Essential Architecture-  Egypt

The Sphinx






c. 2575-2525 BC Old Kingdom, Dynasty IV


Ancient Egyptian


Sandstone about 65' H; 240' L


Unlike the Greek sphinx which was female, the Egyptian sphinx is typically shown as male. In addition, the Egyptian sphinx was viewed as benevolent in contrast to the malevolent Greek version and was thought of as a guardian often flanking the entrances to temples. The most famous sphinx is the gigantic sphinx at Giza which is part of the funerary complex of Chephren (Khafre); is is located beside the pharaoh's Valley Temple and the covered causeway that led to the Mortuary Temple beside the pyramid. It was sculpted from an outcropping of limestone and represented the sun god; its features were probably those of Chephren, the builder of the second pyramid at Giza. While it has a god's face, it has a lion's body. The royal headdress originally had the uraeus--the sacred serpent--but it was used for target practice by the Turks and thus lost not only the uraeus but the nose.

With special thanks to the Digital Imaging Project
Images copyright Mary Ann Sullivan.