Day 1 in Cairo
Human head with a lion’s body. Most of us are fascinated by a particular place, structure, or era. For me, it’s the Sphinx. I’ve wanted to see it for the longest time and now I have! I’m so enamored with it, it’s my trip hashtag! #isphinxiloveyou.
It’s strange to see it in juxtaposition to the pyramids. It almost looks small, but it measures approximately 66 ft. tall and 240 ft. long.
Mark Lehner is a well respected Egyptologist who began studying the mythical monument almost 40 years ago. Some Sphinx facts:
- The Sphinx was was carved from a single mass of limestone.
- It is one of the largest and oldest monolithic statues in the world.
- Sand buried the Sphinx up to its shoulders for thousands of years.
- In 1817, Capt. Giovanni Battista Caviglia led 160 men in the first modern attempt to dig out the Sphinx, but couldn’t hold back the sand.
- Egyptian archaeologist Selim Hassan finally cleared the sand in the late 1930s.
According to Smithsonian: Nobody knows its original name. Sphinx is the human-headed lion in ancient Greek mythology; the term likely came into use some 2,000 years after the statue was built. There are hundreds of tombs at Giza with hieroglyphic inscriptions dating back some 4,500 years, but not one mentions the statue.
Most experts believe Pharaoh Khafre, who ruled Egypt during the Old Kingdom (2,600 B.C.) built the Sphinx. He was the son of Cheops (aka Khufu) who built the first pyramid. The Sphinx lines up with Khafre’s pyramid, as seen below.
The head is 30 (10m) ft. long and 14 ft. (4m) wide. Weather and vandalism have take a toll on the face, and particularly, the nose of the structure.
Efforts are underway to protect the Sphinx from erosion. When Egyptian authorities learned a local canal’s rising water table was affecting the Sphinx, they installed pumps to divert the water.
It was an incredible Day 1 in Cairo, the Great Pyramids and Sphinx – I kept thinking, I can’t believe I’m really here!