Gaston Maspero, the French Egyptologist and second director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo believed that the Great Sphinx was “the most ancient monument in Egypt.”
Of all the ancient monuments that have been carved and built throughout the history of mankind, none are as striking, mysterious and symbolic as the Great Sphinx of Giza.
Thought to have been the product of Fourth Dynasty workers, mainstream Egyptologists maintain that the Great Sphinx of Giza was commissioned by Pharaoh Khafre, the builder of the second-largest pyramid at Giza, and successor to Khufu.
However, most of what we know about the Great Sphinx is shrouded in profound mystery.
Although scholars agree the Sphinx is the world’s largest and oldest statues, some of the most basic characteristics of the statue have remained a subject for debate for centuries. We have absolutely no idea when it was built, who built it, and what its original purpose was.
Similar to the pyramids which the crouched Sphinx seems to protect, there are no ancient writings that mention the origin of the enigmatic state carved with the body of a lion, and the head of a man.
Its name remains a profound mystery.
Although we call the statue the Sphinx, we gave this name to the Egyptian statue in classical antiquity, several thousand years after the statue was initially carved.
The Sphinx refers to a mythological beast popular in ancient Greece: The Greek Sphinx has the body of a lion, a woman’s head, and wings of an eagle.
However, the Egyptian version of the sphinx seems to be an evolution, as there are no ancient Egyptian Sphinxes that were carved with wings.
It is impossible to identify the original name of the statue, since for reasons we cannot understand, the statue does not appear in any known inscription of the Old Kingdom, and there are no inscriptions that mention its construction date or initial purpose.