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The Great Sphinx of Giza

The Great Sphinx of Giza

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The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the oldest and most emblematic monuments in Egypt. Egypt is where the more than 300-year-old civilization of the Ancient Egyptians began. This culture amazed and still amazes the rest of the world with its advanced medical practices, knowledge, moral code, and intricate buildings like the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx. Ancient Egypt was known for its giant statues, and the Great Sphinx of Giza is the most well-known. The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the most famous statues in the world. It is the most prominent statue from ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians built it to watch over and protect the Giza Pleatue, where the Sphinx is. The Great Sphinx of Giza is a giant stone sculpture of a mythical creature with a man’s head and a lion’s body. 

 

The Great Sphinx of Giza
The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of Egypt’s oldest, most famous, and emblematic monuments.

 

Who built the Great Sphinx of Giza?

The pharaoh Khafre built the Great Sphinx around 2530 BC. He was the fourth king of the Fourth Dynasty and ruled from about 2575 BC to 2465 BC. Khafre also built the second Giza pyramid and lived in it. Some people think that Khafre’s older brother Redjedef (also called Djedefre), built the Great Sphinx to honor their father, Khufu, whose pyramid at Giza is called the Great Pyramid. The Sphinx is part of the Giza plateau.

 

 Whose face is on The Great Sphinx of Giza?

The face of the Sphinx shows the Pharaoh Chefren (Khafra). The Great Sphinx is located on the west side of the Nile, and it faces east and is part of the pyramid complex at the foot of the Nile.

 

 Where is the Great Sphinx of Giza?

The great Sphinx is in the Giza Pyramid Complex, outside Cairo. The Great Sphinx is on the west side of the Nile and faces east. 

 

 How old is The Great Sphinx of Giza?

Most archaeologists and Egyptologists have always thought that the Great Sphinx of Giza was built around 4,500 years ago, during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafre. Sphinx Egypt is the oldest large sculpture ever found in Egypt.

The Great Sphinx of Giza

 

 What’s the meaning of The Great Sphinx of Giza?

We are standing in front of Ancient Egyptian history. It is fantastic not just because of the beauty of its sculptures or how well it has held up over time but because its genius lies in the underlying secret behind it and the myths woven around it. So, let’s know as much as possible about the crouching lion before the gates of history. The word “sphinx” comes from the Egyptian word “shesep-ankh,” which means “living image.” Based on this name, the sphinxes were mainly meant to represent the King, who was a combination of mental and physical power.  The head of the person stands for mental strength, while the body of the lion stands for bodily power. Ancient cultures thought of the lion as a sign of the sun god. Since the beginning, it has been common to show the Pharaoh as a lion killing his enemies. Based on these facts, it is okay to think of the Sphinx as a protector of the pharaohs buried around it.

 

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 What does the statue do?

The Great Sphinx of Giza was built in Egypt to watch over the pyramids. On its mouth is written, “I protect the chapel from your tomb. I keep your room of death. I keep intruders away. I throw my enemies and their weapons to the ground. I kick evil people out of the chapel of the tomb. I find where your enemies are hiding and kill them there, stopping them from leaving. This job of keeping things safe is easy to understand because the Egyptians thought of the lion as the guardian of sacred places and the protector of the underworld. His image was connected to the god Aton.

 

 How is the Great Sphinx of Giza made up?

People say this statue is the most mysterious piece of sculpture in the world. The Great Sphinx of Giza was made of limestone, 57 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 20 meters high, making it a giant statue made from just one block of stone. The Sphinx faces east, and between its paws is a small temple.

 

What happened to the Sphinx’s nose?

The Great Sphinx of Giza

The nose, which was worn down, has always been a mystery. Most theories say that Napoleon broke it off. During the French campaign in Egypt in 1798, it is thought that the Sphinx’s nose was broken in one of the battles near Giza, and Napoleon did not do what was said about him. The proof is an oil painting of the Sphinx by the Danish explorer and naval captain Frederic Louis Norden. In the painting, the statue doesn’t have a nose. Also, the newspaper said that the famous Arab historian Al-Maqrizi wrote that the Sphinx hadn’t had a nose since the 15th century, and he said that a Fatimid Sheikh named Mohamed Saaem el-Dahr was to blame. In his book “Hokam Misr El-Qadema” (Ancient Egypt’s Rulers), a well-known historian and author Bassam el-Shamaa’ wrote that Bonaparte is innocent and that his supposed battle took place at Imbaba, far from the Pyramids and the Sphinx. El-Shamaa’ also pointed out that the painting by Louis Norden was made in 1737 and published and shown in 1744, before the French military campaign in Egypt. He also said that the real reason the nose broke was because of erosion. The rock that the Sphinx was made of was a new geological stone, so it could be easily damaged by wind, rain, and other natural disasters like earthquakes. Erosion was one of the worst natural things to happen to ancient monuments.

 

 The value of The Great Sphinx of Giza

From what we know about the history of Egypt’s ancient pharaohs, it is clear that the Sphinx was essential to most of the kings who ruled the country. Since the second half of the 12th dynasty, most of the queens and princesses wanted their Sphinx, so statues of women started to appear. The statue of Queen Nefertiti is the most famous female statue found so far, and it was located in the eastern part of the Karnak complex, near the temple of the god Aton. People also think the Sphinx that shows Queen Hetepheres II from the fourth dynasty was the first. The Great Sphinx of Giza has become a symbol of Egypt, and it is often shown on Egyptian stamps, coins, and official documents. Sphinxes were still being made during the Greek-Roman era, and many emperors wanted them to be made in their honor. These sphinxes would then make their way to Rome and be used to decorate cities and palaces across the empire. Many pharaohs had their heads carved on sphinxes to show how close they were to Sekhmet, a lioness who was a powerful solar goddess. The Sphinx, with the head of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Another famous sphinx is the one in Menfi, which is in the open-air museum in Luxor.

The Great Sphinx of Giza

 

The development of the Sphinxes in the empires of Ancient Egypt

  • Ancient Kingdom

The statues had the head and body of a lion with a fake royal beard and a noble headdress.

  •   Middle Kingdom

 It showed the King as the Sphinx, with the human head in the middle of the lion’s mane. Amenemhat III, in the second half of the 12th dynasty of the Middle Empire, was the first king to call himself a “lion-maned sphinx.”

  •   The New Kingdom

 The sculptures keep the style of the Middle Empire, but they add a twist by making the lion’s front legs look like human arms holding religious objects. King Amenhotep III was the first king to show himself in this way.

 

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 The Great Sphinx of Giza interesting facts

  •  It’s based on a mythological creature.

A sphinx is a creature from Egyptian, Asian, and Greek mythology with the body of a lion and a person’s head. In Egypt, the Sphinx was usually shown as a man with a Pharoah’s crown on his head.  The Asian and Greek Sphinx is usually female and has eagle wings, which is different from the Egyptian Sphinx. The statue was never called “The Great Sphinx” by the ancient Egyptians. Texts from around 1400 BCE call it “Khepi’s statue.”  After this, The Great Sphinx stayed buried in the sand for many years. Later, Thutmose IV fell asleep on it by accident. In his dream, a god named Horem-Akhet Khepri-Re-Atum told him to dig the Sphinx out of the sand, and he would become King.  The Sphinx was then called “Horem-Akhet.” The next time it is mentioned is during the Middle Ages, when it is called “balhib” and “bilhaw.”

  • We still don’t know who built it.

It’s been a mystery to historians and archaeologists for hundreds of years. Most people agree that it was built during Khafre’s time in power since the lion’s head looks like Khafre’s face. This means that the statue was made around the year 2500 BCE. This is the same Pharaoh who built the Pyramid of Khafre, the second-largest structure in the Giza Necropolis. Some scholars, though, say that it was built by Djedefre, who tried to take the throne after King Khufu, who built the pyramid, died.

  •  It was once quite colorful.

It wasn’t always the lovely shade of tan it is now. People think the Great Sphinx would have been painted in primary colors, like red, blue, and yellow, from a comic book once upon a time. The face was probably a deep red called “rust,” and the headdress was perhaps a bright yellow called “canary.” One of the Sphinx’s ears still has a bit of red paint.

  • And it was carved from one enormous piece of stone.

Since the Sphinx is tall and wide, it was likely put together piece by piece. It was made from a single piece of limestone left over from the quarry where the pyramids were constructed, and the front paws were also made of different parts of limestone. Mark Lehner, an Egyptologist, thinks it took about 100 people working with chisels and hammers about three years to finish the monument. Researchers also found toolkits and large stone blocks that hadn’t been worked on near the site, which shows that it was meant to be bigger than it is now.

  •  He’s had a close shave.

The Great Sphinx also used to have a nice beard, but most of it fell off over time. You can see a piece of the beard in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum in Cairo. Some people, like the French archaeologist Dobrev, think that the beard was added later. The British Museum agrees with this idea. If the chine had been built simultaneously, it would have taken a lot more damage. Some think it was added as part of Thutmose IV’s big project to fix things.

  • It may not have always had a small head.

One of the strangest things about The Great Sphinx is that its head is too big. Some research backs up the idea that the Sphinx has been recarved by different pharaohs several times since it was first made so that it stays in style. Some say the first head could have been a ram or a hawk. This could prove that The Great Sphinx is much older than we thought.

The Great Sphinx of Giza

 

How to get there?

If you are going to the Giza complex archaeological site with a travel agency, taking a taxi or a tourist van is the best and safest way to get there. The same ticket that lets you see the Pyramids of Giza also lets you see The Great Sphinx of Giza.

 

Summary 

The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the most visited places in Cairo, and it is essential to know about its history. One of the most mysterious things about Ancient Egyptian history is still the Great Sphinx. If you want to see the Great Sphinx, you should visit Egypt.

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