There is a depression that lies to the south of the pyramid of Chephren. Here lies a creature that has a human head and the body of a lion. It has been named ‘sphinx’, and this was the first name was bestowed upon it by the Greeks, who found a resemblance to a fabulous creature that had possessed the head of a woman, the body of the lion and wings of a bird. As per studies, the sphinx is said to have appeared in Egypt as a form of the sun god, whom they fervently worshipped. The Egyptian sphinx is generally seen to have the face of the king of the region, who wears his traditional headdress and has the lion’s body. You might even find instances of sphinxes possessing the heads of rams. The animal ram is generally associated with one of the Egyptian gods, Amun.
Location and More:
The Great Sphinx of Giza is said to sit to the northeast of the Temple of Chephren’s Valley. The place where it sits today was supposed to be a quarry in the past. It is said that the workers of Chephren were the ones who built the sphinx by shaping the huge stone into the body of the lion; and they finally gave it the face of their king. This building and carving process, as per records, would have taken place over 4,500 years ago. The sphinx is known to face in the direction of the east, since that is the direction of the rising sun. Given the fact that the temple is in front of the sphinx and both are in the direction of the rising sun, the architecture and planning of this temple and sphinx are said to resemble the sun temples that were to be built later in the day, by the kings of the Vth dynasty.
King Thutmose and the Great Sphinx of Giza:
The figure of the Great Sphinx had been buried for most of its life. No one had known of its existence, given the fact that it had been built way earlier, and there had been no written records of it. There is said to be a stela that is located between the frontal paws of the figure, which has been placed there on the orders and the commissioning of King Thutmose. King Thutmose IV was still a prince when the incident happened. It is said that he went hunting one and fell asleep under the shade of a sphinx. When he was asleep, he saw a dream where the sphinx instructed him to clear away the sand because it was choking him (the sphinx). There was a deal struck, as part of the dream, that if Thutmose did clear the sand, the sphinx would help him become the king. Thutmose kept his word and cleared the sand; and the sphinx rewarded him with kingship.
Debates and Discussions:
The sphinx of Giza is built from soft sandstone. Given this, it would have disappeared long time back if it had been exposed to air. The sand that it was buried in for so long was what protected it from getting eroded. It would have been lost to mankind long before our times.
The body of the sphinx measures up to about 60 meters in length and its height is about 20 meters long. Just the face is about 4 meters wide; and the eyes contribute to 2 meters again. The uraeus (the sacred cobra that should have been on the headdress) and the nose, along with the ritual beard are missing today. The beard is said to be on display in the British museum. Wind, humidity and smog seem to be taking a toll on the beauty of this monument. If anything, the efforts that have been conducted to restore the structure have only seemed to make things worse.
There is a still a lot of debate over who is personified in the form of the Great Sphinx of Giza. While some people believe that it could be Chephren himself; others believe that it is guardian deity who was there to overlook his tomb.
However, one thing is for sure. The Sphinx is a symbol of royal power; and there is the feeling of it being a protective deity.