Things you might not know about the Great Sphinx of Giza

Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Near the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt, stands the enormous 4,500-year-old limestone figure known as the Great Sphinx of Giza located close to Cairo. One of the greatest structures on earth, the Great Sphinx is 66 feet (20 meters) tall and 240 feet (73 meters) long. Although the history and origins of the enormous edifice are still up for question, it is also one of the most well-known remains of the ancient Egyptians. 

What is a sphinx?

A sphinx, also known as a Sphynx, is a mythical animal with a lion’s body and a human head. It is a significant figure in Greek, Asian, and Egyptian mythology.

The Sphinx is the largest and oldest Old Kingdom stone sculpture. It was known as “Horus of the Horizon” and “Horus of the Necropolis” during the eighteenth dynasty, after the sun deity who sits above the horizon. Later, other sphinx carvings were made in lesser sizes or as cameos featuring the heads of the ruling monarchs.

The second-largest pyramid in the Giza triangle, built by the fourth-dynasty king Chephren, is thought to be represented by the face of the Great Sphinx. The pharaoh was shown in the Sphinx as a strong god.

Some researchers think the Great Sphinx and the Sphinx may have served a heavenly role given the way the pyramids and the Sphinx were constructed. However, most academics place Khafre as the owner of the Great Sphinx and date it to the 4th dynasty. Some also think that Redjedef (Djedefre), Khafre’s elder brother, constructed it in honor of their deceased father Khufu, whose Giza pyramid is known as the Great Pyramid. The Great Sphinx’s visage, according to these theorists, resembles Khufu more than Khafre, which led them to hypothesize that Khufu himself may have built the statue.

The Great Sphinx is one of the largest sculptures in the world. Using stone hammers and copper chisels, 100 workers would have needed roughly three years to complete the monument, according to some estimations.

The Great Sphinx is a masculine figure with the popular pharaoh’s hat. The sphinx was a spiritual guardian in ancient Egypt, and statues of the animals were frequently found in tomb and temple complexes. One such instance is the two-mile-long, sphinx-lined “Sphinx Alley” in Upper Egypt, which links the temples of Luxor and Karnak.

There are also sphinxes that depict the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, including a colossal alabaster sphinx at the Ramessid temple in Memphis, Egypt, and a granite sphinx at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Due to the wind, humidity, and pollution of today, the Sphinx is deteriorating. Since the middle of the 20th century, restoration attempts have been made, some of which failed and eventually increased the Sphinx’s damage. Authorities discovered in 2007 that the local water table beneath the monument was increasing as a result of sewage being discharged into a close-by canal.

In the end, the moisture seeped through the structure’s porous limestone, causing the rock to eventually collapse and, in some cases, separate into enormous flakes. Authorities constructed pumps around the Great Sphinx to channel groundwater and stop additional damage to the artifact.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 18, 2022


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