The former Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass argued against claims that there was another sphinx which was destroyed in the past. CAIRO, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — Egypt’s top archaeologist Zahi Hawass denied allegations about presence of a city and tunnels under the Great. Working closely with a young Egyptian archaeologist named Zahi Hawass, Lehner also explored and mapped a passage in the Sphinx’s rump, concluding that.

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When Mark Lehner was a teenager in the late s, his parents introduced hzwass to the writings of the famed clairvoyant Edgar Cayce.

During one of his trances, Cayce, who died insaw that refugees from the lost city of Atlantis buried their secrets in a hall of records under the Sphinx and that the hall would be discovered before the end of the 20th century. When the foundation sponsored a group tour of the Giza plateau—the site of the Sphinx and the pyramids on the western outskirts of Cairo—Lehner tagged along. Lehner married an Egyptian woman and spent the ensuing years plying his drafting skills to win work mapping archaeological sites all over Egypt.

Inhe joined Stanford Research Institute scientists using state-of-the-art remote-sensing equipment to analyze the bedrock xphinx the Sphinx. They found only the cracks and fissures expected of ordinary limestone formations. No human endeavor has been more associated with mystery than the sphinc, ancient lion that has a human head and is seemingly resting on the rocky plateau a stroll from the great pyramids.

Little was known for certain about who erected it or when, what it represented and precisely how it related to the pharaonic monuments nearby. The research earned him s;hinx doctorate in Egyptology at Yale. Hawass, his friend and frequent collaborator, is the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and controls access to the Sphinx, the pyramids and other government-owned sites and artifacts.

Applying his archaeological sleuthing to the surrounding two-square-mile Giza plateau with its pyramids, temples, sphjnx and hqwass of tombs, Lehner helped confirm what others had speculated—that some parts of the Giza complex, the Sphinx included, make up a vast sacred machine designed to harness the power of the sun to sustain the earthly and divine order. The Sphinx was not hxwass piece by shpinx but was carved from a single mass of limestone exposed when workers dug a horseshoe-shaped quarry in the Giza plateau.

Approximately 66 feet tall and feet long, it is one of the largest and oldest monolithic statues in the world. I gained sudden empathy for what a mouse must feel like when cornered by a cat. Nobody knows hawasd original name. Sphinx is the human-headed lion in ancient Greek mythology; the term likely came into use some 2, years after the statue was built. There are hundreds of tombs at Giza with hieroglyphic inscriptions dating back some 4, years, but not one mentions the statue.

The face, though better preserved than most of the statue, has been battered by centuries of weathering and vandalism.

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Archaeological excavations in the early 19th century found pieces of its carved stone beard and a royal cobra emblem from its headdress. Traces of blue and yellow paint elsewhere suggest to Lehner that the Sphinx was once decked out in gaudy comic book colors.

Then, ina Genoese adventurer, Capt. Giovanni Battista Caviglia, led men in the first modern attempt to dig hawase the Sphinx. They could not hold back the sand, which poured into their excavation pits nearly as fast as they could dig it ssphinx. The Egyptian archaeologist Selim Hassan finally freed the statue from the sand in the late s.

The question of who built the Sphinx has long vexed Egyptologists and archaeologists. Then, inFrench archaeologist and engineer Emile Baraize probed the sand directly in front of the Sphinx and discovered yet another Old Kingdom building—now called the Sphinx Temple—strikingly similar in its ground plan to the ruins Mariette had already found.


Limestone is the result of mud, coral and the shells of plankton-like creatures compressed together over tens of millions of years.

The Sphinx is Safe

Looking at samples from the Sphinx Temple and the Sphinx itself, Aigner and Lehner inventoried the different fossils making up the limestone. The fossil fingerprints showed that the blocks used to build the wall of the temple must have come from the ditch surrounding the Sphinx.

Apparently, workmen, probably spninx ropes and wooden sledges, hauled away the quarried blocks to construct the temple uawass the Sphinx was being carved out of the stone. That Khafre arranged for construction of his pyramid, the temples and the Sphinx seems increasingly likely. But who carried out the backbreaking work of creating the Sphinx? Inan American tourist was riding in the desert half a mile south of the Sphinx when she was thrown from her horse after it stumbled on a low mud-brick wall.

Hawass investigated and discovered an Old Kingdom cemetery. Some people were spinx there, with tombs belonging to overseers—identified by inscriptions recording their names and titles—surrounded by the humbler tombs of ordinary laborers. Near the cemetery, nine years later, Lehner discovered his Lost City.

He and Hawass had been aware since the mids that there were buildings at that site. At its heart were four clusters of eight long mud-brick barracks. Each structure had the elements of an ordinary house—a pillared porch, sleeping platforms and a kitchen—that was enlarged to accommodate around 50 people sleeping side by side. The barracks, Lehner says, could have accommodated between 1, to 2, workers—or more, if the sleeping quarters were on two levels.

Lehner thinks ordinary Egyptians may have rotated in and out of the work crew under some sort of national service or feudal obligation to their superiors.

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Forty-five centuries ago, the Egyptians lacked iron or bronze tools. They mainly used stone hammers, along with copper chisels for detailed finished work.

Lehner and Brown estimate one laborer might carve a cubic foot of stone in a week. At that rate, they say, it would take people three years to complete the Sphinx. Exactly what Khafre wanted the Sphinx to do for him or his kingdom is a matter of debate, but Lehner has theories about that, too, based partly on his work at the Sphinx Temple.

Remnants of the temple walls are visible today in front of the Sphinx. They surround a courtyard enclosed by sphjnx pillars. The temple plan is laid out on an east-west axis, clearly marked by a pair of small niches or sanctuaries, each about the size of a closet. The Swiss archaeologist Herbert Ricke, who studied the temple in the spninx s, concluded the axis symbolized the movements of the hawsas an east-west line points to where the sun rises and sets twice a year at the equinoxes, halfway between midsummer and midwinter.

Lehner spotted something perhaps even more remarkable. If you stand in the eastern niche during sunset at the March or September equinoxes, you see a dramatic astronomical event: The Sphinx itself, it seems, symbolized the pharaoh presenting offerings to the sun god aphinx the court of the temple. Equally intriguing, Lehner sphibx that when hwass stands near the Sphinx during the summer solstice, the sun appears to set midway between the silhouettes of the pyramids of Khafre and Khufu.

Collectively, Lehner describes the complex as a cosmic engine, intended to harness the power of the sun and other gods to resurrect the soul of the pharaoh. This transformation not only guaranteed eternal life for the dead ruler but also sustained the universal natural order, including the passing of the seasons, the annual flooding of sphiinx Nile and the daily lives of the people. In this sacred cycle of death and revival, the Sphinx may have stood for many things: There are sphihx the Sphinx was unfinished.


The north edge of the ditch surrounding the Sphinx contains segments of bedrock that are only partially quarried. Apparently, the workers walked off the job. It would sit ignored for the next seven centuries, when it spoke to a young royal.

In a dream, the statue, calling itself Horemakhet—or Horus-in-the-Horizon, the earliest known Egyptian name for the statue—addressed him. It complained about its ruined body and the encroaching sand. Horemakhet then offered Thutmose the throne in exchange for help.

Whether or not the prince actually had this dream is unknown. Across Egypt, sphinxes appeared everywhere in sculptures, reliefs and paintings, often depicted as a potent symbol of royalty and the sacred power of the sun.

In keeping with the legend of Horemakhet, Thutmose may well have led the first attempt to restore the Sphinx. When Lehner is in the United States, typically about six months per year, he works out of an office in Boston, the headquarters of Ancient Egypt Research Associates, a nonprofit organization Lehner directs that excavates the Lost City and trains young Egyptologists.

At a meeting with him at his office this past fall, he unrolled one of his countless maps of the Sphinx on a table. Pointing to a section where an old tunnel had cut into the statue, he said the elements had taken a toll on the Sphinx in the first few centuries after it was built.

The porous rock soaks up moisture, degrading the limestone. The Sahara has not always been a wilderness of sand dunes. The desert sands sprouted rolling grasslands punctuated by verdant valleys, prompting people to begin settling the region in 7, B. That date range is years later than prevailing theories had suggested. This transitional period was characterized by cycles of ever-decreasing rains and extended dry spells.

Support for this theory can be found in recent research conducted by Judith Bunbury, a geologist at the University of Cambridge. After studying sediment samples in the Nile Valley, she concluded that climate change in the Giza region began early in the Old Kingdom, with desert sands arriving in force late in the era.

His investigations at the Lost City revealed that the site had eroded dramatically—with some structures reduced to ankle level over a period of three to four centuries after their construction. The implication is that the Sphinx and the pyramids, epic feats of engineering and architecture, were built at the end of a special time of more dependable rainfall, when pharaohs could marshal labor forces on an epic scale.

But then, over the centuries, the landscape dried out and harvests grew more precarious. Today, the Sphinx is still eroding. Three years ago, Egyptian authorities learned that sewage dumped in a nearby canal was causing a rise in the local water table. Moisture was drawn up into the body of the Sphinx and large flakes of limestone were peeling off the statue. Hawass arranged for workers to drill test holes in the bedrock around the Sphinx.

They found the water table was only 15 feet beneath the statue.

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Pumps have been installed nearby to divert the groundwater. So far, so good. All of us have to dedicate our lives to nursing the Sphinx all the time. Subscribe or Give a Gift. Humans Reached the Roof of the World 40, Years. Learning to Speak Latino. Science Age of Humans. A New Treatment for Blindness. America’s Most Revolutionary Artist. At the Smithsonian Visit.

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