The great Sphinx is a national symbol of Egypt both ancient and modem . But is it more than this . It is an archetype of antiquity whose image has stirred the imagination of poets , scholars , adventurers and tourists for centuries . In recent year , however , the Sphinx has become conspicuous for the rate at which it is deteriorating , Twice in the last decade stones fell from the statue masonry veneer from the left hind paw in 1981 , and s sizable piece of bedrock from the right shoulder in 1988 . While experts search for solutions , the surface of sphinx is flaking and crumbling .
The Sphinx sits within the Giza necropolis which is dominated by the pyramid of Khofu (cheeps ) , Khafraa (Chephren) and Mankauraa (Mycerinus) , pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty ( C 2575- 2467 sc) . Each pyramid had a long causeway running from a mortuary temple at its eastern side , down to the level of the Nile flood plain , where a balley temple served as an-entrance to the pyramid complex .
The Sphinx is intimately connected with the Khafraa causeway and valley temple , which suggests that Khafraa perhaps the-greatest . maker of statue of the pyramid age had-it built as part of this pyramid area . There are emplacements in his pyramid temples for 28 statues , including four colossal Sphinxes , each more than 26 feet long and two flanking each door of his valley temple two colossal statue , possibly of baboons , in tall niches inside the entrances of the valley temple , 23 life -size statues or the pharaoh in the valley temple (fragments of several have been found with his name-inscribed on them ) , (it least seven large statues of him in the inner chambers of his mortuary temple , and 10 more huge statues in the Sphinx temple . No other Old Kingdom pyramid temple floor plans indicate so many statues at such s scale . The Sphinx , the largest of all , was carved to a scale of 1 for the head and about 2:1 for the lion body .
It is carved directly from the limestone of the Giza plateau , part of the Mokatam formation , which is formed from marine sediment deposited when waters engulfed north-east Africa during the Eocene period . According to geologist Thomas Aigner , formerly of the University of Tubingen and now with shell International , as the sea retreated northward about 50 million years ago an embankment developed along what is now the north northwest side of the plateau . Carbonate mud deposited in the lagoon thus formed then petrified , becoming the layers from which the ancient builders quarried their limestone blocks , hauling them up the slope to build the pyramids .
The ancient quarry-men fashioned the Sphinx from the lowest layers , those lying directly on the harder reef . They cut deep into these layers , isolating a huge rectangular block of limestone within a horseshoe-shaped ditch . After sculpting the lion body , they leveled the natural rock floor between the Sphinx and the sides of the ditch . The ditch opened to the east where a broad ten-ace had already been cut from the hard and brittle reef limestone .
On the south end of this terrace the builders created Khafraa’s valley temple from huge blocks of limestone , some weighing more than 100 tons , that were quarried from the upper layers of rock which correspond to those of the Sphinx head , and possibly higher stone quarried from the sphinx ditch was taken to to the east to build the Sphinx temple . Tile first known fourth Dynasty Sphinx shape dates from the reign of Khofu’s son and khafraa’s predecessor Djedefre . The quartzite head and neck represents the king . The Sphinx represents Khafraa as the god Horus giving offerings to his father Khofu , the incarnation of Re who rises and sets on the horizon . This theory is supported by several- A facts . First , the Old Kingdom pottery found in the area proves that the sphinx temple was in use during the Old Kingdom . Second , there are no temples of Re or any other gods dating to the fourth Dynasty . The Sphinx temples is directed east-west and contains a large open court , thus it is a solar temple.
There is evidence identifying Khofu with Re , thus it is reasonable to suggest that Khofu was worshiped as Re in this temple . This would also account for the lack of priests of the Sphinx and its temple from the Old Kingdom and the great number of mortuary personnel associated with the cult of Khofu.
Horus is often seen as the son of Re , and there is dearly a close connection between the two gods . The Sphinx obviously represents Horus , as is shown by its later names . Sphinxes in general are closely associated with the sun god Re , as can be seen in representations of sphinxes in the sacred beat-of Re from the New Kingdom . The connection between Khafraa and Horus can be seen in the diorite statue of the king which shows the hawk behind his head and shoulders , and the generally accepted identification of all Egyptian kings with Horus , as is shown by their titularies . Since Khafraa was the son of Khofu and Horus was the son of Re , it seems reasonable , once we have equated Khofu with Re , to equate Khafraa with Horus , and thus to identify Khafraa with the Sphinx.