That is the verdict of world renowned Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, who explored this mysterious underworld of passages and chambers in US television show “Chasing Mummies” this week, having previously dismissed its discovery by a British explorer.
The History Channel series showed dramatic scenes of Dr Hawass and his team – which included consulting archaeologist Dr David Cheetham – advancing through an extraordinary, bat-infested cave realm in scenes that would not have looked out of place in an Indiana Jones movie.
“I have never made any adventure like this at Giza before,’ Hawass admitted, as the intrepid team and camera crew reached the farthest reaches of the cave system, having travelled an estimated 300-350 feet underground.
“In my opinion now, it’s natural. It’s not manmade,’ Hawass added. “But they used it later in the Late Period and Roman Period for the burials of animals and things like that.”
This very public exploration of Giza’s previously unknown caves – created by the actions of water before even the age of the Sphinx and nearby Great Pyramid – comes a year after their rediscovery by British explorer and writer Andrew Collins.
He and his team tracked down the whereabouts of the caves after deciphering forgotten memoirs written nearly 200 years ago.
They tell how explorer Henry Salt entered a massive cave labyrinth west of the Great Pyramid.
Since Salt’s memoirs lay neglected in some dark corner of the British Museum for nearly 200 years, his fantastic journey underground went unnoticed.
Following the publication of Salt’s memoirs in 2007, Collins and colleague Nigel Skinner-Simpson pinned down the entrance to Salt’s caves, and became the first people in modern times, along with Collins’ wife, to explore this cave underworld, entered via an ancient tomb designated NC2 (north cliff 2).
At the time Hawass dismissed the discovery of what he called “Collins’ cave”, saying that the British writer had simply got confused inside an already known tomb, adding that there are no natural caves at Giza.
But Collins has now been proved correct, and is just happy that his work has finally been vindicated.
“We discovered a previously unknown cave system at Giza, the first ever recorded here or anywhere else in Egypt in connection with a rock-cut tomb from antiquity. This must count for something.”
The future of the caves is in the balance though, as a metal gate was cemented in place over their entrance earlier this year.
No one is going back in there any time soon. Collins, however, is sure the mystery is not over yet.
“If water created the caves many thousands of years ago, then the caves don’t simply stop, since the water must have gone somewhere,” he says.
“We have radar satellite imagery suggesting that the caves continue towards the direction of the Second Pyramid, which is said to mark the spot of the tomb of Hermes, the legendary founder of Egyptian civilization.
“Ancient tradition has it that buried with his body is the so-called Emerald Tablet – a priceless artefact containing the secrets of creation.”
Collins rediscovery of Giza cave underworld is told in his book Beneath the Pyramids published in 2009.
For more on the cave discoveries go to http://www.andrewcollins.com