Audaciter calomniare semper aliquid haeret - Francis Bacon
The title above is a slightly adapted version of the title of an article published on the Osmanagic Foundation website, “Dr. Zahi Hawass, Fake Chamber Scandal”.
The article (copied and pasted from the original, located here), was intended to demonstrate that Zahi Hawass, the Head of Egyptian Antiquities, had faked the famous live broadcast of September 17, 2002, during which viewers had watched as the Pyramid Rover robot drilled a small hole in the block obstructing the southern ‘air-shaft’ of the ‘Queen’s Chamber’ in the Pyramid of Cheops, so allowing a miniature camera through. The accusation of fraud was based on the evidence of two photographs of the duct that were claimed to have been taken before, and during, the drilling of the hole. From the numerous differences between the two photographs, the article concluded that there had been trickery on the part of Zahi Hawass, who supposedly drilled a “fake” block in a “fake” shaft, probably with a view to “keeping for himself” the “secrets” hidden beyond the ‘real’ block.
The publication of this article on the Foundation website follows on from an out-and-out ‘anti-Hawass’ campaign that has seen the publication of many copies of various blog and press articles generated by the recent well publicised events in Egypt: “The fall of Pharaoh Zahi”, “Egyptian Stolen Treasures”, “Egypt’s Zahi Hawass and a dark past”, “How did ‘Pharaoh’ Dr. Zahi Hawass tried to stop Bosnian pyramids project”, “The Egyptologist, the Sphinx and the cover-up”...
Why this loathing for Zahi Hawass? In Egyptological circles, he is quite a controversial character, both within Egypt itself and abroad. Indiscriminately, fellow Egyptologists accuse him of authoritarianism; of a determination to ‘Egyptianize’ Egyptology by continually placing restrictions and obstacles in the way of foreign teams; of ‘appropriating’, with varying degrees of finesse, all discoveries in Egypt; and of regularly hogging the limelight ... But, for a long while now, the most implacable of his opponents have been found in the circles frequented by pseudo-scientific and other ‘pyramidiots’. Such people do not forgive Zahi Hawass for his scornful rejection of their theories, or for his refusal to let them remove dozens of blocks from the pyramids or carry out all kinds of new experiments on them. It is therefore no great surprise to see the Osmanagic site following in the wake of nearly every other ‘alternative’ forum and blog by intoning a long mantra of Dr. Hawass’ ‘crimes’.
Yet Mr. Osmanagic has not always been a member of the anti-Hawass brigade. Between January and May 2006, at the very outset of the Visoko project, he even tried to indirectly ‘enlist’ Hawass in his venture, whether by quoting remarks that could be interpreted as supporting Osmanagic’s theories, or by making out that Aly Barakat, the mineralogist, had been especially selected by Hawass to study the Bosnian ‘pyramids’. Alas, Hawass’ official denial of June 2006 was nothing less than scathing, and, since then, the Egyptologist has lost no opportunity to regularly reaffirm his belief that Osmanagic’s theories have no serious basis. Thenceforth, Dr. Hawass became Mr. Osmanagic’s main ‘enemy’, a man whom Osmanagic accuses of pulling strings and working in the shadows; see, for example, this article, “How did ‘Pharaoh’ Dr. Zahi Hawass tried to stop Bosnian pyramids project”, a searing example of pseudo-scientific paranoia. Hence the succession of attacks on the Egyptologist: at a time when his position is apparently weakened by the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath, anything that can tarnish his image is fair game for his detractors.
But here’s the thing. The article reproduced on the Foundation website is itself a fake, a counterfeit. The fact is that the photos accompanying the article are of two completely different shafts in the ‘Queen’s Chamber’: the northern shaft, and the southern shaft.
The ‘door’ that was drilled in September 2002 was the door to the southern shaft, first revealed in 1994. The ‘door’ to the northern shaft had been unknown before 2002 (a previous robot exploration, organized by Gantenbrink in 1994, had been blocked by a bend in the passage), and was not revealed until some days after the broadcast of September 17th 2002. So the whole article, and, consequently, all the charges against Zahi Hawass, are therefore based on a false premise: the claim that this photo is of one shaft only, the southern shaft.
Astoundingly, Mr. Osmanagic, one of the “world’s leading pyramide researchers”), apparently failed to spot the fraud. But, even if it had somehow escaped him, surely either he or his webmaster could have taken the trouble to read the comments beneath the original article. From the third comment onwards, the facts are firmly re-established. Since the morning of 19th April (the original article was posted on the evening of 18th April, a copy of it appearing on the Foundation website on 21st April), no less a person than Chris Dunn, a friend and colleague of Mr. Osmanagic, has been busying himself with an attempt to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, even going so far as to explain why the ‘metal handle’ on the stone block on the right of the southern air-shaft had changed its appearance between the photographs taken in 1994 and those taken in 2002. Similarly, on many of the ‘alternative’ forums that carried copies of the defamatory and mindless article were comments that took it upon themselves to denounce the fraud. So will the Foundation website be following suit?
“Infamy, infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!”