Grand Canyon Lost Civilization

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What is the Grand Canyon Lost Civilization?

The Grand Canyon Lost Civilization is a pseudoarchaeological idea of an Egyptian civilization living within caves in the Grand Canyon. The original article covering the "civilization" says that "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."[1] The report of the caves in which the Egyptians supposedly lived goes on in the original Newspaper article to describe the size and shape of the room as well as the artifacts that were reportedly found. The caves haven't been seen since the initial discovery and there seem to be no genuine artifacts from the caves in public record.


What is the context in which it was found?

Canyon Explorers

Around 1909 it was common for explorers, like G.E. Kincaid (or Kinkaid), to be "looking for mineral", a euphemism for looking for gold.

[2]

Yellow Journalism

In the late 1800s, "yellow journalism", essentially sensationalized news, had a brief spike in popularity, but by 1909 when the Grand Canyon Civilization was supposedly found it had mostly died down.[3]

Mormons/Latter Day Saints

Mormons were also trying to find archaeological evidence to support their religion, although it's likely they weren't behind the Grand Canyon Civilization. Mormonism was founded in 1830 with the Book of Mormon. The book of Mormon was originally written in unknown characters which were known as reformed Egyptian. The existence of an Egyptian civilization in the Grand Canyon would help the Latter Day Saints prove the validity of the Book of Mormon because the existence of Egyptians in America would support the original writing of the Book of Mormon in reformed Egyptian (you can't have reformed Egyptian without Egyptian).[4]

Egyptomania

In 1903, a W.M. Kincaid was being published in newspapers describing the "wonders of Egypt" to the masses.[2]


What is the pseudoarchaeological narrative associated with the site/artifact?

The pseudoarchaeological narrative starts with G.E. Kincaid's "discovery" of large caves in 1909 that were "full of artifacts, including statues, copper weapons, even granaries full of seeds". Some pseudoarchaeologists claim that "50,000 people could live inside comfortably".[5] Kincaid said that he "was journeying down the Colorado river in a boat, alone, looking for mineral."[6] when he found the caves. The caves were also reportedly inaccessible due to the "sheer walls and a series of rough rapids"[6], so there wasn't much of an investigation into the contents and existence of the caves in 1909. Kincaid states in the newspaper that "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." This is what led him to believe the cave could possibly be Tibetan.[1] Later he also added the possibility of the caves being home to an Egyptian civilization.[5] One source even claims that there is an unfinished Egyptian Pyramid in the Grand Canyon.[7]


G.E Kincaid and S.A Jordan

The caves were said to be found by "Smithsonian Institution explorer G.E. Kincaid" and investigated by "Smithsonian anthropologist S.A. Jordan"[5], but according to "Smithsonian Magazine", "No records can confirm the existence of either Kincaid or Jordan." [8]

Potential identities

  • "a newspaper report from September 22, 1908 in the Lewiston Evening Teller out of Idaho that relates a small report about something called “The Stites Excursion Project” that had among it a “J.E. Kincaid” and “W.J. Jordan”" [2]
  • "Some have claimed that there was a European archaeologist named S.A. Jordon active at the time, but that connection is obscure"[2]


What is the Real Story Behind the Caves?

The Hopi Tribe

Map of the Hopi Nation and the three Mesas

Map of the Hopi Reserve to the right[9]

If the caves do in fact exist then they were likely designed and used by the Hopi people, an indigenous tribe that traveled down the Grand Canyon on annual pilgrimages.[10] The Hopi people have lived in Arizona for over 2000 years, but they can trace their history back even farther in South America, Central America, and Mexico.[11] While not much is known about the Hopi people and their culture, it is known that they "made annual pilgrimages to the sipapuni for yellow clay, then on to a Grand Canyon cave along the Colorado River to gather salt." [10] The Hopi people live near the Grand Canyon, on top and at the base of three mesas just south of Black Mesa.[11]


Caves or No Caves?

It is unclear whether the the caves actually exist. There have been very few reports of archeological investigations since the initial investigation done by a "Smithsonian" archeologist, and there aren't any verified pictures of the supposed caves. The investigation is even unlikely to have genuinely happened because there are no records of an archaeologist named "S.A. Jordan" having actually existed.[5]

One source has a proposed location for Kincaid's cave, but the location doesn't seem to have been verified as there is no follow-up to the suggestion and it has been 20 years.[12]


So What?

The pseudoarchaeological narrative is detrimental to the general public's trust in genuine archaeology. Sources like "Britamerica Magazine"[13] that make claims that the existence of the caves (and the Egyptian artifacts that are supposedly within them) is being "covered up" to hide the truth, lead to a loss of trust between the general public, especially those who believe in conspiracy theories, and the scholarly archaeological community. When countless sources give the same message, like "The cover-up theory suggests that The Smithsonian and other “powers-that-be” have a vested interest in making sure that anything that disproves conventional history, especially a discovery of this magnitude, is suppressed before it shatters the status quo, the perceived reality."[13],they're undermining the validity of the genuine archaeology being performed in other areas. Instead of supporting the archaeological community's efforts to use the scientific method to discover more about history and culture, they're attempting to rewrite the history of the US. Archaeologists know that there were no Egyptians living in caves in the Grand Canyon because if there were then there would be evidence of their arrival from one of the coasts to the Grand Canyon.[5]




Resources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Colavito, J. (n.d.). The 1909 Grand Canyon Hoax. JASON COLAVITO. https://www.jasoncolavito.com/the-1909-grand-canyon-hoax.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Smith, J. (2020, September 25). The Enduring Mystery of Ancient Egyptians and the Grand Canyon. Medium. https://joshuadsmith1.medium.com/the-enduring-mystery-of-ancient-egyptians-and-the-grand-canyon-cd440177ec45
  3. yellow journalism | Definition, History, & Facts. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/yellow-journalism
  4. Watrall, Ethan. "Pseudoarchaeology and Religion." ANP 364: Fake Archaeology; Pseudoscience and the past, November 14, 2019, Michigan State University
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Brown, D. (2021, April 20). Lost Civilization in Grand Canyon Was, Wait, Egyptian? HowStuffWorks. https://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/lost-civilization-in-grand-canyon-was-egyptian.htm
  6. 6.0 6.1 Andrews, J. (n.d.). The Importance of the find in 1909. Copyright (c) 2003 by Biblioteca Pleyades. https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_orionzone_8a.htm
  7. C., & C. (n.d.). Smithsonian Institution –. CNY Artifact Recovery. https://cnyartifactrecovery.wordpress.com/tag/smithsonian-institution/
  8. Learn the Truths Behind These Smithsonian Urban Legends. (2009, September 1). Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/urban-legends-about-the-smithsonian-135407460/
  9. About Hopi. (n.d.). Hopi Education Endowment Fund. https://www.hopieducationfund.org/about-hopi
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hopi – Nature, Culture and History at the Grand Canyon. (n.d.). Arizona State University-Grand Canyon Conservancy. https://grcahistory.org/history/native-cultures/hopi/
  11. 11.0 11.1 Hopi Tribe | Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. (n.d.). Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. https://itcaonline.com/member-tribes/hopi-tribe/
  12. The Location of Kincaid’s “Cave” Revealed. (2001). Bibliotecapleyades. https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_orionzone_9.htm
  13. 13.0 13.1 Smith, K. H. (2021, November 15). What ever happened to G. E. Kincaid? Smithsonian Denies they ever knew him. Britamerica Magazine. http://brtiamerica.blogspot.com/2014/02/what-ever-happened-to-g-e-kincaid.html