What is The Great Sphinx?
The Great Sphinx is considered the embodiment of antiquity and mystery. It illuminated the imagination of many poets, travels, adventurers, and scientists over the millennia and even today as its origin still an enigma. The Sphinx is considered among the oldest and largest sculptures ever created, 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 to represent wisdom and power and stands at the height of 240 ft. (73 m) long and 66 ft. (20 m) high. 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 still a matter of uncertainty.
The Structure of the Sphinx
The sphinx is located in the Giza plateau facing the rising sun on the west bank of the Nile about 10 km west of the capital Cairo. It measures about 73.5 m (240 ft) in length and 20 m in height, it is made of various blocks of limestone which weigh 200 tons each. The nose is missing and the beard is located at the British Museum. 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 stele to honor the sun god Ra.
The Mysterious Nose of the Great Sphinx
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 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. The statue was painted with red pigment with some yellow and blue like a character in a comic book.
The Dream Stela of the Sphinx
In 1400 BC the pharaoh Tuthmosis IV constructed a granite stela called dream stela and placed it between the front paws of the sphinx. There used to be a wall that surrounds the sphinx that was constructed after Tuthmosis IV fall asleep in the shade of the sphinx while hunting and dreamt of the great sphinx coming to life and chocking in the sand and promised Tuthmosis if he removed the sand engulfing him, he would make him the ruler of upper and lower Egypt.
Dating of the Sphinx
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. 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.
Erosion Effects on the Sphinx
Certain researchers and scholars were able to observe signs of weathering due to heavy rainfall over the sphinx at the end of the ice age between 10,000 BC and 5,000 BC. The wind erosion is also believed to have played in the shaping of the environment as it is believed this type of weathering suggests that the sphinx was built at a time when Egypt was a dry, barren place. The wind and water erosion wasn’t able to affect the sphinx as many geologists explain that the sphinx was covered in sand which acted as a protection field.
Secrets Tunnels Under the Great Sphinx
There has been a number of legends of secret tunnels and passages under the great sphinx. Several anomalies were found around the monument by researchers for Boston, Florida state university, and Waseda University in Japan which could be natural features of the area. Two series of cavities, tunnels, and pathways are contemporaneous with the great sphinx. A team of researchers was able to find evidence of a hollow using a seismograph 25 ft below the ground directly below its paws and sides of the sphinx.
Many Theories and Names of the Great Sphinx
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. It had a lot of names through history, as in Egypt new kingdom 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”.
Fringe Theories About the Sphinx
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.
Tours to the Great Sphinx
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.