Egypt is often associated with ancient times, ancient rulers and ancient gods, but it is also a modern and growing country. So workers at an Egyptian infrastructure project had to halt their work for a week when they stumbled upon a statue resembling a sphinx.
The discovery took place on the Al-Kabbash Road Project, connecting the temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak — which date back to around 1400 BC. T he discovery of the statue brought the construction process to a halt as the statue could not be moved.
We have very little information on the subject and photos are limited. According to Luxor’s director general of antiquities, Dr Mohamed Abdel Aziz, workers found a statue of a “human-headed lion body”, but it could not be moved “due to the nature of the environment in which it was found.”
Archaeologists want to preserve the statue without taking unnecessary risks, so it will stay where it was found for now. However, if the statue actually has the body of a lion and a human head, it could be the famous Egyptian mythological sphinx, which means that it could have been commissioned for someone very important from that time.
The sphinx was considered a symbol of royalty in ancient Egypt. Many pharaohs had their statue engraved on the body of a lion to symbolize their close relationship with the solar deity Sekhmet, who like other Egyptian gods had an animal form, in his case a lioness.
The most famous sphinx statue is of course the one that dominates the Great Pyramids of Giza. It is 73 meters long and 20 meters high and t hought to have been built by Pharaoh Khafre as he was ruler at the time of construction (around 2550 BCE to 2450 BCE). It is also the oldest and largest known monumental sculpture in the world.
Unfortunately, this new discovery is not the infamous “Second Sphinx” that many UK tabloids have been touting for the sensational effect (the headlines are exactly what you imagine). First of all, a few sphinxes have been discovered over the years in this region thanks to its proximity to the Valley of the Kings, which is only 6 kilometres away.
Second, the rumoured “Second Sphinx”— since they usually appear in pairs, next to or opposite each other— which would have been mentioned by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Muslims, would have been constructed on the opposite bank of the Nile to the Great Sphinx, placed there to represent the dividing line between northern and southern Egypt.
However, this find is still exciting and it helps to connect the remaining dots of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs and their civilisations.