Eagle Statue

April 23, 2009 2:10 AM | Alaskan Eagles

Eagle Statue

The Origins Of The Greek And Egyptian Sphinx

Along the plateau of Giza, facing the rising sun, the Great Sphinx statue still sits. Visiting the site it is impossible to remain unmoved; the Sphinx is gigantic; 241 ft in length, 20 feet wide, and 66.34. It is one of the earliest AND most significant statues on the globe, but apart from these measurements, many of us fully understand almost nothing about it. No-one has learned for certain whose face the sculpture bears, exactly who had it constructed or even the key reason why. We can say for sure that the Great Sphinx may be so ancient the Pharaohs (including Rameses II) regarded it as an incredibly ancient and sent trades-people to restore it, as in their period the vast majority of the historic sculpture had vanished underneath the sands. Beyond that we know of no more writings to mention it’s construction and we don’t know its name. Why do we even call this ‘The Sphinx’?

Greek mythology tells of the mythical beast which had the body of a lion as well as the head of a woman. This beast protected the city of Thebes, however this really is Greek Thebes, not the Egyptian city of the same name. According to legend this particular beast told every single passing traveller a riddle. â��Which beast in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and at night upon three, and the more legs it has, the less strong it be?â�� Anybody unable to answer the riddle ended up being immediately strangled by the beast and swallowed. According to legend Oedipus escaped killing with this answer “Manâ��who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then walks with a cane in old age.”  The monster then simply leaped from the cliff where she lived, to her death.  This particular monster the Greeks called a sphinx, from the Greek word which means ‘to strangle’ the result is that these kinds of ancient monuments of a mythologic beast with the physique of a lion, whether Greek statue or Egyptian statues are now labeled ‘sphinx’.

Anyone who has looked at an Egyptian statue of a sphinx might be puzzled – this really does not seem like a sculpture of a monster. Could there be some sort of mistake?  There are lots of related Egyptian statues displaying lion bodied beasts with the heads of other creatures (frequently men or rams) like the great avenue of 900 sphinxes at Thebes in Egypt, however these sphinxes (we do not actually understand what the Ancient Egyptians called them.  The Egyptian sphinx statue was a protector, the lions physique symbolized the sun god;  and that is not the only difference.

A Greek sphinx statue shows a lion’s body, a serpent’s tale and the face of a female. The lion is sitting down, her front legs vertical, but her most the most impressive feature may be the set of two eagle’s wings stretching out from her shoulder blades. Egyptian statues show a prone leonine body and commonly contain the head of a man or other creature. Most more importantly they’ve got no wings at all.

It seems odd that one word could come to represent two such different forms of an ancient statue, however the Great Sphinx again has even greater mysteries.

In 1950  R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz observed the evidence of what he presumed was water erosion inside the Sphinx Enclosure. In 1989 a further analysis by geologist, Robert  Schoch, revealed that this ‘weathering’  had been brought on by rain, yet the typical yearly rainfall in the region since 2600 BC (when archaeologists think the sphinx was built) was only one inch. This has lead quite a few authors to state that the sphinx is in fact much older than initially thought and goes from pre-dynastic times, making this particular Egyptian statue over 5000 years old.  While many respectable archaeologists say this can’t be true and present several other explanations for the water erosion effect, the belief that not one other construction on the Giza plateau reveals virtually any indication of this weathering leaves the inquiry unanswered.

Although it may perhaps lack the flamboyance of the winged Greek sphinx statue, the Great Sphinx is undoubtedly spectacular. We might not know its age or even why it was so very carefully carved from the rock within the Giza Plateau, but we have been fortunate enough to be able to enjoy this ancient statue and its mysteries, and anticipate the day when they can be completely unraveled.

About the Author

Dreaming of finding the perfect spot online to find a huge selection of ancient art?  Find a museum gift that’s sure to bring beauty and splendor to any home at Your Museum Store.

Eagle Sculptures by Chester Fields

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