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Israel Egyptian sphinx paws

Archaeologists make rare find of Egyptian sphinx paws in Israel


A team of archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have made a surprising discovery in Hazor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel: the paws of an Egyptian sphinx. The finding has left historians perplexed as to how it got there.

The ancient artefact contained a hieroglyphic inscription with the name of King Menkaure, otherwise called Mycerinus, who was a pyramid-building pharaoh who reigned more than 4,000 years ago during the Old Kingdom.

Hazor was first inhabited during the Early Canaanite Period (3300-2200 BC) and for several millennia during the Bronze and Iron Ages, history tells us that Hazor was the greatest city in northern Palestine and perhaps one of the greatest cities in all of the Eastern Mediterranean.  According to the Bible Joshua destroyed Hazor as we explained in a previous article. However, most historians do not think that Egypt had any relationship or connection with the region during the reign of Menkaure, making the finding of the sphinx paws quite unusual.  In fact, it is the first royal Egyptian sphinx fragment ever to be unearthed in Israel.

The sphinx fragment, which also bares the inscription "Beloved by the divine manifestation … that gave him eternal life" was found at the entrance to the city palace in an archaeological layer that dates to the mysterious destruction of Hazor when it was occupied by the Canaanites in the 13th century B.C.

One explanation that has been given for the unusual finding is that the sphinx could have been brought to Israel during the 17 th to 16 th centuries BC, when part of Egypt was controlled by the Hyksos, people originally from Canaan.  Or, it may have arrived in Hazor as a gift from an Egyptian king. Further excavation of the site in Hazor may help to unravel the mystery.

By April Holloway


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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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