Souvenirs from Egypt, Cairo
The Sphinx (or the Great Sphinx of Giza) is a monumental statue carved in limestone and located on the Giza plateau along the River Nile in Egypt. The structure depicts a mythical creature with a human head and the body of a lion and represents the biggest monolith statue around the globe. The everlasting debates over its symbolism, construction or age which created the fascinating ‘Riddle of the Sphinx’ made the Monument one of the world’s most intriguing mysteries. The name of Sphinx is an invention of Classical Antiquity which might have derived from an old Egyptian word used to describe the statues from the Dynasty IV and the New Kingdom. Visitors marvel at the Sphinx’s majestic beauty in a place of overwhelming Egyptian symbolism; a resin fridge magnet souvenir celebrating this iconic landmark is now available online.
The Sphinx, a Statue of Mysteries
The Sphinx is a Monument of secrets: its astronomical role might be connected to the changing of constellations which occurs every 2,000 years. This was apparently reflected in Egyptian motifs which decorated ornamentations inspired by the themes of different astrological eras. Accordingly, the Sphinx could be an earthly representation of the Age of the Lion (the astronomical Leo) which suggested its building before 10,000 BC. Complex modern studies showed that during this time the Sphinx overlooked its constellational counter-part in the Era of Leo. This is a radical approach of history which claims an advanced civilization existed in the old Egypt defying conventional historiography claiming humans were then in a hunters and gatherers stage. The Sphinx has also been mentioned in written records such as Pliny the Elder’s ‘Natural History’ which described the Monument as a local divinity and one of the royal burial places.
Ancient Egypt’s Best Kept Secret
The Sphinx is the most magnificent sculpture of the ancient era. Its impressive dimensions make it a monumental example of Egyptian art with its body and head carved from the same block of stone. There have been endless academic debates over its origin: some believe it was built by Chephren during the 4th Dynasty while others claim it was an older monument restored by the Pharaoh. In the 19th century an inscription found on the Giza plateau suggested that Pharaoh Cheops, Chephren’s predecessor, commissioned the construction of a temple near the Sphinx, an indication that the Monument had been erected long before Chephren’s reign. Another mystery revolves around the Sphinx’s eroded body which was believed to have been caused by desert sands and winds; however, recent theories claim it was the outcome of water during devastating floods in Egypt’s ancient history. The Statue was built near the Second Pyramid and its funerary complex represented the heritage of Pharaoh Khafra with the famous Sphinx Temple, Valley Temple and Pyramid using the same quarry.
A Portrait of the Pharaoh
Early excavations in the Giza complex revealed conflicting pieces of information regarding the statue’s age. In the 19th century, Auguste Mariette discovered the Inventory Stela, an astonishing record dating back to the 26th Egyptian dynasty which tells the story of Khufu’s discovery of the Sphinx in the sand. Other modern approaches based on the nemes iconography or fragments from the Sphinx beard claim that the techniques used resembled those of the Pharaoh Khufu, creator of the Great Pyramid of Giza and Khafra's father. His son later built additional structures to support the statue of the Sphinx. In 2004, researcher Vassil Dobreva claimed the Statue was built by the little-known Pharaoh Djedefre, one of Khufu’s sons in an attempt to depict his father as Ra, the God of Sun and restore the dynasty’s influence.