The Great Sphinx of Giza

Today in class the Sphinx of Giza was only briefly mentioned, so I thought I would do a little more research. As mentioned in class, the Sphinx was carved straight out of the bedrock on the Giza plateau. The Sphinx is said to be associated with Khafre during 2558-2532 BC, and it lines up with the Pyramid of Khafre at the foot of its causeway.

The Sphinx has the body of lion and the head of a king or god. In 1905 the sand was cleared away from the sculpture base to reveal how massive the Sphinx really is. The paws alone are 50 feet long and the entire body equals out to 150 feet long. The head is proportionally a lot smaller at only 30 feet long and 14 feet wide. The Sphinx is believed to have been quite colorfully painted at one time. Unfortunately, the bedrock  it is carved into is sandstone so it does not hold up well to the elements and a lot of erosion has occurred.

As stated in class the Sphinx lost its nose because Muhammad Sa’Im Al-Dahr was angered by peasants making offerings to it, so he destroyed the nose then was promptly hanged for vandalism. But on this website I found they claim that Turks shot off its nose during target practice, not Napoleon.  More mystery surrounding the Sphinx is who it resembles. Some believe that the face resembles that of Khafre’s older brother, Pharaoh Djedefre. A German Egyptologist has also suggested that the Sphinx was built by King Khufu, Khafre’s father. So many rumors circulate around the Sphinx, but I do not think we will ever truly know what it’s true purpose was.

The Dream Stele is between the paws of the Sphinx. The stele tells the story of when Thutmosis IV fell asleep under the Sphinx, which at the time was covered in sand up to its neck. He had a dream that the Sphinx talked to him and told him that if he freed the Sphinx from the sand then he would become king. Some people do believe that the Sphinx has magical powers or that it has hidden passageways under it. But none of these have been confirmed.

No matter what ideas or crazy stories lurk around the Sphinx, I still believe it is a magnificent work of art and would love to see it in person sometime.

2 thoughts on “The Great Sphinx of Giza

  1. I agree that the Great Sphinx of Giza is a truly amazing work of art much like the Great Pyramids of Giza. I am actually rather surprised that although it is such a famous icon, still so very little in known about it. Hopefully, this will change although I believe you are correct is saying that it may be unlikely to gain answers to the many questions surrounding this magnificent masterpiece.

    I think that it would be interesting to find out if there were passageways or if the Sphinx has any relation to the pyramids in Giza. It seems strange that such an amazing piece of work is such a mystery, but then, all the wonders of the world are.

    I am not sure, but it seems the Sphinx is also a unique icon in that you don’t see it symbolized anywhere else, at least not on tomb walls or temples. I’m sure it is, but it is unknown how it is related to Egyptian religious beliefs. I think the myth you mentioned is also interesting because it alludes to the possibility that the statue itself is a magical object rather than just a representation. Hopefully, Egyptologists and Archaeologists alike will be able to uncover more about it.

  2. It is surprising, I agree, that still so little is known about the Sphinx. I had never heard before that the Sphinx might have been brightly painted at one point in its’ lengthy life. It’s hard to imagine a bright, giant statue just standing (pretty much) alone in the middle of the desert. I think it would be interesting to know what colors they painted it and what it may have looked like and make a reconstruction.
    I think it is also fascinating how it was built then buried by the sand back in ancient times. Even the later pharaohs didn’t really know much about it or what exactly the whole thing looked like. It was not until it was re-excavated that the ancient Egyptians even knew its massive size and definitive shape. I think it is a bit surprising how early excavations and archaeology (or at least interest in the past) goes back. The ancient Egyptians and the Sphinx were one of the first examples of excavation and exploration into the past and past structures/artifacts.
    It is also unique how there isn’t really a lot of Sphinxes in painted scenes and reliefs. There are a few examples where the Sphinx is represented, but it is not as often as you would think, for having made a giant statue of it. I’m curious what the motivation behind making the Sphinx was. Was it to make the pharaoh seem more godly – because most of the Egyptian gods are represented as half animal/half human?

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