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Student Pigal Erkan
The Great Sphinx of Giza (Arabic: ‫ أبو الهول‬Abū al Hūl, English: The
Terrifying One), commonly referred to as the Sphinx, is a limestone
statue of a reclining or couchant sphinx (a mythical creature with a
lion's body and a human head) that stands on the Giza Plateau on the
west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt.
It is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 73.5 metres
(241 ft) long, 6 metres (20 ft) wide, and 20.22 m (66.34 ft) high. It is
the oldest known monumental sculpture, and is commonly believed to
have been built by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the
reign of the pharaoh Khafra (c. 2558–2532 BC).
When was the Great Sphinx built?
Good question, but no one has the exact answer! The Great
Sphinx of Giza is carved of rock, so it cannot be dated by the
radio carbon technique. The only other method of dating the
Sphinx would be by using old Egyptian texts that refer to its
existence and construction. The problem is that there are no
such texts, therefore, no definite facts are known. The great
monument was definitely in existence in the time of Khufu
(Cheops). Pharaoh Thutmose IV had a granite stele known as
the Dream stele placed between the paws (A stele was a stone
slab, decorated with text which served as a monument. But the
sphinx probably dates back to the generations before the
Pharaoh Menes who established the 1st Egyptian dynasty in the
Early Dynastic Period. These people were called in the priestly
chronicles "the Servants of Horus" and were the early people
who settled in Egypt and who were Aryans during the
Predynastic Period 5550 BC - 3050 BC. However other scholars
believe that the Great Sphinx of Giza was built during the period
of the Old Kingdom of Egypt during the 3rd millennium
BC. The Old Kingdom is often referred to as "the Age of the
Pyramids" when the Great pyramids of Giza were built, in close
proximity to the Great Sphinx. The time period of the Old
Kingdom covers 2686 BC - 2181 BC. So there is no definitive
answer to when the Great Sphinx was built and who built the
sphinx - it is no wonder that people often refer to the Mystery or
Riddle of the Sphinx.
Location of the Great Sphinx .
The location of the Great
Sphinx of Giza is on the
Giza Plateau, bordering
the Sahara Desert, on the
west bank of the Nile
River, near modern-day
Cairo. Mysterious
passages pierce the great
Sphinx and connect it with
the Second Pyramid built
by the Pharaoh Khafre,
which is three hundred
feet west of it.
What Materials Were Used To Built
The sphinx is built of soft sandstone and would have
disappeared long ago had it not been buried for so long. The
body is 200 feet (60m) in length and 65 feet (20m) tall. The
face of the sphinx is 13 feet (4m) wide and its eyes are 6 feet
(2m) high. Part of the uraeus (sacred cobra), the nose and
the ritual beard are now missing. . The beard from the
sphinx is displayed in the British Museum. The statue is
crumbling today because of the wind, humidity and the
smog from Cairo. Attempts to restore it have often caused
more harm than good. No one can be certain who the figure
is to personify. It is possible that it is Chephren. If that is so,
it would then be the oldest known royal portrait in such
large scale. Some say that it was built after the pyramid of
Chephren was complete. It may have been set as a sort of
scarecrow to guard his tomb. Still others say it is the face of
his guardian deity, rather than Chephren himself. The image
of the sphinx is a depiction of royal power. Only a pharaoh
or an animal could be shown this way, with the animal
representing a protective deity.
Who Made The Great Sphinx?
Probably the most recognized statue in
the world, and one of the very oldest, the
Sphinx sits near the edge of the Giza
plateau as it sits near the edge of recorded
human history. Conventional archaeology
believes the Sphinx dates to the reign of
Pharaoh Chephren (Khafre) (Fourth
Dynasty, 2558-2532), builder of the Second
Pyramid of Gisa, which stands behind it.
The head of the Sphinx was carved from a
natural hill, the body was excavated from
the surrounding stone, and the stone
blocks that were removed in that
excavation were used in the construction
of the Sphinx temple just to the east.
Any conservation campaign that is undertaken on the
Sphinx now or in the future must heed the lessons of the
past. This reasoning underlies the present efforts to
document the history of conservation on the Sphinx.
Only with a clear understanding of what has transpired
in the precinct over the years--indeed from the time of
the earliest restoration by Thutmosis IV in 1400 BC
through the interventions of the 1980s, and right up to
the present change of policy--can we comprehend the
current state of affairs direction. In my opinion most of
the conservation campaigns in the past were conceived
as stop-gap solutions, with no long-term strategy in
mind for protecting the Sphinx. Some of these
temporary measures even damaged the Sphinx more
than benefited it. This section will outline and review
the five phases of conservation from 1400 BC through
1987, and then describe the work in progress in the
current (1989-present) campaign.
Early Egyptologists
Some of the early Egyptologists and excavators of the Giza pyramid complex believed the
Great Sphinx and other structures in the Sphinx enclosure predated the traditional date of
construction (the reign of Khafra or Khephren, 2520–2492 BC).
In 1857, Auguste Mariette, founder of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, unearthed the
much later Inventory Stela (estimated Dynasty XXVI, c. 678–525 BC), which tells how
Khufu came upon the Sphinx, already buried in sand. Although certain tracts on the Stela
are considered good evidence, this passage is widely dismissed as Late Period historical
Gaston Maspero, the French Egyptologist and second director of the Egyptian Museum
in Cairo, conducted a survey of the Sphinx in 1886 and concluded:
"The Sphinx stela shows, in line thirteen, the cartouche of Khephren. I believe that to
indicate an excavation carried out by that prince, following which, the almost certain
proof that the Sphinx was already buried in sand by the time of Khafre and his
predecessors [i.e. Dynasty IV, c. 2575–2467 BC]."
In 1904, English Egyptologist E. A. Wallis Budge wrote in The Gods of the Egyptians:
"This marvelous object [the Great Sphinx] was in existence in the days of Khafre, or
Khephren, and it is probable that it is a very great deal older than his reign and that it
dates from the end of the archaic period [c. 2686 BC]."
Discoveries In
The Great