A crippling blow was dealt with Egyptology today after famed author John Anthony West passed away at age 85. West was known for his ground-breaking work on the ancient architecture of Egypt, particularly the Great Sphinx.
It was thanks to his Sphinx water erosion hypothesis that the modern accepted age of the Great Sphinx in Egypt was rewritten and our understanding of ancient Egypt was changed forever. West dedicated decades of his life to researching the megalithic structures left behind by ancient Egyptian civilizations.
In 1993, West won a News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Research and a nomination for Best Documentary for the NBC special "The Mystery of the Sphinx." The documentary presented evidence to support the theory that the Great Sphinx is much older than modern archaeologists previously believed.
In the documentary, West contends that the main type of weathering evident on the Great Sphinx and surrounding enclosure walls could have only been caused by prolonged and extensive rainfall around 10,000 to 5,000 BC. This theory challenged the conventional dating of the megalithic carving which put the creation of the Great Sphinx around 2500 BC.
A close friend of West named Graham Hancock commemorated his passing today on Facebook with a touching tribute:
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Graham Hancock | Facebook</span>
"With courage, fortitude and a great sense of humor my dear friend John Anthony West put up a spirited fight against cancer for more than a year, defying all the odds, bouncing back again and again with the love of his family and friends and the generous support of this community for the crowdfunding appeal to cover his treatment: https://fundly.com/john-anthony-west-project.
He beat cancer, but the fight took too much out of him and he has moved on now, with great dignity and style, to his next great adventure. I love him, I admire him and I consider him to be a great light in the world that has by no means gone out. His example of rebellious thinking, of asking the difficult questions, and of never, ever, under any circumstances, putting up with the bullshit of the dominator culture, helped set a whole generation on the path of free and independent thought that leads to the discovery and unfolding of our true humanity.
A few words from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead in the translation of Normandi Ellis to which John introduced me a quarter of a century ago:
"Hail Thoth, the architect of truth, give me words of power that when I speak the life of a man I may give his story meaning. I stand before the masters who know the histories of the dead, who decide which tales to hear again, who judge the books of lives as either full or empty, who are themselves authors of truth. And they are Isis and Osiris, the divine intelligence. And when the story is written and the end is good and the soul of a man is perfected, with a shout they lift him into heaven."
John, with your words and your insights, you have opened the way for so many. May the way now be open for you. Your story has to mean and will be told. Your tale will be heard again. The book of your life will be judged as full and the end good. Your story will continue.
It was my privilege to hold an on-stage conversation with John West, his last public appearance, in New York in December 2016. It can be viewed here:
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The photograph shows me with John the last time Santha and I saw him in upstate New York in late October 2017 when Fall colours were tinting the trees outside his cabin."
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