The Secret Sphinx Tunnels!?

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There have been rumours of passageways and secret chambers surrounding the Sphinx and during recent restoration work several small tunnels have been re-discovered. One, near the rear of the statue extends down into it for about nine yards. Another, behind the head, is a short dead-end shaft. The third, located mid-way between the tail and the paws, was opened during restoration work in the 1920’s, then resealed.

It is unknown whether these tunnels were constructed by the original Egyptian designers, by visiting aliens or were cut into the statue at a later date.

In 1987 a Japanese team from Waseda University (Tokyo), under the direction of Sakuji Yoshimura carried out an electromagnetic sounding survey of the Khufu Pyramid and Sphinx. They reported evidence of a tunnel oriented north-south under the Sphinx, a water pocket 2.5 to 3 m below surface near the south hind paw, and another cavity near the north hind paw.

In 1991 a team consisting of geologist Robert Schoch (Boston University), Thomas Dobecki, and John Anthony West carried out a survey of the Sphinx using seismic refraction, refraction tomography, and seismic reflection. The investigators interpreted their data to indicate shallower subsurface weathering patterns toward the back and deeper weathering toward the front, which they take to indicate that the back of the Sphinx and its ditch were carved by Khafre later than the front. They interpret their data to likewise indicate subsurface cavities in front of the front left paw, and from the left paw back along the south flank.

The strange tunnel!

In 2009, a story emerged of a collapsed illegal tunnel in the Giza village of Nazlet El Smaan, causing the deaths of 6 men. Although very little was made of the story, a selection of photographs and recorded conversations proved that tunnelling beneath the houses was being financed and operated surreptitiously and rumours were surfacing that that major finds were being discovered, including rumours of ancient alien evidence.

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Tombs of Pre-Inca Elite Discovered Under Peru Pyramid

A complex of tombs recently discovered under a pyramid in Peru offers landmark clues to a thousand-year-old pre-Incan culture at Túcume: a pre-Hispanic site in Peru, south of the La Leche River on a plain around La Raya Mountain. It covers an area of over 540 acres (220 ha) and encompassing 26 major pyramids and mounds.

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Tucume Archeological Complex

A team co-led by Izumi Shimada, an archaeologist with Southern Illinois University, found 22 artifact-laden tombs about 420 miles (675 kilometers) northwest of Lima, the capital.

The area is referred to as Purgatorio (purgatory) by local people. The vast plains of Túcume are part of the Lambayeque region, the largest valley of the north coast of Peru. The Lambayeque Valley is the site of scores of natural and man-made waterways and is also a region of about 250 decaying brick pyramids.

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Map of Peru- Lambayeque region top left, third down on coast

Among the findings are meticulously arranged human remains; gold, gilt copper, and bronze artifacts; and the first decorated tumi, or ceremonial knives, ever discovered by archaeologists at a burial site.

The graves belong to elite members of the Middle Sican culture, a gold-working people whose farming culture thrived in Peru’s desert coastal region from around A.D. 900 to 1100.

Shimada and colleague Carlos Elera Arevalo, director of Peru’s Sican National Museum, say the discovery is yielding crucial clues to this ancient civilization.

Ceremonial Knives

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A key find involved 12 ceremonial tumi knives. Eight of the knives were plain, four were decorated, and two bore the likeness of the Sican Deity, believed by Sicans to rule the supernatural world.

Archaeologists have previously found undecorated tumi knives in residential and ceremonial settings. But until now they had never excavated ceremonial knives bearing ideologically charged representations of the Sican Deity.

Shimada said some scholars believe the deity on the knives to be Naylamp, a figure who, according to an oral history recorded by Spaniards in the 16th century, became a god after emerging from the sea.

Shimada said it is particularly important that the tomb complex was found beneath a pyramidal temple mound known as Huaca Loro.

Huaca-Loro

Tucume Archeological Complex

This site was a major regional center, maybe even the capital of the successive occupations of the area by the Lambayeque/Sican (800-1350 AD), Chimú (1350–1450 AD) and Inca (1450–1532 AD). Local shaman healers (curanderos) invoke power of Tucume and La Raya Mountain in their rituals, and local people fear these sites. Hardly anyone other than healers venture out in this site at night.

According to the legend, it was built in the year 700 A.D. and was founded by Calac, descendent of Naymlap. Tucume, or Valle de las Pirámides (Valley of the Pyramids), is made up of twenty-six pyramids, the most impressive ones being the Huaca del Pueblo, La Raya, El Sol, and Las Estacas.

“Many pre-Hispanic tombs were placed in existing mounds, but this is the first time that a major cemetery was found underlying a major mound,” he said.

The artifacts and elements of the tombs’ layout suggest that the Sican had a deep reverence for ancestors and that the people had apparently made repeated pilgrimages to the site.

“The fact that people had come at least 20 times over 500 years to leave offerings and burn the ground around the cemetery indicates the intimate and persistent relations between local populations and their ancestors,” according to the project summary.

Shimada said the team found a “seated adult male personage wearing a copper-silver crown, decorated tumi knives, a gilt copper ceremonial cup, a large pectoral made of a gilt copper disk, and turquoise, shell, and other beads.”

The man was found in a small square tomb 23 feet (7 meters) below the modern ground surface. He had been buried facing east toward a tomb believed to house one of the Sican’s dynastic founders. “We also documented a number of large tombs of female elites that suggest that they played important social and religious roles in the Middle Sican culture,” Shimada said.

One woman in her 20s was found sitting cross-legged in a 11.5-foot-square (3.5-meter-square) shaft tomb 33 feet (10 meters) below the surface.

Her body was surrounded by painted cloths and flanked by ceramic vessels, cast bronze artifacts, and a ceremonial cup of copper-silver alloy, he said.

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LIDAR archaeology shines light on Ancient Sites

Airborne laser scanning has revealed the remnants of a vast urban structure in the vicinity of Angkor Wat, a famous temple in Cambodia. The study, which will be published soon in the journal PNAS, follows a previous one that showed Angkor Wat to have been one of the world’s most complex preindustrial cities.

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Archaeologists around the world are beginning to embrace Lidar, flying aircraft over everything from Stonehenge to patches of scrub, in search of hidden treasures. The findings are already beginning to challenge conventional theories and change our view of the size and extent of ancient civilizations. But, while some say we are on the cusp of a new golden age of discovery, it is also beginning to throw up difficult questions about the disappearance of ancient civilizations.

Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) is making it easier for archeologists to explore human settlements in tropical vegetation; previous LIDAR work has found evidence of new cities in Central America (see “A Lost City, Found With Lasers”), as well as further enhancing the layout of known settlements such as the Mayan city of Caracol.

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For the new study, the researchers used a LIDAR setup emitting up to 200,000 laser pulses each second from a helicopter. Amazingly, the entire operation for the data collection spanned just 2 days in April 2012 for a total 20 hours of flight time, capturing imagery that would have taken many years to assemble from the ground, if at all. The LIDAR analysis also appears to have discovered what could be an older city beside Angkor Wat.

The study has revealed new canals, temples, and still unidentified manmade features, confirming a metropolitan area that housed many thousands of people, much as the Giza Plateau Mapping Project is doing for cities surrounding the Pyramids’ construction in Egypt.

As LIDAR technology gets cheaper, it will accelerate our understanding of early human settlements from the lingering geographic footprints we left, traces which can be almost as shallow as a footprint itself. As the authors write in their PNAS paper: “LIDAR technology has recently matured to the point where it has become cost-effective for archaeologists…with sufficient accuracy and precision to identify archaeological features of only a few centimeters in size.”

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Layer cake: The top image shows a digital recreation of Agkor Wat, with elevation derived collected by LIDAR; the bottom image shows the raw LIDAR digital terrain model, with red lines indicate modern linear features including roads and canal

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