The Great Sphinx of Giza Egypt | Description, History & Facts | Discover Why Was The Great Sphinx of Giza Built front King Khafre Pyramid in Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty…
Sphinx or the Great Sphinx is one of the top tourist attractions in Giza & Best Places to Visit in Egypt. The great Sphinx has stirred the imaginations of poets, scholars, adventurous and tourists for centuries. The first colossal statue of Pharaonic Egypt. The Great Sphinx presides majestically over the Giza necropolis.
Facts About The Great Sphinx of Giza Egypt
The Sphinx is 73 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 20 meters high
As long as the word Sphinx is a Greek word and it means a figure consisting of the body of a lion, the head of a woman, and the wings of a bird, so technically the Great Sphinx of Giza is not Sphinx.
We are not quite sure who built the Great Sphinx of Giza
Once, the Sphinx was colored
The Sphinx was for a very long time buried under the sand of the desert and it was ignored.
The statue was worshiped like a god and they built a temple in front of the statue because of Thutmose’s mystical vision of the Sphinx
French and Napoleon have nothing to do with the lost nose of the Sphinx.
The Sphinx was bearded, it has a false beard like 1 meter long
It is the biggest statue from one single piece of stone
What is The Great Sphinx of Giza famous for?
The Great Sphinx of Giza is famous for being carved from a single piece of limestone and it is the first colossal royal sculpture in Ancient Egyptian civilization.
Where is The Great Sphinx of Giza located?
The Great Sphinx of Giza is located on the Giza plateau, facing the Pyramid of Khafre, on the West Bank of the River Nile in the Giza governorate, Near Cairo.
What did The Great Sphinx of Giza originally look like?
The Sphinx of Giza looks like a huge statue(creature) with a lion’s body and the head of a human. The word Sphinx is not an Egyptian word, it is a Greek word and it represented a fabulous creature that had the head of a woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of a bird.
How long did it take to build The Great Sphinx of Giza?
From ancient Egypt, we have nothing mentioning how long they took to curve the statue but according to some now, it is estimated that it took around 3 years. Around 100 workers with their stone hammers and copper chisels, to finish the statue.
Is the Sphinx in Cairo or Giza?
The ancient Egyptians believe that the Nile divides the Egyptian land into 2 parts, the Kingdom of the alive on the eastern bank and the kingdom of death on the western bank. Accordingly, the Sphinx is in Giza on the western side of the Nile. Cairo is on the eastern side but keeps in mind the term great Cairo including Cairo, Giza, and Qalyubia, so, we can conclude that the Great Sphinx is in Giza and in the great Cairo but not in Cairo.
Who actually built The Great Sphinx of Giza?
Nobody knows for sure who built the Sphinx but according to the location of the Sphinx in relation to Khafre’s mortuary temple suggests that maybe Khafre is the builder of the Sphinx. However, nobody is certainly sure if the face of Khafre or not. French archaeologist Auguste Mariette found in the Valley Temple a life-size statue of Khafre now in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square and it is very similar to the head and the face of the Sphinx.
How did the Sphinx lose his nose?
Al Makrizi, a famous Arab historian who lived around the 15th century, mentioned that a Sufi names Saem El Dahr, who lived in the 9th century AD, damaged the nose of the Sphinx to show the people that the Sphinx was just a stone statue, not a god or holy figure.
Did The Great Sphinx of Giza have color?
The original Sphinx would have looked a lot different. It had a long-false beard and a nose. It also was painted in bright colors. Archeologists think that the face and body were painted red, the beard was blue, and much of the headdress was yellow.
Is there anything inside the Sphinx?
The answer is yes, the Sphinx is not a solid stone. The same Arabic historian mentioned that there was a secret cavity inside the Sphinx that hid the cup that had belonged to Solomon, the son of David.
Many legends mentioned Tunnels under the Sphinx but recent excavations revealed three tunnels under the statue.
1st tunnel is located behind the Sphinx’s head and it goes inside the body of the statue for 5 meters.
2nd in the Sphinx tail and its about 9 meters long
3nd was discovered and opened in 1926 and it is located on the north side of the statue
All these passages date back to the pharaonic era but the purpose behind them we still do not know
How Old Is the Sphinx?
Some believe and it’s widely accepted suggested that Pharaoh Khafre from the 4th Dynasty, Old Kingdom built it.
Sand clearness of the Sphinx
The story started at the end of the Old Kingdom when the statue begins to fade into the desert background and the statue started to be totally ignored. That may be the reason why such ancient travelers like Herodotus never mentioned it. Seems he did not even see it.
The Dream Stela between the paws of the animal explains that Prince Thutmose, son of Amenhotep II, fell asleep under the head of the Sphinx. In his dream, the statue, calling itself Harmakhet, complained about the heavy sand covering his body. In exchange, he made a deal with the young prince: if you clean my body from the sand, I will give you the throne of Egypt.
In 1789, French engineers of Napoleon’s Expedition were supposed to have made a considerable excavation in front of the Sphinx. The sand covered the Sphinx to the neck. Many attempted to clear the sand from around the body of the Sphinx but were each forced to abandon the project due to the enormous amount of sand.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni in 1817 with the help of 160 men did try to clean the sand but they did not succeed.
For the first time, the statue was free from the sand in 1930 by one the Egyptian Archeologists Selim Hassan
Finally, in 1936 the French engineer Emil Baraize was successful in clearing the sand to reveal the base of the Sphinx.
Restoration of the Sphinx
Since antiquity, some Pharaohs made restorations for the statue, for example
Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV
During the Greco-Roman Period (306 B. C – 284 A.D.)
Marcus Aurelius (161 -180 A.D.) and Septimus Severus (193-211 A.D.), reconstructed the pavement of the Sphinx. Under Antinous (138-161 A.D.) and Verus (161- 169 A.D.), the retaining walls were reinforced.
Last Restoration work for the Sphinx
For 6 years starting with the 1980s, more than 2000 limestone blocks were added to the body of the Sphinx. Meanwhile, chemicals were injected.
In 1988, The archaeologists of the Supreme Council of Antiquities did the last restorations.
What did they find Near the Sphinx?
Here are some of the important discovers around and near the Sphinx
The first discovery was a fragment of the beard of the Sphinx, and then the head of the uraeus from its brow.
Granite Stela of Tuthmosis IV, and the two limestone stelae of Rameses II between the paws of the Sphinx.
A stone lion was found in situ, as though guarding the entrance to this temple. Besides, fragments of other lions, as well as the head of a small Sphinx, were also found and more will see when booking Private Tour to Giza Pyramids.
Granite altar between the paws
Great Limestone Stela and the Temple of Amenhotep II