The Sphinx (at Giza) is considered by many to be considerably older than the usually accepted 3rd millennium BC. Its construction has been generally attributed to the Fourth Dynasty ruler Khafre, circa 2500 BC, whose head is believed to be currently represented on the Sphinx.
The controversial French scholar Rene Schwaller de Lubicz carried out an investigation of a number of Egypt’s ancient monuments. He was probably the first to remark on the apparent water erosion, on the Sphinx, as evidence of an earlier date for its construction than was previously accepted. He first voiced his views in 1949 and expanded his theories in 1957 . His work has now been translated into English(a).
A recent article(h) on the Giza for Humanity website reveals the work of Shérif El Morsi, an Egyptian researcher, who has documented evidence of ‘relatively recent’ incursion by seawater onto the Giza Plateau.
Michael Baigent has pointed out[141.167] that Dr. Zahi Hawass in 1992 ‘reported that analysis of the rear leg of the Sphinx proved the earliest level of masonry around the body dated instead from the Old Kingdom period , that is from about 2700 BC to 2160 BC. The pyramids were constructed in the middle part of this period…….. For if Khafre had built the Sphinx along with his pyramid around 2500 BC, and if repairs to its heavily eroded body were made before 2160 BC, then this severe erosion covered up by the facing stones must have occurred in only 340 years – perhaps less: an extremely unlikely event. In practical terms, given the extent and depth of the erosion, it seems impossible.’
John Anthony West was inspired by the writings of de Lubicz and enticed the American geologist Robert Schoch to inspect the Sphinx and give his professional assessment of the age of the monument. Schoch‘s conclusion was that the Sphinx had suffered extensive water erosion and should be dated no later than 7000 to 5000 BC. On a second trip to the Sphinx Schoch and West brought Thomas Dobecki, a geophysicist, to carry out additional tests. The results reinforced Schoch’s initial conclusions. However, Colin Reader, an English geologist, disputes Schoch’s conclusion(I) and explains why in an extensive 1997/9 paper(j).
When Schoch announced his findings they were greeted with hostile criticism from conventional Egyptologists. However, experts in Schoch’s discipline have agreed in growing numbers with his published views, but the debate is far from over. For an overview of the case for an early date follow this link(b).
One Egyptologist who postulated an early date for the Sphinx was Cairo-born Moustafa Gadalla, who concluded that “there is no other rational answer except that the water erosion occurred at the end of the last Ice Age c.15,000-10,000 BCE”(e).
The German researcher Klaus Aschenbrenner has added his support for an early date for the Sphinx. He claims that the water erosion was caused by acid rain resulting from a 7600BC asteroid impact postulated by Alexander Tollman.
These proposed early dates pale into insignificance when contrasted with the claims made by two Ukrainian researchers at a conference in Sofia in 2008, when they proposed a date of 800,000 years ago(n).
There is by now little doubt that the head of the Sphinx that we see today is quite different from its original size and shape. West had a New York City police artist compare the head of the Sphinx with a known head of Khafre and demonstrated that they had totally different facial structures. Comparative photographs are to be found in one of West’s books. A further anomaly is the fact that the head of the Sphinx is disproportionately smaller than the rest of the body suggesting a radical recarving of a larger head in antiquity. Robert Schoch has an interesting article(c) on his website, written by his colleague, Dr. Colette Dowell, regarding the shape of the Sphinx’s head. Colin Reader, who disagrees with Schoch’s dating of the Sphinx does, however, share his view regarding the size of the Sphinx’s head(l), an opinion that is also held by historical architect, Dr Jonathan Foyle(k).
The late Alan Alford argued that the commonly accepted idea that the Sphinx represents a lion may be incorrect and that in fact it is a model of a dog, possibly intended as an image of Anubis the divine guardian of the Earth and the Underworld. This idea was recently endorsed and investigated extensively in a fascinating book by Robert Temple, who has also pointed out(m) other anomalies with the shape of the Sphinx apart from the size of the head.
Bassam el Shamma, an Egyptian Egyptologist, has recently promoted the idea of the previous existence of a second sphinx on the Giza Plateau. His theory, based on a range of evidence, is outlined on the Atlantis Online website(d). The idea of a second Sphink is also supported by Gerry Cannon and Joseph P. J. Westlake in a paper also available online(f).
Robert Bauval whose book, Secret Chamber, delves deeply into the subject of hidden chambers on the Giza Plateau and has excerpts available on the internet(p).
It should also be kept in mind that sphinxes were found in a number of other cultures particularly Mesopotamia (see image right). Further east in India we have the Purushamriga(q), while in Burma the sphinx is known as a Manussiha. Back in the Mediterranean many images of sphinxes have been found in Greece, where lately (2014) two sphinxes were recently found in a 300 BC tomb(g), each weighing about 1.5 tons. However, in my opinion, the claim(o) of a huge sphinx in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains is nothing more than a case of mistaken identity, an example of pareidolia.
Closer to home the Welsh Griffon (Gryphon) is clearly a local form of sphinx. Lee R. Kerr is the author of Griffin Quest – Investigating Atlantis, in which he sought support for the Minoan Hypothesis based on his pre-supposed link between griffins and Atlantis or as he puts it “whatever the Griffins mythological meaning, the Griffin also appears to tie Santorini to Crete, to Avaris, to Plato, and thus to Atlantis, more than any other single symbol.” I don’t see it.
(e) See: Archive 2937
(h) See: Archive 2635
(j) See: Archive 2646
(o) See: Archive 3003
(p) See: Archive 3598
Sceptics regarding the existence of Atlantis have been around since the time of Plato. The first such critic was assumed to be Aristotle, a pupil of Plato’s, who apparently denounced the Atlantis tale as an invention. However, this presumed scepticism of Aristotle’s has now been seriously challenged by Thorwald C. Franke in a 2012 book, Aristotle and Atlantis specifically dealing with the subject. Nevertheless, Aristotle does record the existence a large island in the Atlantic known to the Phoenicians as Antilia, inadvertently supporting Plato’s story(i).
Franke has recently outlined the extensive support for the existence of Atlantis from the earliest times in his recent German language book. He has followed that with a YouTube video(j) in which he relates how scepticism became more extensive in the 19th century.
Many modern commentators believe that in the interests of dramatic effect Plato heavily embellished the core truth underlying the story, namely that of an ancient submerged civilisation.
However, when we consider modern sceptics we find that they have been provided with unlimited ammunition by the poor scholarship of many Atlantis supporters and the outright ravings of the likes of Blavatsky, Steiner, Cayce, and a profusion of other authors, who claim to have channelled information regarding Atlantis.
Edwin Ramage, in his essay on Atlantis, makes the interesting comment that “believers tend to overshadow the sceptics for the simple reason that a positive theory, whether it is simple or elaborate, tends to be more attractive and to make better reading than any attempt at refutation, no matter how well taken it may be.” This is probably akin to referenda questions being framed by governments in a manner that favours a Yes vote that will provide the outcome that they want. This is because most people prefer to say Yes rather than No.
However, if the Atlantis narrative has any truth in it, the legitimate criticisms of sceptics must be given due consideration. One such sceptic is Paul Jordan who has produced a highly critical work on the subject. Jason Colavito is another vocal non-believer and has written a considerable amount on the subject(d). A number of other websites(b)(c)(e) can also be recommended.
I recently came across a sceptic review of Atlantis theories by Justin Spring which I thought contained some novel views and although I totally disagree with his conclusions, I feel it should be given a reading(g).
While I expect that few sceptics will be reading this entry, I would recommend to anyone a paper by Karla Mclaren, a former New Age ‘believer’ who developed into a sceptic(f).
A 2015 survey by Chapman University of California was repeated in 2016, which suggested that nearly 40% of American believe that an advanced prehistoric civilisation, such as Atlantis, existed, causing consternation among sceptics(h). Why they found it so depressing is hard to understand, since popular belief is no guarantee that it is supported by reality. After all, it was once commonly thought that the sun revolved around the earth!
There are times when I regret that I have not had a university education and then along comes a qualified academic who manages to remove any such feeling. One of those is Seth Stein, a professor at Northwestern University, who specialises in plate tectonics, who was reported in early 2018(k) to have proposed that “one of the strongest reasons to dispel Atlantis as a true ancient civilization is the fact that we haven’t found it.” This asinine comment shows a total abandonment of critical thinking, because he seems to think that because something has not been found, proves that it does not exist. For example, before Heinrich Schliemann, Troy did exist, but had yet to be located. Professor Stein’s stupid statement is also built on a flawed understanding of what Plato said or more correctly, did not say. Plato never described Atlantis as a continent, as assumed by Stein and it can be reasonably argued that our Atlantic Ocean where he sought Atlantis was not the Atlantic ‘Sea’ referred to by Plato. I suggest that Stein sticks to earth sciences and leave Atlantis to others.
*(f) http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/(link broken April 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20180605101330/http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/*
(i) Strabo, II, 102 and XII, 598. Cf. Proclus In Timaeum 61a (Diehl I, p. 197).
Paul Jordan studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University and for many years he has written and produced historical and scientific programmes for British television. He is the author of a number of books on history and prehistory.
He can be fairly described as a devout sceptic, who has written a broad overview of the Atlantis debate that is worth reading, although at least one commentator has described Jordan’s style as ‘splenetic(a).
Georges-Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon (1707-1788) was an eminent French naturalist who ruffled a few feathers when he carried out extensive experiments in order to calculate the age of the Earth. He arrived at a figure of 74,832 years that ran counter to the views of many of his mid-18th century contemporaries.
He also commented that the Atlantis story was an “ancient tradition that is not devoid of probability” and proposed that Atlantis had been situated on landmasses that had connected Ireland with the Azores and with America, although his reference to Atlantis is not as specific as it should have been.
In 1749 Buffon speculated in his Histoire et théorie de la terre, that the Mediterranean had been dry until an earthquake allowed the Atlantic to pour in.
John S. Bowman in his The Quest for Atlantis paraphrasing Buffon wrote that “this rush of water washed away Atlantis”(p.108), clearly reflects the ambiguity of Buffon’s words, which were intended to suggest that the inward rush of water into the Mediterranean somehow destroyed Atlantis in the Atlantic!
Buffon also proposed that the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Malta and others were just the mountain tops of the formerly dry Mediterranean. Some have erroneously linked Buffon’s two statements and concluded that Buffon believed that Atlantis had been situated in the Mediterranean. It is understandable, given that Buffon’s statement regarding the breaching of an isthmus at Gibraltar leading to the destruction of Atlantis follows on immediately after the non-specific passage about the Atlantic. Today, it is easier to believe that water gushing into the Mediterranean could destroy a civilisation located there rather than damage land in the Atlantic, where the only effects there might be a lowering of the sea level and expansion of the land area.
However, what is not generally known is that at that time many Europeans who accepted that Atlantis existed in the Atlantic, usually at different locations, attributed its demise to events in the Mediterranean. Tournefort thought Atlantis had been submerged by an outflow of water from the Mediterranean following an earthquake there. Bory de St. Vincent proposed that volcanic events in the Mediterranean drove water out into the Atlantic drowning Atlantis. Combined with Buffon’s theory, the Age of Enlightenment seems to have been the Age of Speculation.
Paul Jordan in The Atlantis Syndrome wrote that “Buffon thought that Atlantis had been flooded when Atlantic waters poured into the Mediterranean”
David Hatcher-Childress extended the boundaries of literary licence when he claimed in his Lost Cities of Atlantis that Buffon “suggested that Atlantis had existed near Sicily when the Mediterranean was dry land (p.178). Hatcher-Childress cited Sprague de Camp’s Lost Continents where that much quoted author wrote that Buffon “thought that Atlantis had been washed away by water flowing in the opposite direction, from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean” (p.86).
Buffon tantalisingly refers(a) to the idea of a dry Mediterranean being supported by the testimony of the elders, mentioning Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. He also notes that at Strait of Gibraltar the geological strata on the opposite coasts of Africa and Spain are the same at comparable levels.
Buffon’s Histoire et théorie de la terre was just the first in a series that eventually became an encyclopedia of 37 volumes collectively entitled Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière.
In 1792 an English translation of the first ten volumes was published by J.S.Barr of London. Volume One (and others) are available as a free ebooks(b).
Plate Tectonics is the name given to the widely accepted geological theory that explains the observable fact of continental drift. Abraham Ortelius, a 16th century cartographer was one of the first to suggest that Africa, Europe and the Americas had at one time been joined together. In the 17th century Sir Francis Bacon is claimed to have been similarly struck by the complementary profiles of South America and Africa, but this, according to G.L. Herries Davies, is an exaggeration of what Bacon actually wrote(j). Alexander von Humboldt writing at the end of the 18th century, also commented that the ”lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean had once been joined.” Decades later Snider-Pellegrini expressed similar ideas that eventually led to the theories of ‘continental drift’ and plate tectonics.
In 1912, Alfred Wegener and Frank Taylor first outlined the concept of continental drift, which proposed that the surface of the Earth is in motion albeit very slowly. At first the idea was considered preposterous by the scientific community but gradually gained acceptance as evidence in its favour accumulated. In the early 1960’s the theory of ‘sea-floor spreading’ was developed and gradually the idea that the Earth’s surface consists of a number of plates that move relative to each other gained acceptance and evolved into the theory of plate tectonics that we have today. However, there are some anomalies that the present theory does not explain so that further revision is probably required.
These anomalies together with the geographical match between the two continents led to the formulation of the Expanding Earth Hypothesis(b).
When sea-floor spreading was identified in the Atlantic, some writers investigated where it might fit into the drama of Atlantis. It is not surprising that plate tectonics have been claimed by some, such as Frank Joseph, to support the existence of Atlantis, while others, including sceptic Paul Jordan, maintain that it makes the existence of Atlantis in the Atlantic an impossibility.
A further sceptical view of Atlantis in the Atlantic, by Benjamin Radford, claims(k) that “plate tectonics demonstrate that Atlantis is impossible; as the continents have drifted, the seafloor has spread over time, not contracted. There would simply be no place for Atlantis to sink into. As Ken Feder notes, ‘The geology is clear; there could have been no large land surface that then sank in the area where Plato places Atlantis. Together, modern archaeology and geology provide an unambiguous verdict: There was no Atlantic continent; there was no great civilization called Atlantis.'” This, of course, is perfectly true, except that Plato placed Atlantis in the Atlantic Sea, which many believe was a reference to the Western Mediterranean!
An interesting website on the subject of the problems associated with the theory of plate tectonics by David Pratt is worth a read(a)(d). Equally critical is the opening chapter of Thomas J. Krupa’s book Biblical Flood, Noah’s Ark and the Star of David. Sustained opposition to the theory has found expression in the NCGT Journal(e) since 1996.
Marvin Herndon has proposed a new theory, which he has entitled ‘Whole-Earth Decompression Dynamics’; a subtle combination of plate tectonics and the Expanded Earth Hypothesis(g). The idea of subduction is also challenged by the New Pangaea Theory(h).
P.P. Flambas, author of Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis in which he has proposed a modification to the current theory of PT, which he has called the ‘Hydraulic Hypothesis’ to explain shortcomings in accepted PT theory and support his Atlantis location.
A July 2016 report was published on the rate of tectonic movement, estimated to be comparable to the speed of fingernail growth(f).
Evidence of plate tectonics has now been identified on Mars(c)!
*(b) http://www.grisda.org/origins/15053.htm (link broken Oct 2018)
Gateway to Atlantis  by Andrew Collins is one of the better books on the subject. It is a fully indexed and referenced work that clearly indicates the effort and depth of research that went into producing it.
Collins was originally inclined to believe that the Antarctic had been the home to Atlantis but has gradually come to focus his attention on the Caribbean. He has trawled the classical writers for any possible reference to Atlantis and has concluded that all their considerable evidence points to the Atlantic and in particular the Caribbean as the location of Atlantis.
In order to explain the sudden destruction of Atlantis, Collins discusses the possibility of some kind of cometary or asteroidal impact being the culprit. He is inclined to see the Carolina Bays as remnants of this collision. His conclusions are closely mirrored by the views of Emilio Spedicato. More details can be found on Collin’s website(a).