The Great Sphinx of Giza – Is it a Female, Lion, or an Eagle?

Posted in Africa | March 15, 2010 | 0 Comments

On my Egypt tour, when my friends and I visited the Giza plateau holding the great pyramids, I was stunned at the Great Sphinx of Giza. It made be recalled that page of history book when I saw it as a mere picture. Oh! I was so excited to see some studied monument in front of my eyes. Some say it is a human head with a lion’s body, while some say it’s a female head perched on the lion’s body. According to me, this was the only definition until I saw it here. Its complete definition would be:

A statue of female head, sitting lion’s body, and eagle’s wings!

The Great Sphinx of Giza is the largest monolith monument in the world built on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in 2555 B.C. to 2532 B.C. The ancient Egyptians of Old Kingdom had to put their best to build the most ancient architectural marvel. Since centuries, it was buried in sand, which according to several people, was the protector of the monument.


Surprisingly, nobody knew the importance of the great sphinx of Giza even at the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs. Taking it religiously, the kings started worshipping it as their God as there was no information regarding it. The depth of their reverence is seen from a small temple built in its front.

Logically, since the edifice faces east, it was seen as having to do something with the rising sun. This led to the conclusion by the later Egyptian kings that it might be the sun god and so called it Hor-Em-Akhet (Horus of the Horizon).

Between its stretched paws, a small chapel is the home of many inscribed stelae to admire and praise the sun god. A legend on one of the stelae reveals the mystic story of Thutmose IV associated with the sphinx. Once, he was actually resting in the shade of the Sphinx and had a dream wherein the Sphinx is talking with him to excavate the monument upon which he would become the King of Egypt. The king certainly believed and freed it from the covering sand. Finally, he became the king after two years.


Made from the best Tura limestone chunks covering the body, the the great sphinx is carved out from the natural bedrock that is stretched with limestone blocks, stone hammers, and copper chisels. Some archaeologists believe upon excavations that some evidences reveal about the hidden passages passing within this elongated body. Today, three tunnels already are discovered that belong to the pharaonic times whose purpose is a mystery to be solved.

Some information has been found from the Great Pyramid wherein an inscription of 600 BC says that Pharaoh Khufu had ordered for some restoration work on the tail and headdress.

Why the Nose is Missing

You will not believe that there are many stories behind this missing nose – some say that it fall off accidentally when Napoleon’s experts came here for investigation, while many believe that the Mameluke army set it as the target of shooting. Alas! All of them were proved to be false and baseless when it was proved that a Sufi named Muhammad Sa’im Al-Dahr purposely detached it. He was of the opinion that the Sphinx was an improper monument. Further, in 1378, the Sufi was so angry on seeing the offering of the Egyptian peasants to the the great sphinx for better harvest. In return, he was motivated to demolish the nose.

If you notice closely, the forehead once had a stone beard and a sacred cobra (uraeus), which have now disappeared.

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