Feature Articles – Canyonitis: Seeing evidence of ancient Egypt in the Grand Canyon
Is there, within the Grand Canyon, an enigmatic system of tunnels that is evidence of an ancient Egyptian voyage to America? Is it all bogus? Or is the truth most likely somewhere in between?
by Philip Coppens
On April 5, 1909, a front page story in the Arizona Gazette reported on an archaeological expedition in the heart of the Grand Canyon funded by the Smithsonian Institute, which had resulted in the discovery of Egyptian artefacts. April 5 is close to April 1 – but then not quite… so perhaps the story could be true?
Nothing since has been heard of this discovery. Today, over five million tourists visit the Grand Canyon each year. You would thus expect that if anything was hidden in the canyons, it would thus since long have been uncovered. However, most tourists only spend around 3 hours of time at the canyon, usually visiting the legendary South Rim view around mile 89, where most of the best and oldest tourist facilities are located. Furthermore, some have said that the entire discovery has since become the centre of a major cover-up, apparently in an effort to maintain the old status quo, which is that the ancient Egyptians never ventured outside of the tranquil waters of the river Nile. The original story goes that the team found an underground network of tunnels, high above the Colorado River, containing various ancient artefacts, statues and even mummies. A major discovery, no doubt about it. Impossible to slip off the archaeological radar. Still, the Smithsonian Institute will report it has no records on the subject. So what happened? To find out, there is only one guide: the article itself. Though the article was anonymous, it did identify some of the archaeologists involved: “under the direction of Prof. S. A. Jordan”, with Smithsonian-backed adventurer G. E. Kinkaid, who then relates his findings.
But the story gets weirder when the Smithsonian stated that it had no Kinkaid or Jordan on record. In one enquiry from 2000, the institution replied: “The Smithsonian Institution has received many questions about an article in the April 5, 1909 Phoenix Gazette about G. E. Kincaid and his discovery of a ‘great underground citadel’ in the Grand Canyon, hewn by an ancient race ‘of oriental origin, possibly from Egypt.’ […] The Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology, has searched its files without finding any mention of a Professor Jordan, Kincaid, or a lost Egyptian civilization in Arizona. Nevertheless, the story continues to be repeated in books and articles.” There is room for a cover-up, of course, as some have argued. The files do not necessarily have to set within that department’s and the reference to the Phoenix Gazette rather than Arizona Gazette could be a simple error, or an escape valve that is so often present in official replies engineered to debunk. Stories like “the CIA Division X has no record” often means that Division Y is the one who has that record. So, there is no Professor Jordan, and Kinkaid himself was more than difficult to pin down. However, on March 12 of the same year, the Gazette had reported on an earlier phase of Kincaid’s adventure: “G. E. Kincaid Reaches Yuma.” Here, Kinkaid is identified as being from “Lewiston, Idaho”; he “arrived in Yuma after a trip from Green River, Wyoming, down the entire course of the Colorado River. He is the second man to make this journey and came alone in a small skiff, stopping at his pleasure to investigate the surrounding country. He left Green River in October having a small covered boat with oars, and carrying a fine camera, with which he secured over 700 views of the river and canyons which were unsurpassed. Mr. Kincaid says one of the most interesting features of the trip was passing through the sluiceways at Laguna dam. He made this perilous passage with only the loss of an oar.” The account is factual enough and seems to just that: fact. The article concludes: “Some interesting archaeological discoveries were unearthed and altogether the trip was of such interest that he will repeat it next winter in the company of friends.” Less than a month later, the same newspaper seemed to continue their story where they had left it off: Kinkaid was now talking about his “interesting archaeological discoveries”, which consisted out of a series of tunnels and passages with a cross chamber near the entrance, containing a statue: “The idol almost resembles Buddha, though the scientists are not certain as to what religious worship it represents. Taking into consideration everything found thus far, it is possible that this worship most resembles the ancient people of Tibet.” He also stated that he had found an unknown gray metal, resembling platinum, as well as tiny carved heads, scattered on the floor. Urns bore “mysterious hieroglyphics, the key to which the Smithsonian Institute hopes yet to discover.” In another room he found mummies: “Some of the mummies are covered with clay, and all are wrapped in a bark fabric.”
Again, the account is quite factual. Idols “resemble” Buddha, rather than “are” Buddha. The worship “resembles” that of Tibet, not “is”… Kinkaid is trying to use analogies to explain his discovery. It is the anonymous author of the article who makes the connection with ancient Egypt and lets his mind float to one of the biggest discoveries of all time. Still, the newspaper apparently never followed up the story. Though the Smithsonian involvement is therefore either proof of a cover-up (as some have claimed) or they are telling the truth, this does not mean that the entire story is a hoax, or that the newspaper fabricated the story. “Kinkaid” may have existed, and may have inflated his credentials. Alternatively, he may have made the entire thing up. It may be a hoax, but by whom?
The newspaper reported rather factually about it. It may have been their hoax, in an effort to sell more papers, but if so, you would expect to hear more about it, including announcements like “more to come in the following edition”, whetting the public’s appetite.
The anonymous author may have fabricated the story, as he perhaps could not fill the entire newspaper. Perhaps… Which leaves Kinkaid. In his first account, we read how he stated that he has made archaeological discoveries, but these seem to have occurred all on his own. Furthermore, it is clear that he has made numerous photographs. We need to stress that the discovery of the underground network occurred before the first story was written. In fact, it appears that the discovery was made roughly four to six months prior the article. But in the second story, we learn Kinkaid apparently did not travel alone, but was helped by a professor from the Smithsonian. Also, it seems he did not make any photograph of his discovery. Though he claims that the access was very difficult, you would expect Kinkaid to have made some photographs of the general area.
In the Phoenix (Arizona) Gazette article of April 5, 1909 it is stated that Kinkaid “brought the story” of the “underground citadel” “to the city” (Phoenix and the Gazette) “yesterday” (April 4, 1909) after having “discovered” the site “several months ago”. It is clear that as far as the newspaper was involved, they were reporting on recent information. But why Kinkaid had not included his discovery in his original account, back in March, is more enigmatic. Even though the newspaper may have wanted to wait to run it, it is clear that the delay is entirely Kinkaid’s. With no traces of Kinkaid, though, did he actually exist? Jack Andrews has underlined that Kinkaid may have been a real person. In the newspaper report, Kinkaid mentions that he was “looking for mineral”: “I was journeying down the Colorado river in a boat, alone, looking for mineral.” The Canyon was a known source of minerals, including copper. But, in 1908, the year of Kinkaid’s expedition, President Theodore Roosevelt had made the Canyon in a National Forest, closing it for any mining or prospecting activity. Andrews has furthermore shown that the area in which he had allegedly found the cave was a well-known area for prospecting. So he could be real… even though perhaps the newspaper got his name wrong… A spelling mistake could send any researcher off the right track, resulting in the conclusion that a person did not exist. So, what about the cave? It is a fact that the Canyon has many holes and caves, most of which are discovered by hikers. A clear favourite for an Egyptian connection is the area around Ninety-four Mile Creek and Trinity Creek has sites with names like Isis Temple, Tower of Set, Tower of Ra, Horus Temple, Osiris Temple, etc. In the Haunted Canyon area are such names as the Cheops Pyramid, the Buddha Cloister, Buddha Temple, Manu Temple and Shiva Temple.
One book, Ancient Secret of The Flower of Life (Vol. II, page 302), claims that two backpackers, on their way to Isis Temple, found a pyramid, made from the native rock. Once at Isis Temple, they claimed to have seen several cave entrances. They stated that the cave entrances were at a height of 800 feet, and the two climbed up, hoping to get into what looked like the most promising cave. But instead they found it had been sealed off with rocks. They felt the entrance was man made and that there was a 6 foot circular pattern hewn into the ceiling.
It is unknown whether this is an actual discovery, or more “talk”. Irrelevant, Isis Temple is more than 40 miles from the location given in the newspaper article. Furthermore, it is but one of numerous buttes in the Grand Canyon named after ancient Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, Chinese and Nordic gods and goddesses. The origin of the rather esoteric naming is nearly as mysterious as the canyon itself, and has given rise to more than a little speculation as to what early explorers may have found there. But it may also be a perfect memory of its time, when there was a major fascination with all things Egyptian-Indian. Stanton Cave, a well-known cave containing ancient Indian artefacts, inside the Grand Canyon Jack Andrews claims that he has known “of this [Kinkaid’s] location since 1972. I have held the secret since then.” In June 2001, he felt it was “the proper time to reveal the location.” But he later adds that he has never discovered the “physical location” of this claim. From his argument, it seems as if he has “seen” the site in a dream or vision, but has never set foot inside it. However, using Kinkaid’s scant information about the site, “forty-two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon…” This is not very precise. Andrews believes that the cave is in a deep river gorge, known as Marble Canyon, which is accessible “by either arriving there in a boat or float trip, or on foot from the rim of the Little Colorado river gorge, on the Navajo reservation.” Andrews spells out some other options, all which seem quite manageable to get there… but not necessarily inside the cave. Kinkaid wrote that “the entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall.” Definitely not for the faint-hearted, and the question is how Kinkaid himself succeeded in the task.
Andrews concludes: “I think the “cave” described in the headline story of the Arizona Gazette, April 5, 1909 and its fantastic underground installation was, and still may be, located above an approximate six mile stretch of the Colorado River in Marble Canyon, at the border of Marble Canyon and the Navajo Nation above an area near Kwagunt Rapids.” Is it possible that it remains to be discovered? One ranger said that “that area of the park is very remote and to this day , our knowledge of the area is rather slim, and quite frankly, it is not an area we patrol regularly […] the area is seldom visited.” Though sceptics have given Andrews a lot of slack, others have just run wildly with the story. It is one thing to interpret the Smithsonian’s denial as evidence of a cover-up, what David Icke made of the story is quite another thing. In The Biggest Secret, he writes – verbatim: “In 1909 a subterranean city which was built with the presicion of the Great Pyramid was found by G. E. Hincaid near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It was big enough to accomidate 50,000 people and mumified bodies found were of oriental or possibly Egyptian origin, according to the expedition leader Professor S. A. Jordan. My own resaerch suggests that it is from another dimension, the lower fourth dimension, that the reptilian control and manipulation is primarily orchestrated.”
The story continues to grow and grow, now harbouring a sizeable population. But Icke then adds his own “research”, using the story as “evidence” for his reptilian control claims. So, where does this leave us? Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle of this controversy. With so many caves, some must contain something. Kinkaid never said it was Egyptian – he just made comparisons. It could simply have been native…
The first culture to occupy the valley were the Anasazi, who entered the region around 500 AD, hunting small game as well as raising corn and squash for their livelihood. By 1000 AD, their culture had advanced to the point where they had begun to develop their own distinctive pottery style, advanced agricultural methods, and a unique form of dwelling known as the “pueblo”.
From Mankind’s most ancient past, we have favoured burials in caves. Furthermore, many cultures have made caves in sheer cliff faces, specifically if they are facing towards the setting sun, into highly sacred sites, often cemeteries. Examples of this exist in the French Pyrenees, but whether it is the Cretan canyon known as the Valley of the Dead or the African Dogon, it is a common denominator that caves in cliffs were favoured, since remote antiquity. Why should the Grand Canyon be any different? And if not, then it is entirely possible that human remains were found… and perhaps continue to be found.
But rather than Egyptian or Tibetan in origin, I would argue that they are most likely remnants of the Anasazi. Anasazi groups, widely scattered across the southern Colorado Plateau and the upper Rio Grande drainage, defined their similarities – and their differences – largely in terms of their multi-storied, multi-room pueblo “Great Houses” or “cliff dwellings”. It is what tied them together, even though the individual groups themselves often bore more differences than similarities.
The site is indeed close to a Navajo centre, which are one of the living descendants of the Anasazi, which means “ancient ones” in Navajo. In the Canyon de Chelly is the so-called Mummy Cave, the last known occupied Anasazi site in the area. Situated in a large, protected alcove about 300 feet above the canyon floor, the two adjacent caves harbour the remnants of a multi-storied dwelling consisting of around 55 rooms and four ceremonial circular structures, or kivas, possibly dating back to 1050.
It was for the two ancient bodies found entombed at this site that an early Smithsonian expedition named the canyon, “del Muerto” — “of the Dead” in Spanish. Here, we therefore have something that is virtually identical to what Kinkaid alleges: a cave, in a cliff, with a complex series of rooms, containing mummies… even the Smithsonian is involved. The one major difference is that this site is known, whereas Kinkaid’s isn’t. But what Mummy Cave equally proves, is that there is no need for Tibetans or Egyptians, but that the local Anasazi are most likely its occupants… if it existed… and why not ? Mummy Cave may look very different from what we imagine Kinkaid was describing… But with so little known about Kinkaid… Though this story may or may not be reality, examples such as Mummy Cave have since proven that Kinkaid’s story may not be as important as many believe it is. Even if Kinkaid and Jordan were real people, the sensationalist flavourings of the report are all due to the anonymous author. And even if he was reporting truthfully, within the current climate, we can imagine why people could have easily mistaken an ancient culture with a local Indian culture. It is merely because the Indians were believed to have no level of sophistication whatsoever that almost de facto, the site had to be “Old World”… In the 21st century, we know better. EXPLORATIONS IN GRAND CANYON Mysteries of Immense Rich Cavern being brought to light Jordan is enthused
Remarkable finds indicate ancient people migrated from Orient The latest news of the progress of the explorations of what is now regarded by scientists as not only the oldest archaeological discovery in the United States, but one of the most valuable in the world, which was mentioned some time ago in the Gazette, was brought to the city yesterday by G.E. Kinkaid, the explorer who found the great underground citadel of the Grand Canyon during a trip from Green River, Wyoming, down the Colorado, in a wooden boat, to Yuma, several months ago. According to the story related to the Gazette by Mr. Kinkaid, the archaeologists of the Smithsonian Institute, which is financing the expeditions, have made discoveries which almost conclusively prove that the race which inhabited this mysterious cavern, hewn in solid rock by human hands, was of oriental origin, possibly from Egypt, tracing back to Ramses. If their theories are borne out by the translation of the tablets engraved with hieroglyphics, the mystery of the prehistoric peoples of North America, their ancient arts, who they were and whence they came, will be solved. Egypt and the Nile, and Arizona and the Colorado will be linked by a historical chain running back to ages which staggers the wildest fancy of the fictionist. A Thorough Examination Under the direction of Prof. S. A. Jordan, the Smithsonian Institute is now prosecuting the most thorough explorations, which will be continued until the last link in the chain is forged. Nearly a mile underground, about 1480 feet below the surface, the long main passage has been delved into, to find another mammoth chamber from which radiates scores of passageways, like the spokes of a wheel. Several hundred rooms have been discovered, reached by passageways running from the main passage, one of them having been explored for 854 feet and another 634 feet. The recent finds include articles which have never been known as native to this country, and doubtless they had their origin in the orient. War weapons, copper instruments, sharp-edged and hard as steel, indicate the high state of civilization reached by these strange people. So interested have the scientists become that preparations are being made to equip the camp for extensive studies, and the force will be increased to thirty or forty persons. Mr. Kinkaid’s Report Mr. Kinkaid was the first white child born in Idaho and has been an explorer and hunter all his life, thirty years having been in the service of the Smithsonian Institute. Even briefly recounted, his history sounds fabulous, almost grotesque. “First, I would impress that the cavern is nearly inaccessible. The entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall. It is located on government land and no visitor will be allowed there under penalty of trespass. The scientists wish to work unmolested, without fear of archaeological discoveries being disturbed by curio or relic hunters. A trip there would be fruitless, and the visitor would be sent on his way. The story of how I found the cavern has been related, but in a paragraph: I was journeying down the Colorado river in a boat, alone, looking for mineral. Some forty-two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon, I saw on the east wall, stains in the sedimentary formation about 2,000 feet above the river bed. There was no trail to this point, but I finally reached it with great difficulty.
Above a shelf which hid it from view from the river, was the mouth of the cave. There are steps leading from this entrance some thirty yards to what was, at the time the cavern was inhabited, the level of the river. When I saw the chisel marks on the wall inside the entrance, I became interested, securing my gun and went in. During that trip I went back several hundred feet along the main passage till I came to the crypt in which I discovered the mummies. One of these I stood up and photographed by flashlight. I gathered a number of relics, which I carried down the Colorado to Yuma, from whence I shipped them to Washington with details of the discovery. Following this, the explorations were undertaken. The Passages “The main passageway is about 12 feet wide, narrowing to nine feet toward the farther end. About 57 feet from the entrance, the first side-passages branch off to the right and left, along which, on both sides, are a number of rooms about the size of ordinary living rooms of today, though some are 30 by 40 feet square. These are entered by oval-shaped doors and are ventilated by round air spaces through the walls into the passages. The walls are about three feet six inches in thickness. The passages are chiselled or hewn as straight as could be laid out by an engineer. The ceilings of many of the rooms converge to a center. The side-passages near the entrance run at a sharp angle from the main hall, but toward the rear they gradually reach a right angle in direction. The Shrine “Over a hundred feet from the entrance is the cross-hall, several hundred feet long, in which are found the idol, or image, of the people’s god, sitting cross-legged, with a lotus flower or lily in each hand. The cast of the face is oriental, and the carving this cavern. The idol almost resembles Buddha, though the scientists are not certain as to what religious worship it represents. Taking into consideration everything found thus far, it is possible that this worship most resembles the ancient people of Tibet. Surrounding this idol are smaller images, some very beautiful in form; others crooked-necked and distorted shapes, symbolical, probably, of good and evil. There are two large cactus with protruding arms, one on each side of the dais on which the god squats. All this is carved out of hard rock resembling marble. In the opposite corner of this cross-hall were found tools of all descriptions, made of copper. These people undoubtedly knew the lost art of hardening this metal, which has been sought by chemicals for centuries without result. On a bench running around the workroom was some charcoal and other material probably used in the process. There is also slag and stuff similar to matte, showing that these ancients smelted ores, but so far no trace of where or how this was done has been discovered, nor the origin of the ore. “Among the other finds are vases or urns and cups of copper and gold, made very artistic in design. The pottery work includes enamelled ware and glazed vessels. Another passageway leads to granaries such as are found in the oriental temples. They contain seeds of various kinds. One very large storehouse has not yet been entered, as it is twelve feet high and can be reached only from above. Two copper hooks extend on the edge, which indicates that some sort of ladder was attached. These granaries are rounded, as the materials of which they are constructed, I think, is a very hard cement. A gray metal is also found in this cavern, which puzzles the scientists, for its identity has not been established. It resembles platinum. Strewn promiscuously over the floor everywhere are what people call “cats eyes”, a yellow stone of no great value. Each one is engraved with the head of the Malay type. The Hieroglyphics “On all the urns, or walls over doorways, and tablets of stone which were found by the image are the mysterious hieroglyphics, the key to which the Smithsonian Institute hopes yet to discover. The engraving on the tables probably has something to do with the religion of the people. Similar hieroglyphics have been found in southern Arizona. Among the pictorial writings, only two animals are found. One is of prehistoric type. The Crypt “The tomb or crypt in which the mummies were found is one of the largest of the chambers, the walls slanting back at an angle of about 35 degrees. On these are tiers of mummies, each one occupying a separate hewn shelf. At the head of each is a small bench, on which is found copper cups and pieces of broken swords. Some of the mummies are covered with clay, and all are wrapped in a bark fabric. The urns or cups on the lower tiers are crude, while as the higher shelves are reached, the urns are finer in design, showing a later stage of civilization. It is worthy of note that all the mummies examined so far have proved to be male, no children or females being buried here. This leads to the belief that this exterior section was the warriors’ barracks. “Among the discoveries no bones of animals have been found, no skins, no clothing, no bedding. Many of the rooms are bare but for water vessels. One room, about 40 by 700 feet, was probably the main dining hall, for cooking utensils are found here. What these people lived on is a problem, though it is presumed that they came south in the winter and farmed in the valleys, going back north in the summer. Upwards of 50,000 people could have lived in the caverns comfortably. One theory is that the present Indian tribes found in Arizona are descendants of the serfs or slaves of the people which inhabited the cave. Undoubtedly a good many thousands of years before the Christian era, a people lived here which reached a high stage of civilization. The chronology of human history is full of gaps. Professor Jordan is much enthused over the discoveries and believes that the find will prove of incalculable value in archaeological work. “One thing I have not spoken of, may be of interest. There is one chamber of the passageway to which is not ventilated, and when we approached it a deadly, snaky smell struck us. Our light would not penetrate the gloom, and until stronger ones are available we will not know what the chamber contains. Some say snakes, but other boo-hoo this idea and think it may contain a deadly gas or chemicals used by the ancients. No sounds are heard, but it smells snaky just the same. The whole underground installation gives one of shaky nerves the creeps. The gloom is like a weight on one’s shoulders, and our flashlights and candles only make the darkness blacker. Imagination can revel in conjectures and ungodly daydreams back through the ages that have elapsed till the mind reels dizzily in space.”