Sunday, April 1, 2007

About Art - The Great Sphinx of Giza

The Great Sphinx of Giza is a large half-human, half-lion Sphinx statue in Egypt, on the Giza Plateau at the west bank of the River Nile, near modern-day Cairo (29.975299 degrees E 31.137496 degrees E). It is one of the largest single-stone statues on Earth, and is commonly believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians in the 3rd millennium BC. What name ancient Egyptians called the statue is not completely known. The commonly used name “Sphinx” was given to it in Antiquity based on the legendary Greek creature with the body of a lion, the head of a woman and the wings of an eagle, though Egyptian sphinxes have the head of a man. The word “sphinx” comes from the Greek Σφινξ — Sphinx, apparently from the verb σφινγω — sphingo, meaning “to strangle,” as the sphinx from Greek mythology strangled anyone incapable of answering her riddle. A few, however, have postulated it to be a corruption of the ancient Egyptian Shesep-ankh, a name applied to royal statues in the Fourth Danasty though it came to be more specifically associated with the Great Sphinx in the New Kingdom. In medieval texts, the names balhib and bilhaw referring to the Sphinx are attested, including by Egyptian historian Maqrizi, which suggest Coptic constructions, but the Egyptian Arabic name Abul-Hôl, which translates as “Father of Terror,” came to be more widely used. Carved out of the surrounding limestone bedrock, it is 57 metres (260 feet) long, 6 m (20 ft) wide, and has a height of 20 m (65 ft), making it the largest single-stone statue in the world. Blocks of stone weighing upwards of 200 tons were quarried in the construction phase to build the adjoining Sphinx Temple. It is located on the west bank of the Nile River within the confines of the Giza pyramid field. The Great Sphinx faces due east, with a small temple between its paws. In 1817 that the first modern dig, supervised by Captain Cavigilia, uncovered the Sphinx’s chest completely. The entirety of the Sphinx was finally dug out in 1925.

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