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The Great Sphinx

Giza - The Places

Horemakhet, Horus of the Horizon

According to the New Kingdom Period of Ancient Egypt

The name Sphinx was introduced by the Greeks

Whereas the Arab name is Father of Dread

The largest and most famous Sphinx found to date in Egypt is the Great Sphinx of Giza. It is on the West Bank of the Nile; the Great Sphinx faces East and is South-East of the Pyramids themselves.

The Great Sphinx has been constructed out of the original Plateau Bedrock with the resting body of a Lion and the head of a Human. The exact construction date is unknown, but the accepted theory is that it bears the likeness of Pharaoh Khafra and so was erected about the same time and his Mortuary Complex in the 4th Dynasty, approx. 2570 BC. Until any inscriptions are found to agree or deny this, then Historians are happy to accept this solid theory, especially as New Kingdom’s Pharaoh Thutmose IV links the Sphinx with Pharaoh Khafre in his Dream Stela. Who being closer in time to the reign of Pharaoh Khafre, than we are today, may well have been in receipt of better or more confirmed knowledge than we currently have. Although all theories agree that the Great Sphinx was constructed in or before the 4th Dynasty Period.

Measuring 73m long and 20m high at the Head end, whilst being 19m wide at the back legs. To date, Egyptologists have confirmed that this is the largest sculpture to be found in Egypt. The Sphinx’s lower body parts are sold rock which move into softer layers the higher up it reaches until the neck and head area which again is hewn from solid rock. This has meant that the Sphinx has suffered from unequalled disintegration due to weather, sand and time.

Due to pigment fragments seen in places on the Sphinx, it appears that it was once painted in Red, Yellow, Blue and perhaps other colours that have been so eroded that they have been lost. The Sphinx’s nose has been lost and this seems to have been chiselled and pried away rather than loss due to erosion. A Pharaonic style Beard, which may have been a later addition to the original monument, has been removed. Using the word removed appears to be accurate as there is no damage to the chin or paws. If it had been hastily chopped, then the beard would have fallen causing damage.

There is a theory that the as the Lion was a symbol associated with the sun, then the Great Sphinx is involved in some kind of Sun or Solar Temple Complex centred around the Khafra Mortuary Temple, which pre-dates the rest of the Complexes on the Giza Plateau. For details on Solar Temple, please click here

During the New Kingdom Period, roughly 1,000 years after the Sphinx had been seated, Pharaoh Amenhotep II built a Temples dedicated to the sun God Horus.