Great Sphinx of Giza

Facts about Great Sphinx of Giza

We found 12 facts about Great Sphinx of Giza

A mythical statue in Giza

The Great Sphinx is one of the world’s largest and most distinctive sculptures and one of Egypt’s most famous tourist attractions. According to some researchers, its creation is the work of about a hundred workers who forged it for three years using stone hammers and copper chisels.

Great Sphinx of Giza
The Great Sphinx is a monolithic sculpture in Giza, Egypt.
It is located adjacent to the three great pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos.
The Great Sphinx is not actually a real sphinx.
According to ancient Greek mythology, the sphinx is a figure with a woman’s head, a lion’s body and bird wings. Therefore, since the Sphinx at Giza has neither a female face nor wings, technically, it should not bear this name.
The Sphinx statue was created during the Old Kingdom period, around 2550 BC.
It is the oldest monumental sculpture in Egypt. It is a monolith carved into the rock used as a quarry to build the surrounding pyramids.
It is not entirely clear under whose reign the Great Sphinx was built.
The most popular theory is that it happened during the reign of Chephren, since his pyramid and a complex of tomb temples are located nearby in the valley. However, since there is no conclusive evidence, Cheops or his son Djedefre are also considered the creator of the Sphinx.
Until recently, it was believed that the people working on the creation of the Sphinx were enslaved.
It is contradicted by recent discoveries, suggesting that these workers ate similarly to the rulers of Egypt. Their menu included excellent quality beef, mutton and goat meat.
After several centuries of splendor, fate was no longer kind to the Sphinx.
More than a thousand years after its creation, the statue was covered up to its shoulders with desert sands. The worst damage came during the First Intermediate (2250 to 2050 BC) when the Giza necropolis sites were abandoned, and a wave of chaos and looting swept through the region.
The statue was restored by Pharaoh Thutmose IV.
Around 1400 BC, after becoming pharaoh, Thutmose IV decided to unearth the front paws of the sphinx as a token of gratitude for receiving power and placed a shrine and a granite stele with inscriptions between them. It is said that when he rested near the statue, he dreamed of a deity promising him dominion over the kingdom in exchange for digging up the Sphinx.
The face of the Sphinx most likely represents the image of Chephren.
His head is covered by nemes - a head cloth worn by pharaohs- a symbol of royal power. Moreover, fragments of a uraeus - a cobra-like symbol of divine authority and royalty - were found at the statue’s feet during the 1817 excavations. During the same excavations, a stele of Thutmose IV was also discovered.
The Sphinx’s face is missing a nose. For a long time, the blame fell on Napoleon Bonaparte.
It is said that one of the artillery bullets fired from French cannons hit the face of the statue, redeeming the nose. However, this hypothesis has been debunked, as many sketches from the French Emperor’s period depicted the Sphinx as it looks today. For the disfigurement of the Sphinx’s face, 15th-century Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi blames a Sufi Muslim, Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, who, seeing that the local population was offering their crops as gifts to the Sphinx, decided to damage the statue in order to curb pagan customs. The local population linked the damage to the statue to the sandstorms haunting the Giza plateau. Al-Dahr himself was killed shortly after the incident.
It is 73 meters long (counting from paws to tail), 20 meters high, and 19 meters wide.
For most of its existence, the lower part of the statue rested buried in the desert sands. It was not until an archaeological survey in 1817, led by Italian archaeologist Giovanni Battista Caviglia, that its torso was excavated from under the desert sands. The Sphinx’s paws did not see the sun’s light until 1878.
In ancient times, the Sphinx’s face was adorned with a beard.
However, it fell off the statue or was detached from it. Although it is not known precisely when this element was attached, it was not created parallel to the creation of the statue. If this were the case, the falling off beard would certainly have harmed the lower part of the Sphinx’s face.
According to Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus), the Sphinx’s face was painted red.
Traces of yellow and blue pigment were also found on the statue. According to one researcher, Mark Lehner, the statue in its heyday may have been colored in the fashion of characters from today’s cartoons.
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