I provide here the main gist of the inscription, although there is more inscriptional material on the stela, the subject of which I will return to below, in my critique (Zivie-Coche 2002: 84):
Live the Horus Medjed, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Cheops,
given life. He found the house of Isis, Mistress of the Pyramids, next to
the house of Haurun, northwest of the house of Osiris, Lord of Rasetau.
He (re)built the pyramid of the king's daughter Henutsen beside this
temple. He made an inventory, carved on a stela, for his mother Isis, the
mother of the god, Hathor, Mistress of the Sky. He restored for her the
divine offerings and (re)built her temple in stone, that which he found
in ruins being renewed, and the gods in their place.
Sitchin has been writing for so many years that I'm not sure if he is principally guilty of initiating the misinformation that has been wrapped around this poor little monument, or if he is merely following on the folly of earlier writers who did not perform adequate research.
The stela was found by Auguste Mariette in 1858 in the ruins of the temple of Isis, at the foot of the Great Pyramid. It is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Sitchin describes the stela as the "damming evidence" that Khufu did not build the Great Pyramid because it was already there. Evidently Sitchin regards the part of the inscription reading "house of Isis, Mistress of the Pyramids" as proof that the pyramid belonged to Isis, a goddess, and not to Khufu, the king. He is reading "house" as pyramid.
There is also the information about building a pyramid for the Princess Henutsen next to the temple of the goddess. Sitchin asserts that archaeologists have found "independent evidence" that this small pyramid "was in fact dedicated to Henutsen," who is described as a wife of Khufu. Sitchin then goes on to use some truly peculiar logic in the line about the goddess Hathor to corroborate his claim that the Great Pyramid itself was already there (page 344):
Here Sitchin is trying to build on his idea that the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre at Giza were actually beacons for his Anunnaki aliens flying about in their celestial craft. That may be how it exists in his head, but this association between Hathor and the Great Pyramid did not exist to the Egyptians themselves. It is inaccurate.
Finally, Sitchin notes that scholars at the time of the stela's discovery, "and many ever since," have stalwartly refused to accept the authenticity of the Inventory Stela. They have regarded it as a fraud in a convenient move to ignore its proof that the Great Pyramid was already there when Khufu stumbled onto Giza. Sitchin concludes with some information about J.H. Breasted and his text Ancient Records of Egypt, which he, Sitchin, describes as "the standard work of ancient Egyptian inscriptions," even though it was written in 1906. He acknowledges that Breasted regarded the Inventory Stela as a monument of a later time but nevertheless included it in his records of Dynasty 4.
Fringe writers in general tend to have a very poor sense of timelines and chronology. They also seem to be unable to reconcile the simple fact that ancient Egyptians living in later times wrote quite a few inscriptions about events and people from much earlier in their own history. A good example is the rock-cut inscription on Sehel Island that speaks of mytho-historical events in the time of King Djoser (Dynasty 3), even though it undeniably dates to the Ptolemaic Period. I don't know how many times I've seen fringe writers misinterpret this particular inscription and its proper date. The same is true for the Inventory Stela, if not more so. You will find it on fringe websites everywhere, as "proof" that the Giza monuments predate Khufu. I do have to suspect that Zecharia Sitchin is at the core of this misinformation.
In fact, there is no question that the Inventory Stela dates to a time much later than Dynasty 4. It's true as Sitchin mentions that at first some scholars regarded it as a fraud, but most who doubted its veracity did not think it was a modern fraud but in fact a text written later in dynastic history. I repeat this because from the very beginning scholars had reason to suspect it actually had nothing to do with Dynasty 4, and naturally it turns out they were right. Indeed, I don't know of any modern historian who doubts the Inventory Stela was cut in ancient Egypt, but certainly not in the time of Khufu. Sitchin's claim that Breasted's Ancient Records of Egypt is "the standard work of ancient Egyptian inscriptions," is part of his underlying problem in sloppy research, and a problem shared by most fringe writers. While Breasted's text is of course still a very useful reference, it is not the standard work. We have learned volumes more about Egyptian iconography, religion, and texts since 1906, and there are many modern references which historians will consult first. Fringe writers rarely seem to use modern research, and it's a big part of their problem.
Part of our problem in fully understanding the Inventory Stela is that when Mariette found it 150 years ago, he did not record exactly how he found it. We've lost the proper context and know only that it came from the temple of Isis, at the foot of the Great Pyramid. The temple of Isis was located on the east side of the small queen's pyramid designated G1c (Lehner 1997: 116); in this photo, which was taken from the height of the east face of the Great Pyramid, it's the small pyramid farthest to the right. Here's another photo at G1c, looking roughly from the southwest. It's the best preserved of the three.
One of the main problems with Sitchin's argument is the fact that the temple of Isis did not exist in Dynasty 4. Where it was situated was originally a small mortuary temple for the royal person once buried there. You will often see it attributed to Queen Henutsen, as written in the above-quoted inscription of the Inventory Stela, but the simple truth is that a royal lady named Hentusen "has no certain contemporary attestations" (Dodson and Hilton 2004: 52-53). The name does happen to be known from the Old Kingdom, but no evidence from the time of Khufu links him in any way to a queen or other royal lady by that name. In fact, archaeology shows that the temple of Isis was not built till around Dynasty 21 (Dodson and Hilton: ibid). The original small mortuary temple of the pyramid was probably in ruins and had all but vanished by the time of the Middle Kingdom.
As I mentioned earlier, Sitchin regards "the house of Isis, Mistress of the Pyramids" as proof that the Great Pyramid belonged to Isis. This is not so. The term pr Ast, "house of Isis," does not refer to the Great Pyramid but to the Dynasty 21 temple of Isis on the east side of G1c. In fact, if you read the inscription carefully, nowhere does it say that Khufu found the Great Pyramid itself already there. It does suggest that the Sphinx may have been there, but we have to put this stela into proper perspective.
It is certain that the Inventory Stela dates to around Dynasty 26, the Saite Period, which was over 1,800 years after the time of Khufu. There is no question about this. We cannot regard the Inventory Stela as some sort of ancient Egyptian historical text, which it most certainly is not. Even if it were, the people living in Dynasty 26 would've had very little understanding of the proper history of people and events from over 1,800 years before their time. There is another reason for the Inventory Stela. In using Khufu's name, "the Egyptians were not attempting to attribute it to him, but rather to commemorate him, to recall his memory at the site where he built his funerary complex" (Zivie-Coche 2002: 88). Moreover, it is clear that the style and quality of the stela date it to the Late Period, not to the Old Kingdom (Fagan, ed. 2006: 112).
Giza at this time was experiencing a reawakening, a renaissance. Egypt had freed itself (temporarily) from the yolk of Assyrian dominion, and under powerful kings like Psamtik I Wahibre, new monuments were being built and old ones restored. This is the proper context for the Inventory Stela, and is what was happening at Giza.
As I alluded to earlier, there are more inscriptions on the stela in addition to the part I quoted above. Most of these other inscriptions are honorary in nature and mention specific deities. However, the above-quoted inscription mentions a deity named Haurun. This was in fact originally a god of Syro-Palestine and only in later times was he fully absorbed into the Egyptian pantheon (Zivie-Coche 2002: 89). Haurun was not extant as an Egyptian deity in Dynasty 4. Numerous other deities mentioned on the stela are of the same nature. The text heavily emphasizes Isis but also includes Nephthys, neither of whom appear in Egyptian lore any earlier than the Pyramid Texts at the end of the Dynasty 5. It is similar with Osiris, who is also mentioned but is not attested till late in Dynasty 5, in a fragment of inscription dating to the reign of Djedkare Isesi. The same is true for some of the forms of the god Horus as they appear on the stela (Wilkinson 132, 146, 160).
All in all, Sitchin has succumbed to the pitfalls of poor research and the errors in his conclusions are readily evident. Not only are they evident but, put in the right context, they are simple to dissect and tear asunder.
Comments? Questions? Debate?