Sphinx Project: View Map

Puzzles come in piecesArabic abstract

The Sphinx.

The Sphinx.

Who built the Sphinx? The most compelling evidence that the Sphinx was built for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khafre during his reign (2520-2494 BC) is in the architecture, geology, and archaeology of the Sphinx and its related monuments.

People propose all kinds of theories about Old Kingdom (2575-2465 BC) pyramid construction and the date of the Sphinx. Few of them have examined the evidence at Giza in detail. Some theorists use the evidence selectively instead of looking at all of the available evidence together.

Khafre's funerary complex.

Khafre's funerary complex.

The Sphinx is only part of a set of structures built to serve the cult of the dead king and the sun god, Re, consisting of a pyramid, Pyramid Temple, causeway, Sphinx, Sphinx Temple, and Valley Temple. The Sphinx may have been intended to associate the king with the sun god. The ancient Egyptian general term for sphinx, shesep ankh Atum, means “living image of Atum,” Atum being both the creator god and the setting sun.

The Sphinx looks onto a temple built directly east of the statue. The alignment of the Sphinx Temple probably indicates sun worship (see sidebar). We can show that the three lower Khafre structures (Sphinx, Sphinx Temple, and Valley Temple) fit within the same archaeological sequence.

On the March and September equinoxes each year, the sun sets along the south side of the Khafre pyramid on a line extending along the right side of the Sphinx and aligned with the east-west axis of the Sphinx Temple.

The Sphinx Project

For more on AERA’s work with the Sphinx, see AERAGram Vol. 5 No. 2, Spring 2002.

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