BBC Horizon: Atlantis Uncovered and Altantis Reborn, 28 October & 4 November 1999
A Parody of Science and an Intellectual Auto-Da-Fe
By Robert G. Bauval
New ideas that threaten an established view are rarely received with open arms. Fearing the wrath of the Church and the Establishment, Nicholas Copernicus refused to have his findings published till after 1540, and only saw a finished copy of On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres when he was on his deathbed. A few decades later Copernicus’s caution proved to be justified. For in 1600, when the Hermetic philosopher Giordano Bruno dared to uphold some of Copernicus’s ideas, he was thrown in a Papal dungeon and eventually dragged in the streets to Campo Fiori in Rome and burnt alive at the stake by Dominican monks. In 1632, thirty-two years after the death of Bruno, the astronomer Galileo Galilei published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems — Ptolemaic and Copernican. For having "held and taught" Copernican ideas in his book, Galileo spent the last eight years of his life under house arrest and was forced to ‘recant’ his theories in front of the Bishops of Rome — this after having been taken in the dark and damp dungeons of the Vatican and shown the instruments of torture that would be used on him. And more than two centuries later in 1859, when Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution, On the Origin of Species, he was immediately and viciously attacked by the Church and fellow ‘scientists’. Also in Darwin’s case, the attack came from that entity we now loosely call the media. Darwin was ridiculed, insulted and his theory ‘debunked’ by ‘experts’ of the day.
But all this is now a thing of the past. Or is it?
We go about with the belief that in this day and age the scientific community is open-minded, liberated from orthodoxy and bigotry. But things haven’t really changed. Except there is no more public burning to ward off the ‘opposition’. Instead the auto-da-fe is carried out more subtly in the comfort of your living room on a small colour screen while we munch away at popcorn or sip a nice cup of tea. For this was what finally happened when, on the 28 October and the 4 November 1999, the BBC’s Horizon programmes, Atlantis Uncovered and Atlantis Reborn were aired in the UK. These programmes were, to put it mildly, a deliberately and viciously planned hatchet job on myself and my colleague and friend, Graham Hancock. It was, I am saddened to say, a parody of science unbecoming of the BBC which was carried out with the cold-blooded style of an intellectual Spanish Inquisition using tax-payers funds. Make no mistake, what the BBC did was not merely an attempt to debunk new ideas on our origins and past. It was a grim warning to all ‘non-scientists’ who may turn ‘heretical’ and go against the ‘Church of Science’. Yet one cannot help feeling that if the Horizon team and its henchmen had to resort to such low, clumsy and downright misleading tactics, it must be a reflection of their inner fears that the ‘Church of Science’ is being seriously challenged as the main and supreme authority in worldly matters. It was intriguing to find out, for example, that Dr. Edwin Krupp, who was Horizon’s principal henchman in this programme, is a long-time Fellow Member of an organisation called CISCOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), which has its headquarters in the USA. On their Website I noted that CISCOP’s mission statement is to "encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims’. Hancock and I presumably are in perceived by CISCOP as belonging to both ‘Heretical’ categories. One of its fellow members, Douglas R. Hofstadter, once proudly wrote in The Scientific American that "Our society has opted for a complete free-for-all of conflicting theories. But if it is this chaotic, who will ensure that there is law and order? Who will guard the truth? The answer is: CISCOP will!". CISCOP, in no uncertain terms, is a sort of scientific Klu-Klux-Klan, a ravenous ‘debunking’ watchdog to be let loose on anyone or anything that threatens the status of the ‘true’ scientific community. ‘CISCOP’, wrote the author John Anthony West, ‘stands for the self-appointed Chamber of the Inquisition… they are relatively few in number, and it is tempting to dismiss them as a little band of manifestly twisted hypocrites… But like their sinister forerunners (the Inquisition), our modern Inquisitors wield an influence beyond their numbers, and it would be a mistake to ignore them. Though the Inquisitorial dirty work is done by CISCOP henchmen — professional debunkers, conjurers and scientists otherwise without distinction in their field — CISCOP boasts among its fellows (via the Skeptical Inquirer) an impressive list of well-known scientists, science writers and scholars’ (The Case for Astrology, Arkana 1992).
It seems that in the late 1970’s Dr. Edwin Krupp, probably with CISCOP’s blessing, spent a great deal of time trying to debunk the work of the author Robert Temple after the publication of The Sirius Mystery. Others that were so harassed were author and researcher Rupert Sheldrake, the discoverer of Morphic Resonance (A New Science for Life), and Charles Harvey, president of the British Astrological Association. ‘Happily’, wrote John West, ‘our modern Inquisitors have no access to the rack, thumbscrew or heated iron jackboot. Though they and their supporters may try to stop "otherwise reputable publishers" from publishing heretical works, or call for periodic book-burning, they lack (in the West at any rate) the authority to order an auto-da-fe.’
BBC Horizon, it seems, has this authority. And it used it with unflinching ruthlessness.
Horizon is the BBC’s "flagship" documentary programme in science and technology. It has been broadcasting for nearly 35 years and is dubbed by its makers as being "a world leader in its field". It regularly wins "the sweep of international science…awards" such as BAFTA and the Emmies. And Horizon’s "strength", as its makers describe it, "lies in its authoritative analysis of developments in science". In short, its word carries weight and it is immensely influential. As such Horizon bears a heavy responsibility to present the facts correctly and fairly, especially as they use tax-payers’ money and thus are accountable to the public.
Horizon’s Editor is John Lynch, and the Deputy Editor is Bettina Lerner. In the case of the ‘Atlantis’ documentaries the Producer/Director was Chris Hale and the Researcher, Julian Hudson. The first time I heard of the Horizon ‘Atlantis’ project was in January 1999. They had begun working with Graham Hancock who put them in touch with me. All that I was told was that Horizon was making a two-part programme on the "lost civilisation" controversy and were eager to have me on the programme. I agreed to meet up with Julian Hudson and Chris Hale in late February to be filmed and interviewed at Giza. Meanwhile I helped Julian Hudson with some research and directed him to sources of relevant data and film footage. It was I, for example, who put Julian into contact with Dr. Edwin Krupp, a staunch critic of my work. Since Horizon wanted to present a balanced view of the new theories, I felt it was only fair that they bring in both sides of the argument. I also put Julian in touch with the filmmakers Roel Oostra (Amsterdam) and Bill Cote (New York), who provided Horizon with film footage used in the ‘Atlantis’ programmes. I also informed Julian Hudson that he ought to get in contact with Dr. Archie Roy, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at Glasgow University. Since Dr. Roy was sympathetic to my theories, he could serve as a balance to Edwin Krupp’s criticism.
In late February I flew to Egypt and met up with Julian Hudson and Chris Hale at Giza. They filmed and interviewed me for a whole morning. Present with us was the author John Lash. The focus, of course, was on the Orion-Giza correlation theory. I gave them a detailed overview of the astronomical alignment of the Pyramids and the shafts in the Great Pyramid and especially the associations to Orion in the Pyramid Texts. I also explained the double-lock of Orion’s belt and Leo at the meridian and the vernal point respectively in 10,500 BC, which aligned with the Three Pyramids and the Sphinx. I also carefully explained that I did not advocate a material connection with the 10,500 BC date and the Pyramids but rather felt that they were intended to be a memorial to what the Egyptians called "the First Time" of Osiris. All this, at any rate, was made very clear in a BBC documentary in 1994 (The Great Pyramid:Gateway to the Sky) and a documentary made by Graham Hancock and I for the Discovery Channel in 1995 (Genesis in Stone) –both of which were well-known and readily available to Julian Hudson. Indeed very recently I worked with another BBC crew, directed by Jean-Claude Bragard of the Ancient Voices series, where I also gave an extensive interview on all these points. I also made sure that Julian Hudson and Jean-Claude Bragard would at least co-ordinate on this matter. Apparently they didn’t. During my interview at Giza Julian Hudson and Chris Hale also specifically confronted me with the so-called "upside down" maps rebuttal by Edwin Krupp to which I gave my reply in full (see below). Later, in July 1999, they also confronted me with Dr. Anthony Fairall’s so-called "10,500 BC angles" rebuttal, to which I also gave a detailed answer both verbally and in writing.
In fact, the so-called "upside down maps" rebuttal by Dr. Edwin Krupp began in February 1997, when the latter published an article in the SKY & TELESCOPE magazine (pp. 64-65). The article was titled "Pyramid Marketing Scheme". Wrote Krupp:
"…Although the dust jacket (of The Orion Mystery) claims the book unlocks the secret of the Pyramids… it uncomfortably mixes valid study by researchers like Badawy and Trimble with a dubious claim about the configuration of the Pyramids. According to The Orion Mystery, the three largest pyramids at Giza at Giza were built together as a monumental representation of the Belt of Orion. This "revelation" has been parroted without critical study in other books, television programs, and even an advertisement for astronomical software. Readers of The Orion Mystery are shown an aerial photograph of Giza paired with a picture of Orion’s belt. There is something wrong with these images, however. The picture of the pyramids is oriented with north at the bottom of the page. Orion’s belt, on the other hand, has north at the top. To make the pyramids match the sky, you have to turn Egypt upside down. In fact, all the book’s maps of Egypt are published upside down, with south on top. "
Before I tackle this criticism let me point out that, as amazing as this may seem, in this very article Dr. Krupp himself shows his readers a star-map of Orion not in the way the constellation of Orion is normally seen in the southern sky but FLIPPED AROUND with Taurus at the left of Orion and Gemini at its right. I presume that the printers put the photograph the wrong way. At any rate, in May 1998, during a conference on a cruise ship bound for Alaska and attended by Edwin Krupp, my colleague Graham Hancock projected an image of Orion’s belt as it is normally seen in the southern sky at the meridian i.e. with the ‘smallest’ star (Delta Orionis) at the top. He then asked someone in the audience to draw the three stars of the belt on a sheet of paper. As expected, the person who drew the three stars put the ‘smaller’ (dimmer) star –Delta Orionis– at the top of the sheet i.e. with the top of the sheet directed south as it was seen in the sky. This is precisely how I have shown these stars in The Orion Mystery. Ironically, that ‘person’ turned out to be Edwin Krupp’s wife!
The truth of the matter is that Krupp’s "upside down" rebuttal is a red herring. It forces a modern ‘convention’ upon the ancient Egyptians who, quite clearly, did not employ such ‘convention’. The only way one can see Orion’s belt in Egypt — indeed from anywhere else in the northern hemisphere — is only by looking southwards. Quite simply, it is an impossible to see Orion’s belt by looking northwards. On the other hand it is well-known in Egyptology that the ancient Egyptians directed themselves southwards — NOT northwards — in order to establish directions. For two very obvious reasons: (1) the natural flow of the River Nile is from the south (2) the apparent motion of the sun and moon, as well as the stars of Orion and Sirius (the principal star of ancient Egypt), take place in the southern portion of the sky. It thus follows that the Orion’s belt-Giza Pyramids correlation is in perfect harmony with ancient Egyptian ‘convention’ and also the only way these stars can be observed in their daily and yearly transits. The final nail in this coffin is driven home by Prof. Dr. Archibald Roy, the eminent Professor Emeritus of astronomy at Glasgow University, in a letter he addressed to me after the airing of the Horizon ‘Atlantis’ programmes:
"I find it astonishing that you have been accused of fudging the maps of Egypt and particularly the Pyramid complex to make your theory ‘fit’. In particular that the maps were deliberately placed upside down. This is a serious accusation. I have of course checked the orientation of the Orion constellation when it is on the south meridian, when an observer at Giza looks southwards from the Giza complex. Of course one finds that Orion’s head is upper-most from the rest of his body further down towards the south point of the compass. The Milky Way is seen to be on the left of the body (i.e. it’s right ascension is bigger that Orion’s) and the star Alnitak in Orion’s Belt is the star in the belt nearest to the Milky Way. The third star in the belt (the one farthest from the Milky Way) is placed upwards from the line through Alnitak and the belt’s middle star. If our observer is standing north of the three pyramids and looking southwards, s/he will see (a) the Nile to the left of the Pyramid, (b) the Great Pyramid (Khufu) to be the pyramid nearest to the Nile, (c) the pyramid farthest from the Nile (Menkaure) to be placed southwards from the line through the Great Pyramid and the middle pyramid (Khafre). If our observers then imagines the plane containing the pyramids and the Nile swung upwards about an east-west line through the observer, the s/he will see a fair representation of Orion’s Belt and the Milky Way, the ‘Belt’ bent correctly. The accusation that the maps were placed upside down is therefore unfounded."
Krupp’s argument is not only unfounded; it is misleading and convoluted. For example, if you were to make a drawing on a sheet of paper of, say, a hot-air balloon as seen floating in the southern sky then, by Krupp’s reckoning, you must depict the balloon upside down on your sheet — since the ‘top’ of the balloon faces ‘north’ and the ‘top’ of the sheet of paper faces ‘south’. Or, better still, imagine taking a star-map outdoors and placing it on your lap in order to study the sky. If we adhere to the up = north convention, then we must invert the map ‘upside down’. It is such pleonastic mental gymnastics that Krupp want us to do. In the real sky there is not ‘up’ or ‘down’ but rather what you see is what you get. This how the ancients saw the sky — as well as how we ourselves see the sky today (that is if you are not a ‘scientists’ or walk at night with your head arched backwards). But Horizon not only did not bother to use my reply to Krupp’s rebuttal but also did not bother to get in touch with Prof. Roy, who would have easily put them straight on this matter. Instead they chose to let Krupp have an open field and even gave him the very last work in the programme: "My conclusion", stated Krupp, "is NO, I don’t think they’re right. And I don’t think they’re right because I don’t think the evidence fits the hypothesis."
Krupp’s argument is so untenable that even the writer and researcher Chris Ogilvie-Herald, one of my most critical opponents, felt compelled to rejected it wholesale. After examining Krupp’s argument, Chris wrote: "However, we have already seen that Bauval’s analysis is based upon looking south across the plateau, and lining the pyramids with Orion as it would be seen above the southern horizon. This also ensures the Nile is in the correct position, on the left, to correspond to the Milky Way. Since Orion clearly does occupy the southern and not the northern skies, and this was as much a symbolic mapping as a ‘scientific’ one, we find this criticism (Krupp’s) on the basic theory unconvincing." (Giza The Truth, p. 360).
Also in the Horizon programme the narrator brings into evidence another rebuttal put forward by Dr. Anthony Fairall of Cape Town Observatory in South Africa. Apparently Fairall did not even take the trouble to read The Orion Mystery but merely made his observations after seeing a TV documentary on the M-Net channel — and after corresponding with his colleague Edwin Krupp. Fairall conveniently accepts Krupp’s argument as an established fact and, using the "upside down" theory, compares the angles made by Orion’s belt and the meridian and that of the three pyramids. Not surprisingly, Fairall concludes that my theory must be wrong because the angles are in variance by as much as 12 degrees ! To be fair on Fairall, he does point out (correctly) that the angle of Orion’s belt in 10,500 BC is closer to 40 degrees (actually somewhere between 40 and 43 degrees) than the 45 degrees angle of the pyramids as stated in my book. This means that the variance is something between 3 and 5 degrees and NOT 12 degrees. I pointed out to Julian Hudson and Chris Hale that in view of Orion’s Belt’s apparent length in the sky, such a small variation of 3 to 5 degrees in direction is almost imperceptible to an observer. Indeed I carefully pointed out all this to Julian Hudson and Chris Hale, both verbally and in writing. But they chose not to include them in the programme.
As if this was not enough, Horizon also brought along a young Egyptologist from Cambridge, Kate Spence, to dish out her rebuttal to The Orion Mystery, this time based not on astronomy but based on land-surveying and geology. Here the Horizon narrator begins by stating: "There is a simple explanation for the way the pyramids were laid out along that diagonal line 4500 years ago, and it has nothing to do with Orion." Then Kate Spence is left to explain that the natural ground contours of the Giza plateau in the east forced the builders to set-out the pyramids in a diagonal line and that no master-plan was either used or indeed intended by the ancient architects.
But this conclusion, as many researchers now recognise, is totally wrong. Many Egyptologists today agree that the Giza necropolis was laid out according to a well-defined geometrical plan and only disagree as to what the basis of that plan was. That Giza is laid out according to a master-plan was proved many years ago by investigators such as John Legon and Robin Cook, who showed conclusively that the ancients placed the three pyramids and other structures at Giza relative to each other according to a design plan based on ‘sacred’ geometry. It should also be pointed out that Kate Spence totally ignored the misalignment of the Third Pyramid which, after all, is the main key to the Orion-Giza correlation theory. In the 1994 BBC programme, The Great Pyramid: Gateway to the Stars’, Professor Jean Kerisel, one of France’s leading structural and civil engineers with many years experience at Giza, showed conclusively that this misalignment was NOT due to geology or natural ground contours, but likely based on astronomical factors. At any rate, in The Orion Mystery a full explanation is given in Chapter Five as to why neither geology nor ground conditions were responsible for the layout plan. Julian Hudson and Chris Hale, who were fully aware of this, chose again to ignore such material that would have easily demolished Kate Spence’s arguments. Rather the narrator simply states (after Kate Spence had her go): "It seems clear that as the Egyptian kings built their monuments across the Giza plateau the decisions they made about the positions of the pyramids were not inspired by a pattern of stars but were the result of the limitations of the site they chose to build on."
In view of this terrible botch-job by Julian Hudson and Chris Hale who were single-handedly responsible for these ‘Atlantis’ programmes, Graham Hancock and I have formally lodged our complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Commission and will demand that we are allocated at least an hour on prime time BBC at some future date to present our right-of-reply to their programmes.
If you feel the same about this, then you may wish to voice you own views directly to Mr Fraser Steel, Head of Programme Complaints, Programme Complaints Unit, BBC. Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA.