How old is the sphinx? Mystery of the Sphinx....documentary at its best.

Apr 23, 2002 (Updated Sep 9, 2004)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Intellectually stimulating, visually beautiful, thoroughly researched.

Cons:None of note, wonderful.

The Bottom Line: Buy this documentary for an exhaustive dissection of the greatest historical controversy of our times. Outstanding science and history.


Apparently, the history of the worlds greatest statue is not as clear cut as you might imagine.

Ask the average Egyptologist, and they will tell you that the Sphinx was built by the builder of the second greatest pyramid at Giza, the Pharoh Chefren, and that it is just short of five thousand years old.

You will get a quite different and fascinating explanation from the makers of “Mystery of the Sphinx”.

Egyptologist John Anthony West, in researching the work of one R. A. Schwaller DeLubicz , observed that the Great Sphinx showed signs of water erosion.

Water erosion? Any of you with even a glancing familiarity with the setting of the Great Sphinx will realize that there is a conspicuous absence of water, by precipitation or otherwise. This caused West to postulate that the great Sphinx was in fact far more ancient than was previously accepted…ancient enough to have been in existence at a time when rain fell on the Giza plateau. This has not been the case for some ten thousand years. His subsequent investigations shook the world of archeology to its core.

Mystery of the Sphinx is a ninety minute special, hosted by Charlton Heston, being an extended version of the one hour documentary previously shown on NBC, first airing on November 10th 1993. West was awarded an Emmy for his work on this documentary.

Commencing by telling the background, we are introduced to the world of the Sphinx. Heston narrates over beautiful panoramas of Giza and of the Sphinx herself, as he lays out the basic known history of the monument in present times, and the long list of explorers who have obsessed upon its mysterious origins. We are familiarized with her “vital statistics” that we may better understand the profound awe which this statue inspires. Newspaper cuttings, ancient papyri, and maps are all used to help set the scene and the tone. The documentary is intellectually stimulating from its first moments, and also beautiful to look at! Many scenes are also enhanced with music inspired by the musical traditions of the region. Heston also makes clear that nothing has ever been discovered which firmly identifies who built the Sphinx.

West is then introduced. Interviewed in an informal comfortable setting, he describes his efforts to acquire professional validation for his ideas…..for some, it seems, his ideas were too hot. Despite the clarity of West’s arguments, he could not immediately acquire an ally from the field of geology, willing to put his neck out and face the head-on opposition of a legion of archeologists! Into this fray, he explains, came Professor Robert Schoch, geologist at Boston university.

Professor Schoch introduces himself as someone who decided to get involved with the project because he is of a curious nature. After a brief interview, Schoch is seen in many scenes giving us a tour of the Sphinx enclosure. He points out the rain erosion, and these scenes are intercut with animations which further elucidate how the process occurred. Schoch also spends time explaining why rain erosion is the only feasible explanation.

Quite the mystery eh?

Well, mystery may turn out to be an understatement.

Heston goes on to explain to us, the ramifications of the Sphinx being more than twice its accepted age reach far beyond the Giza plateau. If that is the case, then an advanced civilization must have been present in, or journeyed to, lower Egypt nine thousand years ago. No human civilization capable of producing the Sphinx or anything like it has been discovered.

West now explains to us how this controversy sky-rocketed, when Schoch and he were invited to the convention of the Geological Society of America. Here Schoch found to his delight that hundreds of his esteemed colleagues supported his findings.

And then comes the real juicy clash of Titans!

Now West and Schoch were established, verified, with professional consensual validation. And utterly in opposition to the entire Egyptological community!

Next the documentary begins to introduce us to the “opposition”. One of the most interesting things to observe in this documentary is the reaction of an establishment which feels threatened . From this point onward, the documentary illustrates how even such scientifically validated evidence as West and Schoch had come up with would not sway the Egyptologists. Fortuitous that their surroundings were conducive to it, the Egyptologists buried their heads in the sand.

Cue up, for example, one James F. Romano, Egyptologist, Brooklyn Museum. Romano came across to me immediately as an angry individual. A good choice to illustrate the vehemence with which the theory was received, Romano is doubly illustrative, as his counter to the argument involved a fundamental misunderstanding of it. Arguing from the standpoint that the Sphinx’s head is as old as the body, something not upheld by West, he made my skin crawl with his sarcastic manner. I think James needs a big hug. Perhaps it was hot under the lights or something.

The two camps came head to head at Americas most prestigious Scientific forum…the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science. We view fragments of the debate, and interviews with those present, all illustrating the painfully limping response of Egyptology in the face of the evidence…..”It cant be true because we cant explain it”

After reviewing more contributing geological evidence from the floor of the Sphinx enclosure, obtained by sonar, we move onto the face of the statue itself.

It has long been argued by the Egyptologists that the face of the Sphinx represents the face of the Pharoh Chefren. Indeed, Dr Mark Lehner, considered the worlds foremost authority on the Sphinx, was happy to claim this resemblance as supportive evidence that Chefren built it. This is not the way that West works. Working scientifically, we are shown how West consulted New York Detective Sgt. Frank Domingo. Domingo wrote a manual on the art and technique of facial identification. We see Domingo go to Egypt and take direct and exacting measurements of both the face of the Sphinx, and the face of the Pharoh Chefren, from an exquisite statue of him present in the Cairo museum.

In a graceful touché, before Domingo reveals his findings, the producers slip in another fragment of James Romano. This time, Romano is describing how to prove someone else wrong…why does this not surprise me?…..He goes to some lengths to state that Egyptian statues are accurate depictions of the subjects, not mere symbolic representations. He is an authority of course, and therefore Frank Domingo’s then revealed findings that the statue Chefren is NOT the same person as the Sphinx are something he would surely back. Right?

This is the beauty of the way that West and his team work. Never happy with mere appearances, West and his team give us hard evidence, from experts in their fields, for each of the claims that they make. By comparison, Egyptology is putting up a very poor show.

The question of the age of the Sphinx now effectively settled in the documentary, we move on to the question of who DID build it, and why.

To explore this question more closely, we return to the Giza Plateau, this time to concentrate on the Sphinx temple, adjacent to the statue, and built with gigantic blocks which were carved out of the very Sphinx enclosure itself. Some of these megaliths weigh up to 200 tons. Here again we meet Robert Schoch, who tours us through this monument and explains the evidence for its blocks coming from the Sphinx enclosure.

Egyptologist claim that this temple was built with ropes, pulleys, levers, and a heck of a lot of manpower.

As usual, these flights of the imagination are insufficient for West, and we are introduced to an expert rigger (riggers are persons responsible for cranes and their use) and Chief Engineer, Jesse Warren. Mr. Warren explains that his crane, one of the largest in the world, even today takes months to get set up to perform a lift of an object weighing two hundred tons. We are given yet more evidence that no matter who it was who built these monuments, they had an advanced technology which we absolutely do not understand.

Next we are given a beautiful visual tour of the Temple of Luxor, with West overdubbing. Fabulous long scenes, including a viewing of the temple from dawn till dusk by time lapse photography show us its splendor. West explains how many years of research by DeLubicz (who put West onto the Sphinx debate in the first place) showed this monument to prove the Egyptians had a knowledge of mathematical harmony and proportion which predated the supposed discovery of these principals by the Greeks by one thousand years. What other knowledge did the Egyptians have, and where exactly did they get it? There seems no end to the possibilities. Certain enough to say that ropes and pulley and levers were not the limit of Egyptian technology.

And the evidence just keeps coming…..the repairs to the Sphinx, the antiquity of the Sphinx temple, on and on, case upon case, the documentary is an amazing and absorbing array of illustrations that the Sphinx is older than we think, and its builders were smart cookies.

The finale of the video, a more speculative section than the others, offers an interesting, possibility for the origins of the Sphinx. Richard Hoagland presents the argument, based on the Viking mission photographs, that the Martian surface, in the region known as Cydonia, has a monument more massive than the Sphinx, but which also represents a half man/half lion. I am not a particular fan of this theory, mainly because I agree that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which I don’t consider these photographs to be. If however you like this kind of stuff, it is no less rigorously explored than any of the other ideas in the documentary. Richard Hoagland won the Angstrom medal for excellence in science for his work on the Mars project.

In summing up then, he is a 90 minute documentary, beautifully shot and illustrated, tastefully graced with original score, full of excellent evidence for a theory which overthrows the whole of human history, that most of us have never heard of. Any takers?

This video is available at Amazon, or direct from John Anthony West, at WWW.JAWEST.COM. It retails for $24.95 with $4.95 S+H. I think you’ll love it.


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