The Great Sphinx of Giza.

Depicting Man or Beast? Can You Solve the Riddle of the Great Sphinx of Giza?


The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the most fantastic monuments of ancient Egypt. A monolith carved into the limestone bedrock of the Giza plateau, the statue depicts a mythical creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. According to legend, the Sphinx protects the tombs of the great pharaohs of Egypt and has done so ever since 2500 BC. However, in recent times, much debate has swirled around the origins and nature of this statue. Some say that erosion patterns actually indicate the Sphinx was built hundreds, if not thousands, of years earlier. Others suggest that the oddly disproportionate head suggest that originally, the statue was not of a sphinx at all, but rather of a lion or perhaps even the dog god, Anubis. As nobody may ever know the truth for certain, the Riddle of the Sphinx lives on.

The Great Sphinx of Giza.

The Great Sphinx of Giza. Source: Public Domain

The Mythical Sphinx

A sphinx is a mythical figure in Greek and Egyptian mythology. It is typically portrayed as having the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle. A sphinx can be male or female, but is always cunning and merciless. Usually, in myths, a sphinx asks riddles and if a person answers incorrect, he is eaten. Sometimes the sphinx terrorizes a village. For example, the sphinx of Boeotian Thebes “the most famous in legend, was said to have terrorized the people by demanding the answer to a riddle taught her by the Muses—What is it that has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed? —and devouring a man each time the riddle was answered incorrectly. Eventually,  Oedipus gave the proper answer: man, who crawls on all fours in infancy, walks on two feet when grown, and leans on a staff in old age. The sphinx thereupon killed herself.” (The Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016)

Oedipus and the Sphinx of Thebes, Red Figure Kylix, c. 470 BC, from Vulci, attributed to the Oedipus Painter, Vatican Museums.

Oedipus and the Sphinx of Thebes, Red Figure Kylix, c. 470 BC, from Vulci, attributed to the Oedipus Painter, Vatican Museums. (Marcus Cyron/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

At other times, as in the Great Sphinx of Giza, the creature is said to be guarding something and will not let anyone pass unless they correctly answer a riddle.

Who Built the Sphinx of Giza?

Conventional wisdom holds that the Sphinx of Giza was built during the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt under the reign of Pharaoh Khafre (2558 – 2532 BC), around the same time that the Great Pyramids were being built. The statue’s face was supposed to be made in the Pharaoh’s image. Yet, one cannot help but be confused by the appearance of such a little head on top of such a gigantic body. “If we know anything about the ancient Egyptians and their statues, we know that they always got the proportions right. In fact, we could say that they were evidently obsessed with correct proportions in everything. So why would they carve what is still even today the world's largest stone statue and get the proportions wrong?” (Temple, 2009)

Giza Plateau - Great Sphinx - front view, note the proportions of the head to larger body.

Giza Plateau - Great Sphinx - front view, note the proportions of the head to larger body. (Daniel Mayer/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

In addition, the face of the Sphinx does not look like other depictions of Khafre. “Known depictions of Khafre on statues and the Sphinx reveal many differences, though one might defend – though no one seems to have done so – that the sculptors got the precise features of Khafre slightly wrong, because of the uniqueness, the scale and challenge of working with the native rock at Gizeh, rather than with the much smaller scale and tested methodology of his known statues, some of which were recovered from the Valley Temple right next to the Sphinx.” (Coppens, 2016).

Some say that the Sphinx is more in the style of Pharaoh Khufu, Khafre’s father, and was therefore built sometime during his reign (2589 – 2566 B.C.). Others argue that it was built by Khufu’s other son, the little-known Pharaoh Djedefre (2528 – 2520 B.C.) in honor of Khufu, which explains why was in Khufu’s style and why it does not look like Khafre – it could have been made in Khufu’s likeness.

Head of a statue of Pharaoh Khafre (Einsamer Schütze/CC BY SA 3.0), and head in ivory of Pharaoh Khufu exposed in Altes Museum (Marcus Cyron/CC BY SA 3.0). Do you see a resemblance between either pharaoh with the Sphinx?

Left-right: Head of a statue of Pharaoh Khafre (Einsamer Schütze/ CC BY SA 3.0 ), and head in ivory of Pharaoh Khufu exposed in Altes Museum (Marcus Cyron/ CC BY SA 3.0 ). Do you see a resemblance between either pharaoh with the Sphinx?

The Sphinx as a Giant Lion

However, none of these theories explain the jarring disproportionate nature of the sphinx’s head. Historical architect Dr. Jonathan Foyle has said “the head and body were massively out of proportion…[and] the reason for this could be that the Sphinx originally had an entirely different head - that of a lion… To early Egyptians, the lion was a much more potent symbol of power than the human face” (Daily Mail Reporter, 2008). At this point in history, lions still inhabited Giza and the surrounding areas. Whether it was due to the erosion of the soft limestone or for political reasons, supporters of the lion-head theory argue that the Great Sphinx was remodeled to have the face of man, possibly of a pharaoh, an act that reduced the overall size of its head significantly.

An Egyptian lion statue.

An Egyptian lion statue. (Yortw/ CC BY 2.0 )

The Egyptian God of the Dead

Yet another theory, somewhat less widely supported but far more interesting, holds that the Great Sphinx’s head was indeed originally that of an animal, but not of a lion. It was originally a dog and represented the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis. As Robert Temple observes, “the body of the Sphinx is not feline, as lions are known for a back that is curved and possessing a mane that is absent on the Sphinx” rather, the body is in the shape of a crouching dog (Coppens, 2016). There is much circumstantial evidence to support this theory: First, Anubis is the god of the dead and is believed to protect the deceased and to prevent the unworthy from crossing the river Nile to the underworld, like the role played by the guard dog Cerberus in Greek mythology. In addition,

“following the Book of the Dead, a statue of Anubis was used in rituals to do with the deceased, and specifically the washing of the parts of the deceased body that had been placed in the four Canopic jars…[and] this might also explain why the Sphinx enclosure might have been a moat – filled with water – for ritual washing of the pharaoh’s body. Equally, seeing that Anubis was the god of embalming, one could argue whether the embalming of a or several pharaohs therefore occurred in the so-called Sphinx Temple.” (Coppens, 2016).

Was the sphinx initially designed as a statue of Anubis?

Was the sphinx initially designed as a statue of Anubis? (public domain)

Finally, “the best-known image of Anubis is the Anubis statue found inside the tomb of King Tutankhamen, which shows him as a crouching dog” (Temple, 2009). If the head of the statue was originally that of a pointy-eared jackal, as Anubis is often portrayed, then it supports the notion that erosion eventually ruined its ears and maybe its snout. The Pharaoh’s then sought to restore the statue and remodeled it to have a head of a man, transforming it into the popular mythical figure, the sphinx.

Representation of Anubis from the tomb of Tutankhamen.

Representation of Anubis from the tomb of Tutankhamen. ( CC BY SA 2.5 )

Top Image: The Great Sphinx of Giza. Source: BigStockPhoto

By Kerry Sullivan


Coppens, Philip. "The Sphinx Mystery."  The Sphinx Mystery . Philip Coppens, 2016.

Daily Mail Reporter. "The Great Sphinx of Giza Reborn as a Lion in the Desert."  Daily Mail Online . Associated Newspapers, 08 Dec. 2008.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Sphinx."  Encyclopædia Britannica . Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 01 June 2016.

Temple, Robert. "What Is Wrong with the Sphinx?"  Graham Hancock Official Website . Graham Hancock, 27 May 2009.


Wait, you say you disagree with what I said, then you restate part of what I said as if it was somehow different from what I said. So much for your credibility. I am interested in the uncovering of truth, even when it is inconvenient. I can give examples of religious groups destroying the artifacts of other religions easily* (which you claim to disagree with happening), can you give even a single example of atheists destroying historical artifacts?

(*Off the top of my head, Daesh and the Taliban have both engaged in this crime, a little research should easily turn up specific examples of Christian groups in the US committing this crime, just for a start.)

William Bradshaw's picture

I totally disagree with Sean Murphy. Atheists are not the only ones that would try to destroy the Ark, and other historical evidence, as there many many that are tasked with expunging history and hiding or obfuscating the truth. People like Sean Murphy perhaps, who seem, from previous posts, to be attempting to hide the very truth that we seek. I do not believe anything that Sean Murphy states as his credibility is highly suspect.

William H. Bradhaw, Dipl. T, CPIM

"He must have been warned that he should not tell anyone that the Kurds know where the Ark is. Atheists have tried to destroy it."

This makes no sense. The one thing atheists respect is evidence, so there is no way they would try to destroy the ark. Besides, to them it would just be a boat, and an intriguing riddle - atheists have no sacred beliefs to protect. More likely, since Noah's Ark is part of Jewish belief, members of one of the many anti-semitic religions (Christianity, Islam) would be the ones to try to destroy it. Atheists would be more likely to try to protect it as evidence of large scale shipbuilding in the ancient world...

This advertisement for your book would be more intriguing if you were better informed on the topics you introduce.

sabre0522's picture

Further to what I have stated in my former comment, the alignment of the three pyramids in replication to the stars in Orions belt also like in the sky above, have a river, in the sky it is the great dark rift of the Milky Way, which like the Nile flowing past the Pyramids on earth, the exact alignment where both river and stars of Orions belt are perfectly aligned is in 10,500 BC.

The Sphinx in her position looking out to the horizon would have been facing the rising constellation of Leo, the Lion at this period of time. This gives the suggestion that it may be that it was carved originally as a full lion, or as a lioness which is more likely. It was carved at this point in time to mark a beginning of something, possibly her ascendency or maybe a victory over their rivals. Whatever the occasion, they were showing clearly that It is at this point in time that the clock starts and points out to future observers, that at the age of Leo in the great zodiacal precession of the equinoxes, this was carved.

It could even be in reference to a global catastrophe where the earth either moved on its axis or there was an earth crust displacement cataclysm. After all that was over all the stars and constellations would be different, maybe there was a different pole star too, so a different precessional array would be seen, This gives credence to lines ive heard of in ancient literature such as, “the gods of heaven went to war against the forces of chaos and all was turmoil as the battle raged in the heavens, the heavens were torn usunder and what once was, now was no more, but the Gods had prevailed and order was restored and heaven was made anew”. (paraphrased from unknown source), or another similar example, likely from a later period, “Since the Gods have warred in heaven and made it all anew, now on earth it is as above, it is below”.  There are other obscure references like the Celts/Gauls of France being afraid of the sky falling on their head. This was a common fear that was known across the western european celts and there are some early obelisks in Egypt that dont correctly line up the shadow from the suns position to where it would have indicated an accurate time and a quote from ancient Egyptian manuscript says that some of the obelisks were realigned and it was then discoved that the earth had extended its annual solar orbit by an extra 5.4 days and some of the obelisks were then able to be realigned and eventually all was returned to order,  

The Sphinx in this regard can also be used as the pointer hand of a giant celestial clock timing out the movement of the earth through the precession with the winter solstice sun rising over the Sphinxes shoulder marking this day, which is confirmed with the setting winter solstice sun going down prescisly between the last pyramid and the second, a scene similar to the two lionesses that guard the horizon as the boat of the Sun when Ra hands it to Osiris of the underworld (it goes under the horizon)

Now to illuminate the importance of these alignments, is that you can declare that on the 29th day of this year the sun will rise in this position on the horizon. When this occurs exactly as was stated, well the people would be in total awe of whoever could make the sun obey them, and this to give evidence of their godlike powers to ‘control’ time. They can make it rise and set wherever they tell it to, then it will rise or set.. So the measurement of time is looked upon as controller of time. The ruler is also the measurer. This is still referred to in our use of a ruler at school. She as a Goddess and as this may be determining, as the ruler also, making her measurements sacred, The Royal cubit and other such set lengths were her gift to man so he could build using sacred geometry, measurement was her secret language to do this.

The people give her more worship as a real Mother Goddess and the Ruler of Egypt before all else, even long before rule of Horus. Who knows whether she was a real first Queen of Egypt and later the patriarchal Bull Gods of Mesopotamia have invaded her lands and taken over. They immedfiately begin erasing her status as a woman to subserviant to Horus as his mother looking over his shoulder as he rules following his father Osiris and his grandfather Ra, the horned God, who started as a Ram then morphed into a Bull headed God and the old original sun God, Atum, was also usurped by Ra.

This gives credence to a take over by a different ideolligy, an equal society with a Queen as ruler of the land and male consorts as the leader of the tribes of peoples, keeping her life within each people and the people under their own was replaced by new male rulers who denigrated women and moved many of the old female deities into obscurity. This happened right across the mediterraneian world with these warlike patriarchal warrior societies that had tamed the horse, the Indo-European tribes out of the steppes thundered into the old world and usurped all the female mother goddess queens and their allies the Serpent kind out of power and set about removing Stonehenge and elserwhere to a solar focus away from the former lunar focus of the female rulers. In a bembankment near Stonehenge it was recentlky discovered the bodies and the separated skulls of five middle aged females, aqll with large rearward extending elongated skulls. These five skulls were all dated to the same day of death around 2,500 BC and they were clearly beheaded, executed in a public display, buried nearby without ceremony and then they started immediately altering Stonehenge to a solar focus.

All across Europe the new male pantheon of gods took over. At first they were equal sharing of power, old gods and new, male and female, meaning that they did not take over the new lands, but gained them by marriage into the royal line, but gradually the male culture took over and female awareness of any former position of rule was washed out of history.

2,500 BC was the date of this Patriarchal coup taking place around the major places of population of the Mediterreanian, at Stonhenge, at Egypt we dont have any clear written or any corraborating evidence of any earlier beginning, but there is no reason to say why there couldn’t just as easily have been an earlier advanced highly skilled building civilisation and then at 2,500 BC the next civilisation takes over and by altering some elements of the records they show that they were the original ones that came to power and the earlier ones are given lesser aspects and since patriarchal thought is heirarchal in its nature, the gods or the Pantheon of the gods would be shown to the people and in time the stronger male gods will prevail and this will reflect in status and opportunity for women in society becoming less as men are given the positions, men who were warriors, since this was a warrior warlike people.  It does seem that there was a co-ordinated and concerted effort to take control of all the major population centres out of the hands and influence of women, then to eradicate the evidence that women were once in higher positions of power, such as Queen and Priestess dual role. But it does seem strange that from out of nowhere we get highly advanced, mathematical equations built into the very sacred geometric structures that they claim were built from around the time of 2,500 BC, but these monumental structures, which are today still beyond our own capabilities to replicate with such prescision. Then after these are wonderfully erected, and the people are a few generations removed, references to prior civilisations are eliminated.

2,500 BC the Minoans were weakened and they lost their dominance in Greece to the new Indo-European peoples such as the Myceneans, who were early greek tribes settling into the Greek circle of influence. 

This also shows by their clearly prejudiced actions, undertaken by established archaeologists, that there is still elements of this clash of bloodlines in play and are still seemingly active and in positions of government right now and have been 

I agree, and I don't think the erosion evidence can be overstated. It is clear that the structure, whatever it was originally carved to be, is much much older than the standard date given.


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