The question of how former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass got a PhD in the United States in 1989 has been a matter of controversy.  Edgar Cayce (1877-1945)’s son, Hugh Lynn Cayce (1907-1982) claimed in 1980 that he, as director of the Edgar Cayce Foundation, arranged for Zahi Hawass to get a scholarship to study in the United States for a PhD. This is his exact words, apparently recorded on tape:

“I got him a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania in Egyptology, to get his PhD. I got the scholarship through an ARE person who happened to be on the Fulbright Scholarship Board. He [Hawass] had aided Mark [Lehner] to work at the Sphinx, and I am very appreciative.”

Big question: Is this true or is it a lie?”

Zahi Hawass has vehemently denied that either Hugh Lynn Cayce or anyone else had anything to do with him getting a Fulbright Scholarship to study in America or helped him to obtain a PhD.

Big question: Is Hawass telling the truth or is he lying?

And WHY would Hugh Lynn Cayce have wanted Hawass to get a PhD in America? According to Hugh Lynn’s biographer the reason was:

“…to advance within the [Egyptian] government to further his own career and open doors for Hugh Lynn [Cayce]’s project, [and] he could do it best on the wing of higher education at an American Ivy League college.” ”

And WHAT was Hugh Lynn Cayce’s “Project”?


Events show that Zahi Hawass DID get a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania; he DID further his career in the Egyptian goverment and he DID “open doors” for the Edgar Cayce/ARE foundation for Hugh Lynn’s “project” to search for the Hall of Records.

Zahi Hawass is presently involved in an investigation by the US Deparment of Justice for allegedly having accepted bribes from the National Geographic Society. He is also under investigation by the Prosecutor-General of Egypt in his alledged involvment in a crime related to illegal taking of samples from the Cartouche of Khufu in the Great Pyramid. If what Hugh Lynn Cayce has claimed is, in fact, true, then this also falls under the the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of the US Department of Justice. In view of the importance of this matter, here is the story as best as I can make it out based on written documentations.


In 1988 the journalist A. Robert Smith, then editor at the Association of Research and Enlightenment (ARE) press, wrote the biography of Hugh Lynn Cayce (1907-1982), the son of the world famous American ‘Sleeping Prophet’ Edgar Cayce (1877-1945).  In this biography, which is titled ‘Hugh Lynn Cayce: About my Father’s Business, Smith quotes Hugh Lynn Cayce (from tape recordings he made before Hugh Lynn’s death in 1982) as saying that he had arranged for the higher education of Zahi Hawass, the Egyptian ex-minister of State for Antiquities, and also for the education of Hawass’s colleague, the American Egyptologist Mark Lehner, visiting professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago and director of AERA (Ancient Egypt Research Association). Hawass and Lehner have been friends and colleagues since 1974 and have collaborated on many excavations and research at the Giza Plateau until 2011.

The quotes in Smith’s book attributed to Hugh Lynn Cayce are:

(Regarding Mark Lehner in 1972): “He [Mark Lehner] asked if I though they’d take him at the [American] University in Cairo. He told me he had some good grades and some very bad grades, and he asked if I’d write him a letter of recommendation. I wrote to the Dean of Admissions who turned out to be somebody who had read all the ARE books. He said he’d love to help Mark.” (Smith, Chapter 19, p. 245)

(Regarding Zahi Hawass 1980): “I got him a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania in Egyptology, to get his PhD. I got the scholarship through an ARE person who happened to be on the Fulbright Scholarship Board. He [Hawass] had aided Mark [Lehner] to work at the Sphinx, and I am very appreciative.” (Smith, Chapter 19, p. 250)

The “‘somebody” that is referred to by Hugh Lynn regarding the education of Mark Lehner was Frank  Blanning, the Dean of  Students Admissions at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in 1972. The people who put up the money were Arch and Ann Ogden from Florida who  donated $ 3500 per year for Lehner’’s fees at the AUC. Hugh Lynn Cayce had told them: “”It is very important, in my opinion right now for the ARE to have a man in Cairo.”” Lehner primary mission, in his own words: ““I went to Egypt to study at the American University in Cairo and to search for the Hall of Records that psychic Edgar Cayce had prophesied lay beneath the Sphinx.””

[note: The AUC started in Egypt as a Christian missionary body in the 1920s, and it is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Blanning had read all the ARE books and was impressed by Hugh Lynn Cayce, whose father was seen as some sort of new-age Christian prophet in America and around the world. Also the founder of the Fulbright Scholarship was James William Fulbright (1905-1995), a United States Senator from Arkansas and a long serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and hge, too, was a member of the Desciples of Christ (also known as the ‘Christian Church’) of which also Edgar Cayce was a member. Also a former President of the American University in Cairo was Raymond F. McLain (president 1954-1963)  ‘pastored several Disciples of Christ churches in Ohio.]

The ‘”person’ ” at the Fulbright Commission in Egypt regarding Zahi Hawass’s scholarship was the same Frank Blanning, who had been transferred from his post at the AUC to director of the Fulbright Commission in Cairo.  


“… let me make emphatically clear that I have never had any connection with the Edgar Cayce Foundation. It has not sponsored me, nor financed my post-graduate studies at the University of Pensylvania.” [statement made in September 1996]

In 1998 Hawass and Lehner further denied such claims in official statements given in the KMT Journal (volume 9, Number 1, Spring 1998, pp.5-6).  Here are their statements:

(Hawass): “The younger Mr. Cayce [Hugh Lynn Cayce] had absolutely nothing to do with my graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. .. The Hugh Lynn Cayce I knew would exaggerate things. Robert Smith, author of the biography, [Hugh Lynn Cayce] About my Father’s Business… sent me a fax apologizing having written the reference therein to Dr. Lehner and myself without having contacted us regarding the accuracy of Hugh Lynn Cayce’s statements. Despite his claim to Mr. Smith, there is no way Mr. Cayce could have had any role in obtaining for me a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.””

(Lehner): “I gather from Mr. Smith’s prologue that he wrote much of the book, including Chapter 19, from taped interviews with [Hugh Lynn] Cayce. Smith never contacted either Dr. Hawass or me to verify or comment on those passages relating to us. Anyone who knew Hugh Lynn Cayce well would have to honestly agree that fact-checking is especially important in this case… I introduced the younger Cayce (Hugh Lynn) to Zahi Hawass. I also introduced him to Frank Blanning, who was the Dean of Students [Admissions] at the American University in Cairo… Later Frank became the head of the Cairo office of the Fulbright Council for Education and Cultural Exchange, in which capacity he met Zahi Hawass…”.”

Yet in 2010 a recent statement was made by a senior director of the Edgar Cayce/ARE Foundation, Mr. John Van Auken:

 “Hugh Lynn helped Hawass get to the U.S. and get a Fulbright scholarship, creating a bond between the two men” [Venture Inward magazine, July-September 2010, p. 27. ]

For now and until further evidence may surface, it iremains the word of Hugh Lynn Cayce against those of Hawass and Lehner. Since Hugh Lynn Cayce is dead and so is Frank Blanning, the matter must rest here until further investigation.


Zahi Hawass stayed in the USA from 1980 to 1987 for his studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He lodged his PhD dissertation in January 1987. His main tutor at the university was Dr. David Silverman, a Jewish-American Egyptologist. Silverman was also one of three ‘readers’ of Hawass’s dissertation. The two other readers were Dr. David O’Connor and Dr. William Kelly Simpson. In the acknowledgements of his dissertation Hawass gives “very special thanks …to fellow students, Janice Kamrin, Heidi Rancin, and Stacie Olson, for their help preparing the manuscript with their suggestions, typing and editing.”Hawass returned to Egypt in 1987, and soon was made Director of the Giza Pyramids. In 2002 he was appointed Director-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. In January 2011 he was made Minister of State for Antiquities in the cabinet of Hosni Mubarak.  Hawass and Silverman have collaborated on many projects and wrote a book together. Silverman also serves as the curator, advisor and academic content creator for the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. in the New York and other cities in the USA organized by Zahi Hawass and the National Geographic Society. He was also put in charge for the exhibition Treasures of Tutankhamun at Chicago’’s Field Museum. Hawass and Janice Kamrin also wrote books together, and in recent years Hawass had appointed Kamrin as Director of Registrars at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo. During his long tenure Hawass has also helped several times (in 1978, 1991, 1996 and 1998) the Edgar Cayce Foundation and/or its senior members to search for the ‘Hall of records at Giza. Among these senior members were Joseph Jahoda and Joseph Schor (a prominent Jewish-American businessman whose wife, Laura Strumingher Schor, was the National Executive Director of the largest women’s organization in the United States, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America 1998-2000).



Hugh Lynn Cayce with the Dalai Lama

Hugh Lynn Cayce with the Dalai Lama

Hugh Lynn Cayce with Prime Minister of India Dr. Nehru

Hugh Lynn Cayce with Prime Minister Nehru of India


Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawass at Giza c. 1978


Mark Lehner reporting on the search for the Hall of Records at the Edgar Cayce Foundation c. 1979


Comments are closed.