The Sphinx in Egypt might have originally had the face of a lion, it is claimed. And it could be much older than previously thought, investigations led by a British geologist suggest. Egyptologists have long argued the monument outside Cairo, which has the head of a pharaoh and the body of a lion, was built soon after the first pyramid – around 4,500 years ago.
But English geologist Colin Reader who has an interest in Ancient Egypt and is also secretary of The Manchester Ancient Egypt Society found that rain erosion on the Sphinx’s enclosure suggests it was built many years before.
Mr Reader said: “A sunken palace on the Giza plateau provides further evidence that there was activity in the area before the building of the pyramids.
“It style implies that it is older than the other tombs at the site. The tomb would have been adapted and embellished by later inhabitants of the area”.
Visual effects experts used the research data to recreate the monument as it might have looked in Channel Five 2008 documentary “The Secrets of Egypt”.
The documentary reveals researchers discovered that the Sphinx’s body and head were disproportionate, suggesting it was not originally a pharaoh.
Historical architect Dr Jonathan Foyle, who worked with Mr Reader on the project, said: “The head and body were massively out of proportion.
“The reason for this could be that the Sphinx originally had an entirely different head – that of a lion.”
According to this theory, the “statue was later re-carved to be modelled on Khufu”.
To early Egyptians the lion was a much more potent symbol of power than the human face.
Given that the monument already has the body of a lion it makes sense to the experts that it also originally had the face of a lion.
During Egypt’s early history lions inhabited the wilds of Giza and surrounding areas.
The Great Sphinx is thought by most Egyptologists to represent the likeness of King Khafra.
It is also believed by others that Djadefre, the elder brother of Khafra, built the Sphinx to honour his father Khufu.
Geologist Robert Schoch concluded that the “Sphinx must be much older than currently believed after an investigation in the 1990s”.
Mr Schoch has argued that the particular weathering found on the body of the Sphinx and surrounding ‘ditch’ the monument was carved from, displays features that can only be caused from prolonged water erosion.
Mr Schoch claims the amount of water erosion the Sphinx has experienced indicates a construction date no later than the 6th millennium BC or 5th millennium BC, at least two thousand years before the widely accepted construction date and 1,500 years prior to the accepted date for the beginning of Egyptian civilisation.
Mr Reader concludes the “Sphinx is only several hundred years older than the traditionally accepted date believing the Sphinx to be a product of the Early Dynastic period”.
Because these conclusions require a re-dating of the Sphinx to an earlier time before the construction of large monuments, this theory has not been accepted by mainstream Egyptologists.