The Great Egyptian Sphinx: Body Of A Lion, Head Of A Man

The Great Egyptian Sphinx was built in honor of King Thutmose IV and has become the Egyptian landmark.

Description of a sphinx:

The Great Sphinx is a mythical creature that originated in ancient Egypt. It combines the body of a beast (usually a lion) with the face of the ruling pharaoh. In Greek mythology a sphinx was usually made up with the head of a monster, breasts of a woman, and the body of a lion, having wings of a bird. The sphinx lay stretched out on a large rock.

Location of the Sphinx:

The Great Sphinx sits where there was once a large quarry, to the south of Chephren's pyramid. Almost 5,000 years ago Chephren's workers molded the huge stone into the form of a lion and carved their king's face into it. The architects of the sphinx had it face the sunrise with a temple setting to the front. The temple looks very much like the sun temples built by the kings of the 5th Dynasty.

King Thutmose IV (1425-1417) placed a stela between the front paws of the sphinx. It gives an account of a young prince Thutmose, and how he fell asleep in the shade of the sphinx one-day. In the dream, the sphinx spoke to Prince Thutmose and told him to take away the sand because it was choking him. Originally built to guard the pyramid, this sphinx was later worshipped as the god Rahorakhty, "Ra of the Two Horizons."

What the Great Sphinx looks like:

The Great Sphinx at Giza, Egypt is the largest and best known of all these statues. The Great Sphinx was built almost 5,000 years ago, when Khafre was king of Egypt. The head is an image of King Khafre and its lion body represents the king's strength, both being carved from solid rock. The Great Sphinx measures 66 feet high and over 240 feet long. The face of the sphinx rises 13 feet with the eyes being 6 feet high. Part of the nose and beard are now missing, but the beard can still be seen in the British Museum.

The wind and humidity from Cairo has caused the sphinx to crumble but a frugally planned restoration of the Sphinx started in the 1980's. Over a period of 6 years, an addition of more than 2,000 limestone blocks were placed at the sphinx and even chemicals were injected, but the treatment failed. By 1988 the sphinx's left shoulder deteriorated causing blocks to fall off. At present restoration is still an ongoing project under the control of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Archaeologist. They are making repairs on the damaged shoulder and making attempts to drain away some of the subsoil.

Through time vandals have marred the head of the Great Sphinx many times. Soldiers, having no respect for art, once shot at the nose of the great image until it crumbled. Over the centuries, desert sandstorms have caused stones to disappear. Frequently the bottom part of the sphinx lies completely buried under the sand. Today, it still stands guard over the road leading to King Khafre's pyramid.

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