Grand Canyon Mysteries: Ancient Egyptian Cave

Perhaps for publicity, perhaps because there’s some legitimate evidence, the Arizona Gazette published an astonishing story about a revealing expedition undertaken by the Smithsonian Institute in 1909. The expedition, which back then was one of the few thorough explorations of the canyon, revealed a stash of Egyptian artifacts and prompted theories of an Egyptian voyage to the American continent. 

While these news obviously caused a stir fresh from the press, the theory seems to be completely forgotten today. Then again, the tourists of today are not the explorers of yesterday. Over five million tourists visit the Grand Canyon annually, yet of these very few actually venture into the canyon and those that do, rarely explore beyond the visible trail. Of course this is because curiosity could be fatal, but the point is- there is very little exploring going on and many past discoveries evaded questioning.

Today, we’ll examine the original story and its implications.

The 1909 publication revealed a discovery that would have shaken the archeological world of the time- the expedition had discovered a system of tunnels within the canyon walls filled with ancient artifacts of Egyptian origin. More surprisingly, among the findings were mummies- this would have meant that not only was there an Egyptian expedition to the Americas, but they inhabited part of the Grand Canyon for decades- maybe more.

As far as caves are concerned, the Grand Canyon is host to hundreds, many of which have been discovered by hikers and most of which remain to be discovered. The location of the cave found in 1909 is not very specific, mentioning that the location of the cave is “forty-two miles up the river from El Tovar Crystal canyon”- an area that to this day is very isolated and rarely visited by even the park rangers. Locating the cave in this region would be almost physically impossible- a serious Indiana Jones adventure.

Modern interpretations of the story explain the discovery differently. Rather than an ancient Egyptian stash hidden away by the government and hushed up for some unexplained reason, the cave could have simply been the remains of a less exotic indigenous people. The Grand Canyon has been inhabited by indigenous tribes for thousands of years, many of whom were cliff and cave dwellers.

While the latter theory is not as exciting as that Arizona Gazette article, the truth remains that the Grand Canyon is full of adventures and discovery potential.