The origin story of the Great Sphinx of Gaza has a few holes in it … and apparently so does the Sphinx itself. While the hole in its head has been explained, other holes and doorways continue to hide their true purpose. A new theory has emerged recently that there is a hidden doorway in front of the Sphinx that opens to a passageway into the monument and may also connect to secret tunnels into the Great Pyramid and possibly a second one. Is this the whole story or are there any holes in this hole story?
This new claim comes from amateur historian Matt Sibson on his YouTube channel Ancient Architects. He bases his conjectures partly on a book entitled “Operations carried on at the pyramids of Gizeh in 1837” written by Howard Vyse and partly on two stelae (a stele is a standing stone tablet) that were created by Ramesses the Great around 1200 BCE and once in front of the Sphinx but were removed in the 19th century and taken to the Louvre, where they remain today. A third, the older Dream Stele, still stands at the foot of the Sphinx.
Howard Vyse was an early archeologist (to use the term loosely) of the pyramids and Sphinx who used gunpowder to blast holes in various monuments in the 1840s. It’s believed he drilled and then blasted a hole on the back of the Sphinx about 4 feet behind the head. Called Perring’s Hole after his engineer, the drill went in 27 feet before getting stuck, and Vyse’s gunpowder couldn’t remove it. The rod was extracted in 1978 by Zahi Hawass, archeologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, who found it had reached a cavity containing a part of the Sphinx’s headdress. Sibson claims in an interview with the Daily Star that “Operations” contains a drawing of one of the Louvre’s stelae and it shows a now-hidden doorway. (You can read the document in three parts online here and here and here.)
“There’s a Sphinx on the top of a platform, with Rameses the Great next to it and giving an offering. The Sphinx is sitting on top of what looks like a doorway. On the Dream Stele, there is also a doorway beneath the Sphinx which backs it up.”
Vyse claims that French engineers had discovered a door in front of the Sphinx but were unable to continue exploring it and it was eventually covered by sand. Hawass found a passage beneath the casing stones leading under the Sphinx, but he believes it may have been partially dug by Vyse. Sibson thinks the second stele at the Louvre contains more information about the tunnel or tunnels, but it doesn’t appear he’s been able to gain access to it or even see it in photographs or drawings.
“What does the other one show? It needs to be re-analysed and brought back to life. It could shed more light on the doorway. I think there is something underneath there, there are loads lots of tunnels under the Giza plateau.”
Are there holes in Sibson’s tunnel theory? Possibly, but it’s also quite plausible. Zahi Hawass is still a leading Egyptian archeologist and could help in both gaining access to the second stele and in cutting through the red tape so archeologists can dig through the sand where the doorway and passage might be.
Those interested in the Sphinx for its historical significance and its tourism value are just glad that no one is using gunpowder on it anymore.