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Great Sphinx of Giza

Great Sphinx of Giza, the national symbol of Egypt, is a monumental structure with the head of a human and the body of a lion. The Sphinx is the largest monolith statue in the world, made out of limestone and  built by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafra.

History

The ancient Egyptians looked upon the Sphinx as “a divinity that has been passed over in silence”. Though experts are divided over when was the Sphinx built, the most widely accepted assumption places the time of its construction at 2500 BC, around the same time when Pharaoh Khafra built the second pyramid of Giza. Some opponents of this theory talk of inscriptions which talk about the Sphinx already buried in sand by the time of Khafra and that it dates back to a much older period. Modern archaeologists claim that the statue was probably built by Pharaoh Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and Khafra’s father. However all the attribution remains circumstantial and is not supported by solid evidence.

After the Giza Necropolis was abandoned, the Sphinx got buried in sand till its shoulders. The first attempt at restoration was carried as far back as 1400 BC, when Thutmose IV, the Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty managed to excavate till its paws and put a commemorative stone slab there, famous as the Dream Stele. The first modern excavation happened in 1817 AD by Giovanni Battista Caviglia. It was entirely excavated in 1925 by Émile Baraize. Restoration works were conducted from time to time.

There is no separate entry ticket to the Sphinx. The Ticket to the Pyramid of Giza includes the Sphinx as well. For details please check the Great Pyramid of Giza

Photo Courtesy:  Jim Zuckerman/Corbis

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