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Egyptian Artifacts In The Grand Canyon- 6 Important Things To Know

Whether you actually have a travel bucket list or not, you probably heard about the Grand Canyon. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the US and in the whole world but it’s also one of the deadliest ones. It’s a place that breathes history and is home to numerous archaeological sites but also one of the biggest myths of modern history; the myth of the Egyptian artifacts in the Grand Canyon. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look into this topic to determine if there’s any truth in these claims or if is it just a legend.

Let’s dive in…

The Origin Of The Myth

Egyptian artifacts in the Grand Canyon

The tale of Egyptian artifacts in the Grand Canyon is a story that, much like a mummy’s curse, refuses to stay buried. On April 5th, 1909, the Arizona Gazette published an article that would spark a century-plus of intrigue, conspiracy theories, and eyebrow raises. It claimed that two Smithsonian archeologists unearthed a veritable trove of Egyptian artifacts deep within the bowels of the Grand Canyon. The catch? Well, it seems the Smithsonian Institution (note the correct ‘Institution,’ not ‘Institute’ as the mischievous Gazette would have you believe) has never heard of these so-called archeologists or their miraculous find​​​​.

But wait, there’s more! The plot thickens with the involvement of Joe Mulhattan, a notorious fabricator of tall tales, who might have been behind this elaborate yarn. This was a man whose stories had newspapers of the era tripping over themselves to publish his latest wild escapade​​. Fast forward through the sands of time, and despite the original story crumbling under scrutiny, the myth refuses to die, thanks in part to the sensationalism of yellow journalism and the undying allure of a good conspiracy theory​​.

In a delightful twist of irony, the Grand Canyon does have connections to Egyptian mythology, though not in the way conspiracy theorists might hope. Some of its geological formations bear names like Isis Temple and Osiris Temple, named not by ancient Egyptians but by Clarence Dutton, a 19th-century geologist with a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for global mythology​​.

Investigations And Debunking

Egyptian artifacts in the Grand Canyon

First off, let’s tip our fedoras to the Smithsonian Institution, which has found itself unwittingly cast as the villain in this historical drama. Despite claims of hidden tunnels brimming with artifacts that would make even Tutankhamun green with envy, the Smithsonian has been steadfast in its “We have no idea what you’re talking about” stance. It turns out that the alleged discoverers of this pharaonic cache, Professors Jordan and Kincaid, are about as real as the Tooth Fairy’s dental practice. The Smithsonian’s archives, presumably quite thorough, have nary a whisper of either gentleman or their groundbreaking expedition​​​​.

Enter the age of yellow journalism, where the truth is more malleable than Play-Doh and just as colorful. The original 1909 article that sparked this century-long wild goose chase is now widely regarded as a masterclass in fake news, decades before the term became a gleam in social media’s eye. It’s suspected that this tale was concocted on a slow news day, perhaps to spice up the reading material for the fine folks of the early 20th century, who apparently were as easily entertained as we are by sensational headlines​​​​.

The plot further thickens with the mention of Joe Mulhattan, a man whose relationship with the truth was, let’s say, complicated. Mulhattan was known for spinning tales so fantastical, they made the adventures of Baron Munchausen look like a trip to the grocery store. It’s speculated he might have been the creative genius behind the Grand Canyon’s Egyptian escapade, proving once again that a good story can outlive even the most rigorous fact-checking​​.

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Cultural Context And Impact

grand canyon

In the early 20th century, Egyptomania swept across America, a force inspired by the excitement and actual expeditions taking place at that time in Egypt, including the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Nevertheless, the Grand Canyon myth was skillfully designed to resonate with one of the main Zeitgeist themes, relating the exotic mysticism of ancient Egypt to the wild spirit of the American frontier. It was simply a culture of delicious concoction, a bit mysterious, adventurous, a bit of twist.

But let’s not overlook the humor in all of this. The fact that the Egyptians, famous for their impressive architecture, although a relatively advanced civilization for their time, could have sailed across the Atlantic, marched through the continent to the Grand Canyon, and said “Yup, this gorge is the perfect spot for our artifacts,” is a story worthy of the next great blockbuster movie.

That leads us to the next point…

Modern Conspiracy Theories Of Egyptian Artifacts In The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park

In the digital age, where ancient mysteries meet modern skepticism, the tale of Egyptian artifacts in the Grand Canyon has found new life. It’s as if the internet, in its vast and mysterious wisdom, looked upon this story and declared, “This… we can work with.” The theory now includes everything from alien architects (because, of course, aliens are Egypt’s best-kept secret) to secret government cover-ups that make Area 51 look like a public park.

And let’s not forget the role of the Smithsonian Institution, which in this narrative, isn’t just a venerable repository of knowledge but a gatekeeper of the world’s most explosive secrets. According to theorists, the Smithsonian’s denials are less about the truth and more about keeping the lid on a Pandora’s Box that could rewrite history as we know it.

The Role Of The Grand Canyon In Native American Cultures

Native American sites grand canyon

To most Native Americans, the Grand Canyon is not only a canyon where the Colorado River has cut through, but a holy ground. The Hopi, for example, believe that the Great Canyon is where their people came into existence. For the Zuni (another tribe) that are closely attached to the land, it is a sacred space associated with the kachinas which are the spiritual beings that are an important part of their religious system. The Navajos, whose reservations are adjacent to the canyon, intertwine its wonders into their myths, religious beliefs, and ethics.

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The Real Archaeological Discoveries In The Grand Canyon

grand canyon edges

The Grand Canyon is a charming place where genuine archaeological treasures exist but they date back to the history of the Native American Indians, not to those of the Egyptians. These remnants of human presence go deep into time, centuries before the Pharaohs came up with the idea of building pyramids. These findings include dwellings, granaries, and artifacts that give a glimpse into the life of the Ancestral Puebloans, and other indigenous peoples who lived in the area.

These findings unlike some of their supposed Egyptian counterparts can be found in the open, are backed up by scientific research, and do not require a leap of faith or a conspiracy theory to believe in…

The Grand Canyon’s Geological Landmarks And Their Names

grand canyon mistakes

Many of the names of the geologic wonders in the Grand Canyon have taken inspiration from ancient mythology. Take, for instance, the Isis Temple, Tower of Ra, and Osiris Temple. You almost certainly expect to turn a corner and run into Anubis enjoying a leisurely stroll. These places have nothing to do with the Egyptian Mythology but reflect a fascination of the ever-present fascination of ancient Egyptian culture and history.

Then, there are places like the Zoroaster Temple, named after the Persian prophet of ancient times. You can’t help but wonder if the namers were just throwing a dart at a board of “Ancient Figures We Think Are Cool” and running with it. And if you do, do not forget about Vishnu Temple, named after the Hindu pantheon.


Did you ever visit the Grand Canyon? Have you heard about the Egyptian artifacts in the Grand Canyon? What do you think about it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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grand canyon mistakes
grand canyon mistakes

Shruti Aggarwal

Monday 24th of June 2019

Informative Article, such a nice place to visit. It’s on my bucket list and I did not even think before going there, I could read such a great topic. Your blog is very helpful and correct because most of the people are confusing on what to carry and how to plan a trip. Thanks for sharing this information. Keep posting!!

Passport Symphony

Monday 24th of June 2019

Thank you, Shruti. I'm really glad to hear that


Monday 17th of June 2019

It looks beautiful, I'd love to go there. I'm not American, but I had no idea there was even a beautiful park attached to it; all the pics ever show is the actual canyon itself! (I must admit I had no idea it was so high up, I assumed it was below sea level! You live and learn haha)

Definitely one I'm adding to the bucket list!

Passport Symphony

Monday 24th of June 2019

Absolutely, Scout. I hope you get the chance to visit someday.

Blair villanueva

Monday 17th of June 2019

I haven't been to Grand Canyon but i noticed even in many Instagram photos that they seems to take photos on the same angle. I initially thought that is where photos are only allowed.

Passport Symphony

Monday 24th of June 2019

Well, I couldn't blame you for thinking that, Blair :)


Sunday 16th of June 2019

Multiple layers are very important while traveling to places where temperature goes up and down cosntantly. One is asked to wear the same in Indian himalayas as well. Also, I like the suggested to visit multiple viewpoints. Why would someone go to a place and see only one attraction and then return.

Passport Symphony

Monday 24th of June 2019

definitely, Anshul. However, not too many people do that (because of different reasons)


Saturday 15th of June 2019

I think your tips in the post are right on. I've been to the Grand Canyon a few times now and it never gets old. I've been fortunate to view it from multiple viewpoints and its totally worth the drive around to different parts of the rim. I especially like to find areas where there aren't other travelers so I can have the place to myself. I also encourage bringing extra layers of clothing as you stated. During my most recent visit, I went to bed with cool temperatures and a clear night sky but woke up to a snowstorm. It was beautiful, but I'm sure glad I had a warm coat with me! The Grand Canyon is beautiful under a fresh snowfall by the way.

Passport Symphony

Monday 24th of June 2019

Absolutely agree with you, Eden! Especially about the winter view :)