“Nerd Sphinx” which may come tram the Egyptian expression shesep Ankh ” Living image ” , means a sculpture which represents a deity with the body of a lion and a human or animal head .
The Great Sphinx of Giza that rises out of desert sands , which the Arabs gave the strange name of “Abu Elhowl” the father of terror , , is a unique monument in the history of Egyptian statues , in which sphinx are typical elements . It fascinated not only voyagers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries , but also students of the esoteric sciences and fans of fantasy archaeology , who assert that this sculpture is the work of an extremely ancient civilization which disappeared thousands of years before the construction of the pyramids , leaving no other trace .
In reality , although it does exude a certain aura of mystery that easily induces dreams and fantasy , The sphinx contains no great secrets , nor is it a font of lost knowledge of vanished civilizations it was sculpted into a rocky spur consisting of three formations of that marly limestone from the Eocene age that makes up the Giza plateau , and had probably already been roughly modeled by the wind before it was sculpted by humans .
About 57 meters long and 20 meters high , The sphinx is the image of the king who unites human nature with divine and leonine power . At the same time the sphinx represented the lord or guardian of the ne ” ropolis , and in the New kingdom was identified with the god Horemakhet , Horus in Horizon , whom the Greeks transcribed as Horemakhet and who , probably beginning in the period of Amenophis II , around 1450 BC , become identified with the god Haurun , a Canaanite desert god of Syrian origins .
During the Eighteenth Dynasty (1550-1397 BC) a thousand years after its construction , the desert sand covered the Sphinx , and a story carved into thedgreat stela located between the front paws of the monuments , recounts how the young prince Tuthmosis fell asleep in the shade of its stone body during a hunt . In a dream the sphinx in the form of the god Horemakhet , predicted his future ascent to the throne and begged him t free it from the desert sand that was burying it . When Tuthmosis carne to the throne years later under the name of Tuthmosis IV , he remembered his youthful dream and performed the first restoration of the monument .
Despite other excavations during the period of Rameses II , around 1300 BC , the sand once again gained the upper hand and completely buried the colossal structure . This explain why Herodotus never mentions the sphinx , As the centuries passed new restoration work , still visible today , was carried out under Marcus Aurelius and Septimus Severus between 160 AD and 211 AD .Then the sands once again prevailed , but the head must still have been visible , arousing the curiosity and wonder of the adventurous travelers of the time , such as the French physician pierre Belon , who in his Relation the voyage published in 1555, describes it as a sculpted monster in the shape of the virgin in front and a lion in back , previously , the famous Arab historian “Almakrizi” , who lived around the eleventh century , had also expressed interest in the sphinx , and stated that there was a secret cavity in the monument which hid a cup that had belonged to Solomon , the sun of David .
In 1798 scientists of the Napoleonic expedition excavated the monument . They discovered the famous stela of tuthmosis IV and performed the first scientific investigation of the statue. The most thorough exploration of the Sphinx , however “vas carried out by Giovanni Battista Caviglia , who in 1816 also “discovered fragments of the statue , including a portion of the false beard that had decorated its chin , which was then given to the British Museum , Auguste Mariette performed the first systematic excavations , which were contained by his successor Gaston Maspero. Mariette believed that the Sphinx was the most ancient monument of all Egypt , dating to a period before the construction of the great pyramids , and that it contained an underground chamber .
In 1925 , Emile Baraize consolidated the head with limestone blocks , restored the great wings of the head covering , and discovered the true temple of the sphinx . Finally , the work undertaken by the University of Cairo in 1935-6 , under the direction of Selim Hassan , gave the Sphinx and the structures connected to it their present appearance .
In 1980 the monument had to be restored due to deterioration of the limestone caused by increased humidity , water infiltration and air pollution . The results were disastrous , due to improper use of cement , and the subsequent swelling of the mortar caused numerous blocks of recently applied limestone covering to fall off . It was then decided to perform an ether restoration (still under way ) without cement-based binders , using much smaller blocks of limestone , to give the Sphinx its original appearance and ensure its survival .
During the course of this last restoration Egyptian archaeologists directed by Zahi Hawas actually did find a tunnel at ground level in the northern side of Sphinx . It led to a cavity , which proved to be empty .
Unfortunately , even the most recent investigations conducted during the restoration work have brought light no further information which would resolve the problem of dating the Sphinx . while all agree that it does not predate the period of the pyramids in the absence of any epigraphic document ( no writing of any kind appears on the monument ) , it can be dated only on stylistic and topographical criteria and whether it should be attributed to the reign of Khafraa as is commonly accepted by most experts or of Khofu , is still open Question .