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The Sphinx for people who don't care about the Sphinx
on 5 June 1999
After I first read this book, I was inclined to give Hancock and Bauval at least some benefit of the doubt. I believed that at minimum they had succeeded in raising some interesting questions that _might_ suggest an origin for the Great Sphinx some 3000-8000 years before most historians and archaeologists believe it was carved (about 2500 BCE). Hancock and Bauval tell an interesting yarn, with hints of lost civilizations of startling technological and scientific prowess, and of hidden chambers waiting beneath the sands of Giza for a daring Indiana Jones to unearth.
As I read more on the subject of the Sphinx, the pyramids and other great structures of antiquity, however, I am less inclined to view Hancock and Bauval as anything more than incompetent cranks. Their yarn is just that, a yarn and nothing more. Their edifice of "archaeo-astronomical" reasoning is built on extremely shaky grounds, and in arriving at 10,500 BCE as the date of the Sphinx's origin, and as the apex of some great lost civilization, they must ignore a truly enormous amount of careful scientific reasoning. The reader of this book will not be provided with any real feeling for the rationale behind the "conventional" Egyptological views, for if he/she was to have such an understanding, Hancock and Bauval would be revealed for the sad pseudoscientists they are. In point of fact, the polemic of "Message of the Sphinx" is less about a rational basis for reevaluating everything we know of ancient Egypt than it is a retrospective justification for the pre-formed idea that there must be a lost, highly advanced Atlantis-like civilization in the distant past. To Hancock and his ilk, the ends justify the means.
If read by itself, this book will doubtlessly persuade you that what the authors claim has some basis in fact, since it is written so one-sidedly and so deceptively. If you read this book, then, you owe it to yourself and to anyone you foist it on to also read Paul Jordan's recent "Riddles of the Sphinx," which provides a well-written counterpoint to the wild claims of Hancock and Bauval. If all you read is this book, and others by these authors, then you really aren't interested in the Sphinx at all.