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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Great Sphinx of Giza, in Egypt

The Great Sphinx of Giza, in Egypt

Few landmarks of history are steeped in as much legend, mystery, and undefined grandeur than the Great Sphinx of Giza, in Egypt.

Archaeologists have far-differing opinions regarding the origins, timeline, and purpose for the 241-foot long replica of a lion with the head of an Egyptian pharaoh that literally was carved from stone; and is considered to be the largest stone structure in-the-round ever made by man.

Facts, theories, and other information about the Great Sphinx of Giza include:

* The word ‘sphinx’ was coined by Greeks to denote a creature with a woman‘s head, lion’s body, and wings of a bird

* It’s commonly believed the Great Sphinx was constructed about 2,500 BC

* However, recent studies have determined erosion marks on the Great Sphinx are vertical, not horizontal as would be expected from sand and wind erosion in the Sahara

* Hence, scholars such as Graham Hancock, originally of Scotland, and Robert Buvaul, of the United Kingdom, suggest the Great Sphinx could have been carved as early as 10,500 BC

* It’s 241-feet long, and 65-feet high in places

* Throughout history, it’s believed much of the monument often was buried in sand, helping preserve its softer lower layers

* The Great Sphinx is located by Khafre’s pyramid at Giza, near Cairo

* Many archaeologists contend rock removed to shape the Great Sphinx was used to help build the nearby pyramids

* The limestone bedrock from which the Great Sphinx was carved originated fifty million years earlier during the Middle Eocene period when sea waters covered northeast Africa

* The Great Sphinx faces the rising sun

* It’s thought the monument once was bearded, but likely the beard was added long after original construction, and since has eroded away

* The lion’s body includes paws, claws, and a tail

* There are more Egyptian sphinxes, at least one attributed to Pharaoh Djedefre thought to be older, but the Great Sphinx is the largest

* There are three passages into or under the Great Sphinx

Much of the monument’s nose has worn away, and legend says Napoleon’s soldiers used it for target practice when he was at the site in 1798. Yet, archeologists generally agree that much of the nose’s damage was evident hundreds of years earlier.

The pharaoh’s head of the Great Sphinx is built on a scale of 30 to 1 compared to a human head, and the lion’s body on a scale of 22 to 1 compared to a lion. Possible explanations for such disparities in proportional size, like much about the large monument, open new questions. Was the lion made bigger proportionally to accent the monument’s power? Was it designed thusly to give onlookers a more aesthetically pleasing view from up close? Or did they simply run out of high-quality, hard rock while constructing the head?

Anyway one looks at it, the Great Sphinx of Egypt is both a wonder and a mystery.

1 comment:

  1. this site is really awsome, it helps me get to were i need to get. like the great sphinx of egypt. love the facts.