Q:

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

A:

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.

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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