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AOM book
Contact Introduction
AOM book
Contact Redating the Great Sphinx of Giza
by Associate-Professor Robert Schoch (KMT 1992)Mainstream Egyptologists reacted with total disbelief when it wa sproposed that the famous Sphinx was much older than the 4th Dynasty.As presently viewed, the Great Sphinx presents the image of a leonine
body bearing a human head in a nemes head-dress. It does not sit on
top of the Giza Plateau-only its head and the very top of its back
project above the general elevation of the surrounding plateau-but
rests in the center of what appears to be the remains of an ancient
quarry. The Sphinx is carved from local bedrock and faces directly
east. In order to carve the body of the Sphinx, the ancient Egyptians
dug a ditch or moat around it, such that the figure now sits in a
hollow or depression, commonly referred to by such names as the “Sphinx
ditch”, the “Sphinx enclosure” or the “Sphinx quarry.” The
blocks of limestone removed from the Sphinx enclosure (in order to
create the form of the body) were used to construct the so-called
Sphinx Temple sifting directly due east of the Sphinx itself (in front
of the paws of the sculpture) and the so-called Valley Temple located
immediately south of the Sphinx Temple. The floor of the Sphinx enclosure
is approximately sixty-five feet (twenty meters) above present-day
mean sea level; this is probably near, or only a few meters above,
the typical level of Nile flooding during various periods in ancient
times.[4]I have divided major geological and field evidence bearing on the age of the Great Sphinx into four main categories : (1) Weathering Patterns, (2) Two-Stage Construction of the Sphinx and Valley Temples, (3) Ancient Repair Campaigns to the Body of the Sphinx and (4) Seismic Surveys of the Sphinx Area.Weathering PatternsModifications to rock surfaces-such as those
resulting from weathering, erosion and paleos of development-have
long been utilized as criteria in dating the relative ages when fresh
rock surfaces were first exposed to the elements.[5]
Such methodologies have been widely used to date Quaternary land surfaces
in particular, but the same concepts can also be applied to other
dating problems-such as the age of the initial carving of the Sphinx
relative to other cultural features found on the Giza Plateau.There appear to be four distinct forms or modes of weathering exhibited in this specific geologic area:
(1) Precipitation-induced weathering is seen on the body of the Sphinx
and in the ditch or hollow in which it is situated. This gives a rolling
and undulating vertical profile to the weathered rocks and is very
well-developed and prominent within the Sphinx enclosure. The rocks
displaying this mode of weathering also often contain prominent vertical
crevices and other solution features, as well as cross-cutting diffusion
fronts.[6] Many of the vertical and
inclined solution features follow joints and faults in the bedrock. (2) Wind-induced weathering and erosional features are seen on structures that are attributed unambiguously to Old Kingdom times. In this mode of weathering, the original profiles of the carved faces of tombs and other structures are still clearly visible (sometimes containing easily legible hieroglyphic inscriptions); but the softer, less competent layers of rock have been “picked out” by wind and sand abrasion, with the consequent formation of deeply eroded “wind-tunnel” features.
This wind-induced weathering is distinctly different in nature from the precipitation-induced weathering; it is well exemplified on various Old Kingdom tombs and structures south and west of the sphinx, which have been carved from the same sequence of limestones as the body of the great sculpture itself.
(3) Present on the body of the Sphinx, as well
as on other Giza Plateau structures (and essentially forming an overlay
on many precipitation-induced and wind-induced megascopic weathering
features), are weathering features that are interpreted as resulting
from relatively recent (within the last couple of centuries) efflorescing
of dissolved and recrystallized minerals (such as halite) on the rock
surfaces, which have subsequently flaked off and deteriorated the
stone.[7] (4) Weathering due to the dissolution and recrystallization of calcite and other minerals in the rocks is visible within various tombs and other chambers cut into the bedrock of the Giza Plateau. This may occur on a daily basis, as water condenses on the cool surfaces of these man-made caves, and subsequently evaporates once again as the temperature rises. This condensation and evaporation cycle gives the surface of the rock-and any carvings it may bear-almost the appearance of melted wax, at times covered with a very fine coating of mineral crystals. This is the most minor component of weathering observed on the Giza Plateau. It is preserved in only a limited number of artificial cave-like structures, such as tombs directly north of the Sphinx on the eastern edge of the Plateau.Of the four modes of weathering listed above, some rocks may show one mode overlain by another-thus, in particular cases, the various modes of weathering may be somewhat difficult to sort out. On the whole, however, they are clear and distinct from one another at the Giza site.What is interpreted as precipitation-induced weathering is the oldest predominant weathering mode identified on the Plateau. It is found to any significant degree on only the oldest structures there, such as on the Sphinx body and the walls of the Sphinx enclosure. Of course, it still rains at Giza on occasion, and thus precipitation-induced weathering can be said to exist on all structures on the Plateau to some small degree; here we are talking in generalities and attempting to look at the broad picture. In many places this precipitation-induced weathering mode has superimposed upon it wind-induced weathering. Presumably the major portion of this precipitation-induced weathering occurred prior to the onset of the current and regime exhibited at Giza (i.e., prior to the modern climatic regime of the Sahara Desert).On the Sakkara Plateau, some ten miles (sixteen kilometers) to the south of Giza, there are fragile mud-brick structures, mastabas, that are indisputably dated to the First and Second dynasties-presumably several hundred years earlier than the standard dating of the Sphinx-that exhibit no evidence of the precipitation-weathering features seen in the Sphinx enclosure. As noted above, well-documented Old Kingdom tombs at Giza, cut from the identical sequence of limestones as the body of the Sphinx, exhibit well-developed wind-weathering features, but lack significant weathering which is precipitation-induced. For these reasons it can be concluded that the well-developed precipitation-weathering features seen on the Great Sphinx and its associated structures predate Old Kingdom times and, in fact, may well predate dynastic times altogether.The other two modes of weathering noted above
appear to be, on the whole, very recent phenomena that have been most
active since ancient times. Other researchers have focused attention
on such weatherings relative to the Sphinx, particularly the damage
currently being done by mobilized salts.[8]
These studies are of extreme importance in the attempt to halt the
current destruction of the monument; but it must be remembered that
such studies of weathering agents currently damaging the Sphinx may
not be of relevance in any attempt at determining the genesis of ancient
weathering and erosional features which are observable on it, as well.[9] If the Great Sphinx of Giza was weathered heavily, and at an early
period in its existence, by precipitation, this suggests that it initially
may have been carved prior to the last great period of major precipitation
in this part of the Nile Valley. Egypt was subjected to erratic floods
and what is sometimes referred to as the “Nabtian Pluvial” (a period
of relatively heavy rainfall) from 12,000 or 10,000 to about 5,000
years ago; and it has been suggested that there were sporadic but
relatively heavy rains during the Fourth Millennium (4000 to 3000
B.C.), and a less and climate along the Nile as late as 2350 B.C.
(with relatively wetter conditions and unusually high Nile inundations
recorded sporadically during historical times).[10] Thus, on the basis of the climatic history outlined above, one might tentatively suggest that the Great Sphinx was sculpted in very early dynastic times, or in the Predynastic Period (late-Fourth Millennium or earliest-Third Millennium B.C.). However, one must account for the considerable weathering that appears on the walls of the Sphinx hollow, on the body of the sculpture itself, and on the walls of its associated temples-weathering that was possibly covered up or repaired during the Old Kingdom (ca. 2600-2400 B.C.). One must also take seismic data into account (see below)-in particular, the fact that it indicates the subsurface dissolution of the limestone beneath the floor of the Sphinx enclosure is very deep and non-uniform. These latter considerations suggest the possibility that the initial carving of the Great Sphinx may have taken place several millennia earlier than its standard attribution.Two-Stage Construction of the Sphinx and Valley TemplesAs far as can be determined, the core of the Sphinx Temple (and possibly
the core of the Valley Temple) is constructed out of titanic limestone
blocks taken directly from the ditch around the Sphinx.[11]
Therefore, the limestone core of the Sphinx Temple (and also possibly
the Valley Temple) must be as old as the great sculpture itself.The ancient Egyptians later faced the limestone cores of these temples with ashiars made of Aswan granite. Based on my field observations of the granite ashiars and the underlying limestone core blocks, I believe that the core blocks in both temples were exposed to the elements and underwent considerable weathering and erosion before the granite facings were installed. In places the backs of the granite blocks were cut in irregular, undulating patterns so that they complemented or matched the irregular weathering patterns on the limestone blocks which they were used to refurbish. In observing the Valley Temple in particular, one also notes that the limestone walls, where stripped of their granite facings, are not cut smoothly. Rather, they have a higgledy-piggledy surface pattern, where apparently the ancient Egyptians, before applying the Aswan-granite facings, slightly cut back and smoothed out the weathered surface of the walls, they did not, however, take off enough of this weathered surface to make the walls perfectly smooth.The general Egyptological community is in agreement that the granite
facings on the Sphinx and Valley temples are attributable to King
Khafre.[12] On site I found an inscription
carved into the granite of the Valley Temple which appears,[13]
on stylistic grounds, to be of Old Kingdom date. It seems a good assumption
that the limestone core blocks would have been freshly cut-that is,
unweathered-when initially used in construction of the Sphinx-associated
temples. Therefore, it the granite facings cover deeply weathered
limestone, the original limestone structures must predate by a considerable
degree their granite facings. Obviously, if the limestone cores (originating
from the Sphinx ditch) predate the granite ashlars (facings), and
the latter are attributable to Khafre of the Fourth Dynasty, then
the Great Sphinx was carved prior to the reign of that king.Ancient Repair Campaigns to the Body of the Great SphinxThe body of the Sphinx has been subjected to various repair campaigns,
beginning with the ancient Egyptians themselves and continuing up
to the present day. The earliest of these repairs to sculpted surfaces
of the monument were carried out using what appear to be Old Kingdom-style
masonry techniques.[14] If the oldest
repairs to the eroded body of the sculpture do date to Old Kingdom
times, this is another strong argument in favor of a much earlier
date for its carving.
American Egyptologist Mark Lehner has analyzed the repairs to the
Sphinx [15] and concluded that, despite
his own evidence to the contrary, “To seek agreement with known historical
facts [e.g., his contention, among other things, that the Sphinx was
carved in ca. 2500 B.C. by order of Khaf re], we should probably
expect the earliest restoration to have been done in the New Kingdom
[ca. 1500-1000 B.C.].[16] In summary, in order to save the attribution of the Sphinx to King Khafre and ca. 2500 B.C., Lehner suggests that the earliest level of “large-block” (Old Kingdom-style?) masonry was added to the monument during the New Kingdom, over 1,000 years later. Furthermore, he points out that this still leaves only on the order of 500 years for the majority of the weathering and erosion experienced by the Sphinx to have occurred. Taking not only Lehner’s work into account, but also the evidence for a two-stage construction of the Sphinx-associated temples (discussed above), the research that has been carried out concerning different modes of weathering on the Giza Plateau (discussed above), and the seismic surveys in the area of the Sphinx complex which give data on the subsurface depth and distribution of weathering around the monument (discussed below), and considering the fact that attribution of the carving of the Sphinx to Khatre is based on circumstantial evidence to begin with, I find one conclusion is inescapable: The initial carving of the core body of the colossal sculpture predated the time of Khafre. Lehner’s own work is more easily reconciled with the hypothesis that the Fourth Dynasty Egyptians merely restored, refurbished and added on to the Sphinx and its neighboring structures, rather than being the original creators of this Giza Plateau complex.Seismic Surveys of the Sphinx AreaSeismic geophysical surveys indicate that the subsurface
weathering of the Sphinx enclosure is not uniform. This strongly suggests
that the entire Sphinx ditch was not excavated at one time. Furthermore,
by estimating when the less-weathered portion of this area was excavated-and
thus first exposed subaerially-one can tentatively estimate when initial
excavation of the Sphinx enclosure may have begun. Dr. Thomas L. Dobecki,
a seismologist with McBride-Ratcliff and Associates of Houston, Texas,
assisted in carrying out some low-level seismic work in the vicinity
of the Great Sphinx; this was done with the permission of the Egyptian
Antiquities Organization.[17] We
were able to gather a quantity of seismic data, and with this we have
been able to establish subsurface geometries of the bedrock and have
located several previously unknown sub-surface features. Seismic lines
taken in front of and along the body of the sculpture on either side-east
(seismic line S4), north (seismic line S1) and south (seismic
line S2) of the monument-indicate that below the surface the limestone
is weathered up to a depth of six to eight feet (1.8 to 2.5 meters).
However, along the back-west side (seismic line S3)-of the Sphinx the identical limestone has been weathered only to a depth of approximately four feet (1.2 meters). These results
were completely unexpected. The same limestone surrounds the great
sculpture (the floor of the Sphinx enclosure where our seismic lines
were taken consists of Gauri’s [18]
Rosetau Member, or Member 1), and if the entire body of the Sphinx
was carved out of living rock at one time, it would be expected that
the surrounding limestone would show the same depth of subsurface
weathering.One possible interpretation of this seismic data is that, initially,
only the sides and front (eastern portion) of the Sphinx body were
carved free of the surrounding rock, so that the Sculpture projected
as an outcropping, with what would later become the figure’s rump
or rear (western portion) still merged with the natural rock. To be
more precise, the leonine rump was probably initially carved down
only to the level of the upper terrace, which to this day remains
immediately west of the sculpture within the general Sphinx enclosure;
below the level of the terrace, the backside of the figure merged
with the bedrock. Egyptian Egyptologist Selim
Hassan [19] suggested that the Sphinx
was originally meant to be viewed only from the front (rather than
from the sides or rear), so that, with the Sphinx Temple in front
of it, it seemed to sit upon a pedestal.Alternately, the rump or western end of the sculpture may have been freed from the bedrock originally, but only by a very narrow passage not sampled by our April 1991 seismic line.In order to determine accurately when the western end of the Great Sphinx was freed from the bedrock, and to establish a chronology of the possible widening of the passage between the rear portion of the sculpture and the west wall of the surrounding enclosure, more detailed work (including the collection of several more seismic profiles parallel to seismic line S3) will be necessary. However, it is already clear that the limestone floor behind the rump of the figure-which we sampled seismically in April 1991-was exposed later (i.e., possibly in Khafre’s time) than the east, north and south limestone floors of the enclosure. Once the sides of the body and eastern end of the Sphinx were carved, the limestone floors surrounding these three sides of the sculpture began to weather; but what was to become the limestone floor behind the figure was still protected by a thick layer of solid rock.A reasonable hypothesis is that when Khafre repaired and refurbished the Great Sphinx and its associated temples in ca. 2500 B.C., he had the back (western end) of the colossal sculpture carved out and freed from the cliff (or enclosure wall). It is difficult to argue that the rump of the figure was carved any later than Khafre’s time; the base of the rump has, like the rest of the core body of the Sphinx, been weathered and repaired with limestone blocks. Furthermore, one must account for the non-trivial four feet (1.2 meters) of subsurface weathering detected in the area behind the carved figure, between the rump and the enclosure wall. If, for instance, one hypothesized that the rump of the Sphinx had been freed during New Kingdom restoration efforts to the sculpture, how could we account for this deep subsurface weathering, given the prevailing and conditions on the Giza Plateau from New Kingdom times to the present and the historical fact that the Sphinx enclosure has been filled with desert sands for much of the period since the New Kingdom?As an alternative to the scenario that Khafre had the back of the Sphinx carved free from the bedrock, one could suggest that if the rear portion of the figure already had been freed completely from the adjoining limestone prior to the Old Kingdom, but was separated from the resultant cliff by a very narrow passage, Khafre may have had this passage widened and therefore uncovered the limestone floor that we sampled seismically. (Our seismic line was positioned very close to the western wall of the Sphinx ditch.) Thus, at this time (ca. 2500 B.C.), the limestone floor on the western end of the sculpture began to weather.Based on either this chain of reasoning, or the scenario suggested immediately above-and given that the weathering of the limestone floor of the Sphinx enclosure is fifty to 100 percent deeper on the front and sides of the figure than at its rear-we can estimate that the initial carving of the Great Sphinx (i.e., the carving of the main portion of the body and the front end) may have been carried out ca. 7000 to 5000 B.C. (in other words, that the carving of the core body of the figure is approximately fifty to 100 percent older than ca. 2500 B.C.). This tentative estimate is probably a minimum date; given that weathering rates may proceed non-linearly (the deeper the weathering is, the slower it may progress due to the fact that it is “protected’ by the overlying material), the possibility remains open that the initial carving of the Great Sphinx may be even earlier than 9,000 years ago.In Search of a Context for the Great SphinxAs a geologist, the current evidence taken as a whole suggests to me that the Great Sphinx of Giza is considerably older than its traditional attribution of ca. 2,500 Indeed, I am currently estimating-based on evidence at hand-that the origin of the colossal sculpture can be traced to at least 7000 to 5000 B.C., and perhaps even earlier. Of course, the Sphinx may not have looked like it does today some 8,000 years ago. The original surface details of the body have weathered away in the distant past, and the current head of the figure-which everyone agrees is almost surely the result ot recarving.
Certainly, the Great Sphinx has suffered much work, repairs, refurbishing
and abuse from prehistoric times onward to the present. Special attention
seems to have been paid to it periodically, for instance during the
Old Kingdom (ca. 2500 B.C.), in New Kingdom times (ca.
1400 B.C.), in the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (or Late Period, ca.
650-400 B.C.) and during the Graeco-Roman era (ca. 300 B.C.-400
A.D.). During these periods of repair or refurbishing
activity, the contemporary ruler often had the Great Sphinx excavated
from the sands that quickly (in just a matter of decades) fill its
hollow enclosure if left unattended and, after each re-excavation
of the figure, repair blacks were often mortared to the weathered
body in an attempt to restore the sculpture to its original outlines.[20]As a general academic scholar, I have to ask myself whether the evident
extreme age for the Great Sphinx that I am suggesting makes sense
archaeologically and culturally. Dating this unique sculpture to the
Seventh or Sixth Millennium B.C. (or perhaps even earlier)-is this
compatible with the broad context of known archaeological remains?
In other words, is there any context or precedent for a 7,000-or 9,000-year-old
(or even older) colossal man-made monument? What were other Mediterranean
peoples and cultures like at this time? What types of structures were
they creating? In taking a quick look at the
relevant archaeological literature, I found that in Egypt for the
period from about 10 000 to 5000 B.C. there is little known today
that would suggest there were peoples capable either technologically
or organizationally-of carving the Great Sphinx or building its associated
temples.[21] However, the relatively
simple Neolithic sites known in Egypt dating to this period may, in
fact, be’backwater’peripheral or marginal settlements that were, and
are, non-representative of the highest level of Egyptian cultural
and technological attainment at this time. Quite
possibly other cultural remains are, for the most part, buried deep
under the Nile alluvium. In addition, rises in sea level since ca.
10,000 or 15,000 years ago may have submerged vast expanses along
the Mediterranean coast inhabited by early cultures.[22]If we move beyond Egypt, however, we find that by the Eighth Millennium B.C. there were already major city-sites around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Two particularly well-attested examples are ancient Jericho in Palestine and Catal H�y�k in Turkey.Catal H�y�k, a city built of mud bricks and timber, dates back to at least the late-Seventh Millennium B.C.. This was no primitive settlement, however; rather, the known remains demonstrate a sophistication and opulence previously unimagined by archaeologists for such a remote period in time.The inhabitants built elaborate houses and shrines,
covered walls with paintings and reliefs, and apparently had a rich
and complex symbolic and religious tradition.[23]Jericho dates back to the Ninth Millennium B.C. and the city-site
included a massive stone wall and tower, and a ditch cut in the bedrock-all
dating from ca. 8000 B.C. The remains of the stone wall are
at least six and one-half feet (two meters) thick and still stand
in places twenty feet (six meters) high (nobody knows howhigh it was
originally). Outside of this protecting wall, a ditch was excavated
into the solid bedrock to a depth of nine feet (2.7 meters) and a
width of twenty-seven feet (8.2 meters). Inside
the wall are the remains of a stone tower thirty feet (9.1 meters)
in diameter, the ruins of this structure still standing thirty feet
(9.1 meters) high. ln the center of the Jericho tower is a flight
of steps built from huge stone slabs. This construction has been compared
favorably to the towers seen on the great medieval castles of Europe.[24]The evidence of Jericho, in particular, suggests that the Sphinx complex-the sculpture and its associated stone temples-would not have been a totally isolated phenomenon in the Neolithic world: Other massive stone structures were being built around the Mediterranean as early as 10, 000 years ago.Where Do We Go from Here?This is a project that is continuing to develop and unfold. More
research is needed. An immediate task to be undertaken, in my opinion,
is additional seismic studies within the Sphinx enclosure specifically,
and on the Giza Plateau generally. I would also like to eventually
acquire permission to sample the limestones of the Plateau.
With such samples, I could perhaps determine more accurately the exact
nature and mode of weathering observable on the Sphinx and other structures
of the Plateau; and there is even the possibility of attempting to
date the exposure age of the surface of the rock (which, in turn,
could date the initial carving of the Sphinx) by measuring the concentration
of isotopes produced in situ on the surface of the rock by the bombardment
of cosmic rays.[25] Likewise, it
would be extremely useful to be allowed to take some cores of the
limestone, especially on the Plateau immediately adjacent to the Sphinx
ditch, in order to look at the various weathering products and mineralogical
changes produced at depth. I am also interested in trying to obtain
some isotopic dates on the earliest mortar used in conjunction with
the first repair campaigns to the Sphinx. [1] Recent work on the stratigraphy,
sedimentology and general geology of the Giza Plateau is summarized in: T. Aigner,
‘Event-stratification in nummulits accumulations and in shell beds from the
Eoceine of Egypt,’ in G. Einsele and A. Seilacher, eds., Cyclic and Event
Stratification (Berlin, 1982), 248-262; T. Aigner, ‘A Pliocene cliff-line
around the Giza Pyramids Plateau, Egypt,’ Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclimatol.,
Palaeoecol. 42 (1983a), 313-322; T. Aigner, ‘ZurGeologie und Geoarchaeologie
des Pyramidenplateaus van Giza, Aegypten,’ Natur und Museum 112 (1983b),
377-388; T. Aigner, ‘Facies and origin of nummulitic buildups: an example from
the Giza Pyramids Plateau (Middle Eocene, Egypt),’ N. Jb. Geol. Palaont.
Abh. 166 (1983c), 347-368; K. O. Emery, ‘Weathering of the Great Pyramid,’
J. Sediment Petrol. 30 (1960), 140-143; K. L. Gauri, ‘Geologic study
of the Sphinx,’ Newsletter of the American Research Center in Egypt 127(1984),
24-43; K. L. Gauri, ‘How Old is the Sphinx?’ Abstracts for the 1992 Annual
Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Chicago,
1992), 202; K. L. Gauri and G. C. Holdren, ‘Deterioration of the stone of the
Great Sphinx,’ NARCE 114 (1981), 35-47; Geological Survey of Egypt, Cairo,
Geological Map of Greater Cairo Area (I 983), Scale 1:100,000; M. Lehner,
‘The Development of the Giza Necropolis: The Khufu Project,’ Mitt. des Deutschen
Archaologischen lnst., Cairo, Abt. 41 (1985), 109-143; R. Said, The Geology
of Egypt (Amsterdam, 1962); P. Said, The Geological Evolution of the
River Nits (New York, 1981); R. Said, ‘The geological evolution of the River
Nile in Egypt,’ Z. Geomorphol., N.F. 26 (1982), 305-314; R. Said, ed.,
The Geology of Egypt (Rotterdam, 1990); R. Said and L. Martin, ‘Cairo
Area geological excursion notes,’ in F.A. Reilly, ed., Guidebook to the Geology
and Archaeology of Egypt (Petroleum Exploration Society of Libya, Sixth
Annual Field Conference, 1964), 107-121; R. M. Schoch, ‘How Old is the Sphinx?,’
Abstracts for the 1992 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (Chicago, 1992), 202; R. M. Schoch and J. A. West,
‘Redating the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt,’ Geological Society of America,
abstracts with programs 25:5 (1991), A253; M. Sears, “Nummulites: Time capsules
of the desert sands,” Rotunda, The Magazine of the Royal Ontario Museum
13:1 (Fall, 1990), 12-19. [ back ] [2] For instance, J. Baines and J. Malek, Atlas of Ancient
Egypt (Oxford, 1980), 36, state that Khafre (= Chephren, = Khephren) ruled
Egypt from 2520 to 2494 B.C. [ back] [3] “As to the exact age of the Sphinx, and to whom we should
attribute its erection, no definite facts are known, and we have not one single
contemporary inscription to enlighten us upon this point”: from S. Hassan, The
Sphinx: Its History in the Light of Recent Excavations (Cairo, 1949), 75.
The current standard attribution of the Great Sphinx and its associated temples
to Khafre seems to be based on four major pieces of evidence: 1) a statue of
Khafre recovered during the Nineteenth Century from the Valley Temple; 2) an
ambiguous (and now effaced) inscription on a New Kingdom stela of ca.
1400 B.C.; 3) an alleged similarity between the face of the Great Sphinx and
that of Khafre; and 4) the physical proximity of the Great Sphinx to Khafre’s
pyramid. As Hassan and J. A. West (Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of
Ancient Egypt [New York, 1979], 215-220) and others have noted, all of this
evidence is circumstantial and none of it proves that the Sphinx was carved
by order of Khafre.
At present the consensus among Egyptol…