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American Mythology

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Were Egyptian Treasures Found At The Grant Canyon?

By James Donahue

There has been a persistent report, based upon a story that allegedly appeared in a 1909 edition of an Arizona newspaper, that a cache of gold and copper items, apparently the kind of stuff found in Egyptian tombs, was found in a cave at the Grand Canyon.

The report also is linked to accusations that information about this remarkable find has been carefully covered up by major archaeological institutions and major museums because they fail to fit within an established chronology of world history, especially the history set within the Christian Bible.

According to various accounts, including a lengthy story in Nexus Magazine, the expedition that uncovered the treasure was financed by the Smithsonian Institute, which has succeeded to keeping the discovery cloaked in secrecy rather than allow this information to "stand conventional history on its ear."

The story claims that the team found a cavern obviously "hewn in solid rock by human hands." Exploring this cavern, the researchers found tablets with hieroglyphics, copper weapons, statues of Egyptian deities and even mummies.

The problem with the story is that the Smithsonian says there never was such a discovery and that several expeditions, actually searching for such a cavern, proved fruitless. If such a treasure was found by anybody, it has been lost again. Like the legend of the lost Dutchman gold mine of Arizona, the cache of Egyptian gold and copper treasures remains lost, possibly forever.

Are such stories only that . . . tall tales by the locals who enjoy spinning those kinds of yarns while sitting around campfires on the open range and in coffee shops? While recently living in Arizona, my wife and I found that story telling was a common occupation among the people of that state. The Native American tribes had the best stories, but so did a lot of the older white settlers with time on their hands.

We heard the story of the lost Dutchman mine from one such story teller while we spent a few weeks living in a run-down old motel just outside of Holbrook. There were a lot of drifters living there, and we spent time gathering in one of the rooms turned into a coffee shop and general meeting place. The stories told at that table were so rich this writer found himself taking notes just to get them written down on paper.

Later, when we spent the winter living with a Navajo medicine man and his wife, people would gather at that home near Red Rock to hear the "winter tales" that were commonly passed down from family to family. We put some of those great stories on paper too.

Some have called the Grand Canyon Egyptian treasure story a hoax. We would rather identify it with that strange mixture of local yarns that include tales of great heroism among the tribesmen of the distant past and that odd story of woodsman Travis Walton who got whisked away by a UFO while driving with friends in the forests near Snowflake, Arizona, in 1975.

Walton got a lot of recognition for his story, which appeared as a novel and later the film Fire In the Sky. But that story, like all the other yarns to roll out of that colorful state, are mostly part of the mystique of the area. They are just that, great stories. There may be some truth to them, and maybe not.

You just have to be there a while to understand.