The Sphinx of Memphis, 1920s
This sphinx was unearthed in 1912 by Flinders Petrie near the remains of Memphis. It is one of the largest monuments ever made from Egyptian alabaster. Sphinxes are often guards or protectors of ancient Egyptian sacred places. Some represent kings (pharaohs), with their human faces attached to the body of a lion – an animal recognized as the ultimate symbol of power.
In this case, we don’t know which king is represent here, because there are no inscriptions on the sphinx. However, some theories suggest that it may even be Queen Hatshepsut or King Amenhotep II or Amenhotep III.
The Alabaster Sphinx was discovered in 1912 when an affiliate from the British School in America spotted a uniquely carved object jutting out of a sand hill. It was so far in the season that excavation was useless, but a year later in 1913 digging further displayed that the object was the Sphinx’s tail.
The Sphinx of Memphis is also referred to as the Alabaster Sphinx of Memphis, or the Calcite Sphinx. These names are derived from the white yellowish stone called calcite which is very similar to alabaster. Calcite is a simple and standard material on earth and has been mined for centuries. This natural resource was considered to be beautiful and was accepted in ancient Egypt to have a mystical solar connection. The Alabaster Sphinx of Memphis is the largest calcite statue ever discovered.