Even if never explicitly stated (although it did become clearer in subsequent interviews with the authors and Facebook discussions), the theory underlying the Grimault and Pooyard documentary (“Revelation of the Pyramids”) is that the Great Pyramid of Cheops:
1° does not date from the IVth dynasty, but from a time long before, and was therefore not built by Cheops / Khufu;
2° was not a tomb, but had some other function . However, as with every author who has ever tried this line of enquiry in an attempt to attribute credit for constructing the Great Pyramid to someone other than the Egyptians (generally Atlanteans or aliens), this theory finds itself faced with several problems: not only contextual archaeological evidence that it does a splendid job of completely ignoring, but also the inscriptions, found in the relieving chambers of the Great Pyramid, that contain the name of King Khufu. The usual approach of these authors is to pretend that these inscriptions, or some part of them, are modern forgeries made just after Howard Vyse had discovered the relieving chambers, either by Howard Vyse himself or by someone from his team.
The question was discussed on Facebook, on the page linked to the film. It begins here, with a link provided by one of the contributors to a blog containing the theory about the Howard Vyse forgery. During the discussion, I repeatedly posted links to detailed explanations demonstrating the absurdity of this theory about forged inscriptions, before continuing the discussion here. We should not underestimate the importance of this question: in order to put forward a paradigm-shifting date for, and origin of, the Great Pyramid, we must start by providing incontrovertible proof that these inscriptions are forgeries, or any opposing theory immediately collapses.
Hardly surprising, therefore, that Jacques Grimault soon joined the discussion, saying, here, and here , that the question of the Khufu cartouche was a hoax, and that he would shortly be providing "definitive" proof of this. He duly published this evidence in a note on the film’s Facebook page, under the title "So: Kheops, or not Kheops?" I quote the key portion of this note, errors and all:
The following piece of evidence has never been much publicised or discussed in mainstream channels in France, while print versions are difficult to find. But perhaps it might make readers wonder whether they should reconsider their opinion about the real builder(s) of the Great Pyramid. The evidence consists of a letter sent more than a quarter of a century ago to the editor of the American magazine, Venture Inward , shedding on this particular case a light that might be called nothing less than startling. A certain Walter Allen, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA), revealed that his grandfather was a stonemason working under Colonel Vyse, at the very time that Vyse was trying to find a way into the chambers in the pyramid superstructure. Allen explained that it had long been Vyse’s ambition to give a name to this pyramid, a name which would ipso facto be permanently associated with his own, enabling it to be immortalized in history. Quite apart from the tremendous boost that this would give to Vyse’s own reputation, it would add a new lustre to the escutcheon of English Egyptology, something of which it was in dire need with the Italians Caviglia and Benzoni flying high with a series of successful discoveries; and it would also restore the confidence of his patron, whose funds were running low. It was at this time that Vyse discovered the superstructure of the upper chamber ... and succeeded in opening four out of five of these chambers ... On the night after this discovery, according to the letter, Vyse went back inside the pyramid, followed by one of his assistants and a workman. He asked his assistant, a man by the name of J.H. Hill , a mason who supposedly had some knowledge of hieroglyphs, to write the name of King Khufu several times, as clearly as possible, in red paint on the walls of the narrow chamber ... At this stage, let us just ask some simple questions. What would have been the point of the pyramid construction crew writing the name of a king at a time when there were no other pyramids on the Giza plateau? And why only there, in the four chambers discovered by Vyse, and not in the first one discovered by Davison? According to Allen, Hill complied with some reluctance, but made glaring errors of spelling that quickly attracted the attention of philologists, who saw that these mistakes were exactly the same as those in the only two books on hieroglyphs available in 1837 to the general public: The Voyage of Arabia Petraea, by the Frenchman Léon de Laborde, and Materia Hieroglyphica, by the eminent John Gardiner Wilkinson. As for the mason, who protested about the colossal fraud and refused to be involved either directly or indirectly in this forgery, he was bullied mercilessly, dismissed, and permanently banned from the Great Pyramid. Subsequently, he was even physically threatened, and found himself obliged to beat a hurried retreat to his home in Wiltshire, in England, where he told his family about the distressing story. He was severely discredited by Colonel Howard Vyse on the latter’s return, called a liar, publicly rebuked once more, and had to leave England. He moved to the United States ... More than a century and a half later, the Allen family archives provided proof of this account, the main points of which were published in the magazine Fate ...
What is the truth of all these assertions? Let us begin with the sources: Grimault provides only two names of two magazines, Venture Inward and Fate, without specifying dates or issue numbers. It is therefore difficult to trace the origin of these claims. However, I note that, in July 1993, the magazine Fate published an article in which Zecharia Sitchin summarised his theories on the construction of the Great Pyramid by aliens, citing the testimony of Walter Allen (article mentioned here and here). Moreover, in November / December 1986, Zecharia Sitchin published an article entitled "Forgery in the Great Pyramid” (mentioned in this bibliography) in Venture Inward (a magazine that, in 1984, took over from the ARE Journal, the journal of the Association for Research and Enlightenment, founded by the medium Edgar Cayce). We may therefore suppose that, between 1980 (the publication date of Stairway to Heaven, in which the idea of the Howard Vyse forgery was first broached) and 1983 (according to Sitchin, the date of Walter Allen’s first appearance on the scene), this magazine published other articles by Sitchin, or reviewed his book.
It is therefore likely that, contrary to what Mr. Grimault states here ("The reference to Zecharia Setchin is false"), his only source is the letter received by Sitchin, cited in Journeys to the Mythical Past (pages 28 and following).
Let us take a closer look at what Sitchin says in his book about Howard Vyse and the forged Khufu cartouche supposedly painted by the latter in Campbell’s Chamber. Sitchin begins by repeating what he said about Howard Vyse in his book Stairway to Heaven:
Howard Vyse was a retired British colonel, "black sheep" of a wealthy family
The "black sheep" idea is not confirmed by any other source. Howard Vyse was the only son of a general, and had a fairly standard military and political career for the time, his only peculiarity being his interest in Ancient Egypt.
He named them in honor of Lord Nelson and Lady Arbuthnot - names recorded by Mr. Hill in the usual red paint.
Nowhere in the Howard Vyse journal, published under the title Operations Carried on at the Pyramids of Gizeh in 1837: with an account of a journey into upper Egypt, and Appendix, the full text of which can be downloaded here, is any reference made to red paint being used for the names given to the rooms. The description of the discovery of the relieving chambers begins on page 205 of Volume 1 (page 250 of the pdf), and there are several mentions of Hill’s inscription (e.g., page 208: "the Duke’s glorious name was inscribed on the southern wall [of Wellington’s Chamber]”), but nowhere does it say that it was with red paint. The list of inscriptions that Howard Vyse asked Hill to make appears in Volume 2, page 145; these inscriptions are still visible today, and all are painted black:
It seems obvious that is a Sitchin invention, one that is repeated a little later in the book:
As I read the diary entries again, the words "red paint" kept jumping out of the pages, as when Mr. Hill used it to inscribe the names "Lord Wellington", "Lady Arbuthnot", "Lord Nelson".
Then, starting on page 28, appears the story of the letter sent in 1983 by Walter Allen, who claimed to be the great-grandson of someone who witnessed the forgery. According to Allen, his great-grandfather, employed by Howard Vyse as one of the people working at the Great Pyramid, had written to his family announcing his dismissal:
He witnessed Mr. Hill go into the pyramid with red paint and brush, supposedly to paint over ancient markings, but actually to paint new ones.
As proof, Sitchin provides a facsimile of a page from a notebook:
which was subsequently cited by many authors as an "extract from the family archive", authenticating the story of Allen and "proving" beyond any reasonable doubt the forgery committed by Hill and Howard Vyse.
However, Sitchin himself is obliged to admit ("Though Mr. Allen’s search for the bundle of Humphries’ letters was unsuccessful") that the letters written by the great-grandfather attesting to the fraud have never been produced. What Sitchin reproduces consists of a page of notes made by Mr. Allen in 1954 after a conversation with his mother, during which they discussed a visit by Mr. Allen’s mother (in August 1954) to a third person ("Nell Pattington " [sic: Allen’s notes say “Nell Pattengill”]) who was supposed to be in possession of some letters written by Mr. Allen’s great-grandfather, Humphries, letters that Mrs. Pattington/Pattengill had been given by her father ... If this is direct evidence, well, we’ve known better ...
Although nobody apart from Sitchin has succeeded in contacting Mr. Allen, who does not live – or no longer lives - in Pittsburgh (see here), there is really no reason for calling into question his good faith. But, on the one hand, even if his great-grandfather, Humphries Brewer, really existed, and knew the people involved in this affair, testimony consisting of a family tradition passed down for 150 years seems very inadequate; and, on the other hand, still working from Mr. Allen’s notes, the same tradition seems to show that Brewer was caught up in the famous quarrel between Howard Vyse and Caviglia (see Appendix to Volume 2 of the Howard Vyse book, from page 152 - page 190 of the pdf), which could have given rise to confusion over the decades. Nevertheless, asserting, in the way Sitchin does, that "the forgery in the Great Pyramid was confirmed by an eyewitness" is nothing less than the wildest overstatement ...
Now back to Grimault:
– It is almost certain, unless he produces a different additional source, that his version of the Howard Vyse “forgery” is entirely based on Sitchin, although he is careful not to mention Sitchin’s name, confining himself only to the titles of magazines. Why is this? Could it have something to do with the fact that Sitchin has long been completely discredited in the eyes of experts?
– Grimault adopts this source (Sitchin), without any objective examination.
– And, most significantly, he adds many elements to the Sitchin story, leaving the reader in ignorance about whether these elements are the product of his own imagination, or have come from mysterious unnamed sources:
- “Quite apart from the tremendous boost that this would give to Vyse’s own name, it … would also restore the confidence of his patron, whose funds were running low. " What patron? Howard Vyse financed his expedition out of his personal fortune; he had no patron. And his fortune was not running so low that, even after his departure from Egypt, he was unable to continue to fund the work of Perring (see here).
- " Vyse went back inside the pyramid, followed by one of his assistants and a workman. He asked his assistant, a man by the name of J.H. Hill, a mason who supposedly had some knowledge of hieroglyphs, to write the name of King Khufu several times, as clearly as possible, in red paint on the walls of the narrow chamber ... " It is almost as if Grimault was there in person! If the letter sent to Venture Inward and forwarded to Sitchin was so precise, why does Sitchin not provide more information about it in his book? Why does he merely reproduce Mr. Allen’s notes, which obviously contained far less detail?
- " As for the mason, who protested about the colossal fraud and refused to be involved either directly or indirectly in this forgery, he was bullied mercilessly, then dismissed, [ … ] Subsequently, he was even physically threatened, and found himself obliged to hurry back to his home in Wiltshire, in England, where he told his family about his distressing story. He was severely discredited by Colonel Howard Vyse on the latter’s return, called a liar, publicly rebuked once more, and had to leave England.” What a tragic story! I’m curious to know where Grimault found all these details, with which Mr. Sitchin – who is nevertheless the source of the Howard Vyse forgery idea - would have had a field day!
- "More than a century and a half later, the Allen family archives provided proof of this account ..." As we have seen above, the "archives" in question have never been published, with the exception of some notes of conversations with third or fourth parties.
So that leaves only the argumentation. Again, this reprises Sitchin on the so-called "spelling mistakes" in the inscriptions discovered by Howard Vyse. This argument has long since been demolished, most especially by Martin Stower and Frank Dornenburg. Readers who want to know more will find here a page explaining the pseudo-misspelling of Khufu’s name of Khufu, with quality reproductions of the offending cartouche, showing how Sitchin either wilfully, or through lacking access to original sources, distorted the cartouche, so generating the "error" himself:
Two further pages on the same site also make short work of Sitchin’s remaining arguments: "The wrong letters", and "The Horus name", which shows that, in 1837, the "forger" Howard Vyse would have had to invent a name for Khufu, even though, at that particular time, no one had any idea that these symbols represented the name of a king ...
In short, despite Grimaud’s little allegory on the pitfalls of archaeological interpretation - which, without too much difficulty, could be applied to his own interpretations! – we find ourselves still unsatisfied on the question of the "definitive" evidence proving that Howard Vyse committed forgery. In the meantime, this example provides a good illustration of the lack of rigour of Grimault’s approach (vague sources, unproven assertions, off topic allegories...) and the lack of critical thinking demonstrated by many of his admirers, whose comments rave about the excellence of his article without once stopping to enquire about his sources ...
In addition, it is worth noting that even some "alternative" authors who believe that "official Egyptology" is mistaken or dishonest have had to admit the authenticity of the inscriptions after seeing them. For example, Graham Hancock, who had the opportunity to make a detailed study of the relieving chambers, said in July 1998:
Re the ’quarry mark’ hieroglyphs in the relieving chambers above the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid, I have rightly been taken to task for uncritically supporting Zecharia Sitchin’s forgery theory. I reported this theory in Fingerprints (published 1995) and in Keeper/Message (published 1996). [...]
As John West kindly reported in his open letter to Stower I have changed my views on the validity of the forgery theory.[...]
Cracks in some of the joints reveal hieroglyphs set far back into the masonry. No ’forger’ could possibly have reached in there after the blocks had been set in place - blocks, I should add, that weigh tens of tons each and that are immovably interlinked with one another. The only reasonable conclusion is the one which orthodox Egyptologists have already long held - namely that the hieroglyphs are genuine Old Kingdom graffiti and that they were daubed on the blocks before construction began.
For his part, Robert Schoch also had access to these rooms in 2005, and he, too, no longer doubts their authenticity (even if he interprets them differently from Egyptologists).
Studying them closely, however, they looked authentically ancient to me. I could see later mineral crystals precipitated over them, a process that takes centuries or millennia, and the inscriptions continue under the overlying blocks.
Another interesting link about the problem of Khufu’s cartouche: http://jcolavito.tripod.com/lostcivilizations/id10.html
Update 30 March 2013
Following the comment by Abacus (see below), I obtained from Martin Stower the complete transcription of Allen’s notes published by Sitchin:
Sat Oct 9 1954 Johnstown with mother
Her visit Corning with Nell Pattengill August.
Also to settle Grandpas estate in Bath N.Y.
Visited Uncle Mac in hospital. Went to Watkinsglen
and Addison. Catherine saw house at Addison,
Mother was born there. She will be 78 next month.
Nell had some of Humfreys [sic] letters & Wm Brewers
letters from England. Got them from her father
Wm Marchant Brewer.
Wm Neish Allen buried Hope Cemetery Corning near
Grandpa & Beck Brewer on same plot. Humfrey &
mother Jennie buried in Fallbrook. He made first
plan for Corning, hangs in city hall. Came to Bath
N.Y. in 1849. Julia & children in 1850. Wm Neish Allen
came 1848 from Liverpool, there was mutiny on boat.
Janetta and Alex came 1849.
Humfrey recieved [sic] prize for bridge he designed in
Vienna over Danube. H went to Egypt 1837, British
Medical Serv. to Egypt.
Robert took bible back to England 1868 after Humfrey
died. Nell said they were to build hospital in Cairo for
Arabs with severe eye afflictions. Dr Naylor took Humfrey
along. Treatment not sussessful [sic], hospital not built. He
joined a Col. Visse exploring Gizeh pyramids. Rechecked
dimensions 2 pyramids. Had dispute with Raven and
Hill about painted marks in pyramid. Faint marks were
repainted, some were new. Did not find Tomb.
Saw some limestone blocks at toe of one pyramid.
Humfrey went to Syria & Jerusalem to see holy city
few weeks later. Had words with a Mr Hill and
Visse when he left. He agreed with a Col. Colin [sic]
Campbell & another Geno Cabilia [sic]. Humfrey went
back to England late 1837. Had to wait a month for
boat from Bayruth [sic: Beirut?] to Athens. Went up through
Austria and Prussia. His father was disturbed
about the trip, told him details. Jennie was
happy he went.
Mother is not feeling good. She is
worn out. Never should have gone to Corning.
She told me Papa’s school book is at Fallbrook.
Aunt Julia kept it. also some of Papas glass.
Jim Muirs papers are in loft at Fallbrook.
Also Julias chair from England.
Showed her in my log contact with Antarctic
British Expedition but they didnt know who
had arrived yet from England. It is spring
Will call mother next month after she
gets letter from Nell.
Thanks to the name of the burial place mentioned, Fall Brook, it is possible to learn more about Humphries Brewer: first that he was not a mere "mason", but rather an engineer and geologist, and that he finished his life as manager of the Fall Brook Coal Company; and, more important, that his arrival in the States took place in 1848 or 1849, that is 11 or 12 years after his trip to Egypt in 1837. So that it’s difficult to see how his departure from England could be linked with Howard Vyse’s threats, as J. Grimault writes ("He was severely discredited by Colonel Howard Vyse on the latter’s return, called a liar, publicly rebuked once more, and had to leave England. He moved to the United States")...