Cairo Things To Do
- Parent Category: Cairo
- Hits: 741
One of the largest statues ever made by mankind, a lion with a human head sits on the eastern side of Giza plateau with the pyramids on the background. The oldest Sphinx on the planet was made by king Kephren; it is one single piece of limestone originally attached to the main bedrock with a height of 20.5 meters, and a length of 73 meters with width of 6 meters.
Back then at the time of building the pyramid of king Kephren, limestone was cut from the area that accommodates the Sphinx nowadays, and a huge part of rock was avoided by the workers after being tested and proved too low quality to be cut for the pyramid. After finalizing construction work at the pyramid, this piece of rock was still there blocking the view of the pyramid and that obviously was annoying the king who most probably gave his orders to remove this rock not to block the view of the pyramid, then the idea was caught to make a statue for the king instead, but the size and shape was not convenient to make a typical royal statue sitting on the throne or standing either walking with left leg, or in the Osiris position in the form of a mummy.
The decision came then and it was to make this Sphinx with the head of the king and the body of the forest's king "lion", and this can be described as a mixture of the physical power of the lion and the wisdom power of the king in one figure.
The Sphinx is at least 4500 years old; the lower part of the Sphinx was tested and proved to be more than 10,000 years old, and in both cases it was there watching most of the man king history.
Between the bows of the Sphinx there is a slab of granite stone with hieroglyphs inscribed on it, it is the Dream Stele with a story was written at the time of the new kingdom by prince Thotmoses IV says that he was once hunting in the desert of Giza and felt asleep in the shade of the Sphinx at the time the Sphinx was engulfed under the sand but its head, Thotmoses IV saw god in his dream promising him Egypt's throne if took care of the Sphinx. Indeed this god was the Sphinx himself as identified by the ancient Egyptians as the living image of god on earth" Sshp-ankw, a name given to royal statues of Dynasty IV (2575–2467 BC and later) in the New Kingdom (c. 1570–1070 BC) to the Great Sphinx more specifically .Although the word Sphinx is not phonetically close to the work Sshp-ankw, it might be a corruption of it.
The one-meter-wide nose on the face is missing. Examination of the Sphinx's face shows that long rods or chisels were hammered into the nose, one down from the bridge and one beneath the nostril, then used to pry the nose off towards the south.
The Egyptian Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the 15th century AD, attributes the loss of the nose to iconoclasm by Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim. In AD 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hanged for vandalism. Al-Maqrīzī describes the Sphinx as the "talisman of the Nile" on which the locals believed the flood cycle depended.
There is also a story that the nose was broken off by a cannonball fired by Napoleon's soldiers, that still lives on today. Other variants indict British troops, the Mamluks, and others. However, sketches of the Sphinx by the Dane Frederic Louis Norden, made in 1737 and published in 1755, illustrate the Sphinx already without a nose.
In addition to the lost nose, a ceremonial pharaonic beard is thought to have been attached, although this may have been added in later periods after the original construction. Egyptologist Vassil Dobrev has suggested that had the beard been an original part of the Sphinx, it would have damaged the chin of the statue upon falling. The lack of visible damage supports his theory that the beard was a later addition.