02 December 2009

An unusual view of the Sphinx

It took me a while to sort this one out. The painting is labelled The Sphinx, Gizeh (1854) by William Holman Hunt [pre-Raphaelite, 1827-1910].

The view is from the back, which we seldom see, and the painting depicts the Sphinx in the mid-nineteenth century, before the accumulated sand was removed from the base.

I believe the painting also depicts the vertical erosion of the component rocks, a marker of water/rain erosion rather than wind erosion (which tends to be horizontal). This feature has been a focal point of some note in arguments regarding the dating of the Sphinx.

Source, via (exclamation mark).

Here's another view, this time from the front and just a few decades later:

Identified as follows: Henri Béchard (active 1870s & 80s);Le Sphinx Armachis, Caire’ (The Sphinx Armachis, Cairo), about 1880; Albumen print; 21 x 27cm. (National Media Museum).

Showing the forelegs buried in the sand. The importance of water erosion is that (if true) it would imply a creation date thousands of years before the Egyptian dynasties. It's an intriguing hypothesis.

Also via (exclamation mark).

1 comment:

  1. My favorite far-out theory about the Sphinx is that of Robert Temple: it was originally a statue of Anubis, the jackal god of the dead, but the long, pointed snout and ears broke off, and the pharaonic head was carved from the remains:


    Great diagram showing how the current head fits perfectly inside the presumed Anubis head:


    This link also has a photo from the side showing how absurdly small the current head is in proportion to the body. But it would be perfectly proportioned with the Anubis head. Temple points out further that the body is not that of a lion; it's much more like that of a dog.


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