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What is Sphinx?

What is Sphinx?

The term Sphinx comes from the Greek. The Greeks called it a monster that terrorized the whole area. Here the figure is female, that's why it's called "the sphinx". The sphinx figure in front of the Chephren pyramid is male and therefore it is better to call it "the sphinx". How the Egyptians called the sphinx is unknown. From the time of the New Kingdom, only the name "Hor-em-achet" is handed down.

The Sphinx has spawned numerous myths among archeologists and hobbyists. So there are different theories about the age of the figure. However, the new research clearly indicates that the sphinx was built together with the pyramid of Chephren.

The origins of the figure are in pre-dynastic times. The lion should symbolize the strength of the ruling king. The figure of the Sphinx, as we know it today, did not appear until shortly before the reign of Chephren.

The sphinx in front of the pyramid of Chephren is the only specimen found from this period. From the next centuries there are no finds of sphinxes or their pictures. Only with the 12th dynasty is an increasing popularity of the figure from. Although the sphinxes still had a human face, they did not have a royal scarf, but a lion's mane.

In the New Kingdom, the figures were depicted with arms and hands. The sphinx was depicted either walking or standing. The sphinxes usually put men there. The sphinxes of the New Kingdom now also showed female figures.

The sphinx was knocked out of the rock plateau. Its rock consists of various rock types, which led to the fact that the figure weathered differently in different areas over the centuries. The stones knocked out during the construction of the sphinx were used for the construction of the pyramid. The Sphinx is located next to the "Sphinx Temple" and the ramp leading to the Chephren Pyramid.

The Sphinx statue has a length of 72.55 meters and a height of 20 meters. The back of the lion's body is 12.40 meters high. The sphinx is the largest statue in history.

Over the millennia, the figure has suffered numerous damages. The best known is the missing nose. The king's scarf has disappeared behind the neck. Archaeologists suspect that the sphinx also had a beard, as shown by numerous figures from the New Kingdom.

Between the forelegs probably stood a royal statue. However, no clear remains have been found. There is still a stela of Thutmosis IV between the paws. Under the Pharaoh, the sphinx was restored, as other finds in the area prove. The sphinx was edged by a wall during this time. In the northeast of the wall, a staircase led down to the sphinx. Further repairs were made until Roman times.

There are no sources from this period about the motives for the construction of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Gise. Thus the archaeologists are dependent on interpretations of the finds and evaluation of later sources. The exact time of the construction of the statue is also controversial. So it is believed that already Cheops had the sphinx built. On the other hand, it is proven that the head of the sphinx shows the face of Chephren. In any case, the figure is to be regarded as part of the Chephren pyramid. For some historians, the Sphinx is considered guardian of the tomb. But others see him as Chephren as the incarnation of Horus.

With the end of the Old Kingdom (ca 2100 BC), the pyramids of Gise were no longer used and were partially obscured by the desert sand. Greek sources report that only the head of the sphinx was visible.

Under Amenhotep I (ca 1540 BC), the pyramids and the sphinx once again came to the forefront of religious worship. The sphinx was freed from the sand, and Amenhotep II had a chapel built. Later rulers left several steles near the sphinx.

The Sphinx was not just a sanctuary for official ceremonies. The inhabitants of the surrounding area made pilgrimages to the pyramids, leaving behind steles and statuettes as a sign of religious worship.