Q:

What does the Sphinx symbolize?

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Quick Answer

The Great Sphinx of Egypt symbolizes the royalty of Egypt as links between the man and deity and simultaneously acts as a symbol of man's dominance over nature. Some scholars also suggest that the Sphinx is a depiction of the solar god Atum. The sphinx's majestic and imposing appearance serve as a form of warning to looters entering the Necropolis.

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Full Answer

The Sphinx has an unique design: a human-animal hybrid that combines a lion's body with a man's head. Ancient Egyptians considered such mixed Egyptians to signify the divine. Depictions of the gods often evoked animal images. Thus, the Sphinx represents a composite of the mortal and the immortal. By placing the head of the pharaoh on the lion's body, the Egyptians were expressing the notion that their ruler was more than a man. The pharaoh was descended from deity and served as the bridge between two worlds.

This way of thought had its roots in man's social evolution. In the primitive days of humanity, men lived in fear and awe of wild animals, which seemed superior by virtue of their strength, speed and ferociousness. However, as man's collective intelligence increased, so did his ability to tame nature, and this bolstered his confidence. The placement of the pharaoh's head on the animal body represents humanity's dominion of nature and chaos.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is the Great Sphinx so important?

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    The Sphinx is important because it is one of the earliest and largest ancient Egyptian carvings. It is also famous because no one knows exactly when it was carved. There is no concrete information about why it was carved or its significance.

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  • Q:

    Who built the Sphinx?

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    Archaeological evidence suggests that the Sphinx was built under the rule of the pharaoh Khafre, who reigned between 2520 and 2494 B.C. However, some archaeologists and Egyptologists hold other views, since unlike temples and pyramids, the Sphinx could not hold statues or the name of the pharaoh responsible for it.

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  • Q:

    How long did it take to build the Great Sphinx?

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    There is inconclusive evidence as to when the Great Sphinx of Giza was carved and how long it took. The most commonly accepted theory is that it was carved in place around 2500 B.C.E, during or after the reign of the Old Kingdom pharaoh Khafra (also known as Khephren).

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  • Q:

    How did the Sphinx lose its nose?

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    Although historians cannot be certain, it is believed that the nose of the Great Sphinx in Giza was destroyed by an Egyptian man who was angry that his offering to the gods did not result in an answered prayer to control the flood cycle. During the 15th century, historian al-Maqrizi noted that the man was later put to death for vandalizing the Sphinx, although there's no way to prove the validity of the tale.

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