Will a Shadowy Cult Unlock the Last Secrets of the Pyramids?

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Last week, the amazing attempt to use a robot to discover the secretsof the Great Pyramid was described by Egyptologist Robert Bauval. Hebelieves the new Millennium may begin with startling revelationsabout a past civilisation. Today, he tells how the search for afabulous Hall of Records, said to contain 'writings of the gods'described in relics from the age of the Pharaohs, is being led bysecretive followers of a modern cult with motives - and bizarrebeliefs - of their own . . .

As Leslie and Carrie Cayce watched over their teenage boy, hope for his survival seemed to be slipping away.

Their son, Edgar, had fallen into a coma after being hit on the head by a baseball and, with only the limited medical facilities of 1890s Kentucky to help them, there was little to do but pray.

Then, as if by some divine intervention, the boy began to speak. Still seemingly unconscious, he started dictating random information on American financial and political developments - subjects he could hardly have known about at his age.

Soon afterwards Edgar Cayce returned to full consciousness.

But that event in 1892 was to prove the first of 14,000 trance-like 'readings' he gave until he died in 1945, having amassed a cult of thousands of followers and earned the nickname 'the sleeping prophet'.

Although his readings touched on an array of subjects, his words on Egypt and predictions of momentous future events among the pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza are at the centre of immense controversy.

They have inspired multimillion pound scientific expeditions to the sacred site. And they have split the Egyptological establishment, leading to accusations of international conspiracies, hidden agendas and misuse of the pyramids and the Sphinx to further individuals' own ends.

Archaeologists and scientists have spent years trying to unlock the secrets of the Giza plateau and the forerunner to our own civilisation. But in the past 20 years there is one body which has dominated research in the area, particularly concerning the Great Sphinx.

Based in Virginia, it is called the Association of Research and Enlightenment and has funded many expeditions to discover more about Giza.

The name may sound innocuous enough, but the organisation's methods and motives are viewed with considerable suspicion at Giza.

This is because the association was founded by Edgar Cayce, and its members are determined to prove that he was a 'seer'.

In his 'readings' Cayce said there were undiscovered tombs, tunnels and pyramids at Giza and also suggested the existence of a 'Hall of Records' under the bedrock near the Sphinx. He said the hall would contain documents from the mythical lost civilis-ation of Atlantis. These records, he suggested, were left after Atlantis was destroyed in 10,500 BC and the survivors emigrated to the Americas, western Europe and the Nile valley in Egypt.

Whether anything that Cayce predicted will be found in the chamber, only time will tell. But if a Hall of Records is found, the discovery could turn on its head all the assumptions made about the origins of Egypt.

Egyptologists and the Egyptian authorities have long been resisting any ideas that another people may have sparked off the ancient developments around the Nile before the rise of Egyptian civilisation.

But if any records predating Egypt are found, then the whole history of the region will have to be rethought. …