The Great Sphinx

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Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx is at Giza near Cairo in Egypt. It sits in a depression to the south of the pyramid of the Pharaoh Khafre (Chephren) at the west bank of the Nile River. The Sphinx is a stone sculpture of a creature with a human head and a lion's body. The greatest monumental sculpture in the ancient world, its body is 200 feet (60m)long and 65 feet (20m) tall. Its face is 13 feet (4m) wide.

An accumulating body of evidence, both archaeological and geological, shows the Sphinx is far older than the 4th Dynasty (2575-2467 BCE) and was restored by Khafre during his reign. The name 'Sphinx' means 'strangler' but the purpose of the Sphinx is not known. Some archaeologists assume that it was a memorial to a Pharaoh or that it functioned as some sort of talisman or guardian god. Other scholars believe the Sphinx as an astronomical observation device that marked the position of the rising sun on the day of the spring equinox in the time of Leo the Lion.

The statue is eroding today because of wind and humidity and the smog from Cairo. Attempts to restore it have often caused more harm than good. Present attempts at restoration are under the control of the Supreme Council of Antiquities' archaeologists. They are working to drain away underground water which is damaging the rock.