BREAKING NEWS: KHUFU GRAFFITI AFFAIR

BREAKING NEWS. The Khufu Graffiti Affair. I have been asked by my Egyptian colleagues to make my position clear regarding this affair. Although I think I have already done so in several statements and radio interviews so far, I nonetheless have written this statement to be taken as my official position in this matter.


February 2014 My Position regarding the unauthorised taking of samples of red ochre paint from ancient graffiti from inside the so-called Campbell’s Chamber, and also from black marking on the underside of the ceiling beams of the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza.

On the 17 April 2013 two Germans, Dr. Dominique Gorlitz and Stefan Erdman, visited the Great Pyramid on a ‘private visitor permit’ granted to them by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) from a two hours visit between 6 and 8 p.m. While in the Great Pyramid they climbed a ladder in the King’s Chamber and took samples of black markings from the underside of the ceiling beams. Ten small samples apparently totalling a few milligrammes were removed from the beams and put into small glass cups. They also took about 2 milligrammes of red ochre paint from an ancient graffiti on the south-west corner of the Campbell’s Chamber (5th Relief Chamber above the King’s Chamber) located about 1.5 meters to the west from the graffiti ‘Cartouche of Khufu’. The whole episode of their activity in the Great Pyramid was filmed on HD video.

In November 2013 the two Germans put up some of the video footage on Youtube. The Egyptian media, along with the international media, then accused them of taking the red ochre paint sample from the ‘Cartouche of Khufu’ in Campbell’s. On the 10th December 2013 Zahi Hawass, ex-Minister of Antiquities, accused me (Robert Bauval) in the newspaper Masry Al Youm of being an ‘Egyptian Jew who paid the Germans to steal the Cartouche of Khufu’… to prove that the ‘it is not the Egyptians who built the pyramids’ but the ‘Jews’.

Hawass’s accusation were totally false. I am not a Jew, I did not know the two Germans let alone pay them to ‘steal the cartouche of Khufu’. Furthermore I never claimed that the ‘Jews built the pyramids’. On the 13th December 2013 I managed to contact one of the Germans, Dr. Dominique Gorlitz. When I informed him of Hawass’s accusation, Dr. Gorlitz sent me a signed statement confirming that neither him nor his colleague Stefan Erdman had any communication with me before 13 December 2013 and that I had absolutely nothing to do with their work or their activity in the Great Pyramid. Indeed I have not met either Dr. Gorlitz or Erdman in person to this day. .

Dr. Gorlitz also confirmed to me that the sample of red ochre was not taken from the cartouche of Khufu graffiti but from another graffiti 1.5 meters west of it. From photographic evidence I have seen, I am convinced that the two Germans did not take the red ochre sample from the cartouche of Khufu.

My position is that the two Germans were wrong in taking samples, however small, from the Great Pyramid. But I stand by their claim that they did not take the sample from the cartouche of Khufu or did any damage to it. I am not sure what is the legal implications of their actions. But whatever legal action they could face, it cannot be for causing damage the cartouche of Khufu. The two Germans do not deny taking black marking samples from the underside of the beams of the King’s Chamber or a sample of red ochre paint from a graffiti in Campbell’s room. Any legal action that might be taken against them can only be for this. The fact that they had an official ‘private visitor permit’ to enter the Great Pyramid on the 17 April 2013 may not justify the taking of samples. But it is not evident who is ultimately responsible, since they were meant to be supervised by SCA inspectors and security police during this visit.

It is not up to me to ascertain what the legal position of the two Germans is with regards their actions. They know very well that I do not condone the unauthorised taking of samples from the Great Pyramid. But I also stand by the side of truth which is that the red ochre sample was NOT from the cartouche of Khufu but from another graffiti that is about 1.5 meters west of the cartouche. Does this absolve them or diminishes the severity of a possible legal action against them? It is not up to me to decide. It is a matter for the official legal authorities involved. I suppose that the case much depends on the conditions that are stipulated in the ‘private visitor permit’, since this, in my opinion, constitutes the ‘contract’ between the SCA and the travel agent through which the two Germans were able to have access to the various chambers in the Great Pyramid on 17 April 2013. The ultimate responsibility may perhaps rest with the SCA officials who granted the permit and of the SCA personnel which accompanied and supervised the visit of the Germans. As a general overview, my personal opinion is that no-one other than fully qualified and SCA/UNESCO approved expert archaeologists and scientists should be granted ‘private’ access to an ancient monument or temple, let alone the Great Pyramid. This unwise and unusual practice by the SCA of granting ‘private visit permits’ to travel agents bringing tourists into the Great Pyramid before and after official hours, which incidentally has been going on for several decades, was bound to lead to such unfortunate situation. I understand from the two Germans themselves that one of them, Stefan Erdmann, who to my knowledge is not an archaeologist or SCA approved scientist, has indeed been given such ‘private visit permits’ for the Great Pyramid and its Relief Chambers (and other ancient sites) by Dr. Zahi Hawass, sometimes even just verbally, on several occasions over the last 15 years. I also know of many others like Erdmann who have also have had the same ‘privilege’ granted to them by Zahi Hawass during his long tenure. It is now impossible to tell what possible damage or desecration has been done during such occasions.

Robert Bauval, 2 February 2014

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