Below the Utah/New Mexico border, running along the western edge of sprawling Navajo, Havasupai, and Hualapai reservations lands, the Colorado River has patiently carved a geological masterpiece — the Grand Canyon. Despite the extreme desert climate, native people have inhabited the region for centuries.
Dominating the landscape beyond the Rocky Mountains, the immense Colorado Plateau stretches 130,000 square miles from the Wyoming border to the north, the Arizona/Nevada border to the east, and beyond the Four Corners region along the Colorado/New Mexico border further east.
A thorough exploration of the region would take months — even years. The Grand Canyon alone could take weeks to explore, beyond requisite tourist attractions. The Havasupai people have lived in the canyon for at least 800-years, and have successfully fought for restoration of tribal lands taken by the federal government. A travertine dome near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers is believed to be the “sipapu,” or “place of emergence” by native people. This sacred formation is nameless, simply referred to as sipapu by indigenous people. Tribal leaders prefer to keep the location private. ”
“Few locations on the planet can rival this amazing ‘great wound in the earth,’ as it was described to Francisco Vasquez de Coronado by the Hopi in 1540,” said Christopher O’Brien, a journalist and investigator who has explored the canyon and its legends for years.
The first documented white man to “lay sight” on the confluence area in Marble Canyon was Seth Tanner, a Mormon pioneer married to a Hopi woman. While he had good relations with the Navajo and Hopi tribes in the region, when the Hopi learned he had seen the sacred site, they blinded him. His life was spared because of his Hopi wife, but he was told that if he spoke of what he saw, his tongue would be cut out.
Then there’s the astonishing geology — hoodoos, towering mesas, land bridges, and ancient “Vishnu” schist, the basement rock found on the canyon floor, 1.8 billion years old. But this isn’t the only example of geologic features with names from myth and exotic pantheons — there are also Brahma and Rama schists, Babylon Cave, Isis Temple, and the “Cheops” pyramid — a natural pyramid formed by long, slow erosion. Other pyramid formations bear names like “Apollo’s Temple,” “Buddha Cloister,” or the “Tabernacle.”
While some speculate that these commanding geologic formations were engineered by something other than nature, there is simply no indisputable proof. One theory is that these monoliths were built by an ancient civilization and over time, were buried in sediment. The Colorado River eventually washed away the sediment, revealing the ancient formations.
Evidence of an Ancient Civilization in the Grand Canyon?
G.E. Kincaid, born in 1863 in the then-wilds of Idaho, was a hunter, explorer, and erstwhile archaeologist. For thirty years he had explored the west for the then-young Smithsonian Institute under Prof. S.A. Jordan, ostensibly employed by the institute. In 1909 he embarked on a journey down the Colorado River in 1909 in a wooden skiff — a less than ideal boat for navigating the river.
Starting from the Green River in Wyoming, Kincaid travelled down the Colorado “looking for mineral” like others exploring for gold in the main canyon and secondary tributaries such as the Little Colorado Canyon. He described, when reaching Marble Canyon near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers in 1908, an area where there were “stains in the sedimentary formation” roughly 2,000 feet above the riverbed. Geographers estimate that Kincaid was at about mile 56 of the river.
Somehow Kincaid scaled the 2000 ft. with “great difficulty,” hauling his camera and glass plates with him. According to the April 9, 1909 Arizona Gazette, Kincaid discovered a cave entrance — upon entering, he discovered what was called “The most important archaeological find in North America.” Called an “underground citadel,” the cave was reportedly vast, with hundreds of chambers filled with mummies and artifacts that appeared to be Egyptian.
He described a “cross hall” with a buddha-like idol sitting cross-legged with a flower in each hand, carved out of the chamber walls. Additionally, Kincaid reported “vases or urns of copper and gold, enamelled and glazed vessels, granaries filled with seed, burial chambers filled with sarcophagi, and countless other wonders.
According to the story, Kincaid left the location and arrived in Yuma, AZ. Shortly after, the story was published in the Arizona Gazette. There are rumors of the Smithsonian sending a team of 30 to explore and document the amazing find — but no evidence remains. Shortly after, news stories regarding the discovery evaporated into silence.
When queried later, Smithsonian officials denied institutional relationships with Kincaid or Prof. S.A. Jordan. The site and its surroundings in Marble Canyon were reportedly acquired by the U.S. Government and declared “off limits” to visitors. A metaphorical door slammed on the entire topic.
EXPLORATIONS IN GRAND CANYON
Mysteries of Immense Rich Cavern being brought to light Jordan is enthused
Remarkable finds indicate ancient people migrated from Orient The latest news of the progress of the explorations of what is now regarded by scientists as not only the oldest archaeological discovery in the United States, but one of the most valuable in the world, which was mentioned some time ago in the Gazette, was brought to the city yesterday by G.E. Kinkaid, the explorer who found the great underground citadel of the Grand Canyon during a trip from Green River, Wyoming, down the Colorado, in a wooden boat, to Yuma, several months ago. According to the story related to the Gazette by Mr. Kinkaid, the archaeologists of the Smithsonian Institute, which is financing the expeditions, have made discoveries which almost conclusively prove that the race which inhabited this mysterious cavern, hewn in solid rock by human hands, was of oriental origin, possibly from Egypt, tracing back to Ramses. If their theories are borne out by the translation of the tablets engraved with hieroglyphics, the mystery of the prehistoric peoples of North America, their ancient arts, who they were and whence they came, will be solved. Egypt and the Nile, and Arizona and the Colorado will be linked by a historical chain running back to ages which staggers the wildest fancy of the fictionist. A Thorough Examination Under the direction of Prof. S. A. Jordan, the Smithsonian Institute is now prosecuting the most thorough explorations, which will be continued until the last link in the chain is forged. Nearly a mile underground, about 1480 feet below the surface, the long main passage has been delved into, to find another mammoth chamber from which radiates scores of passageways, like the spokes of a wheel. Several hundred rooms have been discovered, reached by passageways running from the main passage, one of them having been explored for 854 feet and another 634 feet. The recent finds include articles which have never been known as native to this country, and doubtless they had their origin in the orient. War weapons, copper instruments, sharp-edged and hard as steel, indicate the high state of civilization reached by these strange people. So interested have the scientists become that preparations are being made to equip the camp for extensive studies, and the force will be increased to thirty or forty persons. Mr. Kinkaid’s Report Mr. Kinkaid was the first white child born in Idaho and has been an explorer and hunter all his life, thirty years having been in the service of the Smithsonian Institute. Even briefly recounted, his history sounds fabulous, almost grotesque. “First, I would impress that the cavern is nearly inaccessible. The entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall. It is located on government land and no visitor will be allowed there under penalty of trespass. The scientists wish to work unmolested, without fear of archaeological discoveries being disturbed by curio or relic hunters. A trip there would be fruitless, and the visitor would be sent on his way. The story of how I found the cavern has been related, but in a paragraph: I was journeying down the Colorado river in a boat, alone, looking for mineral. Some forty-two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon, I saw on the east wall, stains in the sedimentary formation about 2,000 feet above the river bed. There was no trail to this point, but I finally reached it with great difficulty.
Above a shelf which hid it from view from the river, was the mouth of the cave. There are steps leading from this entrance some thirty yards to what was, at the time the cavern was inhabited, the level of the river. When I saw the chisel marks on the wall inside the entrance, I became interested, securing my gun and went in. During that trip I went back several hundred feet along the main passage till I came to the crypt in which I discovered the mummies. One of these I stood up and photographed by flashlight. I gathered a number of relics, which I carried down the Colorado to Yuma, from whence I shipped them to Washington with details of the discovery. Following this, the explorations were undertaken. The Passages “The main passageway is about 12 feet wide, narrowing to nine feet toward the farther end. About 57 feet from the entrance, the first side-passages branch off to the right and left, along which, on both sides, are a number of rooms about the size of ordinary living rooms of today, though some are 30 by 40 feet square. These are entered by oval-shaped doors and are ventilated by round air spaces through the walls into the passages. The walls are about three feet six inches in thickness. The passages are chiselled or hewn as straight as could be laid out by an engineer. The ceilings of many of the rooms converge to a center. The side-passages near the entrance run at a sharp angle from the main hall, but toward the rear they gradually reach a right angle in direction. The Shrine “Over a hundred feet from the entrance is the cross-hall, several hundred feet long, in which are found the idol, or image, of the people’s god, sitting cross-legged, with a lotus flower or lily in each hand. The cast of the face is oriental, and the carving this cavern. The idol almost resembles Buddha, though the scientists are not certain as to what religious worship it represents. Taking into consideration everything found thus far, it is possible that this worship most resembles the ancient people of Tibet. Surrounding this idol are smaller images, some very beautiful in form; others crooked-necked and distorted shapes, symbolical, probably, of good and evil. There are two large cactus with protruding arms, one on each side of the dais on which the god squats. All this is carved out of hard rock resembling marble. In the opposite corner of this cross-hall were found tools of all descriptions, made of copper. These people undoubtedly knew the lost art of hardening this metal, which has been sought by chemicals for centuries without result. On a bench running around the workroom was some charcoal and other material probably used in the process. There is also slag and stuff similar to matte, showing that these ancients smelted ores, but so far no trace of where or how this was done has been discovered, nor the origin of the ore. “Among the other finds are vases or urns and cups of copper and gold, made very artistic in design. The pottery work includes enamelled ware and glazed vessels. Another passageway leads to granaries such as are found in the oriental temples. They contain seeds of various kinds. One very large storehouse has not yet been entered, as it is twelve feet high and can be reached only from above. Two copper hooks extend on the edge, which indicates that some sort of ladder was attached. These granaries are rounded, as the materials of which they are constructed, I think, is a very hard cement. A gray metal is also found in this cavern, which puzzles the scientists, for its identity has not been established. It resembles platinum. Strewn promiscuously over the floor everywhere are what people call “cats eyes”, a yellow stone of no great value. Each one is engraved with the head of the Malay type. The Hieroglyphics “On all the urns, or walls over doorways, and tablets of stone which were found by the image are the mysterious hieroglyphics, the key to which the Smithsonian Institute hopes yet to discover. The engraving on the tables probably has something to do with the religion of the people. Similar hieroglyphics have been found in southern Arizona. Among the pictorial writings, only two animals are found. One is of prehistoric type. The Crypt “The tomb or crypt in which the mummies were found is one of the largest of the chambers, the walls slanting back at an angle of about 35 degrees. On these are tiers of mummies, each one occupying a separate hewn shelf. At the head of each is a small bench, on which is found copper cups and pieces of broken swords. Some of the mummies are covered with clay, and all are wrapped in a bark fabric. The urns or cups on the lower tiers are crude, while as the higher shelves are reached, the urns are finer in design, showing a later stage of civilization. It is worthy of note that all the mummies examined so far have proved to be male, no children or females being buried here. This leads to the belief that this exterior section was the warriors’ barracks. “Among the discoveries no bones of animals have been found, no skins, no clothing, no bedding. Many of the rooms are bare but for water vessels. One room, about 40 by 700 feet, was probably the main dining hall, for cooking utensils are found here. What these people lived on is a problem, though it is presumed that they came south in the winter and farmed in the valleys, going back north in the summer. Upwards of 50,000 people could have lived in the caverns comfortably. One theory is that the present Indian tribes found in Arizona are descendants of the serfs or slaves of the people which inhabited the cave. Undoubtedly a good many thousands of years before the Christian era, a people lived here which reached a high stage of civilization. The chronology of human history is full of gaps. Professor Jordan is much enthused over the discoveries and believes that the find will prove of incalculable value in archaeological work. “One thing I have not spoken of, may be of interest. There is one chamber of the passageway to which is not ventilated, and when we approached it a deadly, snaky smell struck us. Our light would not penetrate the gloom, and until stronger ones are available we will not know what the chamber contains. Some say snakes, but other boo-hoo this idea and think it may contain a deadly gas or chemicals used by the ancients. No sounds are heard, but it smells snaky just the same. The whole underground installation gives one of shaky nerves the creeps. The gloom is like a weight on one’s shoulders, and our flashlights and candles only make the darkness blacker. Imagination can revel in conjectures and ungodly daydreams back through the ages that have elapsed till the mind reels dizzily in space.”