The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza is a giant 4,500-year-old limestone statue situated near the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt. Measuring 240 feet (73 meters) long and 66 feet (20 meters) high, the Great Sphinx is one of the world’s largest monuments. It is also one of the most recognizable relics of the ancient Egyptians, though the origins and history of the colossal structure are still debated.

What Is a Sphinx?

A sphinx (or sphynx) is a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human, with some variations. It is a prominent mythological figure in Egyptian, Asian, and Greek mythology.

In ancient Egypt, the sphinx was a spiritual guardian and most often depicted as a male with a pharaoh headdress—as is the Great Sphinx—and figures of the creatures were often included in tomb and temple complexes. For instance, the so-called Sphinx Alley in Upper Egypt is a two-mile avenue that connects the temples of Luxor and Karnak and is lined with sphinx statues.

Sphinxes with the likeness of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut also exist, such as the granite sphinx statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the large alabaster sphinx at the Ramessid temple in Memphis, Egypt.

From Egypt, the sphinx imported to both Asia and Greece around 15th to 16th century B.C. Compared with the Egyptian model, the Asian sphinx had eagle wings, was frequently female, and often sat on its haunches with one paw raised in depictions.

In Greek traditions, the sphinx also had wings, as well as the tail of a serpent—in legends, it devours all travelers unable to answer its riddle.

How Old Is the Sphinx?

The most common and widely accepted theory about the Great Sphinx suggests the statue was erected for the Pharaoh Khafre (about 2603-2578 B.C.).

Hieroglyphic texts suggest Khafre’s father, Pharaoh Khufu, built the Great Pyramid, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in Giza. When he became Pharaoh, Khafre constructed his own pyramid next to his father’s; though Khafre’s pyramid is 10 feet shorter than the Great Pyramid, it is surrounded by a more elaborate complex that includes the Great Sphinx and other statues.

Residues of red pigments on the face of the Sphinx suggest the statue may have been painted.

Given the organization of the pyramids and the Sphinx, some scholars believe there may have been a celestial purpose to the Great Sphinx and temple complex, that is, to resurrect the soul of the pharaoh (Khafre) by channeling the power of the sun and other gods.


Several lines of evidence exist that tie the Great Sphinx to Pharaoh Khafre and his temple complex.

For one thing, the head and face of the Sphinx are strikingly similar to a life-size statue of Khafre that French archaeologist Auguste Mariette found in the Valley Temple—the ruins of a building situated adjacent to the Great Sphinx—in the mid-1800s.

Additionally, Mariette discovered remnants of a causeway (processional road) that connect the Valley Temple to a mortuary temple next to Khafre’s pyramid. In the early 1900s, French archaeologist Emile Baraize dug up another building (the Sphinx Temple) directly in front of the Sphinx that’s similar in design to the Valley Temple.

In the 1980s, researchers uncovered evidence that the limestone blocks used in the walls of the Sphinx Temple came from the ditch surrounding the great statue, suggesting workmen hauled away quarry blocks for the Sphinx Temple as they were being chipped off the Great Sphinx during its construction.

Researchers estimate that it would have taken 100 people 3 years to carve the Great Sphinx out of a single mass of limestone. But there’s some evidence that these workers may have suddenly quit before fully finishing the sphinx and temple complex, such as partially quarried bedrock and remnants of a workman’s lunch and tool kit.

Other Theories

Over the years, researchers have put forth many other theories for the Great Sphinx’s origins, though most are refuted by mainstream Egyptologists.

Some theories suggest the face of the sphinx actually resembles Khufu and, therefore, Khufu built the structure. Alternatively, Pharaoh Djedefre—Khafre’s older half-brother and Khufu’s other son—built the Great Sphinx in commemoration of his father.

Other theories hold that the statue depicts Amenemhat II (around 1929 to 1895 B.C.) based on the style of the stripes on the sphinx’s head cloth.

Some scientists also contend that the Great Sphinx is far older than is widely believed, based on the potential age of the causeway or various patterns of erosion of the statue.

Riddle of the Sphinx

What Egyptians called the Great Sphinx during its prime remains a riddle, because the word sphinx originates from Greek mythology some 2,000 years after the statue was built.

It’s also unclear in what regard Egyptians held the Great Sphinx during the Old Kingdom (c. 2613-2181 B.C.), as there are few texts that discuss the statue. However, Khafre associated himself with the god Horus and the Great Sphinx may have been known as Harmakhet (“Horus on the Horizon”), as it was during the New Kingdom (1570-1069 B.C.).

Whatever the case, the statue began to fade into the desert background at the end of the Old Kingdom, at which point it was ignored for centuries.

Inscriptions on a pink granite slab between the Great Sphinx’s paws tell the story of how the statue was saved from the sands of time. Prince Thutmose, son of Amenhotep II, fell asleep near the Sphinx, the story goes. In Thutmose’s dream, the statue, calling itself Harmakhet, complained about its state of disarray and made a deal with the young prince: It would help him become pharaoh if he cleared away the sand from the statue and restored it.

Whether or not the dream actually occurred is unknown, but when the prince did, in fact, become Pharaoh Thutmose IV, he introduced a Sphinx-worshipping cult to his people. Statues, paintings, and reliefs of the figure popped up across the country and the sphinx became a symbol of royalty and the power of the sun.

Great Sphinx Restoration

The Great Sphinx was eventually forgotten again. Its body suffered from erosion and its face became damaged by time as well.

Though some stories claim Napoleon‘s troops shot off the statue’s nose with a cannon when they arrived in Egypt in 1798, 18th-century drawings suggest the nose went missing long before then. More likely, the nose was purposely destroyed by a Sufi Muslim in the 15th century to protest idolatry. Part of the Sphinx’s royal cobra emblem from its headdress and sacred beard have also broken off, the latter of which is now displayed in the British Museum.

The Sphinx was actually buried in sand up to its shoulders until the early 1800s, when a Genoese adventurer named Capt. Giovanni Battista Caviglia attempted (and ultimately failed) to dig out the statue with a team of 160 men.

Mariette managed to clear some of the sand from around the sculpture and Baraize made another large excavation push in the 19th and 20th centuries. But it wasn’t until the late 1930s that Egyptian archaeologist Selim Hassan was able to finally free the creature from its sandy tomb.

Today, the Sphinx is continuing to deteriorate thanks to wind, humidity, and pollution. Restoration efforts have been ongoing since the mid-1900s, some of which failed and ultimately caused more damage to the Sphinx.

In 2007, authorities learned that the local water table under the statue was rising due to sewage being dumped in a nearby canal. The moisture ultimately spread through the porous limestone of the structure, causing the rock to crumble and break away in large flakes in some cases. Authorities installed pumps close to the Great Sphinx, diverting the groundwater and saving the relic from further destruction.


Sphinx-lined road unearthed in Egypt; PhysOrg.

The Great Sphinx of Giza; Ancient History Encyclopedia.

The Mystery of the Great Sphinx; Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Old Kingdom of Egypt; Ancient History Encyclopedia.

What happened to the Sphinx’s nose?; Smithsonian.

Saving the Sphinx; PBS/NOVA.

What Is the Great Sphinx?

The Great Sphinx is a massive statue with the body of a lion and the face of a man. Don't get worried if you mix this one up with the Greek monster that riddled Oedipus at Thebes - they share the same name and are both mythical beasts that are part-lion.

Just how big is the Sphinx? It measures 73.5 m. in length by 20 m. in height. In fact, the Great Sphinx is the earliest known monumental sculpture, although the statue has been missing its nose since at least Napoleonic times.

It resides on the plateau of Giza, where the most famous - and biggest - of the Old Kingdom pyramids are located. The Egyptian necropolis at Giza contains three monumental pyramids:

  1. the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops),
    who may have ruled from about 2589 to 2566 B.C.,
  2. the Pyramid of Khufu's son, Khafra (Chephren),
    who may have ruled from about 2558 B.C. to about 2532 B.C.,
  3. the pyramid of Khufu's grandson, Menkaure (Mycerinus).

The Sphinx was probably modeled after - and built by - one of these pharaohs. Modern scholars think that guy was Khafre - although some disagree - meaning the Sphinx was built in the twenty-sixth century B.C. (although some archaeologists maintain otherwise). Khafre probably modeled the Sphinx after himself, meaning that famous head represents this O.G. pharaoh.

What was the point of a king showing himself as a half-lion, half-human mythical creature, especially if he'd already built a pyramid to commemorate his life? Well, for one, having a giant god version of yourself watching over your pyramid and temple for eternity is a pretty good way to keep tomb robbers away and impress future generations, at least in theory. He could watch over his tomb complex forever!

The Sphinx was a special creature whose crafting showed how the man he represented was both royal and divine. Both lion and man, he wore the names headdress of the pharaoh and the long "false beard" that only a king wore. This was the representation of a god king above and beyond his usual depiction, a creature beyond normal comprehension.

A History of the Great Sphinx of Giza

When the ancients first came into the contact with this statue, a massive creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man they called it a Sphinx. In Greek mythology a sphinx is a winged creature with the body of a lion and the head of a woman. Gender differences withstanding the name Sphinx has been applied to the lion-man statue at Giza and to all similar statues found in Egypt.

What name the Egyptians originally gave the Sphinx is unknown. The earliest Egyptian writings mentioning the Sphinx come from almost a millennium after its original building and refer to it by several names: Hor-em-akht (Horus in the Horizon), Bw-How (Place of Horus) and Ra-horakhty (Ra of Two Horizons).

No other sphinx statue found in Egypt is either as old or as large as the Great Sphinx of Giza. It stands 65 feet tall, 20 feet wide and an astounding 260 feet long. Estimates of its weight (not precisely known) range upwards of 200 tons, making it one of the largest single stone sculptures in the world.

Origins of the Great Sphinx of Giza

Who Built the Great Sphinx?

Most dates for the Great Sphinx of Giza place the time of its building during the 4th Dynasty of Egypt in the 3rd millennium BCE. It is believed by most that the sphinx was built by the pharaoh Khafre, and that the face seen on the Sphinx is carved in his image.

Some have argued that the Sphinx was actually built by Khafre’s father Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, largest pyramid of the world. More recently there has been speculation and some evidence that the statue was actually built by Khafre’s nephew, a lesser known pharaoh by the name of Djedefre. As of yet there has been no conclusive evidence found to prove once and for all who built the Great Sphinx or whose image is recorded in the face.

How was the Great Sphinx Built?

Although we refer to the building of the Great Sphinx the word “build” is somewhat of a misnomer. The Great Sphinx was not actually built but carved straight into the limestone bedrock on which it stands. Limestone was removed from the area block by block until only a single very large block was left, from which the Great Sphinx was carved.

The surrounding blocks of limestone were used in various construction projects around the Giza plateau. The limestone surrounding the head was stronger and more solid and most likely went into building the pyramids. The lower, softer limestone surrounding the body of the Sphinx most likely was used in building the two temples that lay directly in front of the Sphinx.

History of the Great Sphinx of Giza

For all its glory the history of the Great Sphinx has been that of a forgotten and neglected monument. From the time of its original carving it has spent most of its life buried to the neck by sand.

The first restoration of the Sphinx came about 1400 BCE. The pharaoh Thutmose IV, sleeping beneath the head of the statue, was told in a dream to dig up the body of the Sphinx. In reward he was told he would be made a great king. Thutmose immediately began digging up the Great Sphinx, restoring it to its former glory. He also left evidence of this activity in what is called the Dream Stele, locating between the Sphinx’s paws.

Despite Thutmose’s restoration the Sphinx was once again neglected and buried by sand. Although travelers from across the world saw the face of the Sphinx, it was not until the turn of the 20th century that the statue would once again be uncovered and restored, a process that took decades to complete.

The Sphinx’s Missing Nose

One of the most notorious features of the Great Sphinx is its missing nose. Many interesting theories have been brought forward to explain its disappearance. One tale has it that the nose was blown off by a cannon fired by one of Napoleon’s soldiers during his Egyptian expedition.

Another popular tale is that the nose was accidentally blown off during target practice by Turkish Janissaries sometime during the Turks rule over Egypt. Neither of these stories appears to be true, however, as evidence has shown that the nose was missing long before either of these time periods.

An Egyptian historian by the name of al-Maqrizi, writing in about the 15th century, says that the nose was destroyed by a Sufi fanatic by the name of Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr. Enraged by the lifelike representation of a human face, something that is expressly forbidden by Islam, Sa’im al-Dahr ordered the nose removed.

Some evidence suggests that this may very well be the case, as it appears that two bars were inserted into the nose and used as levers to pull it off, most likely sometime between the 10th and 15th centuries. Al-Maqrizi dates the removal of the nose as 1378 CE.

Legacy of the Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza stands as one of the lasting symbols of Egypt from ancient times to the present day. It is almost synonymous with Egypt, along with the pyramids, and is one of its most recognizable symbols.

Although buried for millennia, it today is restored and preserved by Egypt, and is one of that country’s most popular tourist attractions. Despite its somewhat mysterious origins, it is a larger-than-life monument to the greatness of Egypt.

The Great Sphinx

The Sphinx was a mythological creature, a symbol of power and protection in Ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures, with the body of a lion and the head of a human. In Greek mythology the sphinxes appearance was much different – they had wings and “…wore a flat cap with a flamelike projection on top” (Britannica). The true meaning behind the Sphinx in every culture seems to be unknown, but the presence of the sphinxes was so prevalent that they definitely must have born some great significance to both the Egyptians and the Greeks.

The Great Sphinx at Giza was built somewhere between 2520 and 2494 BCE during the 4 th Dynasty on the west bank of the Nile, part of the necropolis of ancient Memphis (Haughton). At 73.5m in length, and in parts 20m in height, the Great Sphinx is credited for being one of the largest surviving sculptures and sphinxes in the world. The statue is constructed out of limestone. The royal head symbolizes the enormous power of the pharaoh or ruler a form of propaganda (British Museum), and the extensions on the side of the statue depicts the royal head cloth. During the 4 th Dynasty, Khafre, also known as Chephren, was reigning, and is believed to be the one to whom the Great Sphinx was attributed (British Museum). Egyptian rulers later worshiped the statue as Horus, the sun god. During the time of the 4 th dynasty, Egypt was prosperous and stable which is what allowed the many years and countless resources necessary for the building of the great pyramids and sphinxes as monuments to the pharaohs.

The Great Sphinx lies in front of the Giza Plateau Complex, the Great Pyramid of Khafre. The guardian of the pyramids and a symbol of Khafre’s power over Egypt, the figure is, no doubt imposing.

The Great Sphinx has been completely submerged in sand for much of its history and dug up many times. The years of submersion in sand is believed to be what has kept it in tact for this long without completely deteriorating. Today, the Great Sphinx is suffering from a great deal of deterioration due to weather conditions and pollution in the region. The nose and beard are missing. You can find a fragment of the beard of the Great Sphinx in the British Museum. Giovanni Battista Caviglia discovered the fragment in 1817.

A Brief History of Earth

As most of my readers know I&aposm fascinated with alternative views of ancient human history, mainly because ever since I was a little kid in elementary school I simply refused to accept the conditioned narratives spoon fed to us through our mainstream education system. Needless to say this lead to quite a bit of rebellious behavior on my part and some frustration for my teachers.

However it did allow me to begin my search for the truth at an early age and I continue to do so to this day. Below is my conception of human history gleaned from years of research and since I have never limited my paradigm to the quaint notion of proof or evidence, it allows me to continue to modify my paradigm as information presents itself.

Our planet has a very complicated history and did not evolve like most planets do, nor did the humans that were seeded on this planet. In the beginning and for almost 225 million years humans on Earth lived in immortal bodies, without disease or old age and Ascended much like the rest of the Universe did. But because of the unusual circumstances of our planets creation and the competition for its resource (including humanity), developments beyond humanities control forced the Earth&aposs Guardians, the Elohim to implement a series of mechanisms and defensive measures to protect humanity and the Earth.

To be brief all the planets in our solar system Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Maldak (which later imploded and became the asteroid belt), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Nibiru were planetary fragments from a higher Harmonic Universe (HU-2) that broke off from a planet called (Tara) and were sucked into its Sun. All Suns have sets of white and black holes at their core that can be used to portal energy to other dimensional fields (Universes). These fragments were vaporized and the morphogenetic fields, carried by these fragments were pulled into the black hole as well.

These planetary fragments, from the planet Tara in HU-2, entered into the Harmonic Universe 1 (HU-1) in one large gaseous form, which separated into 12 fragments. One of these fragments fused with a nearby Star and became our Sun and the other eleven pieces began to build up matter density and re-manifest their forms through their portion of the original morphogenetic field of Tara and became the planets in our solar system.

However some of the souls that lived on this planet Tara, were also pulled along with these fragments, ripped from their morphogenetic field at Tara&aposs core and disengaged from their original soul matrices which they needed, to continue to evolve. They literally became trapped in time inside the Unified Field of Harmonic Universe 1, as formless consciousness and there they would have remained for all time had not a group of higher dimensional beings, known as the Palaidorians created a rescue plan.

This group consisting of many HU-2 races, such as the Sirians, Pleiadians, Ur-Tarranates, Elohim, Lyrans, Ceres, Lumians and Alanians (which were one of the races of Tara) formed an agreement to rescue these trapped souls that was called the Covenant of Palaidor. The covenant petition even higher dimensional beings to assist them, such as the Breneau Rishi (beings of pure consciousness) and the entity known as Ra or the Ra Confederacy. Through this covenant, a rescue plan was developed and set into motion to allow these trapped souls to Ascend back to their original planet Tara, from Earth.

The Ur-Tarranates, using inter-dimensional time portal mechanics developed by the Ceres civilization transported into HU-1 at a time/space coordinate just after the Tara Cataclysm (which incidentally is the event known as the Fall of Man). Once on Earth they transmuted their body forms into a pure energy gestalt field of consciousness, with the help of the Sirian Council. In essence they gave up their own evolving life forms in a higher dimensional state to save the souls trapped in the Unified Field of HU-1. This pure energy field of consciousness served as a morphogenetic field for the 12 strand DNA Turaneusiam race prototype.

This morphogenetic field of consciousness took on the form of a sphere and was subsequently named the Sphere of Amenti after a region on Tara. The Sphere of Amenti was then placed at the Earth&aposs core and served as a two dimensional portal to Tara&aposs core in dimension 5. This portal stabilized many other portals between Earth and Tara and also served as link to Tara&aposs past and allowed the trapped souls to Ascend back to Tara in due time. To avoid confusion it must be understood that the First Seeding or First Race would be considered the original souls that came from Tara through its Sun and began incarnating on Earth 250 million years ago.

I won&apost go into all the details of how this morphogenetic process works but suffice to say, it allowed the trapped souls in the Unified Field of HU-1 the opportunity to re-evolve on Earth and Ascend back to Tara. The Sphere of Amenti entered Earth&aposs core about 550 million years ago but the birthing of the trapped souls didn&apost begin until about 250 million years ago.

This began what is known as the Turaneusiam-2 or T-2 experiement. All 12 morphogenetic fields became a different tribe of humans, out which our present human lineage has emerged. Originally five races began the Covenant of Paliador, these races did not possess gender nor did they possess the degree of matter density we do now.

  1. Ur-Antrians- Brown skinned.
  2. Breanoua- Red skinned.
  3. Hibiru- White skinned.
  4. Melchizedeks- Yellow skinned.
  5. Yunaseti- Black skinned.

These races populated the Earth for untold generations, creating various racial mixtures through which many of the lost souls of Tara were able to Ascend. They did reproduce but not as we understand it, through the physical reproduction process of sexual intercourse but through a melding of morphogenetic particles. Known as the Second World by Native Americans, this great civilization lasted for 225 million years (250-25 million years ago). There are no remnants of this civilization left on Earth.

The Sphinx - HISTORY

T he Great Sphinx at Giza, near Cairo, is probably the most famous sculpture in the world. With a lion's body and a human head, it represents Ra-Horakhty, a form of the powerful sun god, and is the incarnation of royal power and the protector of the temple doors.

T he Sphinx is the oldest and longest stone sculpture from the Old Kingdom. During the eighteenth dynasty, it was called "Horus of the Horizon" and "Horus of the Necropolis", the sun god that stands above the horizon . In later times, many sphinx images were carved in smaller sizes or in cameos with the faces of the reigning monarchs. The face of the Great Sphinx is believed to be that of Chephren, the fourth-dynasty pharaoh who built the second-largest pyramid in the Giza triad. In the image of the Sphinx, the pharaoh was seen as a powerful god.

C arved out of a natural limestone outcrop, the Sphinx is 19.8 metres (65 feet) high and 73.2 metres (240 feet) long. It is located a short distance from the Great Pyramid.

B etween the enormous paws is a stele that records a dream Tuthmosis IV had when he was a prince. He dreamt that he stopped to rest in the shadow of the Sphinx during a hunting expedition in the desert. While asleep, the Sphinx spoke to him, saying that he would become king if he cleared away the sand that all but buried the Sphinx. When he became king, Tuthmosis IV cleared the sand and erected a stele that tells the story of his dream. After the work was completed, a chapel was built next to the Sphinx to venerate this sun god.

D own through the ages, attempts have been made to protect the Sphinx from the effects of wind and sand erosion. A restoration project is currently under way to replace the stone casing that once protected this monument.

S phinxes are sometimes represented with a female face. For example, a sphinx of Queen Hatshepsut was sculpted with her face and a pharaoh's beard. Queen Tiy, wife of Amenhotep III, was the first to have a truly female sphinx sculpted in her likeness. Besides a female face without a beard, her sphinx had breasts and wings.

T he Sphinx differs from other deities in that it has an animal body and a human head, whereas most other deities have human bodies and animal heads. One explanation for this anomaly is that the Sphinx is the earthly representation of the constellation Leo, which has a lion's body. Images of the sphinx are found in various sizes and shapes, as the collection at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the temples throughout Egypt attest.

T he Giza Pyramids and Sphinx have been the focus of attention for New Age seekers, following a pronouncement by the American psychic Edgar Cayce. In a trance state, Cayce spoke of vaults at the base of the Sphinx and a Hall of Records . He suggested that a secret passage exists under the Sphinx. This is supposed to lead to a tomb where the annals of the lost continent of Atlantis are hidden for safe keeping.

D espite the intrigue surrounding this psychic reading, modern archaeologists have not yet found any evidence of a secret passage under the Sphinx. This story, however, continues to stir the imagination and contribute to the mystique of ancient Egypt.

Construction of the Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza was constructed out of one large limestone ridge, measuring 241 feet long and 66 feet tall. This stratum varies in color from soft yellow to hard gray. The body of the Sphinx was constructed out of the softer, yellow stone, while the head was made from the harder gray stone. Other than the missing nose and lips of the Sphinx, the head remains the most defining characteristic while the body has suffered from erosion.

The Sphinx's lower body was constructed of huge stone blocks from the base quarry. Engineers used the blocks for the nearby temple masonry as well. Construction began on the Sphinx through excavation around the rock outcrop and removal of the resulting huge blocks. The monument was then carved out of the exposed rock. Because of this method of construction, modern carbon dating has proven useless in identifying the Sphinx's exact date of construction.

There were three tunnels built in the Sphinx, but the passage of time has left the destinations unreachable and the tunnels themselves seem to basically stop short. Because of the limited resources and writing found on and around the sphinx, very little else is known about the structure (hence the "Riddle of the Sphinx"). All that we can be sure of is its immensity and the level of craftsmanship required to build it.

© Cary Bass-Deschenes - Detail of the Great Sphinx


The original name the Old Kingdom creators gave the Sphinx is unknown, as the Sphinx temple, enclosure and possibly the Sphinx itself was not completed at the time, thus cultural material was limited. [8] In the New Kingdom, the Sphinx was revered as the solar deity Hor-em-akhet (English: Horus of the Horizon Coptic: ϩⲁⲣⲙⲁϣⲓ Hellenized: Harmachis), [9] and the pharaoh Thutmose IV (1401–1391 or 1397–1388 BC) [a] specifically referred to it as such in his Dream Stele. [10]

The commonly used name "Sphinx" was given to it in classical antiquity, about 2,000 years after the commonly accepted date of its construction by reference to a Greek mythological beast with the head of a woman, a falcon, a cat, or a sheep and the body of a lion with the wings of an eagle. (although, like most Egyptian sphinxes, the Great Sphinx has a man's head and no wings). [11] The English word sphinx comes from the ancient Greek Σφίγξ (transliterated: sphinx) apparently from the verb σφίγγω (transliterated: sphingo / English: to squeeze ), after the Greek sphinx who strangled anyone who failed to answer her riddle. [ citation needed ]

Medieval Arab writers, including al-Maqrīzī, call the Sphinx balhib and bilhaw, which suggest a Coptic influence. The modern Egyptian Arabic name is أبو الهول (ʼabu alhōl / ʼabu alhawl IPA: [ʔabu alhoːl] , "The Terrifying One" literally "Father of Dread").

Creation Edit

The Sphinx is a monolith carved from the bedrock of the plateau, which also served as the quarry for the pyramids and other monuments in the area. [12] The archaeological evidence suggests that the Great Sphinx was created around 2500 BC for the pharaoh Khafre, the builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza. [13] The stones cut from around the Sphinx' body were used to construct a temple in front of it, however both the enclosure and this temple were never completed and the relative scarcity of Old Kingdom cultural material suggests that a Sphinx cult was not established at the time. [14]

Selim Hassan, writing in 1949 on recent excavations of the Sphinx enclosure, made note of this circumstance:

Taking all things into consideration, it seems that we must give the credit of erecting this, the world's most wonderful statue, to Khafre, but always with this reservation: that there is not one single contemporary inscription which connects the Sphinx with Khafre so, sound as it may appear, we must treat the evidence as circumstantial, until such time as a lucky turn of the spade of the excavator will reveal to the world a definite reference to the erection of the Sphinx. [15]

In order to construct the temple, the northern perimeter-wall of the Khafre Valley Temple had to be deconstructed, hence it follows that the Khafre funerary complex preceded the creation of the Sphinx and its temple. Furthermore, the angle and location of the south wall of the enclosure suggests the causeway connecting Khafre's Pyramid- and Valley Temple already existed before the Sphinx was planned. The lower base level of the Sphinx temple also indicates that it doesn't predate the Valley Temple. [5]

Egyptian geologist Farouk El-Baz has suggested that the head of the Sphinx may have been carved first, out of a natural yarding, i.e. a ridge of bedrock that had been sculpted by the wind. These can sometimes achieve shapes which resemble animals. El-Baz suggests that the "moat" or "ditch" around the Sphinx may have been quarried out later to allow for the creation of the full body of the sculpture. [16]

New Kingdom Edit

Some time around the First Intermediate Period, the Giza Necropolis was abandoned, and drifting sand eventually buried the Sphinx up to its shoulders. The first documented attempt at an excavation dates to c. 1400 BC , when the young Thutmose IV (1401–1391 or 1397–1388 BC) gathered a team and, after much effort, managed to dig out the front paws, between which he erected a shrine that housed the Dream Stele, an inscribed granite slab (possibly a repurposed door lintel from one of Khafre's temples). When the stele was discovered, its lines of text were already damaged and incomplete. An excerpt reads:

. the royal son, Thothmos, being arrived, while walking at midday and seating himself under the shadow of this mighty god, was overcome by slumber and slept at the very moment when Ra is at the summit [of heaven]. He found that the Majesty of this august god spoke to him with his own mouth, as a father speaks to his son, saying: Look upon me, contemplate me, O my son Thothmos I am thy father, Harmakhis-Khopri-Ra-Tum I bestow upon thee the sovereignty over my domain, the supremacy over the living . Behold my actual condition that thou mayest protect all my perfect limbs. The sand of the desert whereon I am laid has covered me. Save me, causing all that is in my heart to be executed. [17]

The Dream Stele associates the Sphinx with Khafre, however this part of the text is not entirely intact:

which we bring for him: oxen . and all the young vegetables and we shall give praise to Wenofer . Khaf . the statue made for Atum-Hor-em-Akhet. [18]

Egyptologist Thomas Young, finding the Khaf hieroglyphs in a damaged cartouche used to surround a royal name, inserted the glyph ra to complete Khafre's name. When the Stele was re-excavated in 1925, the lines of text referring to Khaf flaked off and were destroyed. [ citation needed ]

Later, Ramesses II the Great (1279–1213 BC) may have undertaken a second excavation.

In the New Kingdom, the Sphinx became more specifically associated with the sun god Hor-em-akhet (Hellenized: Harmachis) or "Horus-at-the-Horizon". Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1427–1401 or 1397 BC) built a temple to the northeast of the Sphinx nearly 1000 years after its construction and dedicated it to the cult of Hor-em-akhet. [19]

Classical antiquity Edit

Pliny the Elder describes the face of the Sphinx being colored red and gives measurements for the statue. [20]

Middle Ages Edit

Some ancient non-Egyptians saw it as a likeliness of the god Horon. The cult of the Sphinx continued into medieval times. The Sabians of Harran saw it as the burial place of Hermes Trismegistus. Arab authors described the Sphinx as a talisman which guarded the area from the desert. [21] Al-Maqrizi describes it as the "talisman of the Nile" of which the locals believed the flood cycle depended upon. [22] Muhammad al-Idrisi stated that those wishing to obtain bureaucratic positions in the Egyptian government gave incense offering to the monument. [23]

European travellers Edit

In the last 700 years, there has been a proliferation of travellers and reports from Lower Egypt, unlike Upper Egypt, which was seldom reported from prior to the mid-18th century. [ citation needed ] Alexandria, Rosetta, Damietta, Cairo and the Giza Pyramids are described repeatedly, but not necessarily comprehensively. Many accounts were published and widely read. These include those of George Sandys, André Thévet, Athanasius Kircher, Balthasar de Monconys, Jean de Thévenot, John Greaves, Johann Michael Vansleb, Benoît de Maillet, Cornelis de Bruijn, Paul Lucas, Richard Pococke, Frederic Louis Norden and others. But there is an even larger set of more anonymous people who wrote obscure and little-read works, sometimes only unpublished manuscripts in libraries or private collections, including Henry Castela, Hans Ludwig von Lichtenstein, Michael Heberer von Bretten, Wilhelm von Boldensele, Pierre Belon du Mans, Vincent Stochove, Christophe Harant, Gilles Fermanel, Robert Fauvel, Jean Palerne Foresien, Willian Lithgow, Joos van Ghistele, etc.

Over the centuries, writers and scholars have recorded their impressions and reactions upon seeing the Sphinx. The vast majority were concerned with a general description, often including a mixture of science, romance and mystique. [ citation needed ] A typical [ citation needed ] description of the Sphinx by tourists and leisure travelers throughout the 19th and 20th century was made by John Lawson Stoddard:

It is the antiquity of the Sphinx which thrills us as we look upon it, for in itself it has no charms. The desert's waves have risen to its breast, as if to wrap the monster in a winding-sheet of gold. The face and head have been mutilated by Moslem fanatics. The mouth, the beauty of whose lips was once admired, is now expressionless. Yet grand in its loneliness, – veiled in the mystery of unnamed ages, – the relic of Egyptian antiquity stands solemn and silent in the presence of the awful desert – symbol of eternity. Here it disputes with Time the empire of the past forever gazing on and on into a future which will still be distant when we, like all who have preceded us and looked upon its face, have lived our little lives and disappeared. [24]

From the 16th century far into the 19th century, observers repeatedly noted that the Sphinx has the face, neck and breast of a woman. Examples included Johannes Helferich (1579), George Sandys (1615), Johann Michael Vansleb (1677), Benoît de Maillet (1735) and Elliot Warburton (1844).

Most early Western images were book illustrations in print form, elaborated by a professional engraver from either previous images available or some original drawing or sketch supplied by an author, and usually now lost. Seven years after visiting Giza, André Thévet (Cosmographie de Levant, 1556) described the Sphinx as "the head of a colossus, caused to be made by Isis, daughter of Inachus, then so beloved of Jupiter". He, or his artist and engraver, pictured it as a curly-haired monster with a grassy dog collar. Athanasius Kircher (who never visited Egypt) depicted the Sphinx as a Roman statue, reflecting his ability to conceptualize (Turris Babel, 1679). Johannes Helferich's (1579) Sphinx is a pinched-face, round-breasted woman with a straight haired wig the only edge over Thévet is that the hair suggests the flaring lappets of the headdress. George Sandys stated that the Sphinx was a harlot Balthasar de Monconys interpreted the headdress as a kind of hairnet, while François de La Boullaye-Le Gouz's Sphinx had a rounded hairdo with bulky collar. [ citation needed ]

Richard Pococke's Sphinx was an adoption of Cornelis de Bruijn's drawing of 1698, featuring only minor changes, but is closer to the actual appearance of the Sphinx than anything previous. The print versions of Norden's careful drawings for his Voyage d'Egypte et de Nubie, 1755 are the first to clearly show that the nose was missing. However, from the time of the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt onwards, a number of accurate images were widely available in Europe, and copied by others. [ citation needed ]

Modern excavations Edit

In AD 1817 the first modern archaeological dig, supervised by the Italian Giovanni Battista Caviglia, uncovered the Sphinx's chest completely. One of the people working on clearing the sands from around the Great Sphinx was Eugène Grébaut, a French Director of the Antiquities Service. [25]

In the beginning of the year 1887, the chest, the paws, the altar, and plateau were all made visible. Flights of steps were unearthed, and finally accurate measurements were taken of the great figures. The height from the lowest of the steps was found to be one hundred feet, and the space between the paws was found to be thirty-five feet long and ten feet wide. Here there was formerly an altar and a stele of Thûtmosis IV was discovered, recording a dream in which he was ordered to clear away the sand that even then was gathering round the site of the Sphinx. [26]

Opinions of early Egyptologists Edit

Prior to thorough excavations and evaluation of the evidence that was yet to be unearthed, Egyptologists and excavators were of divided opinion regarding the age of the Sphinx and the associated temples.

In 1857, Auguste Mariette, founder of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, unearthed the much later Inventory Stela (estimated to be from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, c. 664–525 BC), which tells how Khufu came upon the Sphinx, already buried in sand. Although certain tracts on the Stela are likely accurate, [27] this passage is contradicted by archaeological evidence, thus considered to be Late Period historical revisionism, [28] a purposeful fake, created by the local priests as an attempt to imbue the contemporary Isis temple with an ancient history it never had. Such acts became common when religious institutions such as temples, shrines and priests' domains were fighting for political attention and for financial and economic donations. [29] [30]

Flinders Petrie wrote in 1883 regarding the state of opinion of the age of the Khafre Valley Temple, and by extension the Sphinx: "The date of the Granite Temple has been so positively asserted to be earlier than the fourth dynasty, that it may seem rash to dispute the point. Recent discoveries, however, strongly show that it was really not built before the reign of Khafre, in the fourth dynasty." [31]

Gaston Maspero, the French Egyptologist and second director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, conducted a survey of the Sphinx in 1886. He concluded that because the Dream Stela showed the cartouche of Khafre in line 13, it was he who was responsible for the excavation and therefore the Sphinx must predate Khafre and his predecessors—possibly Fourth Dynasty, c. 2575–2467 BC . Maspero believed the Sphinx to be "the most ancient monument in Egypt". [32]

Ludwig Borchardt attributed the Sphinx to the Middle Kingdom, arguing that the particular features seen on the Sphinx are unique to the 12th dynasty and that the Sphinx resembles Amenemhat III. [32]

James Henry Breasted reserved his opinion on the matter. [32]

E. A. Wallis Budge agreed that the Sphinx predated Khafre's reign, writing in The Gods of the Egyptians (1904): "This marvelous object [the Great Sphinx] was in existence in the days of Khafre, or Khephren, [b] and it is probable that it is a very great deal older than his reign and that it dates from the end of the archaic period [c. 2686 BC ]." [33]

Selim Hassan reasoned that the Sphinx was erected after the completion of the Khafre pyramid complex. [32]

Recent restorations Edit

In 1931, engineers of the Egyptian government repaired the head of the Sphinx. Part of its headdress had fallen off in 1926 due to erosion, which had also cut deeply into its neck. [34] This questionable repair was by the addition of a concrete collar between the headdress and the neck, creating an altered profile. [35] Many renovations to the stone base and raw rock body were done in the 1980s, and then redone in the 1990s. [36]

The nummulitic limestone of the area consists of layers which offer differing resistance to erosion (mostly caused by wind and windblown sand), leading to the uneven degradation apparent in the Sphinx's body. [12] [37] The lowest part of the body, including the legs, is solid rock. [1] The body of the animal up to its neck is fashioned from softer layers that have suffered considerable disintegration. [38] The layer in which the head was sculpted is much harder. [38] [39] A number of "dead-end" shafts are known to exist within and below the body of the Great Sphinx, most likely dug by treasure hunters and tomb robbers. Prior to 1925, a large gaping shaft similar to these existed on the top of the Sphinx's head. It is believed to have possibly been an anchoring point for a sculpted crown or headdress added during the period of the New Kingdom. [ citation needed ]

Missing nose and beard Edit

Examination of the Sphinx's face shows that long rods or chisels were hammered into the nose area, one down from the bridge and another beneath the nostril, then used to pry the nose off towards the south, resulting in the one-metre wide nose still being lost to date. [41] Mark Lehner, who performed an archaeological study, concluded that it was intentionally broken with instruments at an unknown time between the 3rd and 10th centuries AD. [42]

Drawings of the Sphinx by Frederic Louis Norden in 1737 show the nose missing. [43] Many folk tales exist regarding the destruction of its nose, aiming to provide an answer as to where it went or what happened to it. One tale erroneously attributes it to cannonballs fired by the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. Other tales ascribe it to being the work of Mamluks. Since the 10th century some Arab authors have claimed it to be a result of iconoclastic attacks. [42]

The Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the 15th century, attributes the loss of the nose to Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada in 1378, who found the local peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest and therefore defaced the Sphinx in an act of iconoclasm. According to al-Maqrīzī, many people living in the area believed that the increased sand covering the Giza Plateau was retribution for al-Dahr's act of defacement. [44] [45] Ibn Qadi Shuhba mentions his name as Muhammad ibn Sadiq ibn al-Muhammad al-Tibrizi al-Masri, who died in 1384. He attributed the desecration of the sphinxes of Qanatir al-Siba built by the sultan Baybars to him, and also said he might have desecrated the Great Sphinx. Al-Minufi stated that the Alexandrian Crusade in 1365 was divine punishment for a Sufi sheikh of the khanqah of Sa'id breaking off the nose. [23]

In addition to the lost nose, a ceremonial pharaonic beard is thought to have been attached, although this may have been added in later periods after the original construction. Egyptologist Vassil Dobrev has suggested that had the beard been an original part of the Sphinx, it would have damaged the chin of the statue upon falling. [46] The lack of visible damage supports his theory that the beard was a later addition. [ citation needed ]

Residues of red pigment are visible on areas of the Sphinx's face and traces of yellow and blue pigment have also been found elsewhere on the Sphinx, leading Mark Lehner to suggest that the monument "was once decked out in gaudy comic book colours". [47] However, as with the case of many ancient monuments, the pigments and colours have since deteriorated, resulting in the yellow/beige appearance it has today.

Numerous ideas have been suggested to explain or reinterpret the origin and identity of the Sphinx, that lack sufficient evidential support and/or are contradicted by such, and are therefore considered part of pseudohistory and pseudoarchaeology.

Ancient Astronauts/Atlantis Edit

  • The Sphinx is oriented from west to east, towards the rising sun, in accordance with the ancient Egyptian solar cult. The Orion correlation theory posits that it was instead aligned to face the constellation of Leo during the vernal equinox around 10,500 BC. The idea is considered pseudoarchaeology by academia, because no textual or archaeological evidence supports this to be the reason for the orientation of the Sphinx. [48][49][50][51]
  • The Sphinx water erosion hypothesis contends that the main type of weathering evident on the enclosure walls of the Great Sphinx could only have been caused by prolonged and extensive rainfall, [52] and must therefore predate the time of the pharaoh Khafre. The hypothesis was championed by René Schwaller de Lubicz, John Anthony West, and geologistRobert M. Schoch, The theory is considered pseudoarchaeology by mainstream scholarship due to archaeological, climatological and geological evidence to the contrary. [53][54][55]
  • There is a long history of speculation about hidden chambers beneath the Sphinx, by esoteric figures such as H. Spencer Lewis. Edgar Cayce specifically predicted in the 1930s that a "Hall of Records", containing knowledge from Atlantis, would be discovered under the Sphinx in 1998. His prediction fueled much of the fringe speculation that surrounded the Sphinx in the 1990s, which lost momentum when the hall was not found when predicted. [56]
  • Author Robert K. G. Temple proposes that the Sphinx was originally a statue of the jackal god Anubis, the god of funerals, and that its face was recarved in the likeness of a Middle Kingdom pharaoh, Amenemhet II. Temple bases his identification on the style of the eye make-up and style of the pleats on the headdress. [57]

Racial characteristics Edit

Until the early 20th century, it was suggested that the face of the Sphinx had "Negroid" characteristics, as part of now outdated historical race concepts. [58] [59]

Hogenberg and Braun (map), Cairus, quae olim Babylon (1572), exists in various editions, from various authors, with the Sphinx looking different.

Jan Sommer, (unpublished) Voyages en Egypte des annees 1589, 1590 & 1591, Institut de France, 1971 (Voyageurs occidentaux en Égypte 3)

George Sandys, A relation of a journey begun an dom. 1610 (1615)

François de La Boullaye-Le Gouz, Les Voyages et Observations (1653)

The Sphinx does not feature any form of inscriptions

Although there are many stelae hidden within the temple of the Sphinx, the actual structure is an anomaly in Egypt.

Every other pyramid, tomb, or temple that was built in Ancient Egypt has featured some form of inscription that hints towards the builders, the Pharaoh who instigated the build, or stories of their culture. However, the Sphinx is the only structure from Ancient Egypt that does not have any of these additions. That’s one of the reasons why it is still so mysterious, and why there are so many questions surrounding it.

Sphinxes in contemporary culture

The sphinx continues to captivate people, whether as an echo of their former mythology or in new forms. Per the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, sphinxes, like their ancestors, are monsters that guard entranceways, though in this modern capitalist world, they can be seen accepting payments for their help on particularly tricky riddles.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende also contains a timeless description of two sphinxes who guard the first gate to the Southern Oracle, appropriately called the Riddle Gate. These sphinxes stare stonily ahead, eyes locked with one another, as they share the riddles of the universe back and forth. The movie version gets especially wild, with the sphinxes basically shooting lasers out of their eyes to destroy anyone unworthy who tries to pass.

Though its form may change, the sphinx is always a protector, associated with mysterious knowledge. While the frenzy for the sphinx has died down since 19th-century Egyptomania, the impenetrable gaze of the sphinx continues to mystify and intrigue. Sphinxes lend their names to cats and moths and even software documentation programs. The riddle of the sphinx has become an interest in its enduring appeal, a fascination that holds fast despite, or perhaps because of, its inscrutability.

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