Tour of the Sphinx at the Pyramids of Giza

Today I’ll be taking you on a little tour of the Sphinx at the Pyramids of Giza. Yesterday I gave you a tour around the Pyramids. Today it’s the turn of the mighty Sphinx. Welcome to “Art, Culture & Books” with me Anthony King.

On the Giza Plateau, situated on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt, the Great Sphinx stands as a limestone statue depicting a reclining creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. Facing directly from west to east, it is believed to represent the pharaoh Khafre, and its original shape, carved from bedrock, has been restored with layers of limestone blocks.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Sphinx, dating back to the Old Kingdom, is the oldest monumental sculpture in Egypt, attributed to the reign of Khafre (2558–2532 BC).

The circumstances leading to the Sphinx’s nose being broken off remain uncertain, with suggestions pointing to a deliberate act involving rods or chisels. Contrary to a popular myth, it was not damaged by cannon fire from Napoleon’s troops during his 1798 Egyptian campaign.

During Graeco-Roman times, Giza evolved into a tourist destination, where the Sphinx and other monuments were viewed as antiquities. Some Roman Emperors visited the Sphinx out of curiosity and political motives. In the first century AD, Emperor Nero’s visit prompted the clearing of sand around the Sphinx. Pliny the Elder, described the Sphinx’s face as coloured red and provided measurements for the statue.

By Anthony King (c)