The Sphinx remains one of the most mysterious structures in the history of the world. While many of the remnants of ancient civilizations have long since passed into the dustbin of history having been destroyed either by the ravages of man or the elements, the Sphinx still remains standing and still inspires the imagination of millions of people the world over. Despite the fact that the Sphinx is easily recognized by virtually everyone in the world, most people know very little about what the Sphinx actually is.The Great Sphinx is believed to be the most immense stone sculpture in the round ever made by man. However, it must be noted that the Sphinx is not an isolated monument and that it must be examined in the context of its surroundings. Specifically, like many of Egypt’s monuments, it is a complex that consists not only of the great statue itself, but also of its old temple, a New Kingdom temple and some other small structures.It is important to note that just because the Sphinx has survived many thousands of years does not mean that it will continue to survive.
Age and the elements can gradually wear down the composition of the Sphinx, sending into a state of decay. Now, some may point to the previously mentioned fact that the Sphinx has survived “so far, so good”, but the reality is that such a survival has been somewhat of an anomaly. In reality, the Sphinx should have wasted away many years ago. This is why there has been a significant movement towards the conservation of the Sphinx. So how did the anomaly occur? It occurred when there was a conscious effort taken to preserve the Sphinx and that effort, the very first effort, was in 1400 B.C.
when it was undertaken by Thutmosis IV.Evidence for Thutmosis IV’s campaign is preserved in the so-called dream Stele he erected between the two paws of the Sphinx in ca. 1400 BC. According to the story he inscribed in the Stella, prince Thutmosis went hunting in the Valley of Gazelles southeast of the Sphinx. The Sphinx spoke to him in a dream and asked the prince to free him from the sand.
The Sphinx (Hor-em-Akht) offered in return the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. From this story we know that the Sphinx was buried up to its neck in sand by 1400 BC.This work by Thutmosis IV was the first attempt at conserving the Sphinx. There had been other recorded instances of major restoration movements at different points in history. These restoration points occurred during the Saite period circa 500 B.C; then another conservation effort was made during the Roman Empire that was an extensive and protracted period of restoration that ranged from 30 B.C.
to 200 A.D; then in the early twentieth century under the pioneering work of Emile Baraize from 1925 to 1936; and then another extended campaign that was overseen by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization from 1955 to 1987.Clearly, all of these restoration efforts have proven successful and are the main reason that the Sphinx is still standing in Egypt today. Much of this is owed to Thutmosis’ vision, as it is doubtful there would have been anything to restore in 30 BC if he had not undertaken the upkeep of the Sphinx 1400 years prior.Will the Sphinx continue to remain in fine shape? If the lessons of the past are perpetually repeated, then it is quite likely that it will continue to survive.
If there is an abandonment of the principles of the past, then the Sphinx will not survive. Hopefully, the right decisions will be made as they were in the past.Works Cited Anon. (2006) “Sphinx Facts and Schematics” 13 November 2006 URL
htm”>http://www.guardians.net/hawass/sphinx2.htmWinston, Allen. (2003) “The Great Sphinx of Giza” 13 November 2006, URL http://guardians.net/egypt/sphinx/