How Egypt Lost Its Spiritual Archaeology

How Secrets, Politics, Ego, and Mistranslations Have Hidden Many Ancient Truths

Let us begin with a book and a review posted online for it. The book in question is titled Breaking the Mirror of Heaven: The Conspiracy to Suppress the Voice of Ancient Egypt, written by Robert Bauval, an engineer and scholar of Egyptian history, and Ahmed Osman, and Egyptian researcher and author of several books on ancient mysteries.

How Egypt Lost Its Spiritual Archaeology


The book explores major questions concerning ancient Egypt but presents these from the standpoint of modernity’s failure to answer them. In Egypt, administrative structures wield total power and are invariably centralized with a single Minister at the top of the proverbial institutional pyramid, and the Office of Antiquities is no different. It is for this reason that the authors focus exclusively on the role played by the most famous Egyptian archaeologist in the country, a temperamental extrovert by the name of Zahi Hawass, household name to students of ancient Egypt.

To position the book as a study of what happened to Egyptian research under Hawass, consider the following review of the book, quoted in its entirety and titled “Scathing indictment of former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass”, written in 2012, the year that the book was published:

Prolific writers with in-depth knowledge of ancient Egypt, Robert Bauval and Ahmed Osman have teamed up to produce a scathing indictment of former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass. While the middle third of the book, some 118 pages or so, takes us back to a general history of Egyptian rule by foreign powers, the first and last third sections expose the recently dismissed Hawass, characterising him as a thief, braggart, opportunist, and government servant who frequently indulged in cronyism to further his own reputation. We learn, first of all, that Hawass was schooled for his Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania with funding from the Edgar Cayce Institute, now called the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE). In fact, by pulling some strings, to speak, he was given Fulbright scholarship because Hugh Lynn Cayce, Edgar Cayce’s son, knew an ARE person on the Fulbright scholarship board. Bauval and Osman also point out that father Edgar had strong connections with some very high Freemasons. The Masons have always traced their mystery school heritage back to ancient Egypt. Understandably, they would be delighted if Edgar’s prediction that an Atlantean Hall of Records were to be found underneath the Sphinx and the Pyramids. Our authors continue, “Having said this, it must be strongly pointed out that Freemasonry has been banned in Egypt since 1964, and in the eyes of many (if not all) Arabs – especially staunch Islamists and anti-Zionists Freemasonry is synonymous with Zionism and, consequently, loathed as an evil influence. Hawass – perhaps naively – let himself get deeply involved with the Edgar Cayce Foundation and its covert search for the Hall of Records at Giza, and in doing so, especially with the possible Masonic and `new world order’ objectives of his patrons, could be viewed by some as placing Egypt’s national security at risk.” When Hawass completed his Ph.D. in Pennsylvania in 1987, he returned to Egypt and was appointed general director of antiquities for the Giza Pyramids late that year. As time went on, Hawass became a favourite of Egypt’s First Lady, Suzanne Mubarek. He was appointed to increasingly prestigious posts, not the least of which was head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. You’ll remember seeing him on a variety of television shows, with his Indiana Jones-style Stetson hat and denim shirt, directing archaeological explorations and trying to keep us in suspense with the hope of finding important ancient artefacts, which he never really did. Funded by the National Geographic Society, the History Channel, Fox Network, the | Discovery Channel, CNN, and others, Bauval and Osman estimate Hawass made a great deal of money from his TV-related exploits. What we know now, since the overthrow of the Mubarek regime, is that the friendship between Hawass, Mrs. Mubarek, and other high-ranking Egyptian officials, “according many legal complaints now lodged with Egypt’s attorney general, resulted in the alleged siphoning or diverting of funds originally meant for archaeological facilities and restoration, as well as an upsurge in international black markets, as attested now by Interpol and other agencies involved in the prevention of antiquities trafficking.” As another Egyptian archaeologist said some years ago, “…we all know that our archaeology and monuments bring in more foreign currency than the Suez Canal, so where is all that money going?” One top official even resigned his post, claiming a government employee “mafia” clan controlled the Giza plateau for 20 years. He said he had discovered employees were involved in tomb robbing, “siphoning off ticket revenues, and tendering out restoration projects to favoured companies for commission money.”

But then, in late January of last year, the revolution in Cairo began. Slogans by protesters in Tahrir Square in late May included: “No to Zahi Hawass!… Shut up Zahi Hawass!… The People Want Zahi Hawass to Go on Trial!… Hawass is a Thief!… A Spy for America!” In the interim months, Hawass had bounced around within Mubarek’s cabinet, sometimes completely out, and sometimes back in power. Finally, on 17 July 2011, the new prime minister dismissed Hawass from his post as Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs. The press reported that on 30 July, as he “walked out of the ministry’s building for the last time, hundreds of protesters mobbed him, shouting… `thief, thief!’ The security police barely managed to get Hawass into a taxi while protesters surrounded the vehicle…” But, the driver was able to get past the angry crowd, and Hawass was driven safely away to his home with nobody hurt. As I said earlier, the middle portion of the book recounts a general history of Egypt. The authors show how many times the country, since ancient days, has been overrun by foreign powers who proceeded to loot its treasures – the Assyrians, the Persians, the Romans, the Ottomans, the French, the British, and many others.

It is also pointed out Egyptians themselves have done little to protect and preserve their ancient sites and artefacts. It’s been primarily Western Europeans who explored, found, and then carted away many precious relics in order to keep them safe from local robbers who often used ancient stones for building their own structures, and even ground up mummies, selling the dust for its supposed medicinal value.

While Dr. Hawass may have begun with the intent of finding, protecting and preserving his country’s archaeological heritage as a matter of pride for his nation, fame and greed and an inflated ego obviously caught up with him and subverted his initial mission. It is now up to the Egyptian people under a new government to carry the banner of continued discovery and preservation of their precious legacy. This is a crucial time in their history.

As Bauval and Osman conclude, “Egypt’s future, and consequently the future of antiquities, hangs precariously in the balance. Time will tell in which direction it will go.”

Even as I write this review, events are unfolding that shed more light on the situation in Egypt, as well as on the rest of the Arab world. The country’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, on the eve of his first visit to the US and to the United Nations in New York, was quoted as saying the West “needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values… if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.” Mr. Morsi recently gave a 90-minute interview in Cairo with the New York Times, and I recommend you view the Times’ 23 September article about that interview. It is relevant to our story about the past and current plight of archaeology in Egypt.


Of the several explosive claims made in this review, which first appeared in New Dawn magazine issue #135, perhaps the most ironic is the claim that Zahi Hawass was able to become Minister of Antiquities in Egypt because he needed a PhD and he received Fulbright funding to visit the US for two years and study at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), where he was awarded that advanced de. Hawass has always denied that he received such support from the Cayce foundation. Such acknowledgement would be deeply embarrassing to him in Egypt, because Cayce was a psychic, an American, and a Christian. Such an association is not a good way to gain professional credibility in Egypt.

But was this claim true? Did Hawass receive American help to assume the highest administrative position in all of egyptology?

It seems well to look into his educational past, where clues to this claim might lie, for in such a past, early on in his studies, before embarking on his journey, he might have been willing to acknowledge the sources of his funding.

The best place to start is in his UPenn dissertation itself. What did he say concerning the people who supported his studies? Specifically, it was claimed that the son of Edgar Cayce, Hugh Lynn Cayce, had connections to the Fulbright Foundation, whose goal it is to fund and facilitate study abroad for American college students.

Did Hawass really take Fulbright money for his doctoral work? And if so, from whom? If we look at the UPenn library, we can see that he in fact received a PhD at the University in 1987, as his dissertation is listed in their system. The work is titled



I felt sure to acquire a copy of this work because every PhD dissertation in the US is registered at UMI, a body that keeps and can sell a digital version of the thesis (an architectural history of UMI is here). UMI is now called ProQuest. When I completed my own PhD, I had to sit before my university’s head research librarian as he sat for hours, reviewing every word for spelling, every citation, every reference, every point in the bibliography to ensure that it was perfect before submitting to UMI. That’s what all PhDs in the US have to do, so I figured Hawass, too, had done this, and that his PhD thesis was digitally available at UMI. However, his thesis isn’t listed at UMI, and, while listed at the Upenn library, the thesis is not viewable by the public, only to UPenn scholars.

Fortunately, a friend and professor at UPenn emailed me a copy of Hawass’s Ph.D. thesis (829 pages) — and as it happens, I later found the dissertation freely available at my old institution Harvard University here. The dissertation’s Acknowledgement section makes for intriguing reading.

As his thesis acknowledges, Hawass did receive Fulbright support, as Bauval and Osman reported. Hawass never mentions Cayce by name, but something makes the claim that the Cayce family got Hawass the Fulbright money very credible. This anomaly is difficult, perhaps impossible to reconcile: something seemed strange about Hawass receiving Fulbright funding. Many of my student friends at American universities received Fulbright scholarships to study abroad. But I had never heard of a foreigner receiving Fulbright money to study in the US. In fact, that’s not even legal – the Fulbright Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government. It is a US-taxpayer funded program for Americans, not foreigners. The eligibility requirements to even apply for such funds make evident that a student cannot be a foreigner:

Applicants must be citizens or nationals of the United States of America at the time of the application deadline. Permanent residents are not eligible.:


So how did Hawass, an Egyptian citizen living and working outside the US, manage to receive Fulbright funds for PhD work in the United States for several years in the 1980s? Obviously this would be impossible without an inside connection. The claim that the Cayce foundation, through Hugh Lynn, facilitated entry for Hawass into an ivy league university is clearly what is responsible for making his career. Without such an advanced degree, considered far more prestigious in Egypt than a degree from an Egyptian university, Hawass would have been just one of many scholars in the field. But instead, Hawass returned to Egypt and after later assuming the Minister position, helped the Cayce researchers investigate whether a Hall of Records (as told by the Cayce trance readings) existed under the Sphinx and whether such a room was a repository of all the knowledge gained by humankind from the beginning of time to the end of our present era.

One claim in the book is regrettably overstated or entirely distorted:

Hawass – perhaps naively – let himself get deeply involved with the Edgar Cayce Foundation and its covert search for the Hall of Records at Giza, and in doing so, especially with the possible Masonic and `new world order’ objectives of his patrons, could be viewed by some as placing Egypt’s national security at risk.”

Without doubt, the assumption that the A.R.E.’s search for a possible Hall of Records was “covert” is inaccurate. On the contrary, this Hall of Records was referenced in books written by Edgar Evans Cayce (e.g., The Outer Limits of Edgar Cayce’s Power: The Cases That Baffled the Legendary Psychic), Mark Thurston (e.g., The Edgar Cayce Handbook for Creating Your Future), and numerous other authors; the reference appears in so many publications before Hawass even completed his own Ph.D. makes any motivation for some kind of “covert” aspect to this search impossible.

It is true that Hawass facilitated projects investigating aspects and descriptions concerning hidden structures and history of Egypt which the Cayce readings dated back to at least 10,490 B.C., as told by Edgar Cayce while in deep trance in the 1930s and ‘40s.

The Freemason connection argued by Bauval and Osman, too, is inaccurate if it is represented as some kind of “in-group” with which Cayce spent time or otherwise associated. Cayce was against any secret societies, and often said that the Bible was the only source for his own spiritual understanding, as it should be for all. There is no mention of Freemasonry in any of the hundred or so books I’ve read on Edgar Cayce; this is a false reference. Nor would the Freemasons ever accept the material in the Cayce readings, which is decidedly against the notion of an institutional structure of any kind as a “broker of secrets,” precisely what the Freemasons are.

Nevertheless, Cayce was deeply religious, having claimed to have read the Bible once for each year of his life. Therefore, when the Egyptian government realized that Hawass’s work was funded and inspired by an organization based on the work of a Christian psychic, Hawass was called to give account of this. In what can only be imagined as a move to save his career, Hawass then expelled all the Cayce researchers from the Sphinx, and forever refused to allow any future research in any ancient monument.

For the Cayce foundation, this about-face must have felt like bitter thanks for the extensive support that it had given to Hawass. More importantly, the “new Hawass,” who overnight became the chief voice of skepticism and proponent of orthodox Egyptology, forbade all important discoveries underway even into the late 1990s.


To show the suddenness of Hawass’s abandonment of further research, consider the following video. The relatively low quality image, sourced from VHS tape, is a 1999 show which aired on American television. In it, Hawass is shown leading the show host deep into then-recent excavations 100 feet below and near the base of the Great Pyramid. The intrigue and fanfare of the first segments of the show lead up to the final eight minutes, and to a poignant moment when Hawass makes reference to Edgar Cayce, after taking us through an elaborate set of passageways that lead to the tomb of Osiris and a tunnel whose location Hawass credits explicitly to Cayce’s readings: “psychic brought us back to it, but to be fair, I did not excavate this tunnel yet, then I really don’t know where it leads us”:

As the person who posted this program on YouTube writes,

Although follow ups were promised, nothing has been revealed about the “Tomb of Osiris” since the airing of this program. No one seems to be sure where the 4 pillars with hieroglyphs are, or if any further excavations have been done in the other passageways that were discovered.

Although this “live” production was broadcast on American TV, it is the only time when this incredible find is discussed to the broad public. Indeed, this was the bold and exploratory Hawass, who often referred to himself as “the real Indiana Jones. Soon after, however, Hawass turned away from this dig, as well as from the exploration under the Sphinx, and any work proposed by the Cayce readings, even though they proved to be accurate. Cayce predicted, for example, that there were structures inside the Sphinx, and Hawass entered these, later claiming that nothing was there. And although clearly, 24 years later, Hawass has by now excavated this tunnel under the Giza plateau and knows where it leads, no one is discussing anything underneath the plateau. I’m informed by a tour guide that all entry to these tunnels we see in this program have remained forbidden, even to Egyptian scholars. It’s a literal cover-up. What did he find?

The granite sarcophagus shown 100 under the area of the Great Pyramid is, as we can see, of the same design, material, and size as any of ones in the Serapeum at Saqqara. As we see Hawass say, the lid alone weighs 16 tons.


What of Hawass’s work on the Sphinx? Concerning this monument and the Hall of Records, Hawass and his colleague Mark Lehner drilled some holes around the Sphinx in order to assess the water level under the structure. In a recording of this dig, we see Hawass forcefully denying that anything exists under the Sphinx:

“We found…nothing,” Hawass emphasizes. That might have been so, except for the article that he authored shortly thereafter, in a 1997 publication. In this article, titled “The Discovery of the Harbors of Khufu and Khafre at Giza,” Hawass reports the findings from this drilling operation. Importantly, Hawass writes that his dig team encountered a granite layer under the Sphinx:

At the 16 m. depth the core drill was on a hard surface which could not be penetrated. From this depth, the pounders, in the form of a metal I-beam, brought up a piece of red granite about 10 cm. broad. When the cylindrical sampler with a toothed end was turned on the bottom of the hole, it scraped a hard surface and brought up small chips and particles of red granite. They could be from granite blocks which fell over the edge of the quarry during the IVth dyn. construction or a result of later robberies of the Sphinx and the Khafre lower temple, since both structures were sheathed in granite.

Let’s ponder this astonishing discovery. Granite is discovered 16 meters under the Sphinx, and rather than explore or rule out any causes for this stone — is it a chamber, for example? — Hawass considers it trash, and, sight unseen, dismisses it. How the discovery of red granite under the Sphinx equates to “nothing” when it is the material of which pyramids are typically made, is more than irrational; it is wholly anti-Egyptological. What then, is the egyptologist’s definition of “a finding” if not a discovery of a potential structure under the ground? What competent Egyptologist would choose ignore such a find? Perhaps one who has been pressured to conceal what he knows.

Perhaps all of this rash judgment is characteristic of Hawass, whose temperament and decisions have proven to be professional setbacks “in a once-stellar career that floundered after Hawass was forced out of the antiquities ministry following Egypt’s 2011 uprising,” as is quoted in an investigation of his involvement with a theft at the Great Pyramid, access to which he had allowed during his tenure as Minister, such that “when dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Hawass was tainted by association, and despite hanging on to his position for a few months, he later left under a cloud of never-proven corruption allegations.”

No doubt an energetic and enthusiastic researcher with an indelibly alpha streak like Hawass is what archaeology needs, and his self-comparison with the fictional Indiana Jones character of Steven Spielberg films may be inevitable. But Jones was a bookish introvert and worked alone and without the power of an administrative position. Hawass and Jones would in this sense have been adversaries, for Hawass must come first in his world, and this comes with many temptations, political entanglements, and appears to have worn straight through the legendary patience of the Egyptian people. Why the spaces that he found, based on the Cayce readings, have remained off limits to the public and to scholars, however, is a mystery as vexing as any other in egyptology. This question is larger and more important than the career of one man.


What I learned, off the record from various sources, is that the messages in these forbidden structures so deeply contradicted the Disney-esque version of egyptology that the public has been told that the government could not reconcile this messaging without affecting the country’s primary source of revenue, its tourist industry. So extremely diverse would these hidden monuments’ messages be that none of it could be allowed to leak to the public. Of this we could speculate volumes, but only two possibilities exist as to what was discovered. Either these discovered structures tell of the “correct” version of Egypt’s past, against what egyptologists have believed by their superficial reading of the hieroglyphic record, or a historical timeline has been discovered which reveals the past, the present, and the future (as claimed by the Hall of Records in the Cayce readings, which have themselves never been proven wrong). and this information is threatening to the stability of institutionalized Egyptian interests.


On the first possibility, it is clear that a distorted narrative of Dynastic Egypt is on record, and is wrong on several crucial counts. The first mischaracterization, for instance, concerns the most basic claim of all: that ancient Egyptians believed in gods. In fact, there is no word for “God” in ancient Egypt. The word that has been found is ntr, from which (thanks to subsequent Greek and Latin derivations) we have the word nature. The ancient Egyptians witnessed forces at work in their world and universe, and acknowledged these are different natures of an underlying energy that would unite and beget all things. When, in the 18th and 19th century, the first Western explorers began to excavate throughout Egypt, it is they who invented the word “God,” given that “Nature” would not seem acceptable as a supercategory of causality. A clarification of this fundamental historical distortion is offered in numerous scholars, and perhaps most lucidly expressed in Moustafa Gadalla’s book, Egyptian Cosmology: The Animated Universe:

The Ancient Egyptian word, neter, and its feminine form netert, have been wrongly, and possibly intentionally, translated to god and goddess, by almost all academicians. Neteru (plural of neter/netert) are the divine principles and functions of the One Supreme God.

This tells us that egyptology is deeply inaccurate on several major points. What did the ancient Egyptians really write? On the second possibility, we can turn to the Cayce readings in a future essay. And before all of this, I had a conversation with Robert Schoch at Boston University concerning returning to dig at the Sphinx. I can talk about that another time, if anyone is interested.


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