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Facts and details: Sphinx of Giza

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Facts and details: Sphinx of Giza

  1. 1. The Great Sphinx of GizaDESCRIPTION • Immense stone sculpture of a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. • The greatest monumental sculpture in the ancient world, it is carved out of a single ridge of limestone 240 feet (73 meters) long and 66 feet (20 meters) high.
  2. 2. • The rock stratum out of which the Sphinx has been made varies from a soft yellowish to a hard grey limestone. • The massive body is made of the softer stone, which is easily eroded, while the head is formed of the harder stone.
  3. 3. • To form the lower body of the Sphinx, enormous blocks of stone were quarried from the base rock and these blocks were then used in the core masonry of the temples directly in front and to the south of the Sphinx.
  4. 4. • The face is badly damaged, and not only by natural erosion. The nose is missing altogether and the eyes and the areas around them are seriously altered from their original state.
  5. 5. HISTORY • Orthodox Egyptology: Sphinx was constructed in the 4th Dynasty (2575 – 2467 BCE) by the Pharaoh Khafre. However, an accumulating body of evidence, both archaeological and geological, indicates that the Sphinx is far older than the 4th Dynasty and was only restored by Khafre during his reign.
  6. 6. • The Sphinx is wearing the classic headdress of a Pharaoh and has the beard of a god. The beard fell off, and was removed from the site. British Museum in London Most historians: meant to have the face of King Khafra. • The Ancient Egyptians worshipped the Sphinx and offered sacrifices to it. They also left stones inscribed with messages, some of these stones have been found, scattered around the Sphinx.
  7. 7. • The Sphinx is lying down in the sand, with his paws outstretched. Between the paws there is a large slab of red granite. Inscribed on it was the story of a dream. Soon after the stone was uncovered and the message deciphered, it began to crumble from exposure to the air. The writing can no longer be read.
  8. 8. VERSIONS The Sphinx in Ancient Egypt • The familiar depiction of the sphinx of ancient Egyptian culture is a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man. • Historians: mixed form as a symbolic joining of a lion's strength and dominance to a king's intelligence. • Egyptologist Henry Fischer: ascribes a divine importance to this form, which demonstrates that the king is "the link between mankind and the gods."
  9. 9. The Sphinx in Greek Mythology • The sphinx of Greek culture is usually depicted as a winged creature with a woman's head on a lion's body. • Greek mythology: Oedipus encountered the sphinx near Thebes who demanded an answer to a riddle, and ate all those who could not answer. Oedipus avoided being eaten by the creature by answering the riddle correctly, which resulted in the sphinx killing itself. This story increased the sphinx's association with mystery, but the sphinx also represented wisdom and omniscience in Greek culture.

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