Debate abounds surrounding the age and purpose of the mysterious Great Sphinx of the Giza Plateau, in Egypt. It is immense: it’s the oldest known monumental sculpture, carved from a single monolith, in the bedrock of an area used for quarrying. At 241 feet long and about 65 feet high and wide, the Sphinx is larger and has more volume than a super-yacht. The party-line among mainstream scientists and Egyptologists is that the Great Sphinx was built around 2500 BC for the pharaoh Khafra, the builder of the second Great Pyramid at Giza.
However, there are reasons to doubt the mainstream view of age, and thus, purpose. The most impressive reason is the size of the head of the Sphinx, compared to the rest of the body. It’s disproportionately small. Compare the head to the paws.
The ancient Egyptians were masters of symmetry and proportion. Evidence of this is everywhere, from Giza to Saqqara to Karnak, and across all the kingdoms after the first King, Narmer (aka Menes) united Upper and Lower Egypt. Egyptians had refined their mastery of art and sculpture by Narmer’s time. The Narmer Palette is one representation of the symmetry and proportion already present in Egyptian art by 3100 BCE. It seems incredible and illogical that, two precisely placed and proportioned Great Pyramids, and six hundred years later, the Egyptians would make such an enormous error of proportion carving the head of the Sphinx, and to then allow let it stand for all posterity to witness. Not unless someone’s larger-than-life-ego got in the way of their better judgement.
The only plausible explanation is that the original statue was defaced, either by Khafre or some egoic ruler that preceded or succeeded him, who sought to put this own image on the most remarkable statue on Earth, as evidence of his power and control over the land.
This practice of putting one’s face all over the place and defacing previous monuments in ancient Egypt was never more evident than during the reign of Ramses II (The ‘Great), who was responsible for Abu Simbel, put his name on monuments he didn’t commission or create, was a candidate for the Pharaoh of the Bible’s Exodus, and possibly the destroyer of art and sculpture from the previous Pharaoh, monotheist Akhenaton’s, Armana Period.
Given the current size of the Sphinx’s head, one could surmise that there was a first commissioning to carve the original head into that of the Pharaoh, and a subsequent ruler(s), carved away further to personalize the image, such that the head became noticeably smaller than the body.
Evidence and intuition, after having seen and touched the Spinx in person, leads to the conclusion that the original statue was a recumbent lion, whose head stood higher and broader than the modern Pharoah pinhead. Other theories, such that the head was originally that of Anubis, the god of the afterlife who took on the form of a black canine, are also plausible, but less so for the following reason:
The lion is an ancient symbol of heraldry, more ancient than Anubis. Even as early as 30,000 BCE, the Aurignacian culture, in the earliest known example of figurative art, created a statue of a lion-headed man. The contemporary (to pre-dynastic Egypt) Sumerian culture of nearby Mesopotamia was already depicting lions as heraldry in 4100 BCE. The similarities between the two cultures of Egypt and Sumeria are stunning, and seem to prove contact between the two civilizations (see this cylinder seal from 4100 BCE Uruk, and compare to Narmer Palette). The Lion Gate of Mycenae (1300 BCE) is another example of ancient lion heraldry.
Some other details stand out as strange and are reasons to doubt the mainstream view of the Sphinx being ‘only’ 4500 years old. The body of the Sphinx shows signs of water erosion, whereas the Giza Plateau has been desert for millenia. If this were taken to be evidence of the climate when the Sphinx was built, it would date back to the last period of significant rainfall in the area, around 5000 or 6000 BCE, instead of 2500 BCE! However, mainstream scientists reject this theory, and cite other possible reasons for the erosion, such as significant salt crystalization, which would be destructive to the limestone. In addition, the monolith from which the Sphinx was cut is comprised of layers of limestone of differing qualities. The feet, base and head are all of very hard limestone, whereas the body is softer, and more subject to erosion. All of this leaves the age of the Sphinx open for dispute.
If one were, for a moment, to consider the possibility that the Sphinx (who has no wings, as a proper Sphinx should), was actually, originally, a lion, one that predated the Great Pyramids, even by a little bit, then perhaps the monument was never meant as a tomb guardian.
Perhaps it was meant as part of a gate to the Nile Delta, fertile land of agricultural prosperity.
If one to surmise that the Sphinx was a lion, and that lion were a gate, then perhaps the Nile River lay at the center. A second lion of equal size would then be expected to mirror the Sphinx/Lion at the same latitude on an equivalent distance of about 10 miles on the eastern side of the Nile, under what is now Cairo. The ancient Egyptians built the tunnels under the Sphinx, and other locations, perhaps to carry water. Many ancient tunnels remain undiscovered, and new ones are being found.
However, the paradigm on Egyptian history has remained religiously in place since 1840, and true discoveries about the Sphinx and Giza Plateau have supposedly been suppressed. It is said to be a political matter. Some believe that it’s time for a spring cleaning in the field of Egyptology.
If you would like to know the latest developments in the field of Egyptology, The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago is a great resource. They’ve made available to the public a fascinating and exciting document called ‘Before The Pyramids’ — a complilation of publications by Egyptologists on prehistoric and proto-dynastic discoveries in recent years.