The Osiris Tomb of Giza
Research Report by Gregor Spörri
Not far from the Great Pyramids is the so-called Osiris Tomb (also Osiris Shaft). The existence of the mysterious underground tomb has long been dismissed by experts as the brainchild of the Greek historian, geographer and ethnologist Herodotus of Halikarnass. Around 450 BC, this Herodotus traveled to Egypt. In his 2nd history book he tells of a tomb under the rocky hill on which the Great Pyramids stand. In this tomb, Herodotus said, an artificial lake surrounds an island where Pharaoh Cheops is buried.
In 1933/34 the site was rediscovered by the Egyptologist Selim Hassan during excavations. From 2008 it was also researched by the chief Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.
Descent into the Underworld
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to explore the three chambers on top of each other, of which there are only a few recordings. The entrance is hidden under the entrance that leads from the Sphinx up to the pyramid of Chephren.
Level / Chamber 1
I reach the first chamber via a less trusting iron conductor. It is located at a depth of six metres, is 4 x 10 metres in size and is empty. From here, another vertical shaft leads dizzyingly far into the depths. One of the two ladders is completely rusted through and the other is in a serious condition.
Level / Chamber 2
The second chamber is located at a depth of 18 metres. It is 5 x 8 meters in size and has eight niches. It was dated to the late age of ancient Egypt around 500 BC, using shards of clay and bone analysis.
In two niches there are massive granite sarcophagi. In the coffin in Niche 2, I discover human remains of bones and teeth. It also blocks an 80 x 100 centimetre corridor that goes east towards the valley temple and Sphinx. Someone pushed the coffin into the aisle with such force that it broke. The coffin in niche 7 is empty. In principle, only authorized persons have access to this facility. So why was the gang blocked? What is there in the Osiris Tomb of Giza that cannot be seen and/or explored?
Around 500 BC, graves in Egypt were usually richly decorated with cartridges, coloured reliefs and inscriptions. There is none of this in the Osiris tomb. The bare ceilings, walls, floors and sarcophagi, however, are part of a series of megalithic buildings that may have come from a much older era: the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx Temple, the Osireion in Abydos, the Serapeum in Sakkara …
Stone graves were often used several times. After being looted by grave robbers, new ‘tenants’ moved in. It is quite possible that the ceramics and bones analysed come from such ‘tenants’, which led to incorrect dating.
Level / Chamber 3 – The Osiris Tomb
In niche 4 of the second chamber, a shaft of just under 2 x 2 metres leads even further down into the underground. The descent is again an adventure. Finally, I reach the so-called Osiris tomb at a depth of 30 meters.
The only light down there comes from an old construction headlight and my headlamp. I try to orient at home: in the middle of the spacious chamber, as described by Herodotus, there is a lake. In the middle of it is a rectangular platform. At the four corners of the platform as well as on the ceiling, there are remnants of square columns. Changes in pressure, tectonic shifts or an earthquake destroyed the pillars a long time ago.
A rectangular recess is inserted into the platform. Embedded in it lies a mighty granite sarcophagus with a rounded headboard. I appreciate its size and calculate a weight of 10 to 15 tons. When Looking at the monstrous container, I automatically ask myself the question: How did they bring the thing down here?
The water in the chamber is much higher at the moment than in Herodotus’s time. The island and the sarcophagus where Cheops is said to have rested are flooded. The coffin lid was placed across two wooden beams. The headboard of the lid protrudes a bit out of the water.
According to analyses of further finds, the third level, at just over 5000 years old, is more than twice as old as the second level. That makes no sense, because you dig from top to bottom and not the other way around!
Mysterious corridors, vaults and tunnels
Via an improvised wooden walkway I reach the east wall of the burial chamber. From there, a narrow passage leads even deeper into the Egyptian underworld. I force myself into it. After about 20 meters I get into a small vault, in which you can hardly turn. From here, a tunnel only 40 x 40 centimetres small leads northwards towards the Great Pyramid. In addition, there is a second, equally small tunnel, which goes east towards Sphinx. It is impossible to explore the tunnels. Chief Egyptologist Zahi Hawass sent a little boy in a few years ago. But he soon got stuck and had to be pulled out with great difficulty.
My objections to Zahi Hawass’ theses
Using ceramic shards, bone remains, as well as the arrangement of the four stone pillars on the rock slab, Zahi Hawass thinks that the site is a symbolic tomb and a sacred place of worship of the god of the dead Osiris. According to mythology, Osiris was murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth. Isis is said to have reassembled and resuscitated her husband’s body. Since then, Osiris has been regarded as the judge of the dead and ruler of the underworld.
According to Hawass, Pharaoh Cheops had his pyramid built so close to the Osiris tomb that it could stand on sacred land.
Objection 1: A sacred place of worship for a god is expected to be a stately building similar to the valley temple at the Sphinx and not an inconspicuous hole in the earth.
Objection 2: Human remains were apparently found in the supposed god coffin, suggesting that the place served as a real burial ground.
Objection 3: Zahi Hawass is said to have never scientifically substantiated his theses, which still leads to great uncertainty among Egyptologists. No further research seems to be taking place at the moment.
QuestionsQuestion 1: Was Cheops actually buried in Osiris Tomb, as Herodotus reports? The pharaoh lived about 4500 years ago. His alleged grave, however, is at least 500 years older.
Question 2: How did the mighty sarcophagus come down to the third level?
Question 3: How could 40 x 40 centimetres of small tunnels towards the pyramid and sphinx be knocked out of the rock without artificial lighting and ventilation?
Question 4: What was the purpose of these tunnels?
Question 5: Where does the tunnel lead on the second level?
I hope to be able to resolve some of the outstanding issues during further on-the-spot research.
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