The Great Sphinx of Giza in Pictures - 8

Sphinx in Pictures

The Sphinx with the Dream Stela under cover

The Sphinx with the Dream Stela under cover,
by an unknown late nineteenth-century photographer.

Another photograph of the time shows the Dream Stela covered over with a dark cloth (its upper part at least) to protect the design at the top of the inscription, if not all of the inscription itself. Masonry lies about between the paws and in front of the little altar discovered by Caviglia: presumably remains (afterwards relaid) of the paving of Roman times. A tiny figure in his black djellaba sits at the neck in the shade of the massive head, giving an unusually good idea of the colossal scale of the monument.

Baraize's work from 1925 into the early '30s achieved a more complete clearance of the immediate Sphinx enclosure than had been made before in modern times. A photograph from the late '20s shows, most strikingly, the Roman-period paving of the area in front of the Sphinx. The Sphinx's head (now favored with the cement extensions of the head-dress) is framed between the Khafre and Menkaure pyramids like Horus on the Horizon. This photograph was taken with a wide-angle lens that has exaggerated the size of the paws in relation to the chest and head, but it has made it possible to see very clearly the eroded nature of the south wall, in particular, of the immediate Sphinx enclosure and the way, behind the Sphinx, that the strata rise to the north (they also rise to the west).

The Sphinx as revealed by the clearances and restorations of Baraize in the late 1920

The Sphinx as revealed by the clearances

(and restorations) of Baraize in

the late 1920s. Photo: Lehnert and Landrock.

On top of the north face of the immediate Sphinx enclosure (to the right in the photograph) Baraize's extra walling can be seen: it was removal of this walling in the area at the bottom right of this photograph that revealed how the south-west corner of the temple of Amenophis II overhung the corridor leading to the Sphinx from the original Sphinx temple (beneath our feet in this photograph and cleared later on by Baraize and then by Selim Hassan).

To add to the questionable effect of the cement head-dress extensions added by Baraize, the Second World War saw the building of a pier up the Sphinx's breast, topped with sandbags, to support the head against, one supposes, the threat of bomb blast. The wartime photograph also shows the location before the recent road was made up to the Great Pyramid. Just over the Sphinx's left shoulder can be seen the end of an ancient mud-brick wall: beyond it is the continuing western face of the wider Sphinx enclosure. At the extreme right are some of the tombs cut into the north face of the Sphinx enclosure that Professor Selim Hassan held to indicate that the enclosure (and therefore the Sphinx) were not cut out after Old Kingdom times.

The Sphinx in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Sphinx by Sebah, in the second half of the nineteenth century.

A modern color photograph shows the present state of the Sphinx, lying in its highly eroded state in its immediate deep-cut enclosure, with the pyramid of Khafre to the left (with some of its casing still in place at the top) and the pyramid of Khufu to the right. The built-on elements of the monument, including the tail curling up at the haunches and the box at bottom left-center that is probably a New Kingdom shrine-base (for a statue of Osiris) contrast with the very worn state of the living rock of the body. Over the fully clad foreleg at bottom right, the top of the Dream Stela of Tuthmosis IV can be seen. (Above that in the distance at the foot of the Great Pyramid we can see the museum housing the wooden boat of Khufu found nearby.)

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