CAIRO – 10 November 2022: The statue of the Great Sphinx is one of the masterpieces of the ancient Egyptian civilization.
After thousands of years, the spectacular statue still exists. It is considered a testimony of the greatness of the ancient Egyptians, the development of their ideas and abilities that led them to construct this masterpiece.
However, many people do not know who the Sphinx is and whether or not it is the embodiment of a human personality who lived during the era of the ancient Egyptians.
Most scholars believe the Sphinx spans back to the Fourth Dynasty and believe that it first appeared during the era of King Khafre.
Other scholars believe that it was built by Khafre's older brother Djedefre to commemorate their father Khufu [Cheops], whose pyramid at Giza is known as the Great Pyramid of Cheops, due to it being the greatest in size. Those holding this view assert that the face of the Great Sphinx resembles Khufu more than Khafre. This observation has also led to speculation that Khufu himself built the statue.
The shape of the Sphinx has changed dramatically over the years. Since antiquity - probably beginning in the reign of Thutmose IV (1400-1390 B.C.) various efforts have been made to preserve the statue while the body is the most exposed to wear. The face has also been damaged, and its nose is noticeably missing.
According to some, the damage was caused by Napoleon's soldiers who shot the Sphinx’s nose with a cannon. However, illustrations dating back to before Napoleon reveal the Sphinx was nose-less.
Another theory asserts that the Sufi Mohammad Saem al-Dahr defaced the statue in the 14th century in protest of idolatry, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
The Sphinx was built as a mythical creature with the body of a lion and a human head. It represents an important image in Egyptian and Greek art and myth.
The word sphinx was derived by Greek grammarians from the verb Sphingein, but the etymology has nothing to do with legend. The ancient Greek author Hesiod called him Phix.
The Great Sphinx is one of the largest statues in the world, with a length of 20 meters, and a width of 73 meters.