "June 1938", since it is this date that is hand written in the copy
examined for this article. This means that the text was updated c. 1936-37.
1943 printings of the now updated monograph had reverted back to its original
title of The Great Pyramid in the Light of Archaeological Research, with
its authorship now being attributed to "Dr. J. O. Kinnaman".
The text had also been revised to remove any references to biblical prophecy in
connection with the Great Pyramid, presumably in order for the monograph to appeal
to a more scholarly target audience.
The gallery or tunnel, discovered this past winter, leading from the Sphinx to the Second Pyramid, may throw some light upon the subject. We should not be surprised if a branching tunnel would be found leading into the Great Pyramid.
The matter is taken up on page 44 within his summary on the greater purpose of the Great Pyramid, where he states:
While I am writing, the great tunnel connecting the Sphinx with the Second Pyramid is being explored, measured, etc. Why this tunnel, and what was its purpose? Who knows? Will later discoveries reveal what we now do not know? The side walls of this tunnel are of granite, while the floor is of other material.
enigmatic "gallery or tunnel" alluded to by Kinnaman can be understood
to be a confused reference to a discovery made by Dr Selim Hassan during his sixth
season's work at Giza in 1934-35 on behalf of the Egyptian University, Cairo.
One of his aims was the complete clearance of the causeway linking the Khafra
(or Khephren) Valley Temple adjacent to the Sphinx area with the Second Pyramid,
and in doing so he revealed a subway, or tunnel, that penetrated the underside
of the causeway at right-angles to its roughly east-west orientation. Inside this
subway Hassan found the entrance to the so-called Water Shaft (renamed the "Tomb
of Osiris" or "Osiris Shaft" in 1998).
subway connecting Khephren's Pyramid City to Cheops' Pyramid City has been discovered
in the course of recent excavations. This had been cut through the living rock.
That Kinnaman was writing a year or so after this story broke the international press tells us that his reference to "the great tunnel connecting the Sphinx with the Second Pyramid" was in fact an allusion to the causeway uncovered at the same time. This is described as a "subterranean pathway" by AMORC founder H. Spencer Lewis' in his book Symbolic Prophecy of The Great Pyramid, first published in 1936. To quote pages 186 and 187:
In 1909 the first subterranean temple near the Pyramids was found and a passageway between it and the Sphinx hitherto unknown was also discovered at the same time. Dr. Hassan's recent excavations have disclosed that this subterranean pathway is, as a matter of fact, a gigantic stone causeway, 22 meters wide and about 450 metres long. It connects the second pyramid to the Sphinx and to the temple of the Sphinx adjoining.
is likely therefore that Kinnaman writing the revised version of his monograph
in c. 1936/37 gained his information either from Lewis's 1936 book, or from the
AMORC founder's own source, which is stated to be an article written by Hamilton
M. Wright about Hassan's discoveries, published in January 1935. Where Kinnaman
got the idea that the walls were paved with granite remains unclear.
Hassan wrote about the subway/osiris shaft in Excavations at Giza IV (published 1944). See <http://www.towers-online.co.uk/pages/shafted.htm#Evidence>
further contemporary newspaper reports see:
For more on H. Spencer Lewis, the founder of an American Rosicrucian society (AMORC), who wrote about Hassan's excavation of the subway in Symbolic Prophecy of the Great Pyramid (1936), see http://www.towers-online.co.uk/pages/shafted6.htm.
See also Stephen Mehler's article "The Search for Kinnaman's Entrance", previously published in Atlantis Rising 10 (Winter 1997) at http://www.atlantisrising.com/backissues/issue10/ar10search.html