The Great Sphinx is considered to be the embodiment of antiquity and mystery. This article's main goal is to offer every traveler all the facts and information about the great Sphinx. This article was written by a team of tour operators, tour guides, knowledgeable historians, and travel consultants who know everything about the great sphinx. It illuminated the imagination of many poets, travels, adventurers, and scientists over the millennia and even today as its origin is still an enigma. Great tales of mystery and wonder have been told about this incredible statue that showcased a whole new different aspect of ancient Egyptian mythology, architecture, and artistic expression.
The Sphinx is considered among the oldest and largest sculptures ever created, located within the Giza plateau in front of the pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) facing the rising sun horizon on the west bank of the Nile about 10 km west of the capital Cairo. The Sphinx represents Ra-Horakhty, a form of the powerful sun god, and is the incarnation of royal power and the protector of the temple doors. It is made out of a single piece of limestone and carved into a statue taking the shape of a famous mythical creature called the Sphinx with the body of a lion and the head of a human adorned with a royal headdress to represent wisdom & power. It stands at has a Length of 73 meters (240 ft), a Width of 19 meters (62 ft), and a height of 20 meters (66 ft).
The sphinx was considered to be part of the necropolis of ancient Memphis and the seat of power for the pharaohs. It sits next to the three great pyramids of Giza, the great pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the pyramid of Khafre (Chephren), and the pyramid of Menkaura (Mycerinus). It holds a small temple between its foot paws which contains a dozen of inscribed steles to honor the sun god Ra.
It holds a small tablet called the dream tablet between its foot paws places by the pharaoh Tuthmosis IV in 1400 BC that contains a dozen of inscribed steles to honor the sun god Ra. It is common knowledge that the statue was built during Egypt's old kingdom in the 4th dynasty during the reign of Pharaoh Khafre (2558 – 2532 BC) who constructed the second pyramid but that is still a matter of uncertainty. During the old kingdom in the 4th dynasty, the sphinx statues were considered to be the ultimate guardians of the cemeteries which would explain the existence of the Sphinx in the Giza Plateau and the Karnak temples complex.
In the New kingdom during the 12th dynasty, some of the most famous queens and princesses were depicted in the shape of the Sphinx such as the sphinx statue of Queen Nefertiti which possesses a hair wig instead of Nemes, found in the eastern part of the Karnak complex, and the sphinx statue of queen Hatshepsut found at her mortuary temple. In the Greco-Roman period, many kings and queens at that time transported many Egyptian Sphinxes all the way to Europe which still exists today.
The statue still holds a lot of unsolved puzzles like his famous nose as many hypotheses that explain his nose phenomenon, some believe it was destroyed by Napoleon troops in 1798-1801 CE but it was a wrong assumption as a famous drawing by a French artist called Frederic Luis Norden in 1737 show the destroyed nose. The most possible scenario is that the nose was damaged in the Arab Invasion of the 7th century or by a Muslim cleric in the 14th century or it was the target practice of the Turkish troops in 1798 CE or by the Mamluks or the British troops, but at the end of the day, there is no clear answer. The Sphinx also contains a beard that was attached to it at a later period which is located at the British Museum. The statue was painted with red pigment with some yellow and blue like a character in a comic book.
During the new kingdom in the era of Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV in 1400 BC a granite stela called the dream stela and placed between the front paws of the sphinx, all due to when the pharaoh fall asleep in the shade of the sphinx while hunting and dreamt of the great sphinx coming to life while chocking in the sand and promised Tuthmosis IV if he removed the sand that engulfing him, he would make him the ruler of both upper and lower Egypt.
There has always been a debate concerning the age of the Sphinx which is believed to be constructed after the image of pharaoh Khafre about 2500 BC which explains why the sphinx is perfectly geographically aligned with the Khafre Pyramid. The sphinx has a lion's body and a human head which some debate to be a tribute to the constellation of Leo according to the theory of alignment of the Orion constellation and relative position to the milky way by Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock. They believed that construction of the great sphinx began in 10,500 BC and the Sphinx Lion design is a reference to the Leo constellation plus the entire layout of the Giza pyramid complex and the Nile river is an accurate reflection and a map of the Orion belt, constellation of Leo and the milky way that matched perfectly in 10,500 BC.
The observation states that represent these celestial bodies during the astrological age of Leo that occurred between 10,970 BC and 8810 BC which means it is much older than believed. Some believe that the head was re-carved various times after the old kingdom (2575 BC-2150 BC) as a means of repair which altered the facial proportions of the original form that could have been the head of a ram or a hawk.
The Sphinx existed during the dynastic era in a simple two-dimensional form but every changed later on. In the Old Kingdom, the sphinx statues were showcased with a human head and body of a lion with a false royal beard and the name's headdress. In the Middle Kingdom, the sphinx was just a representation of the king in the shape of the Sphinx and the human head surrounded with the lion mane. The first-ever King who represents himself in the form of a sphinx with a lion's mane was Amenemhat III, during the middle kingdom in the second half of the 12th dynasty. In the New Kingdom, the sphinxes statues continue the Middle Kingdom traits, but they made some changes by transforming the forelegs of the declining lion into human arms holding cult objects, the first King to represent himself in this shape was King Amenhotep III.
Another theory that discusses the age of the sphinx is the water erosion theory that states signs of weathering were observed due to heavy rainfall over the sphinx at the end of the ice age between 7,000 BC and 5,000 BC which is older than believed which suggests that the sphinx was constructed when Egypt was dry and barren land. The sand that once covered the sphinx acted as a protection field before being affected by natural causes.
Several voids and anomalies were found around the monument by researchers for Boston, Florida state university, and Waseda University in Japan Two series of cavities, tunnels, and pathways that are contemporaneous with the great sphinx that may be natural features of the area. A team of researchers was able to find evidence of a hollow using a seismograph 25 ft below its paws and sides of the sphinx confirming the legends of hidden chambers and tunnels between the sphinxes.
It had a lot of names through history, as in Egypt new kingdom (1570 – 1050 BC) it was called Hor-em-Akhet which means Horus of the horizon and was heavily worshipped by the public especially during the reign of Thutmose IV, in the Greco-Roman period as the Sphinx as it paid a resemblance to a Greek mythological beast with a lion’s body, a woman’s head and the wings of an eagle called the Sphinx, in the 4th century of the Coptic era it was known as Bel-Hit which means the guardian and today it is referred as Abu Al-Hawl which means “The Father of Terror”. Sphinx is a greek world of ancient Egyptian name known as "Ssp" Ankh which means the living image. the design of the sphinx is an immortal and marvelous mixture of physical power and mental power, as the physical power comes in the shape of a lion's body and the mental power comes in the shape of a human head. The Sphinx represents the power of the mind and the human intelligence to take control of the violence and the strength of the lion.
Over the years, there have been many theories that put the Great Sphinx under Question and a massive debate when it comes to who, why, and when it was built. The statue had been damaged and restored many times over the millennia and there were no documents of any kind in the old kingdom that would provide any information about its age or construction which led many archeologists and Egyptologists to debate its origin and even lead them into wild and even fringe theories.
Everything related to the sphinx is under debate, even the identity of the people who constructed it is questionable as some hypothesized that the Annunaki ( a group of deities that appeared in the ancient civilization of Sumeria, Akkadian, Assyria, and Babylon) were the ones who constructed the sphinx. Some people with a vivid imagination consider the alignment of the sphinx and the pyramids are a replica or a mirror of pyramid-like structures found on mars or even Giza as some sort of a landing strip for spacecraft.
The Great Sphinx is one of the top Cairo tourist attractions which is an important point to visit and discover the history of it in life accompanied by an Egyptologist tour guide, so if you prefer to visit Egypt, then we offer you the chance to explore our best Egypt tour packages and choose your favorite vacation which also mixed by Nile river cruise.
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