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Sphinx definition and meaning

 
Sphinxes are majestic monuments of Egyptian civilization. Sphinxes were in the forms of tombs so that the tombs inside could be guarded. The name 'sphinx' which means 'strangler' was first given by the Greeks to a fabulous creature which had the head of a woman and the body of a lion and the wings of a bird. 
 
However some believe that the name may come from the Ancient Egyptian phrase 'shesep ankh', which means living image. Worship of sun god Ra is associated with the origin of sphinx.

 
 Ancient Egypt Sphinx
 Ancient Egypt Sphinx
 

Ancient Egypt Sphinx origin

The origin of sphinx dates back to the Old Kingdom of Egypt. First sphinxes were made by the rulers of fourth dynasty. They were carved out of a single knoll of stone and have the head of a man with the face of a pharaoh, a ram, or a hawk.
 
 It has the body, legs, and tail of a lion. The sphinx has no markings to date it. The Egyptians used names such as "balhib" or "bilhaw" for these structures, as texts suggest. Most of them are male, but female sphinxes were not unknown. The face of a sphinx usually portrays a pharaoh, as he is supposed to be an incarnation of the sun god.

Ancient Egypt Sphinx riddle

 
The riddle of the sphinx is interesting. If someone walks by the sphinx, it would ask them a question, "What has one voice, and yet goes from four legs, to two legs, to three legs?" Human being was the answer because he crawled in his childhood and develops as an adult with two legs. 
 
Finally when he turned old, he was to carry a stick which was the third leg. The answer would be eaten by the sphinx if his answer was incorrect.
 
Ancient Egypt Sphinx

Ancient Egypt Sphinx
 

Ancient Egypt Sphinx history

The oldest and the most prominent among all sphinxes is the Great Sphinx at Giza, built around 2500 BC by the pharaoh Khafre of 4th dynasty. It is 65 feet high, 260 feet long and 20 feet wide and faces east. The Great Sphinx has the body of a lion and the face of a man. It is the largest single-stone structure in the world. 
 
The face is broad and square in shape, with a royal cobra emblem embossed on the forehead. The body of this gigantic structure has paws, claws and a tail, just like a lion. Parts of head cloth can be seen behind the ears. Traces of paint near one ear show that it was colorful.
 
 

Ancient Egypt Sphinx facts


900 such sphinxes found in the temple of god Amun built by king Ramesses II. Some of the other famous sphinxes are granite sphinx of female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, alabaster sphinx of Memphis. 
 
Many sphinxes have been damaged over time due to many reasons like foreign invasion, humidity, pollution. Attempts are being made to preserve these grand monuments.
 
  

Ancient Egypt Sphinx pictures

 
Ancient Egypt Sphinx
 
Ancient Egypt Sphinx

Ancient Egypt Sphinx

Ancient Egypt Sphinx

Ancient Egypt Sphinx


 
 
 
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