THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!
YOUR RANDOM DHS MONITORED PHRASE OF THE DAY
THE MYSTERY OF THE SPHINX
My wife and I were spending a rare evening together watching TV and since we have already seen "The Bourne Tedium" 86 times, we were watching the (often misnamed) education channels and caught a program dealing with how wrong conventional history was about the Pharaoh Djedefre. Of course, that is the wonderful thing about science; that as new information comes to light old theories are discarded (which is why we know the Human-Caused global warming is not science as they still promote the theory of human-caused global warming and the need for a carbon tax through ever more harsh winters).
One of the topics covered in the program was just whose face was on the Sphinx. The debate focuses on whether the face on the Sphinx is that of Khufu or Khafre, who built the two largest pyramids on the Giza plateau. However, the point was made that Khafre clearly had to build the causeway to his pyramid around the site of the Sphinx, implying that it was already there when he started his construction.
Further complicating the debate is the geological evidence suggesting that the Sphinx is actually far older than the rest of the Giza complex, as much as 12,000 years old, based on factors such as obvious erosion at the base. The Sphinx may be a surviving artifact from an advanced civilization that preceded Egypt in the region, which is only now starting to come to light.
The debate rages on between those who place the Sphinx in the time of dynastic Egypt with either Khafre of Khufu as the face on the Sphinx, and those who argue that the Sphinx is far older.
It occurred to me that both positions might actually be correct!
Most people are familiar with photographs of the Sphinx that look like this.
Artists will tell you about the concept of proportion; that even for a mythical creation, the parts should feel like they belong together. But while subsequent copies of the Sphinx are indeed well-proportioned, we do not see good proportion in the original Sphinx.
I located a side view of the Sphinx.
And using this side view I constructed a 3D computer model of the original Sphinx.
As a check, I got an overhead view of the Sphinx from Google Earth...
And lined my 3D model up with that.
So now that I have a 3D representation of the original Sphinx, let's line it up with more recent (in Egyptian history) Sphinxes!
Hatsepshut was real big on making Sphinxes to secure her rulership. Here is one.
Now let us line up the 3D model with Hatsepshut's Sphinx.
When we line up the body of the Sphinx, we immediately see that the head of the original Sphinx is quite small relative to the rest of the body. If Khafre or Khufu built the Sphinx in their honor, the head should be as large in proportion to the rest of the body as that seen in Hatsepshut's Sphinx.
Here is another Sphinx.
And lining up the 3D model...
Once again the head of the original Sphinx seems almost ridiculously small compared to the body.
One more, again one of Hatsepshut's...
And lining up the 3D model...
Another thing to notice is that the face of the Sphinx appears in much better condition than the body.
Conventional Egyptologists point out that the rock at the level of the face is tougher than the softer stone of the body and less subject to erosion, and this is indeed a possible factor until you remember that for most of its history, the Sphinx did not look as it does today, fully excavated, but was buried in sand up to the neck.
This is how the Sphinx looked when Napoleon "visited" Egypt.
Actually excavating the Sphinx from the sand did not even start until the 1870s.
Covered in sand, the body of the Sphinx would not be exposed to the erosion suffered by the face, and yet the face clearly looks to be in better condition.
What this suggests to me is that some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, an advanced pre-Egyptian civilization built a giant statue to their lion God, a forerunner of Egypt's own lion-God, Sekhmet.
As a side benefit, any encroaching marauders wandering into your kingdom with dreams of looting might be deterred seeing a giant lion on the distant horizon.
Over the thousands of years following the collapse of that prior civilization, the Sphinx eroded, then the body was finally covered up by the shifting sands. Indeed if you look carefully at the Sphinx and its temple...
... you cannot help but notice is is much lower that the adjacent Khafre temple and causeway to Khafre's pyramid. This suggests that the body of the Sphinx was already partially covered in sand back in the time of Khafre and Khufu and all that projected above the sand was the head and back of a lion, already badly eroded.
So picture the mighty Pharaoh Khafre or the mighty Pharaoh Khufu or the mighty Pharaoh Insert-name-here looking at that eroded lion head nobody is using sticking up out of the sand and deciding to re-use that giant block of stone for a portrait to his everlasting glory? He may have even considered the badly eroded lion's head an eyesore that detracted from all the shiny new temples and pyramids on the plateau.
And that is what I think happened. My theory is that the original Sphinx was actually a lion statue built long before the rise of the Egyptian civilization that was re-used to make a portrait of a Pharaoh. This explains the indications of great age of the base, while the face seems much newer and less eroded, and because they had to whittle down the lion head to make way for the Pharaoh's face complete with nemes (the headdress), explains why the head of the Sphinx seems so small compared with the rest of the lion's body.
Once you discard the assumption that the Sphinx represents the work of a single Pharaoh from a single moment in time, all the seemingly contradictory evidence actually starts to make sense. And it was common practice in Egypt to replace the names of former rulers with ones own, so "re-purposing" the Sphinx would have been seen as socially acceptable for a Pharaoh to do.