I Thought There Would Be Answers: The Mysterious Great Sphinx of Giza
At the request of Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800’s Dominique Vivant Baron Denon French artist and diplomat was to record the exploits and accomplishments of Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign. In 1802, he published his travels. “The perfection given by the Egyptians to the representations of their animals proves that they were not without an idea of that bold style which expresses much character in a few lines, and their execution tended to the grave, and to ideal perfection, as we have already remarked in instance of the Sphinx.” The generally accepted date of the great Sphinx of Giza is 2500BC attributed to Pharaoh Khafre of the fourth dynasty. If this is the generally accepted information about the Sphinx, why are there still many unanswered questions that cause such discourse in a search for answers? Despite extensive research regarding the history of the Sphinx, the methods and evidence surrounding the monument are unsubstantial and the mysteries remain unanswered.
The Sphinx is a 240 feet long and 70 feet tall monument carved out of different layers of limestone in the Giza Plateau. The Sphinx has a human head and the body of a lion. Egyptian Sphinxes are not to be confused with Grecian Sphinxes, which have the head of a woman on a winged lion, sent down to Thebes, Greece to devour those who could not solve her riddles. Ancient playwright Sophocles displayed a Grecian Sphinx in Oedipus Rex, a tragedy were Oedipus, King of Thebes, defeats the Sphinx by answering its riddle. The Greek name “Sphinx” derives from the verb “to strangle”, which the Grecian Sphinx would do to their victims that could not solve her riddles. It is undocumented what the original Egyptian name for the Giza Sphinx but the Egyptians of the new kingdom called the Sphinx Horemakhet (Horus in the horizon) the god of early morning or sunrise. The Sphinx represents the guardian of the Giza plateau. Revered in Ancient Egypt the feline form has a long association with royalty, power and protection. An evacuation lead by French archaeologist Dr. Alain Zivie believed inscriptions suggest Egyptians bred lions as well as buried them in sacred cemeteries. In 2001, Zive and his crew found a mummified lion in the tomb of a woman understood to be the wet nurse of Pharaoh Tutankhamen dated to 1430. The wear of the lion’s teeth indicate it lived to old age and was in captivity.
One theorist, Robert Temple, declares the Sphinx is not a lion at all, because of the flat back, lack of mane, and the disproportion of the head. He believes the original statue was craved before the old kingdom and portrayed the Egyptian god Anubis, with a head of a jackal and body of a man (see figure 1). Anubis is traditionally associated with mummification and the afterlife. Temple believes that between 2200-2000BC, the monument was defaced then re-carved during the fourth dynasty in the image of Pharaoh Khafre. He also presumes...