The Great Sphinx of Giza, 1931
The head of the Sphinx of Giza is encased in scaffolding and works are under way excavating the body. Early 20th-century excavation at the Giza Necropolis.
An earlier Sphinx excavation was marked by the Dream Stele (around 1401 BC) of Thutmose IV, at lower center. The granite altar (bottom) between the Sphinx’s paws dates from the time of Ramesses II (13th century BC).
“The largest statue of the Old Kingdom is at Giza. The word sphinx may derive from Egyptian shesep ankh, ‘living image’, i.e. statue. The sculpture, some sixty meters (about 200 feet) long, represents a creature with the body of a lion, and the head of a king wearing the royal nemes headcloth.
The concept is the exact opposite of the usual way in which many deities were represented, with a human body and an animal’s head. The idea of a lion guarding the entrance to a temple was known even earlier, and the sphinx at Giza was probably intended to protect the approach to the pyramid-complex of [Khafre].
The skill with which the two elements were combined is remarkable, as is the ease displayed in working on an unprecedented scale. There is no evidence that the sphinx enjoyed any form of worship in its own right during the Old Kingdom.”
― In the Shadow of the Pyramids: Egypt During the Old Kingdom, Jaromir Malek