Archaeological Findings

Whose face is on the Great Sphinx?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. The Giza Necropolis, located near Cairo, Egypt, is one of the most celebrated archaeological sites in the world. Within the complex are four major features -- the Great Pyramid, two lesser pyramids and the Great Sphinx -- plus many smaller treasures, cemeteries and monuments. The Great Pyramid was a tomb built for an ancient Egyptian pharaoh named Khufu (called Cheops by the Greeks). The two other pyramids, in order from largest to smallest, were the tombs of Khufu's son, Khafre (also known as Chephren), and Khufu's grandson, Menkure (also known as Mykerinos). All pyramids were built during the Fourth Dynasty, and each was intended to protect the body of its dead king -- as well as the stock of supplies that he would require in the afterlife.

    Connected to the middle of the three pyramids is Egypt's Great Sphinx -- a gigantic statue of a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man. There are many mysteries surrounding the Great Sphinx, but Egyptologists mostly agree on the identity of the sphinx's face. They say it is the face of the pharaoh Khafre (also called Chephren). In its unweathered condition more than 4,500 years ago, the Great Sphinx was actually a very accurate representation of Khafre's face. The leader's burial pyramid is built from the same material as the Great Sphinx; it also is almost perfectly aligned with the structure [source: National Geographic]. While many ancient Egyptian monuments and tombs were ceaselessly plundered, vandalized and damaged throughout the ages, the monuments of the Giza complex remain in fairly good condition. Subsequent pharaohs tended to have great respect for the buildings -- especially the Great Sphinx -- and sought to keep them protected, even performing occasional restorations [source: Ancient Egypt Online]. Though the Great Sphinx's face is damaged, it could be in much worse condition than it is.

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