The Great Sphinx

The other day we began talking about the great pyramids of Giza and the surrounding area of the Giza Plateau as well. But one thing we didn’t talk to much about was the great sphinx. I was quite intrigued by the giant statue and decided to do more research on it. And upon doing so I found that there is a quite a lot of mystery surrounding it. At first glance we can make assumptions about who built it and when but when we take a closer look there are a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle that is the Great Sphinx of Giza.

The great Sphinx is the largest statue in the world made out of a single piece or rock– in this case limestone. It stands at 241 feet long and 66 feet high which is pretty astounding considering the time period in which this was built. Which brings me to my first point which is the speculation to when this statue was actually built. Many people consider the Sphinx to have been built by the great Pharaoh Khafre (which would have been around 2500 BC) whose pyramid is the second largest of the three pyramids at Giza . But there are no written records inscribed on the pyramids or the sphinx, and no other writings found  describing when the pyramid was build, why it was built and who built. The only significant pieces of evidence archaeologists have found suggesting its relation with Khafre are the similar building styles and the dream stele (which we briefly spoke of in class) . The temples surrounding the sphinx and Khafre’s pyramid are very similarly built and use similar stone work which suggests that they were built around the same time period and possibly by the same people. While this gives us a possible explanation for who built it, it is not definite proof. The other piece of evidence that gives us some insight into the history of the sphinx is the dream stele. The dream stele was placed in front of the sphinx by Thutmose IV around 1400 BC more than one thousand years after the sphinx was supposedly built. Written on the stele is the story of a divine dream that Thutmose had and within it he mentions offerings to the great Khafre  suggesting a link between Khafre and the sphinx. While these theories can be considered a stretch they are the most compelling evidence that has been gathered thus far.

I was very intrigued by the sphinx when we first talked about it in class but the mystery behind its creation and meaning only drew my attention more. Someday some written evidence of the creation of the sphinx may surface but until then there is no way of knowing for sure who created it and it will remain a mystery.