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Carved from the bedrock of the Giza plateau, the Sphinx has a body of a lion with the head of a king or god, the sphinx has come to symbolize strength and wisdom. In modern times the sphinx was mostly covered up to its neck in sand. It wasn’t until 1905 that the Egyptologist Emile Baraize began to clear away the sand to reveal the entire body of the sphinx. This was finally achieved in 1925.

The Sphinx is 73.5 metres long, 6 m wide, and has a height of 20 m, making it one of the largest single-stone statues in the world. It is believed to have been constructed in the 3rd millennium BC, though a precise date has never been agreed on.

The most popular and current theory of the builder of the Sphinx holds that it was commissioned by the 4th Dynasty King, Khafre (2558-2532 BCE). Khafre was one of the sons of Khufu (AKA Cheops). The Sphinx lines up with the Pyramid of Khafre at the foot of its causeway. As one rounds the northeast corner to the front of the Sphinx, the alignment of the two structures becomes more apparent.

Although the head of the Sphinx is badly battered in some places, traces of the original paint can still be seen near one ear. Originally it is believed that the Sphinx was painted and was quite colorful. Since then, the nose and beard have been broken away. The nose was the unfortunate victim of target practice by the Turks in the Turkish period. It is often erroneously assumed that the nose was shot off by Napoleon's men, but 18th century drawings reveal that the nose was missing long before Napoleon's arrival.

In between the paws of the Sphinx is a stela, now called the "Dream Stela", which is inscribed with a story. The 18th Dynasty (1400BC) story tells of the time that Thutmosis IV fell asleep under the Sphinx which was covered to the neck in sand. Thutmosis had a dream that the Sphinx spoke to him and promised that if he would free the Sphinx from the sand. Indeed Thutmosis would later become king of Egypt.

The present restoration works were commenced in 1989.

Source: Guardian's Sphinx by Andrew Bayuk
History Of The Conservation Of The Sphinx by Zahi Zawass

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