Great Sphinx of Giza

Great Sphinx of Giza
Great Sphinx of Giza May 2015.JPG
Great Sphinx of Giza is located in Egypt
Great Sphinx of Giza
Shown within Egypt
LocationGiza, Egypt
Coordinates29°58′31″N 31°08′16″E / 29.97528°N 31.13778°E / 29.97528; 31.13778Coordinates:29°58′31″N 31°08′16″E / 29.97528°N 31.13778°E / 29.97528; 31.13778
Length73 metres (240 ft)
Width19 metres (62 ft)
Height20 metres (66 ft)
Site notes
ConditionPartially restored

The Great Sphinx of Giza, commonly referred to as the Sphinx of Giza, Great Sphinx or just the Sphinx, is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the head of a man, and the body of a lion.[1] Facing directly from west to east, it stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The face of the Sphinx appears to represent the pharaoh Khafre.[2]

Cut from the bedrock, the original shape of the Sphinx has been restored with layers of limestone blocks.[3] Its nose is broken. It measures 73 m (240 ft) long from paw to tail, 20 m (66 ft) high from the base to the top of the head and 19 m (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches.[4] It is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt and one of the most recognisable statues in the world. The archaeological evidence suggests that it was created by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of Khafre (c. 2558–2532 BC).[5][6][7]


The original name the Old Kingdom creators gave the Sphinx is unknown, as the Sphinx temple, enclosure and possibly the Sphinx itself was not completed at the time, thus cultural material was limited.[8] In the New Kingdom, the Sphinx was revered as the solar deity Hor-em-akhet (English: "Horus of the Horizon"; Hellenized: Harmachis),[9] and the pharaoh Thutmose IV (1401–1391 or 1397–1388 BC)[a] specifically referred to it as such in his Dream Stele.[10]

The commonly used name "Sphinx" was given to it in classical antiquity, about 2,000 years after the commonly accepted date of its construction by reference to a Greek mythological beast with the head of a woman, a falcon, a cat, or a sheep and the body of a lion with the wings of an eagle. (although, like most Egyptian sphinxes, the Great Sphinx has a man's head and no wings).[11] The English word sphinx comes from the ancient Greek Σφίγξ (transliterated: sphinx) apparently from the verb σφίγγω (transliterated: sphingo / English: to squeeze), after the Greek sphinx who strangled anyone who failed to answer her riddle.

Medieval Arab writers, including al-Maqrīzī, call the Sphinx by an Arabized Coptic name Belhib (Arabic: بلهيب) and Belhawiyya (Arabic: بلهويه),[12] which in turn comes from Ancient Egyptian: pꜣ-Ḥwr, a name of the Canaanite god Hauron with whom the Sphinx was identified. The modern Egyptian Arabic name is أبو الهول (ʼabu alhōl / ʼabu alhawl IPA: [ʔabu alhoːl], "The Terrifying One"; literally "Father of Dread") which is a phono-semantic matching of the Coptic name.[13]


Old Kingdom

Natural rock formation at Farafra - Egypt

The Sphinx is a monolith carved from the bedrock of the plateau, which also served as the quarry for the pyramids and other monuments in the area.[14] Egyptian geologist Farouk El-Baz has suggested that the head of the Sphinx may have been carved first, out of a natural yardang, i.e. a ridge of bedrock that had been sculpted by the wind. These can sometimes achieve shapes which resemble animals. El-Baz suggests that the "moat" or "ditch" around the Sphinx may have been quarried out later to allow for the creation of the full body of the sculpture.[15]

The archaeological evidence suggests that the Great Sphinx was created around 2500 BC for the pharaoh Khafre, the builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza.[16] The stones cut from around the Sphinx' body were used to construct a temple in front of it, however both the enclosure and this temple were never completed and the relative scarcity of Old Kingdom cultural material suggests that a Sphinx cult was not established at the time.[17]

Selim Hassan, writing in 1949 on recent excavations of the Sphinx enclosure, made note of this circumstance:

Taking all things into consideration, it seems that we must give the credit of erecting this, the world's most wonderful statue, to Khafre, but always with this reservation: that there is not one single contemporary inscription which connects the Sphinx with Khafre, so sound as it may appear, we must treat the evidence as circumstantial, until such time as a lucky turn of the spade of the excavator will reveal to the world a definite reference to the erection of the Sphinx.[18]

In order to construct the temple, the northern perimeter-wall of the Khafre Valley Temple had to be deconstructed, hence it follows that the Khafre funerary complex preceded the creation of the Sphinx and its temple. Furthermore, the angle and location of the south wall of the enclosure suggests the causeway connecting Khafre's Pyramid and Valley Temple already existed before the Sphinx was planned. The lower base level of the Sphinx temple also indicates that it doesn't pre-date the Valley Temple.[5]

New Kingdom

The New Kingdom Dream Stele between the paws of the Sphinx.

Some time around the First Intermediate Period, the Giza Necropolis was abandoned, and drifting sand eventually buried the Sphinx up to its shoulders. The first documented attempt at an excavation dates to c. 1400 BC, when the young Thutmose IV (1401–1391 or 1397–1388 BC) gathered a team and, after much effort, managed to dig out the front paws, between which he erected a shrine that housed the Dream Stele, an inscribed granite slab (possibly a repurposed door lintel from one of Khafre's temples). When the stele was discovered, its lines of text were already damaged and incomplete. An excerpt reads:

... the royal son, Thothmos, being arrived, while walking at midday and seating himself under the shadow of this mighty god, was overcome by slumber and slept at the very moment when Ra is at the summit [of heaven]. He found that the Majesty of this august god spoke to him with his own mouth, as a father speaks to his son, saying: Look upon me, contemplate me, O my son Thothmos; I am thy father, Harmakhis-Khopri-Ra-Tum; I bestow upon thee the sovereignty over my domain, the supremacy over the living ... Behold my actual condition that thou mayest protect all my perfect limbs. The sand of the desert whereon I am laid has covered me. Save me, causing all that is in my heart to be executed.[19]

The Dream Stele associates the Sphinx with Khafre, however this part of the text is not entirely intact:

which we bring for him: oxen ... and all the young vegetables; and we shall give praise to Wenofer ... Khaf ... the statue made for Atum-Hor-em-Akhet.[20]

Egyptologist Thomas Young, finding the Khaf hieroglyphs in a damaged cartouche used to surround a royal name, inserted the glyph ra to complete Khafre's name. When the Stele was re-excavated in 1925, the lines of text referring to Khaf flaked off and were destroyed.

Later, Ramesses II the Great (1279–1213 BC) may have undertaken a second excavation.

In the New Kingdom, the Sphinx became more specifically associated with the sun god Hor-em-akhet (Hellenized: Harmachis) or "Horus-at-the-Horizon". Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1427–1401 or 1397 BC) built a temple to the northeast of the Sphinx nearly 1000 years after its construction and dedicated it to the cult of Hor-em-akhet.[21]

Graeco-Roman Period

In Graeco-Roman times, Giza had become a tourist destination—the monuments were regarded as antiquities—and some Roman Emperors visited the Sphinx out of curiosity, and for political reasons.[22]

The Sphinx was cleared of sand again in the first century AD in honor of Emperor Nero and the Governor of Egypt Tiberius Claudius Balbilus.[23] A monumental stairway—more than 12 metres (39 ft) wide—was erected, leading to a pavement in front of the paws of the Sphinx. At the top of the stairs, a podium was positioned that allowed view into the Sphinx sanctuary. Further back, another podium neighbored several more steps.[24] The stairway was dismantled during the 1931–32 excavations by Émile Baraize.[25]

Pliny the Elder describes the face of the Sphinx being colored red and gives measurements for the statue:[26]

In front of these pyramids is the Sphinx, a still more wondrous object of art, but one upon which silence has been observed, as it is looked upon as a divinity by the people of the neighbourhood. It is their belief that King Harmaïs was buried in it, and they will have it that it was brought there from a distance. The truth is, however, that it was hewn from the solid rock; and, from a feeling of veneration, the face of the monster is coloured red. The circumference of the head, measured round the forehead, is one hundred and two feet, the length of the feet being one hundred and forty-three, and the height, from the belly to the summit of the asp on the head, sixty-two.

A stela dated to 166 AD commemorates the restoration of the retaining walls surrounding the Sphinx.[27] The last Emperor connected with the monument is Septimius Severus, around 200 AD.[28] With the downfall of Roman power, the Sphinx was once more engulfed by the sands.[29]

Middle Ages

Some ancient non-Egyptians saw it as a likeliness of the god Horon. The cult of the Sphinx continued into medieval times. The Sabians of Harran saw it as the burial place of Hermes Trismegistus. Arab authors described the Sphinx as a talisman which guarded the area from the desert.[30] Al-Maqrizi describes it as the "talisman of the Nile" of which the locals believed the flood cycle depended upon.[31] Muhammad al-Idrisi stated that those wishing to obtain bureaucratic positions in the Egyptian government gave incense offering to the monument.[32]

European travellers

In the last 700 years, there has been a proliferation of travellers and reports from Lower Egypt, unlike Upper Egypt, which was seldom reported from prior to the mid-18th century. Alexandria, Rosetta, Damietta, Cairo and the Giza Pyramids are described repeatedly, but not necessarily comprehensively. Many accounts were published and widely read. These include those of George Sandys, André Thévet, Athanasius Kircher, Balthasar de Monconys, Jean de Thévenot, John Greaves, Johann Michael Vansleb, Benoît de Maillet, Cornelis de Bruijn, Paul Lucas, Richard Pococke, Frederic Louis Norden and others. But there is an even larger set of lesser known people who wrote obscure and little-read works, sometimes only unpublished manuscripts in libraries or private collections, including Henry Castela, Hans Ludwig von Lichtenstein, Michael Heberer von Bretten, Wilhelm von Boldensele, Pierre Belon du Mans, Vincent Stochove, Christophe Harant, Gilles Fermanel, Robert Fauvel, Jean Palerne Foresien, Willian Lithgow, Joos van Ghistele, etc.

Over the centuries, writers and scholars have recorded their impressions and reactions upon seeing the Sphinx. The vast majority were concerned with a general description, often including a mixture of science, romance and mystique. A typical description of the Sphinx by tourists and leisure travelers throughout the 19th and 20th century was made by John Lawson Stoddard:

It is the antiquity of the Sphinx which thrills us as we look upon it, for in itself it has no charms. The desert's waves have risen to its breast, as if to wrap the monster in a winding-sheet of gold. The face and head have been mutilated by Moslem fanatics. The mouth, the beauty of whose lips was once admired, is now expressionless. Yet grand in its loneliness, – veiled in the mystery of unnamed ages, – the relic of Egyptian antiquity stands solemn and silent in the presence of the awful desert – symbol of eternity. Here it disputes with Time the empire of the past; forever gazing on and on into a future which will still be distant when we, like all who have preceded us and looked upon its face, have lived our little lives and disappeared.[33]

From the 16th century far into the 19th century, observers repeatedly noted that the Sphinx has the face, neck and breast of a woman. Examples included Johannes Helferich (1579), George Sandys (1615), Johann Michael Vansleb (1677), Benoît de Maillet (1735) and Elliot Warburton (1844).

Most early Western images were book illustrations in print form, elaborated by a professional engraver from either previous images available or some original drawing or sketch supplied by an author, and usually now lost. Seven years after visiting Giza, André Thévet (Cosmographie de Levant, 1556) described the Sphinx as "the head of a colossus, caused to be made by Isis, daughter of Inachus, then so beloved of Jupiter". He, or his artist and engraver, pictured it as a curly-haired monster with a grassy dog collar. Athanasius Kircher (who never visited Egypt) depicted the Sphinx as a Roman statue, reflecting his ability to conceptualize (Turris Babel, 1679). Johannes Helferich's (1579) Sphinx is a pinched-face, round-breasted woman with a straight haired wig; the only edge over Thévet is that the hair suggests the flaring lappets of the headdress. George Sandys stated that the Sphinx was a harlot; Balthasar de Monconys interpreted the headdress as a kind of hairnet, while François de La Boullaye-Le Gouz's Sphinx had a rounded hairdo with bulky collar.

Richard Pococke's Sphinx was an adoption of Cornelis de Bruijn's drawing of 1698, featuring only minor changes, but is closer to the actual appearance of the Sphinx than anything previous. The print versions of Norden's careful drawings for his Voyage d'Egypte et de Nubie, 1755 are the first to clearly show that the nose was missing. However, from the time of the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt onwards, a number of accurate images were widely available in Europe, and copied by others.

Modern excavations

The Great Sphinx partially excavated, ca. 1878
The Spinx circa 1880s, by Beniamino Facchinelli

In 1817, the first modern archaeological dig, supervised by the Italian Giovanni Battista Caviglia, uncovered the Sphinx's chest completely.

In the beginning of the year 1887, the chest, the paws, the altar, and plateau were all made visible. Flights of steps were unearthed, and finally accurate measurements were taken of the great figures. The height from the lowest of the steps was found to be one hundred feet, and the space between the paws was found to be thirty-five feet long and ten feet wide. Here there was formerly an altar; and a stele of Thûtmosis IV was discovered, recording a dream in which he was ordered to clear away the sand that even then was gathering round the site of the Sphinx.[34]

One of the people working on clearing the sands from around the Great Sphinx was Eugène Grébaut, a French Director of the Antiquities Service.[35]

Opinions of early Egyptologists

Prior to thorough excavations and evaluation of the evidence that was yet to be unearthed, Egyptologists and excavators were of divided opinion regarding the age of the Sphinx and the associated temples.

In 1857, Auguste Mariette, founder of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, unearthed the much later Inventory Stela (estimated to be from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, c. 664–525 BC), which tells how Khufu came upon the Sphinx, already buried in sand. Although certain tracts on the Stela are likely accurate,[36] this passage is contradicted by archaeological evidence, thus considered to be Late Period historical revisionism,[37] a purposeful fake, created by the local priests as an attempt to imbue the contemporary Isis temple with an ancient history it never had. Such acts became common when religious institutions such as temples, shrines and priests' domains were fighting for political attention and for financial and economic donations.[38][39]

Flinders Petrie wrote in 1883 regarding the state of opinion of the age of the Khafre Valley Temple, and by extension the Sphinx: "The date of the Granite Temple has been so positively asserted to be earlier than the fourth dynasty, that it may seem rash to dispute the point. Recent discoveries, however, strongly show that it was really not built before the reign of Khafre, in the fourth dynasty."[40]

Gaston Maspero, the French Egyptologist and second director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, conducted a survey of the Sphinx in 1886. He concluded that because the Dream Stela showed the cartouche of Khafre in line 13, it was he who was responsible for the excavation and therefore the Sphinx must predate Khafre and his predecessors—possibly Fourth Dynasty, c. 2575–2467 BC. Maspero believed the Sphinx to be "the most ancient monument in Egypt".[41]

Ludwig Borchardt attributed the Sphinx to the Middle Kingdom, arguing that the particular features seen on the Sphinx are unique to the 12th dynasty and that the Sphinx resembles Amenemhat III.[42]

James Henry Breasted reserved his opinion on the matter.[43]

E. A. Wallis Budge agreed that the Sphinx predated Khafre's reign, writing in The Gods of the Egyptians (1904): "This marvelous object [the Great Sphinx] was in existence in the days of Khafre, or Khephren,[b] 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]."[44]

Selim Hassan reasoned that the Sphinx was erected after the completion of the Khafre pyramid complex.[45]

Recent restorations

In 1931, engineers of the Egyptian government repaired the head of the Sphinx. Part of its headdress had fallen off in 1926 due to erosion, which had also cut deeply into its neck.[46] This questionable repair was by the addition of a concrete collar between the headdress and the neck, creating an altered profile.[47] Many renovations to the stone base and raw rock body were done in the 1980s, and then redone in the 1990s.[48]

Panoramic view of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza, 2010

Degradation and violation

The nummulitic limestone of the area consists of layers which offer differing resistance to erosion (mostly caused by wind and windblown sand), leading to the uneven degradation apparent in the Sphinx's body.[14][49] The lowest part of the body, including the legs, is solid rock.[1] The body of the animal up to its neck is fashioned from softer layers that have suffered considerable disintegration.[50] The layer in which the head was sculpted is much harder.[50][51] A number of "dead-end" shafts are known to exist within and below the body of the Great Sphinx, most likely dug by treasure hunters and tomb robbers.

Missing nose

The Sphinx in profile in 2010
The Sphinx as seen by Frederic Louis Norden before Napoleon's time (sketches made 1737, published 1755)

Examination of the Sphinx's face shows that long rods or chisels were hammered into the nose area, one down from the bridge and another beneath the nostril, then used to pry the nose off towards the south, resulting in the one-metre wide nose still being lost to date.[52] Mark Lehner, who performed an archaeological study, concluded that it was intentionally broken with instruments at an unknown time between the 3rd and 10th centuries AD.[53]

Drawings of the Sphinx by Frederic Louis Norden in 1737 show the nose missing.[54] Many folk tales exist regarding the destruction of its nose, aiming to provide an answer as to where it went or what happened to it. One tale erroneously attributes it to cannonballs fired by the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. Other tales ascribe it to being the work of Mamluks. Since the 10th century, some Arab authors have claimed it to be a result of iconoclastic attacks.[53]

The Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the 15th century, attributes the loss of the nose to Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada in 1378, who found the local peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest and therefore defaced the Sphinx in an act of iconoclasm. According to al-Maqrīzī, many people living in the area believed that the increased sand covering the Giza Plateau was retribution for al-Dahr's act of defacement.[55][56] Ibn Qadi Shuhba mentions his name as Muhammad ibn Sadiq ibn al-Muhammad al-Tibrizi al-Masri, who died in 1384. He attributed the desecration of the sphinxes of Qanatir al-Siba built by the sultan Baybars to him, and also said he might have desecrated the Great Sphinx. Al-Minufi stated that the Alexandrian Crusade in 1365 was divine punishment for a Sufi sheikh of the khanqah of Sa'id breaking off the nose.[32]


Limestone fragments of the Sphinx's beard in the British Museum, 14th century BC.[57]

In addition to the lost nose, a ceremonial pharaonic beard is thought to have been attached, although this may have been added in later periods after the original construction. Egyptologist Vassil Dobrev has suggested that had the beard been an original part of the Sphinx, it would have damaged the chin of the statue upon falling.[58] The lack of visible damage supports his theory that the beard was a later addition.

Residues of red pigment are visible on areas of the Sphinx's face and traces of yellow and blue pigment have also been found elsewhere on the Sphinx, leading Mark Lehner to suggest that the monument "was once decked out in gaudy comic book colours".[59] However, as with the case of many ancient monuments, the pigments and colours have since deteriorated, resulting in the yellow/beige appearance it has today.

Holes and tunnels

Man standing in the hole on top of the head of the Sphinx (1925).

Hole in the Sphinx's head

Johann Helffrich visited the Sphinx during his travels in 1565-66. He describes that a priest went into (sic) the head of the Sphinx, and when he spoke it was as if the Sphinx itself was speaking.[60]

Many New Kingdom stelae depict the Sphinx wearing a crown. If it in fact existed, the hole could have been the anchoring point for it.[61][62]

Émile Baraize closed the hole with a metal hatch in 1926.[63][64]

Perring's Hole

Perring's Hole behind neck of the Sphinx. Part of headdress on the right.

Howard Vyse directed Perring in 1837 to drill a tunnel in the back of the Sphinx, just behind the head. The boring rods became stuck at a depth of 27 feet (8.2 m), Attempts to blast the rods free caused further damage. The hole was cleared in 1978. Among the rubble was a fragment of the Sphinx's nemes headdress.[65]

Major fissure

Major fissure running through the waist of the Sphinx, before modern restorations in 1926.
Trap-door access to major fissure, after restorations.

A major natural fissure in the bedrock cuts through the waist of the Sphinx, first excavated by Auguste Mariette in 1853.

At the top of the back it measures up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in width. Baraize, in 1926, sealed the sides and roofed it with iron bars, limestone and cement, and installed an iron trap door at the top. The sides of the fissure might have been artificially squared, however the bottom is irregular bedrock, about 1 metre (3.3 ft) above the outside floor. A very narrow crack continues deeper.[66]

Rump passage

Profile of the rump passage with upper part (1+2) and lower part (3+4).
Top-down plan of the rump passage. Lower part labeled "Sub-Floor Shaft", upper part "Core-Body Trench".

In 1926 the Sphinx was cleared of sand under direction of Baraize, which revealed an opening to a tunnel at floor-level at the north side of the rump. It was subsequently closed by masonry veneer and nearly forgotten.

More than fifty years later, the existence of the passage was recalled by three elderly men who had worked during the clearing as basket carriers. This led to the rediscovery and excavation of the rump passage, in 1980.

The passage consists of an upper and a lower section, which are angled roughly 90 degrees to each other:

  • The upper part ascends to a height of 4 metres (13 ft) above the ground-floor at a northwest direction. It runs between masonry veneer and the core body of the Sphinx and ends in a niche 1 metre (3.3 ft) wide and 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) high. The ceiling of the niche consists of modern cement, which likely spilled down from the filling of the gap between masonry and core bedrock, some 3 metres (9.8 ft) above.
  • The lower part descends steeply into the bedrock toward northeast, for a distance of approximately 4 metres (13 ft) and a depth of 5 metres (16 ft). It terminated in a cul-de-sac pit at groundwater level. At the entrance it is 1.3 metres (4.3 ft) wide, narrowing to about 1.07 metres (3.5 ft) towards the end. Among the sand and stone fragments, a piece of tin foil and the base of a modern ceramic water jar was found. The clogged bottom contained modern fill. Among it, more tin foil, modern cement and a pair of shoes.

It is possible that the entire passage was cut top down, beginning high up on the rump,and that the current access point at floor-level was made at a later date.

Vyse noted in his diary (February 27 and 28, 1837) that he was "boring" near the tail, which indicates him as the creator of the passage, as no other tunnel has been identified at this location.[67] Another interpretation is that the shaft is of ancient origin, perhaps an exploratory tunnel or an unfinished tomb shaft.[68]

Niche in northern flank

A 1925 photograph shows a man standing below floor level in a niche in the Sphinx's core body. It was closed during the 1925-6 restorations.[69]

Gap under southern large masonry box

Another hole might have been at floor level in the large masonry box on the south side of the Sphinx.[69]

Space behind Dream Stele

The space behind the Dream Stele, between the paws of the Sphinx, was covered by an iron beam and cement roof, which was fitted with an iron trap door.[70][71]

Keyhole Shaft

At the ledge of the Sphinx enclosure, a square shaft is located opposite the northern hind paw. It was cleared during excavation in 1978 by Hawass and measures 1.42 by 1.06 metres (4.7 by 3.5 ft) and about 2 metres (6.6 ft) deep. Lehner interprets the shaft to be an unfinished tomb and named it "Keyhole Shaft", because a cuttings in the ledge above the shaft is shaped like the lower part of a keyhole, upside down.[72]


Numerous ideas have been suggested to explain or reinterpret the origin and identity of the Sphinx, that lack sufficient evidential support and/or are contradicted by such, and are therefore considered part of pseudohistory and pseudoarchaeology.

Ancient Astronauts/Atlantis

  • The Sphinx is oriented from west to east, towards the rising sun, in accordance with the ancient Egyptian solar cult. The Orion correlation theory posits that it was instead aligned to face the constellation of Leo during the vernal equinox around 10,500 BC. The idea is considered pseudoarchaeology by academia, because no textual or archaeological evidence supports this to be the reason for the orientation of the Sphinx.[73][74][75][76]
    Weathering on the Sphinx's body
  • The Sphinx water erosion hypothesis contends that the main type of weathering evident on the enclosure walls of the Great Sphinx could only have been caused by prolonged and extensive rainfall,[77] and must therefore predate the time of the pharaoh Khafre. The hypothesis was championed by René Schwaller de Lubicz, John Anthony West, and geologist Robert M. Schoch. The theory is considered pseudoarchaeology by mainstream scholarship due to archaeological, climatological and geological evidence to the contrary.[78][79][80]
  • There is a long history of speculation about hidden chambers beneath the Sphinx, by esoteric figures such as H. Spencer Lewis. Edgar Cayce specifically predicted in the 1930s that a "Hall of Records", containing knowledge from Atlantis, would be discovered under the Sphinx in 1998. His prediction fueled much of the fringe speculation that surrounded the Sphinx in the 1990s, which lost momentum when the hall was not found when predicted.[81]
  • Author Robert K. G. Temple proposes that the Sphinx was originally a statue of the jackal god Anubis, the god of funerals, and that its face was recarved in the likeness of a Middle Kingdom pharaoh, Amenemhet II. Temple bases his identification on the style of the eye make-up and style of the pleats on the headdress.[82]

Racial characteristics

Until the early 20th century, it was suggested that the face of the Sphinx had "Negroid" characteristics, as part of now outdated historical race concepts.[83][84]


See also


  1. ^ See Thutmose IV#Dates and length of reign
  2. ^ Early Egyptologists were inconsistent in their transliteration of pharaonic names: Khafre and Khephren are both references to Khafre.


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External links

Media files used on this page

Egypt relief location map.jpg
Author/Creator: Eric Gaba (Sting - fr:Sting) and NordNordWest, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Physical location map of Egypt.
Archaeological site icon (red).svg
Author/Creator: Edgars2007, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Archaeological site icon
Description de l'Egypte, 1823(2).png
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Description de l'Egypte (Panckoucke edition), Planches, Antiquités, volume V (1823), also published in the Imperial edition of 1822.
Sphinx rump, view to east.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Rump of the Great Sphinx of Giza, looking east, with rump passage entrance at floor level, blocked by stones.
Iron trap-door over fissure at top of Sphinx back.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Iron trap-door over fissure at top of Sphinx back, view to east
Sphinx Map by Henry Salt.tif
Author/Creator: Henry Salt, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Map by Hery Salt of Graeco-Roman approach and viewing platform cleared by Caviglia in 1817, from (Vyse 1842, opposite p. 110). Graeco-Roman viewing platform, approach stairways, Roman pavement, and chapel as cleared by Caviglia in 1817.
Norden, 1755 (1).png
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Frederic Louis Norden's, Voyage d'Égypte et de Nubie (1755)
'Le Sphinx Armachis, Caire' (The Sphinx Armachis, Cairo).jpg
Author/Creator: National Media Museum, Licence: No restrictions

Henri Béchard (active 1870s & 80s); 'Le Sphinx Armachis, Caire' (The Sphinx Armachis, Cairo), about 1880; Albumen print; 21 x 27cm

Don McCullin is one of Britain%u2019s greatest photographers. For his latest project he has photographed archaeological remains around the Mediterranean. On a recent visit to the Museum, to coincide with the opening of a major exhibition of his work, Don made a personal selection of photographs from the National Media Museum's collection, revealing how these sites were recorded by earlier photographers such as Francis Frith and Maxime Du Camp.

Don McCullin: "It's very difficult to talk about the Spinx because it is so well known.This is a very simple, almost postcard-like image, but nevertheless if you look into it you see more and more. It's extraordinary. This is a remarkable photograph and here it is in this album, hidden away. It deserves a better place in the world really."
Top of Sphinx head with hole.tif
Author/Creator: Raphael Giveon (1916-1985), Licence: CC BY 4.0
Man standing in the hole on the top of the head of the Great Sphinx of Giza. Pyramid of Khafre (right) and Menkaure (left) in the background. (December 15, 1925)
Cornelis de Bruijn, 1698.png
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Cornelis de Bruijn', Reizen van Cornelis de Bruyn door de vermaardste Deelen van Klein Asia (1698)
Great Sphinx with Stelae.jpg
Author/Creator: Chanel Wheeler, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

Frontal view of the great Sphinx of Giza with the Dream stela.

Frontalansicht der Großen Sphinx von Gizeh mit der Traumstele.
Weisse Wüste.jpg
Limestone rock formation in the White Desert, western Egypt.
Norden, 1755 (2).png
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Frederic Louis Norden's, Voyage d'Égypte et de Nubie (1755)
George Sandys, 1615.png
The Great Sphinx of Giza in George Sandys, A relation of a journey begun an dom. 1610 (1615)
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Upper part of the rump passage of the Great Sphinx of Giza, looking down from chamber 1, seeing chamber 2 and the beginning of the lower part.
Sphinx partially excavated2.jpg
The Great Sphinx of Giza, partially excavated, with two pyramids in background. Albumen print.
Beard of the sphinx.jpg
Jon Bodsworth
, Licence: Copyrighted free use
Fragment of the beard of the sphinx, limestone. (New Kingdom date probable).
Rump passage, lower part before excavation.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Lower part of the rump passage of the Great Sphinx of Giza before excavation. Chamber 4 filled with rubble.
Jan Sommer, 1591.png
The Great Sphinx of Giza from Jan Sommer, (unpublished) Voyages en Egypte des annees 1589, 1590 & 1591, Amsterdam, Jacobus van den Bergh, 1661; Institut de France, 1971 (Voyageurs occidentaux en Égypte 3)
Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza panorama.jpg
Author/Creator: kallerna, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Panorama of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Great Sphinx of Giza May 2015.JPG
Author/Creator: MusikAnimal, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
The Great Sphinx of Giza in May 2015
Olfert Dapper, 1665.png
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Olfert Dapper, Description de l'Afrique (1665),- note the two different displays of the Sphinx.
Rump Passage Entrance Closeup.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Closeup of the entrance hole to the rump passage of the Great Sphinx of Giza.
Sphinx, Perring's hole.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Perring's hole: Crater left by Vyse in top of Sphinx back behind head, fragment of nemes on the right
All Gizah Pyramids.jpg
Author/Creator: Ricardo Liberato, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
All Giza Pyramids in one shot.
Profile and elevation of rump passage of the Sphinx.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Profile and elevation of the passage near the rump of the Sphinx. Section 37 with elevation view NE side of upper passage.
Rump passage, lower part after excavation.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Lower part of the rump passage of the Great Sphinx of Giza before excavation. Chamber 4 cleared of rubble. Ground water visible.
Hogenberg & Braun, 1572.png
The Great Sphinx of Giza from Hogenberg & Braun's (map), Cairus, quae olim Babylon (1572), exists in various editions, from various authors, with the Sphinx looking different. This is an extract from the map, not the complete map.
Description de l'Egypte, 1823(1).png
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Description de l'Egypte (Panckoucke edition), Planches, Antiquités, volume V (1823), also published in the Imperial edition of 1822.
Author/Creator: Fidodidomido, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Members of the Ikeda Nagaoki's Japanese Mission to Europe in front of the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt, by Antonio Beato, 1864. Albumen print. Among the members were samurai.
Top-down plan of the rump of the Great Sphinx of Giza.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Passage near the rump of the Sphinx, position in Sphinx Master Plan, locations of profiles (Sections 35, 36, 37) of passage.
Nazlet El-Semman, Al Haram, Giza Governorate, Egypt - panoramio (27).jpg
(c) EliziR, CC BY-SA 3.0
Nazlet El-Semman, Al Haram, Giza Governorate, Egypt
Rump passage, upper part, chamber 1.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Upper part of the rump passage of the Great Sphinx of Giza, looking up. Ceiling of chamber 1 consists of modern patch of cement.
Excavation East of Sphinx.tif
Author/Creator: Émile Baraize, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Excavation East of Sphinx, with Roman Period stairs, 26th Dynasty(?) enclosure wall, 18th Dynasty stairs and court, and SW corner of Sphinx Temple cleared, view to E from top of Sphinx head
Top of Sphinx back before modern restorations.tif
Author/Creator: Archives Lacau, Centre Golenischeff, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Top of Great Sphinx of Giza back before modern restorations, View from top of Sphinx head to west.
Retaining walls and Roman Period stairways east of the Sphinx.tif
Author/Creator: Émile Baraize, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Side view of the Great Sphinx of Giza during the excavations by Émile Baraize circa 1930. Retaining walls and Roman Period stairways east of the Sphinx.
Pedro II of Brazil in Egypt 1871.jpg
Seated in chairs, from left to right: Auguste Mariette, Dona Josefina da Fonseca Costa, lady-in-waiting of the Empress, Luís Pedreira do Couto Ferraz, Baron and later Vicount of Bom Retiro, Empress Teresa Cristina, an unidentified man and Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, surrounded by local Egyptians during the Emperor's trip to Egypt in the end of 1871. Behind them can be seem the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Giza Necropolis.
Rump passage, entrance from inside.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
View looking straight up at blocks bridging entrance to passage showing both interior and exterior sides.
Rump passage, upper part.tif
Author/Creator: Mark Lehner, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Upper part of the rump passage of the Great Sphinx of Giza, looking up towards chamber 1.