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Great Sphinx of Giza

The Great Sphinx of Giza facts

The most enigmatic sculpture in the world is the Great Sphinx of Giza, it first appeared in Egypt as two-dimensional representations at the beginning of the dynastic period. However, the first representative of the king in the form of a sphinx was made in the 4th dynasty.

The first king to have a statue of this type was King Djet Ra, the successor to King Cheops, and is considered the first attempt at royal representation in the form of a Great Sphinx. It was discovered near its pyramid at Abu-Rawash, in Giza, and is now kept at the Louvre Museum.

The biggest of these was the Great Sphinx at the Giza necropolis, two theories are surrounding this monument, one claims that it belongs to Cheops due to a granite plaque in the Egyptian Museum and the other to the Pharaoh Chephren of the IV Dynasty, let’s see:

  • The style of the royal cap “Nemes” was pleated over its entire surface. While those of Khafre was partially pleated.
  • The Nemes were decorated with a handle depicted in high relief in all the statues of Khafre and all the kings afterward, while the Great Sphinx had no decoration or that handle on the forehead.
  • The fake beard, which is now preserved in the British Museum and the Cairo Museum, has been depicted in a plaited and curved shape; this type of false divine beard appeared in the New Kingdom, which leads scholars to suggest that it was added as a separate part later. during the New Kingdom, to make the statue represent the divine form of a god who was Re hr 3hty, because during that period the sphinx was not of Chephren, but of Re hr 3hty
  • The position of the sphinx is located in the southeastern part of the great pyramid of King Cheops, close to the remains of the quarries of this pyramid. Therefore, since the sphinx was carved out of a rock remaining from the quarries of the great pyramid, the sphinx should belong to King Cheops.
  • While an opposite opinion said that the sphinx belongs to King Khafre since his name was mentioned twice in the dream stele of Tutmés IV and his father Amenhotep II, while the name of Cheops was mentioned only once

If we accept the theory that Cheops is the owner of the great sphinx, he will be the first to have a sphinx in ancient Egypt, and if we accept that the sphinx belongs to Chephren, it will be King Dejd Re the first to have a sphinx in the whole. Egypt. Pharaonic history is like that, full of theories.

Characteristics of the Great Sphinx of Giza

The statue is considered the most enigmatic sculpture in the world. The sphinx was built in limestone, 57 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 20 meters high, making it the largest statue carved out of just one block of stone. The sphinx looks east and has a small temple between its paws.

The development of the Sphinxes in the empires of Ancient Egypt
– Ancient Empire

The statues were represented as the head and body of a lion with the fake royal beard and the noble headdress.

– Middle Empire

It was just a representation for the king in the form of the Sphinx and the human head surrounded by the lion’s mane. The first king that represents himself in the form of a lion mane sphinx was Amenemhat III, in the second half of the 12th dynasty of the Middle Empire.

– New Empire

The sculptures continue the methods of the Middle Empire, but add a touch that is the transformation of the lion’s front legs into human arms holding objects of worship. The first king who represented himself in this way was King Amenhotep III.

The value of the sphinx :

According to the history of our ancient pharaohs, it is confirmed that the sphinx had very historical and cultural value, sacred for most of the kings who ruled Egypt.

Since the second half of the 12th dynasty, most of the queens and princesses wanted a sphinx personally dedicated to them, so even female statues began to be represented.

The most famous of the female statues found to date is the statue of Queen Nefertiti, discovered in the eastern part of the Karnak complex, near the temple dedicated to the god Aton. It is also assumed that the first Egyptian sphinx was the one depicting Queen Hetepheres II of the fourth dynasty.

The Sphinx par excellence, the largest and most famous, is a statue with a human face and lion body built by Chefren (Khafra), one of the rulers of the 4th dynasty. Although the date of its construction is uncertain, it is thought that the head of the Great Sphinx is his.

The Sphinx is part of the necropolis of Giza, 73.5 meters long, 20.22 meters high and 6 meters wide (the head measures 4 meters). It is located on the west bank of the Nile and faces east, it is situated in the northern part of the pyramid complex at the foot of the Nile.

The Great Sphinx of Giza has become an emblem of Egypt and is frequently depicted on stamps, coins, and official documents used in Egypt.

Sphinxes continued to be built until the Greek-Roman period and many emperors wanted sphinxes dedicated to them, which would then reach Rome and decorate cities and palaces of the empire.

Many pharaohs had their heads carved on the sphinxes also to show their close relationship with the powerful solar deity Sekhmet, a lioness. Famous Egyptian sphinxes include the one bearing the head of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, located at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the sphinx in Menfi, inside the open-air museum in Luxor.

What does the statue do?
The Great Sphinx of Giza, from Egypt, was built to guard the pyramids, the following inscription appears on its mouth: “I protect the chapel from your tomb. I keep your death chamber. I keep intruders away. I throw enemies on the ground and their weapons with them.

I expel the wicked from the chapel of the tomb. I destroy your opponents in their hiding places, blocking them so that they can no longer leave ”.

This task of protection is easily understood because for the Egyptians the lion was the guardian of the sacred places and protector of the underground, having his image linked to the god Aton.

Origin of the word “Sphinx”

The word “sphinx” is the Greek word from the original Egyptian name “shesep-ankh”, which means the living image, according to this name, we can suggest that they mainly represented the image of the King, which was the combination of the mental power and physical power. The mental power represented in the human head, while the physical power represented in the lion’s body.

Where is the Great Sphinx of Giza?

The great sphinx is located in the Giza Pyramid Complex, just outside Cairo.

How to get there?

The most recommended and safest way to reach the archeological site of the Giza complex is via taxi or tourist van if you are visiting the attraction with a travel agency. The visit to the sphinx is included in the same ticket as the Pyramids of Giza.


A point that has always caused intrigue is the disappearance of the nose, visibly worn, blaming Napoleon for its destruction in most theories. This hypothesis was dismantled when finding the drawings made by an explorer before Napoleon’s birth.

In ancient times, the Egyptian sphinx was painted in bright colors, nowadays, colors can no longer be perceived, because erosion was one of the great natural enemies of ancient monuments. Something that helped to preserve the body was that it was buried in the sand for many years.

One fact that has sparked much controversy is that the erosion we are talking about was caused by water and not sand. Some confirm that many centuries ago the climate in Egypt was completely different.

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About the author

Magdy Fattouh (Migo) is a creative content marketer and expert in search engines for over 5 years. He manifests his passion in his role as a Creative Content Writer especially in travel where he strives to evoke a strong sense of place in his write-ups.

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