The Great Sphinx of Giza is a large half-human Sphinx statue in Egypt, on the Giza Plateau at the west bank of the Nile River, near modern-day Cairo (29.975299° N 31.137496° E). It is one of the largest single-stone statues on Earth, and is commonly believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians in the 3rd millennium BC.
The Great Sphinx is a statue with the face of a man and the body of a lion. Carved out of the surrounding limestone bedrock, it is 57 metres (260 feet) long, 6 m (20 ft) wide, and has a height of 20 m (65 ft), making it the largest single-stone statue in the world. Blocks of stone weighing upwards of 200 tonnes were quarried in the construction phase to build the adjoining Sphinx Temple. It is located on the west bank of the Nile River within the confines of the Giza pyramid field. The Great Sphinx faces due east, with a small temple between its paws.
After the necropolis was abandoned, the Sphinx became buried up to its shoulders in sand. The first attempt to dig it out dates back to 1400 BC, when the young Tutmosis IV formed an excavation party which, after much effort, managed to dig the front paws out. Tutmosis IV had a granite stela known as the Dream Stela placed between the paws.
It was in 1817 that the first modern dig, supervised by Captain Caviglia, uncovered the Sphinx's chest completely. The entirety of the Sphinx was finally dug out in 1925.
The Great Sphinx was believed to stand as a guardian of the Giza Plateau, where it faces the rising sun. It was the focus of solar worship in the Old Kingdom, centered in the adjoining temples built around the time of its probable construction. Its animal form, the lion, has long been a symbol associated with the sun in ancient Near Eastern civilizations. Images depicting the Egyptian king in the form of a lion smiting his enemies appear as far back as the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt. During the New Kingdom, the Sphinx became more specifically associated with the god Hor-em-akhet (Greek Harmachis) or Horus at the Horizon, which represented the Pharaoh in his role as the Shesep ankh of Atum (living image of Atum). A temple was built to the northeast of the Sphinx by King Amenhotep II, nearly a thousand years after its construction, dedicated to the cult of Horemakhet.
The one-meter-wide nose on the face is missing. A legend that the nose was broken off by a cannon ball fired by Napoléon's soldiers still survives, as do diverse variants indicting British troops, Mamluks, and others. However, sketches of the Sphinx by Frederick Lewis Norden made in 1737 and published in 1755 illustrate the Sphinx without a nose. As well, it is believed that Napoléon admired history and its great structures, so it is unlikely he would have vandalized one. The Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi, writing in the fifteenth century, attributes the vandalism to Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi fanatic from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada. In 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose. Al-Maqrizi describes the Sphinx as the "Nile talisman" on which the locals believed the cycle of inundation depended.
(above fragments from Wikipedia)
- Copyright: Krzysztof Kaczmarek (praefectus) (131)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2006-06-11
- Categories: Architecture, Ruins
- Camera: Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom, King Circ. Polarizer 52 mm
- Exposure: f/5.6, 1/320 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2006-08-24 8:01