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Some amazing Secrets of the Sphinx
Many people think to know everything about the Sphinx of the Giza plateau and can barely imagine the three neighboring pyramids of Khufu, Khafra and Menkaura (Egyptian pronunciation) without the Sphinx which is so indispensable to the visual harmony of the plateau. This is not surprising since the Sphinx is placed exactly where needed in a design based on geometric principles of the golden section. But that’s not all, and in this article I’m going to talk about some sphinx secrets that are rarely known.
First, the golden ratio is related to a series of numbers: the Fibonacci sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89, …) and the Egyptian archaeologist and Professor Emeritus, Alexander Badawy (1913-1986) proved in his study of more than 50 temples along the Nile that the ancient Egyptians had indeed used this series of numbers on purpose, once again demonstrating their great knowledge and sophistication in architecture. Now I’ll show you in this article that the Sphinx holds many secrets still unknown to most and that our current view of it, is distorted from its original appearance.
The ignored inscription of the left paw of the Sphinx
In 1817, Gianbattista Caviglia** (1770-1845) cleaned the front of the Sphinx, something that had not been done since the fall of the Roman Empire. He first found a fallen piece of the Sphinx’s beard (now at the British Museum), then, cleared of sand, he found an inscription on a toe of the left paw of the Sphinx: 13 lines of text in Greek, engraved conspicuously, with reference to how this is an official documentation dating from 166 AD after the reign of Marcus Aurelius to commemorate the restoration of the walls surrounding the Sphinx by the Romans. This text is exciting and yet one does not have a chance to view it today on the sphinx, as successive restorations – and especially the modern last one -were covered with incredibly thick layers disfiguring the paws of our Sphinx, as stifling as the bandages of mummification.
Written in Greek, and in capital letters, I know that there are now three existing translations in English and one in Latin of this text: one from a copy made by Henry Salt (1780-1827) British Consul General in Cairo in 1815 and a great collector of Egyptian antiquities that had paid Caviglia in 1817 to explore the Sphinx, whose transcription was published in the “Quarterly Review ” (vol. 19) in 1818, translated by Dr. Yong (who even strove to restore some permanently erased words) in English and Latin …and another from the great Egyptian archaeologist Selim Hassan* (1893-1961), the first Egyptian to occupy a chair of Egyptology …and finally, one from the Reverend Coleridge of Eton, published in: “Operations conducted at the Pyramid of Giza” by Colonel Vyse in 1842. I will give here my own translation of the inscription; I tried to be as faithful as possible to the grammar of ancient Greek and not to invent the missing words:
“This structure is the work of the immortal Gods.
Placed so as to dominate the soil of this Land of harvest,
Built in the center of a cavity from which they withdrew the sand,
Like an island of stone in the vicinity of the pyramids,
So that we can see it,
Not as the sphinx defeated by Oedipus,
But as a sacred servant of Leto,
Who guards with vigilance;
The Sacred Guide of the Land of Egypt.”
The reference to Leto*** here is understandable because at the time of the Pharaohs, Ptolemies who were of Greek origin, ruled over Egypt, and Giza was in an administrative district called “Letopolitain“.
The text is signed “Arrianos” – probably the historian and Roman philosopher of Greek origin who wrote the life of Alexander the Great (“Anabasis of Alexander”) –
Thus, in addition to the reference to the immortal gods as the creators of the sphinx, which is interesting (and which we will return to), we can see by the text itself that the Sphinx was considered an island. This is certainly new to some of you.
A lion that was a dog and the island of the sphinx
However, the scholar Robert Temple and his wife Olivia have published a book of 565 pages in English titled “The Sphinx Mystery, the forgotten origins of the sanctuary of Anubis”, well documented with many elements excavated from oblivion or multiple scattered collections inaccessible to the public, in which he explains: “The moat of the sphinx in the Ancient Empire was known in the Texts of the Pyramids as the lake of the jackal, the channel of God, the channel of Anubis, the Lake of Life …”
Now there are many references to this throughout ancient Egyptian literature: for example on the altars in the tomb of Tutankhamon in reference to Rostau (Giza), it is cited that its topography is that of water and there is mention of “The house of the lake” regarding the island of the Sphinx. Even Auguste Mariette, who dug around the Sphinx in 1858, admits that the Sphinx enclosure had to contain water of the Nile in ancient times (see references). In the Text of the Sarcophagi, we hear about : the lustral basin, Lake of the Jackal. Why?
Quite simply, because of the academic Temple‘s assertion that the Sphinx was originally made in the image of Anubis (“Jackal” is a bad name translation because there have never been jackals in Lower Egypt, but rather wild dogs) the guardian of the site par excellence, and he proves it with forceful analysis, photos and research.
The sphinx would have become leonine towards the Fourth Dynasty when lions were very fashionable in all representations; then the Middle Kingdom Amenemhat II would have affixed this image to his face (and not Cheops). But I will not go into too much detail of the work of Temple here, only a few points here and there. The fact that the original Sphinx could be the representation of Anubis is something I’ve been announcing for years in front of the Sphinx itself to those who accompany me in my tours: showing “in situ” the slope of the back, the tail, signs of erosion from water of the moat.
It should be understood that since antiquity the Sphinx has undergone many restorations, the last modern of which consisted of additions of thick courses of ugly and useless stones which only make the contours of the sphinx appear clumsy and without finesse. This is very visible today in the legs, which now look like huge papier-mache bars. We have pictures from the early 19th century and many later photos and after careful analysis we see big differences in the “modern” restorations and successive ones.
The “Coffin Texts” does not only speak of the lake of the “jackal” (Anubis) but it also mentions: “His name is ‘dog faced’, his size is huge” (verses 1165-1185). Twice in the “Pyramid Texts”, Anubis is cited as being “the height of the West” and the Lake of the “Jackal” is also cited in the book of The Caverns. The outstanding researcher Terence Du Quesne enumerated many references to Anubis “Lord of Rostau (Giza)” in inscriptions and on the walls; he has listed ten sources of this particular title to date.
It is only after the fifth dynasty that the title “Lord of Rostau” is given to Osiris. Let us recall that Anubis in Egyptian is “Inpou“, “that which has the shape of dog”; he is also known as “The Way Opener” and guide of the souls and is represented under the name of “Upuaout, path opener” at Abydos in the South. He is also “Lord of the Land of Dawn” and as Rene Lachaud excellently writes: “(…) He brings out the Anubis light of initiation that corresponds to the ambiguous moment ‘between dog and wolf ‘ where day and night interpenetrate.” Also, in “The Book of Going Forth by Day” (which is the real title of The Book “of the Dead”): “Oh! Anubis who is with his secrets. Lord of the secrets of the West. Lord of what is hidden.” That Anubis presides on the Giza plateau is hardly surprising because in Giza/Rostau we are at the crossroads of the greatest mysteries. You’ll quickly understand why.
One never speaks to you about the “Book of the Construction“(The Edfu Texts) which is engraved in the enclosure of the Temple of Horus the falcon, in Edfu in southern Egypt. Yet, when you read up on it, it’s inside references to other lost texts like “The Sacred Books of the Temples” that bring together a description of the history of places of pilgrimage along the Nile. And what says this text? It says that these places were established by a group of “creative entities” the “Shebtiw“(look at references) associated with Thoth. It is said that they: also called the “Elders”, the “Falcons“, were installed in a first place on Earth and that this first place is Rostau! I.e. Giza! Also, according to this text, books and sacred objects of power were sealed in a secret place underground by “Shebtiw” and they built over it an immense enclosure and stone masses to protect it. This place is called Bw-HMR, the place of the throne of the soul. In addition, in this text it is always suggested to us that the underground world of Giza is a microcosmic model of the passage of time and the process of the first creation in our physical universe … you understand the Sphinx better now than before; this is not nothing!
The ancient Egyptians also named Giza/Rostau in their descriptions: “The Beautiful Place of the First Time” and “The Secret Place” and it is true that the whole Giza plateau that I’ve traveled for 20 years, yard by yard, is packed with thousands of subterranean entries, ventilation shafts and bottomless wells. This all proves the presence of an impressive underground network about which I will on occasion speak more of, in other articles.
In any case it is only in the Middle Kingdom (when, according to Temple, for a long time the Sphinx had already lost its Anubis head) where for the first time, in hieroglyphics appears the name:: “Sphinx”: “Sheshep” which translates literally as “image “or” statue”. The full name of the Sphinx was then “Ankh-Sheshep“: the “living statue”. The Sphinx is a living symbol representing many things of the invisible celestial and terrestrial. In the Coptic language, the oldest language still spoken in Egypt today, the Sphinx is called: “bel-hit”, “The Guardian“. And just after the year one thousand, they called the Sphinx “Twtw“: “I am image” that the Greeks retranscribed as Tithoes and identified with Kronos, the god of time. And what is also interesting is that, quoting Manetho, Pliny states that Tithoes belonged to the mythic kings of the very first dynasties, or rather what we now call the famous “dynasty zero” (since we begin the first dynasty with Menes [2920 -2770 BC] though several documents cite previous pharaohs, but their qualifications of gods or demigods is disruptive to the academic conscensus), otherwise properly inscribed in the Turin Papyrus (The Canon of Turin) and the Latin author makes it clear that Tithoes succeeded the god Amun and that he would be the first builder of the labyrinth of Fayum (120 km south of Cairo at Fayoum Lake), the oldest of all labyrinths that people came to visit in the ancient world. And which is in ruins today at the foot of the pyramid of the Hawara site that I visit regularly …
A sphinx much older than one thinks
In 1858, the notable Auguste Mariette was commissioned by the Duke of Luynes to verify Pliny the Elder‘s statements regarding that the Sphinx was built and not monolithic. He opened a site near the pyramid attributed to Cheops (who reigned 2551-2528 BC, 4th Dynasty) and in a nearby shrine of Isis, he found the stele called “Inventory” where it says that the sphinx and the great pyramid existed well before the reign of the leaders of the 4th dynasty, before 2575 BC.
The text states that: “During the reign of Cheops he ordered the construction of a monument along the Sphinx.” Logically this means that the Sphinx was already there before … But if it was there at the time of Cheops, this means that contrary to what the “mainstream” says, a fortiori, it could not have been built on order of Chephren‘s successor on the throne! Note that the theory that the Sphinx was built by Chephren – just because the road on its south side leads to the foot of the pyramid of Chephren – was launched without any evidence or knowledge by Caviglia who was still a Master Mariner paid to clear the sand from the Sphinx! No inscription confirms his lightly founded theory.
There are also other documents proving that the temple adjoining the Sphinx has exactly the same kinds of marks of erosion that existed before the reign of Cheops. In an inscription which was preserved in the museum of Bulak in Cairo, the royal scribe of the Pharaoh Cheops notes a dedication he himself had found on an earlier document. The dedication says that the sun himself presided over the gigantic structure, “whose origin is lost in the mists of time.”
However, if we take this into consideration, all the current chronological dating in Egyptology courses should be re-examined! A little too much for some … This is why the majority of Egyptologists today turn away from this stele called the inventory, because it calls into question too many of their achievements. Some also prefer to say that this monument that lists an inventory of the temple of Isis dates back only to the 26th dynasty. Perhaps, but this is not considering the extensive use of copies of much more ancient texts in Ancient Egypt and the explorer Auguste Mariette, who spent over ten years excavating the Giza plateau, has always said that the stele was erected by Cheops himself.
As for the supposed resemblance of the head of the Sphinx with Chephren himself – this theory has been invalidated for 30 years by the Director of the Department of Forensic Medicine of the New York Police, Dr. Frank Domingo, expert on facial morphology. After photographing the Sphinx from different angles and lighting and then the statue of Chephren in the Cairo museum, he compared them with his scientific method and concluded that no doubt, they were indeed two different people…
Robert Temple proves this through the study of the coiffe and certain features and also because of the obsession of the Pharaoh Amenemhat II (1929-1892 B.C.), for the sphinxes. In any case, if the Sphinx originally had a good head of Anubis, and much later it assumed this pharaoh’s head, one could also surmise that others before Amenemhat II could have also affixed their face, the head of the sphinx comprising many traces of multiple repairs, the current head being extremely disproportionate compared to the body. There is also a text of the Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1448/1420 BC) with a reference to the Sphinx as “older than the Pyramids.” Then we have the famous stele of Tutmosis IV which has led to my research on the second sphinx.
In search of the second sphinx
It was generally accepted for long periods since the ancient Egyptians that the Sphinx was covered with sand, except for the head, until the Pharaoh Tutmosis IV (18th dynasty: 1420-1411 BC) cleared the sand from it. And we have the wonderful story of Tutmosis IV engraved for eternity on a stele of pink granite and erected between the paws of the Sphinx: it is known as the stele of Tutmosis IV. The Pharaoh who was not even yet a prince, not even belonging to the main lineage of Pharaonic succession, came to rest after a hunt in the shadow of the head only recently installed then, and fell asleep. There he dreamed that the Sphinx spoke to him in his sleep, begging him to rid him of his suffering because he could not endure anymore standing with the burning desert sand covering him. In exchange, he would give him the power and wealth.
Tutmosis awoke and decided to hurry and in a short time became pharaoh and very wealthy. What is particularly interesting in relation to the stele of Tutmosis IV is the representation which is made of the sphinx. Look, there are two Sphinxes… Moreover, they are reversed, and for the question of ancient rules of perspective of one reality, two sphinxes are actually reversed. Moreover, they are lying on structures with portals indicating that the sphinx gives access to an elsewhere, an underground complex. But where did the Sphinx drawn on the second pillar go? What is curious is that very few people have begun to seek answers…
In the famous stele of the inventory preserved at the museum of Cairo, it is made mention that a flash of lightning would have struck down the cap of the second sphinx involving its destruction like that of a sycamore tree, sacred at the time, which was also burned by the lightning. For the archaeologist Michael Poe who refers to fragments of papyrus of the Middle Kingdom, this second sphinx would have been destroyed by a particularly violent rising of the Nile about 1000 A.D. The villagers would then have taken the stones to rebuild their village.
Then, I started searching in Egypt and thanks to my knowledge of Classical Arabic I quickly found texts confirming the existence of the two sphinxes. Thusly, two geographical encyclopaedias (Kitab Al Mamalik, Al-Mamsalik and Kitab Al Jujori, the great geographer, and Arab scholar Al-Idrisi [1099-1166]), mention well the presence of two sphinxes at Giza, one in very bad condition that is reached by the water of the Nile and has many stones missing. Other authors also mention the existence of two sphinxes: The celebrated historian Musabbihi wrote about a “sphinx smaller than the other” on the other side of the Nile, in very poor condition, consisting of bricks and stones (Annals of Rabi II, circa 1024).
So I searched tirelessly for years for the location of the second Sphinx. The task is very difficult because all the opposite bank of the Nile is covered with buildings of the megalopolis of Cairo and of its gigantic suburbs. How to find the location of a missing sphinx? With a field study of the lesser details. After having traveled thousands of streets, I identified two possible locations.
That’s when the great Egyptian geologist , Dr. Barakat paid me the honor of contacting me after reading my articles on this subject in English, to tell me that he greatly enjoyed my work and had arrived at the same conclusions, which as you can imagine, reassures me in the continuation of this research. I will share with you later our conclusions.
Furthermore, following the example of the Arab historians who saw it in their time, we advance the assumption that one of the two sphinxes was female. Al Idrisi said clearly that the second Sphinx was female and located on the east bank of the Nile facing the male sphinx that we all know. Remember also that the verb form of the Greek name “Sphinx” is “Sphingo” which means: “to strangle”. The two sphinxes facing each side of the Nile, formed a bottleneck, like a watch on ships coming from Upper Egypt or down south …
The second location of the Sphinx could hold many secrets even from prehistoric times, many things in the basement. This will be in the future, without doubt a huge archaeological project, as Dr. Barakat said. I would also say, and I’m not the only one, that both sphinxes are similar to the two pillars of Hercules, one indicating the material capacity expressing itself upwards through spiritual power (the female sphinx) and the other (the current one), the spiritual power expressing itself in the underground material world…
In any case, to temporarily close the loop, and to add my contribution to the work of Temple even if he does not speak at all about second sphinx, I discovered recently that there was long ago, two Upuaut (Anubis). On the stele JE 47381 three registers are represented: an “Upuaut of Upper Egypt, controller of the Two Lands” (“Wp-wAwt smaw aba-Tawy”) and in the middle register we see him along with “Wepwawet of Lower Egypt” (“Wp-wAwt mttyt”). Thus, the two sphinxes could well have originally represented two Anubis…
Incubation of dreams and the Sphinx
Now I will focus on the use that was made – at least at certain times – of the Sphinx “Ankh-Sheshep”, “The Statue of Life” as it was called in the Middle Kingdom.
This requires first that I should give you the most accurate report of what the Sphinx contains (here I would not speak of very small abnormalities detected by radar in the ground around the sphinx that for the moment have not led to any excavation) and this without speculation as it has been done in so many writings. And you’ll be surprised! In fact, the reality is simply incredible and you will see with me that it has been a completely overlooked jumble of approximate information and disinformation that has obscured the Sphinx for a very long time. Indeed, if we were to make a thorough investigation, it would be complicated by the fact that many serious documents pass unnoticed, buried in silence, as if a desire not to show the truth is there, and one realizes that major discoveries have been made of which we have never heard. So, certainly, very few of you know for example that there are exactly three tunnel-wells in the Sphinx.
You have a tunnel dug at the rear of the Sphinx itself which is the best known one, another dug behind the head, and finally, the most overlooked which is located on the northern flank of the Sphinx.
I’ll start with this one which illustrates well what is unspoken about the monument. The tunnel located on the northern flank of the Sphinx at ground level, was opened in 1926 by Emile Baraize who finally sealed it with cement blocks. There was even a door that Baraize walled with stones that he found at the time in the vicinity. What is amazing is that Baraize left no account of what he found and explored in this tunnel, he was so busy with his work of cleaning and restoring the Sphinx.
Yet, two pictures taken in 1926 by Pierre Lacau exist (in archives at the Golenischeff center in Paris) of the interior of the tunnel, but even a scholar such as Temple had no right to see them! All that is known is that the tunnel is very old because its entrance is blocked by the collection of stones (beneath the stones of Baraize) from the earliest restoration. The Sphinx has undergone many restorations in effect in the past, under different pharaohs. And we wonder why we do not reopen this passage to see where it leads and to explore it as we should? A very great mystery!
The pit dug behind the Sphinx’s head and measuring 6 m was, it seems, dug in the 19th century in an effort to explore the interior of the sphinx and it ends in a cul de sac. We still have the tunnel at the rear of the Sphinx, which is of particular interest to us today and which Henry Vyse found in 1881 but found that many travelers in the more distant past had already mentioned. Thus, the traveler Pancirolli Guido (1523-1599) had detailed in his book published in 1599: “The history of memorable things lost.” We see in the passing that in 1599 there were discoveries made on the Sphinx that have already been forgotten! But this tunnel, according to a 1994 publication by Hawass (leader of the Supreme Council of Antiquities until 2013), was reopened and explored in 1979. Why to wait more than 15 years to talk of a discovery of such importance? This tunnel, very narrow (room for only one rather thin person), in which one enters through a small opening at ground level at the rear of the Sphinx, begins with a 6 m vertical descent. An iron ladder, affixed recently enables you to hold on for balance. The problem today is that this space is full of debris and rubble and a support girder that takes up a lot of space. Then the tunnel, back about 8 m, is reinforced by wooden beams to where Baraize (him again) had poured cement in 1926 up to the hips of the Sphinx because a serious flaw existed there. Nonetheless, everything suggests that the tunnel continues to the head of the sphinx. It is unfortunate that we can not know in what way it continues beyond the cement! But what we see in the visible part is a round space that is widened enough to allow a person to lie down perfectly. More so, that’s probably the therapeutic use of this mysterious cave, of which I want to talk today. Before speaking to you about it, I must give you similar information about the other two existing cavities:
There was a conical and irregular hole 2m deep on top of the head (cemented since) that Coutelle had already seen during Napoleon‘s expedition in 1798 which had enclosed other elements of the headdress of the Sphinx.
And then there is an interesting cavity whose entrance is covered by a sheet of metal (modern) that lies between the two legs of the sphinx. It leads to a small underground chamber on the vertical, where Henry Salt had walled (him too!) a subterranean entrance in 1817. Still another tunnel of which we know not today where it goes! Many researchers think that this cave was used by a priest so that he could talk without being seen by the crowd and thus give an oracle in place of the Sphinx. This oracular practice was widespread in the late Ptolemaic period where they tried to re-motivate the faith of people and we found in Fayoum (the fertile oasis of the pharaohs, 100km south of Cairo), many altars with secret rooms inside for this purpose. There may be a trail as Temple outlined in 1579 with the testimony of a traveler Johannes Heffrich who says that this chamber is a secret passage for a priest, without being seen, to go through a tunnel in the Sphinx’s head and talk to the crowd invisibly … We see anyway that the Sphinx still has many secrets to deliver even despite modern methods today.
Hence, I’ve just told you of all of the known caves already explored in the Sphinx, but before returning to one specifically, to fully understand its possible function, I must speak first of the origin of the therapies and medicine of Egypt and especially of the leading character: the indispensable Imhotep, the one who claims that he built the pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara, around 2600 BC.
The Sphinx and the medicine
Not only was Imhotep, whose name means “One who came in peace,” the prime minister of Djoser, the grand architect of the kingdom, High Priest of Heliopolis, Grand Magus and chief of all the priests of northern Egypt, but he was also a great doctor, probably the first with his own school of medicine and temple. These buildings were located around the underground complex of the Serapeum, north of Sakkara. Also at Sakkara ancient surgical instruments were discovered. More than 2200 years before the birth of Hippocrates in Greece, still known as the father of our medicine, Imhotep himself, in Egypt, knew how to diagnose and treat over 200 diseases using anatomical terms of divisions and practicing surgery. We can find mention of this in the famous Edwin Smith Papyrus.
The great Egyptologist James Henry Breasted says of Imhotep: “In priestly wisdom, in magic, in the formulation of wise proverbs, in medicine and in architecture, this remarkable figure of Zoser’s reign left so notable a reputation that his name is not forgotten to this day.” In the Royal Canon of Turin recognized by Jean-Francois Champollion as a document of historical importance (“The Turin Papyrus” written in hieratic script and found at Thebes in 1822, of which remains 160 fragments that form a papyrus 170 cm wide and 41 cm high, now in the collection of the Museum of Turin), a list containing the names of Ramses II‘s predecessors, including the names of gods supposed to have ruled Egypt before the pharaohs themselves, we find the name of Imhotep who is designated as a “son of the god Ptah“. Along with Amenhotep, we have the only Egyptian mortal or “hybrid” who managed to attain the full position of a god.
But what is interesting here is that later, when the Greeks settled in Egypt, the Egyptian Imhotep was equated with their god Aesculapius: Asclepius the god of medicine whose school of medicine was called Asklepieion. It is quite possible that both Aesculapius and Imhotep, are one and the same person as we shall see and as a great number of researchers already claim… But what else is said about Asclepius? We are told that he is the divine son of Apollo and a nymph Koronis-Arsinoe (Arsinoe is also the name of a place located south of the southern edge of the Giza Plateau at Fayum), so he is a demigod. We are told that he was raised in an underground cavern by the centaur Chiron (the last centaur on Earth according to the ancient Greeks), who taught him all about medicine and more … because Asclepius did not seem only to heal but he also raised the dead. The god Zeus, agitated by Asclepius‘ zeal to immortalize the land and thus disturb the established order of things, struck him with a blast of lightning and turned him into the constellation Ophiuchus (“the serpent holder”)… there is a teaching of the ancient Egyptians that when the the gods died they were transformed into constellations or stars. … The fact is that Ptah and Zeus are often associated with lightning.
What is very important to remember, is how Asclepius cured; and mostly it was through the “incubation”, the common practice then of sleeping through the night or several nights in a sacred temple enclosure to provoke a dream full of meaning and consequently be healed. Either Asclepius appeared in dreams to the priests and revealed to them the remedies for their patients or patients themselves received them in a dream and were cured.
Asclepius was portrayed with a stick upon which a snake is coiled, the symbol of medicine (not to be confused with the caduceus of Mercury, he with two snakes, symbolizing commerce and communication). A snake, for the oracular and medical functions of this medicine was also effected by the presence of a source of sacred water as we shall see, through water from out of the ground that with “the slow journey into the depths of the ground, allowed it to learn what was, what will be” said Rene Ginouvès in his remarkable work, and this water is symbolized by the “meandering” of the snake.
Asclepius had three sons and six daughters, including: Hygiene, Panacea and Meditina. Note that our Hippocrates (the father of medicine, from whom we derive the oath our doctors take) is recognized as a descendant of Asclepius from his paternal side… It is to him we owe the words: chronic, endemic, epidemic, convalescence, paroxysm, etc., and though Western medicine invokes him, in reality, his conception of medicine was very different from ours.
Dr. Houda says for example that “the Hippocratic treatment is rather a meditation on death.” Remember, Hippocrates went to Egypt to study medicine with the chief priests and he appeared to be an initiate of Pharaonic medicine. In fact, the medicine of Hippocrates was a carbon copy of that of Asclepius which was practiced around the temples. These places would include a temple-sanatorium on the surface, subterranean caves and an underground water source. You can still see the sanctuary of Asclepius today on the southern flank of the Acropolis, under the Parthenon in Athens with its source and its grotto, now converted into an orthodox chapel. You have the same thing with the temple of Epidaurus in Greece and at Pergamum. Now we know that Imhotep had a temple devoted to medicine at Sakkara with Serapeum grottos and caves and a water source available. In any case he proceeded exactly as Asclepius-Imhotep had in the vicinity of Serapeum with his patients. (To visit the Serapeum underground go to see my video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFq8PKngHUo
Apart from being the son of “Ptah”, Imhotep had a mortal mother Kheredu-Ankh, who was elevated to a semi divine (as was the mother of Asclepius!) because she proclaimed that her father was the god Banebdjedet, a ram god of fertility that the Greeks later named Pan. On the other hand we must not forget that the ancient Greeks were already disputing about Asclepius, saying he was much older than the dating official was willing to say (even then) and linguists debate that the true meaning of the word “Asclepius” is etymologically “the hero of the mound,” which is a purely Egyptian title. The assumptions are therefore increasingly strong in favor of Aesculapius and Imhotep being the same person…
The Greeks were fascinated with Egyptian science and Homer (the Odyssey) informs us: “Egypt is the land of the most learned doctors of the world.” The medicine was not considered only an accumulation of knowledge and observation but also as a means of working on oneself to become a true channel of transformation.
Besides their complex treatments with botanicals, surgery and fracture reductions, here is what constituted the bulk of their medicine: they were drinking water from an underground source and bathing their patients in the water because for them it was undeniable that the water carried along the healing powers of the spirits of the Earth. Then they took care of those who had courage and determination to undergo the treatments. Patients would be fasting and making multiple ablutions in the sacred precincts of what was called the Abaton, i.e., in the temple, caves and caverns below, where no one else was allowed to enter. Then, patients slept in collective dormitories of the Abaton for dreaming. There were proper dream incubation rituals where the deeper understanding of Mother Earth was supposed to send you dream guidance regarding the reasons for your malady and how to treat it. The next day you would tell your dream to the priests who would then prescribe you a treatment. They also said that the first image that came to the mind of the dreamer became a guardian spirit that never left. The lesson to be drawn from this study of dreams is very sophisticated. They did not practice a generalized interpretation of dreams; it was considered that one person’s interpretation of a dream symbol gave rise to different interpretations by different people. Each person was considered as having his own dream language and all work was done in accordance with the images and emotions of the patient. This science is called iatromantic incubation.
The difference between a classic dream and an iatromantic dream is that the latter is sent for a specific purpose by a god of medicine in a sacred place designed for it and it should contain guidance for diagnosis and (or) treatment. To give an example: a man suffering from a stomach complaint came to the temple of Asclepius to receive a dream inspired by the god. He dreamed that the god handed him his right hand and gave him his hand to eat. The next day, the priests interpreted his dream and told him he had to eat five dates because at the time, dates were known as “divine fingers“, and he was healed…
The work of healing through dreams was well known to ancient Egyptians and for this I must take a moment to tell you about Bes. Auguste Mariette had indeed found a statue of Bes near the entrance of Serapeum. In fact, this spirit revered for its oracles at Abydos in southern Egypt, was also known to be oneiromantic. That is to say, it was also known to generate dreams that were then interpreted. Egyptians often placed its representation in the bedroom for their sleep to be populated with rich dreams. At the time, dreams were considered a very important means of therapy. Therefore, a caste of priest-doctors “the Wab“, apart from secular practitioners (“the Soundu“) who ran the country, lived in Houses of Life: Per-Ankh, at the temple to fulfill their dual function, priestly and medical. Most of the time they were doctor-priests of the lion goddess Sekhmet, and they practiced in the sanatorium of the temples, among other things iatromantic incubation on their patients. Disease was for them not considered as a divine punishment but rather as a rupture of the harmony between man and cosmos. They were to restore the patient’s relationship with nature and harmony, well represented by the goddess Maat.
That harmony was an essential value of Egyptian thought, which was required to counter negative forces, lies, injustice and the primal chaos from which the world was born. Maat was the guarantor of fairness and the overall balance of the world and this was taught in the temples by instruction.
Yet another goddess who was strongly involved in restoring the health of patients is Isis. The philosopher Diodorus of Sicily gives us testimony: “Now that she has achieved immortality, Isis enjoys treating the bodies of men and those who need her aid, clearly demonstrating her presence in their sleep and giving real and effective relief to those who call for help.” This comment clearly indicates that at that time in Egypt, Isis was invoked for iatromantic activity. Right next to the Sphinx in the north-west was a small temple to Isis and we have the Egyptian Arabic texts from the Middle Ages that referred to the Sphinx as “the idol of Isis.” Therefore, researchers like Temple are convinced that the cavity behind the Sphinx was designed for a patient to spend the night in order to obtain a dream of healing. Like the temple of Asclepius in Greece which could not contain a dozen visitors during incubation time, the location of the Sphinx would have served only the privileged 365 per year. On the other hand, we see cavities in the rock around the Sphinx, and walls in which there are small cells that could also be used for additional patients for incubation. At the time, approaching the Sphinx were monumental stairs, an immense staircase , and offerings were made on a small altar that lay between its legs. Being able to sleep in the body of the Sphinx would be a very impressive and unforgettable experience …
©®Text, Photos ©®AntoineGigal-2018 Update of a Gigal’s article 2005 Copyright©2005-2018. All rights reserved.
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* Selim Hassan (1887-1961): He is for me, one of the three greatest Egyptologists and archaeologists of all time. He tirelessly excavated at Giza and Sakkara from 1929 to 1937 and discovered many structures that are being rediscovered today and just wrote a extraordinary 16 volume “Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt”. He’s published a total of 170 books on archeology in Egypt.
*** Gianbattista Caviglia (1770-1845): Italian Master Mariner, he was hired by Richard Vyse, the English Egyptologist who noticed in him a strong capacity for resourcefulness, so he began archaeological excavations with him on the small pyramid of Mykhérinos. His attention, however, was quickly captured by even more promising structures such as the Sphinx, the Great Pyramid and others.
**** Leto: The story of Leto as it is told in Greek mythology may rouse in us a strong interest in Egypt. Leto, daughter of Titans (powerful Elder Gods who ruled during the golden age under the direction of one of them: Cronos [Saturn] after his father Uranus [Heaven] for the first 21 generations of Titans) : Coeus, ruling over a celestial zone between the two terrestrial poles and Phoebe linked to the full moon and to luminous purification, and she became pregnant by Zeus. The wife of Zeus: Hera was so extremely jealous, she saw to it that “all land fled Leto” so that she could find no land on which to give birth. It is said that then Leto left Hyperborea for Lycia in Anatolia (country of the wolves, perhaps an old form of Anubis?) disguised as a she-wolf, and then went on to the island of Delos. There are several final destinations for the birth of Leto and experts are struggling to know which is correct. In any case she gave birth on an island that was not connected to the earth itself even under the sea, a floating island of some sort or an island “manufactured”. In Egypt, similar stories are told of Isis taking refuge on a floating island in the Nile Delta. The Giza Sphinx with its island was indeed a place suitable to be linked to Leto. She struggled against many chthonic monsters and the Titans living underground and was attacked by Python before giving birth to the twins Artemis and Apollo. The Greek grammarian Antoninus Liberalis, a hundred years after Christ, tells us all this in great detail. He is the author of “Metamorphoses” a story about 41 metamorphic changes inflicted by offended gods). Note that Herodotus tells us that Leto was worshiped in Egypt in the form of the cobra goddess Wadjet, protectress of Lower Egypt.
Robert Temple website : http://www.sphinxmystery.com
Auguste Mariette: "Letter to the Vicomte de Rougé on excavations in the vicinity of the Great Sphinx of Giza", Egyptological Library, vol. 18, Paris, 1904.
Alexander Badawy: "Ancient Egyptian Architectural Design: A Study of the Harmonic System", Berkeley university, 1965. and: "History of Egyptian Architecture", Berkeley University, 1968.
Selim Hassan: "The Great Sphinx and Its Secrets: Historical Studies in the Light of Recent Excavations " vol. 8, Cairo Gov. Press, 1953.
"Shebtiw" : https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/zaes.1962.87.issue-1-2/zaes.1922.214.171.124/zaes.19126.96.36.199.xml E. A. E. Jelinkova, Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde
Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities : "The inscriptions of the ptolemaic temple of Edfu"https://adw-goe.de/en/research/research-projects-within-the-academies-programme/the-inscriptions-of-the-ptolemaic-temple-of-edfu/
"The Passage Under The Sphinx",in homage to Jean Leclant, vol. 1 (Paris: Institute of Oriental Archaeology, 1994) by Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner.
"History of Divination in Ancient Times" by Auguste Bouché-Leclercq.
"Incubation: or, The Cure of Disease in Pagan Temples and Christian Churches" by Mary Hamilton, London, 1906.
"Operations Carried out at the Pyramid of Giza in 1837" by Howard Vyse, London, 1840.
"The Great Sphinx and Its Secrets: Historical Studies in the Light of Recent Excavations" by Selim Hassan. Le Cairo, 1953.
"Dieux guérisseurs et sanctuaires de source dans la Grèce antique" Lattes, 1992.
"The Rod and Serpent of Asklepios, symbol of medicine" by J. Schouten, Amsterdam, 1967.
"The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian, Diodorus of Sicily.
This post is also available in: French
Bon j’ai lu votre article très intéressant, au sujet de la tête du sphinx en tant que dessinatrice et spécialiste des arts plastiques, je constate deux choses,
en partant de la base du coup du sphinx on ne peut pas retravailler une tête telle qu’elle est actuellement à partir d’une tête d’ANUBIS question de proportion et la matière est insuffisante Ensuite mais ce n’est qu’une analyse à partir de photos, la matière (pierre ne semble pas de même nature que celle du corps du sphinx, si vous regardez attentivement la texture du visage et celle de la coiffe vous constatez une différence. Moi je dirai que la tête a été collée à la coiffe qu’elle soit à l’origine une crinière me semble plus vraisemblable… Vous savez comme un assemblage fait à partir d’une pâte molle … Que pensez-vous de mon approche??? Amicalement et merci pour votre travail
La tête ou du moins une grosse partie dont la coiffe a bien été visiblement rajoutée selon les colorations et fissures du calcaire selon mon avis seul le corp et le cou ont l’air d’être d’un seul morceau …donc si, cela pouvait être une tête d’Anubis à l’origine…. puis pa la suite une de lion etc… Merci à vous
Amazing history. Thank you.