Q:

What happened to the nose of the Great Sphinx of Giza?

A:

Quick Answer

Archaeologists believe the Great Sphinx of Gaza's nose fell off due to a combination of weathering and human vandalism. While Napoleon Bonaparte is often blamed for this destruction, the missing nose has been gone since at least the 14th century.

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Full Answer

Currently, the most accepted theory explaining the fate of the nose is from medieval Arab scholarship. Makrizi, Rashidi and others blame the Sphinx's vandalization on Mohammed Sa'im al-Dahr. Described as a "fanatical Sufi," al-Dahr was allegedly upset that Egyptian peasants still paid tribute to the great statue, even though Islam specifically forbids graven images. The peasants, in their turn, allegedly lynched al-Dahr and buried him near the Sphinx. Archaeologists have identified the marks of chisels on the scarred statue, indicating that the nose was likely removed by force and carried away.

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