In a story that could have easily passed for an “Indiana Jones” adventure, a British explorer has discovered what he claims to be a “lost underworld of the pharaohs” -- an elaborate system of tunnels, chambers and caves that until now had remained hidden under the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Andrew Collins, the explorer who uncovered the vast underground caverns, says he attributed his discovery to clues he found in some long-forgotten journals, almost 200 years old. The memoirs belonged to British consul-general Henry Salt (1780-1827), an Egyptologist who devoted his life to assembling a collection of artifacts from antiquity, especially those from ancient Egypt. In his notes, Salt describes what he called “catacombs” which he and Italian explorer Giovanni Caviglia investigated in Giza in 1817.
Salt’s mention of the catacombs had largely remained ignored until Collins decided to look into the claims. “To the best of our knowledge nothing has ever been written or recorded about these caves since Salt’s explorations,” says Collins.
Retracing the steps Salt had taken in his expedition, Collins was eventually able to pinpoint an unrecorded tomb west of the Great Pyramid. Inside the tomb was a large fissure that led to the entrance to the lost catacombs.
“We explored the caves before the air became too thin to continue. They are highly dangerous, with unseen pits and hollows, colonies of bats and venomous spiders,” describes Collins.
“Ancient funerary texts clearly allude to the existence of a subterranean world in the vicinity of the Giza pyramids.” In fact, Collins believes it was these caves that gave birth to the Egyptians concept of an underworld.
The exciting thing about this newly discovered complex is the prospect of “untouched archaeology,” as Collins puts it. Imagine what new finds we may unearth in the near future? Some of Egypt’s most ancient history may lie in wait inside these chambers, perhaps even the fabled “Chamber of Knowledge” that American prophet Edgar Cayce foresaw being discovered under the Sphinx’s paw? Only time will tell.
If you are interested in reading more about Collins’ findings, you can pick up his book Beneath the Pyramids, which is due out in September.