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Did You Know? Africans Carved World’s First Colossal Sculpture

Africans carved the world’s first colossal sculpture, ‘the Great Sphinx of Giza’, which was fashioned with the head of a man combined with the body of a lion, some 7,000 or more years ago.

Situated amongst the iconic Great Pyramids is a monument as equally impressive and emblematic of Ancient Egyptian engineering: the Great Sphinx of Giza. Although sphinxes appeared in art throughout the ancient world, this colossal statue remains the most well-known depiction of the mythological creature.

The Great Sphinx is the oldest and largest sculpture made during the Old Kingdom(circa 2686 – 2181 BCE), also called the “Age of the Pyramids.” Placed on the west bank of the Nile, it depicts a half-man, half-lion creature wearing a royal headdress and beard (now gone).

The 240-foot-long statue was carved out of one piece of limestone by hundreds of workers, and, at one time, completely painted.

Most Egyptologists theorize that the colossal sculpture was built around 2500 BCE for the Pharaoh Khafre nd even modeled after the ruler’s likeness. However, there is no evidence of what the monolith’s original intention was or even its original name.

It appears that at some point during classical antiquity, thousands of years after the Great Sphinx was constructed, it was referred to as the “sphinx” due to its resemblance to the mythological creature.

A sphinx is a mythological creature who appears in several different cultures. Typically, it is presented with the head of a human, a falcon, a cat, or a sheep, and the body of a lion with the wings of a falcon. However, its appearance varies greatly depending on the region.

Hundreds of years after its construction, the Great Sphinx and the rest of the Giza Necropolis were buried under sand and forgotten. Several pharaohs, including Thutmosis IV Ramesses II the Great, attempted to excavate the site but to seemingly no avail.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that the Great Sphinx, which was buried up to its neck in sand, underwent its first modern archaeological dig.

Led by Italian Giovanni Battista Caviglia, the team was able to clear enough sand to reveal the chest of the Sphinx. Excavations continued throughout the 19th century; eventually, the rest of the Great Sphinx’s body was revealed as well as a stele of Thutmosis IV, which recorded a dream of his in which he was ordered to remove the sand covering the Sphinx.

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