Friday 12 July 2024
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An Undiscovered Sphinx of Giza, Part I
Many people think to know everything about the Sphinx of the Giza plateau and can barely imagine the three neighboring pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykherinos without the Sphinx which is so indispensable to the visual harmony of the plateau. This is not surprising since the Sphinx is placed exactly where needed in a design based on geometric principles of the golden section (see Fig. 3). The golden ratio is related to a series of numbers, the Fibonacci sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89, ...) and the Egyptian archaeologist and Professor Emeritus, Alexander Badawy (1913-1986) proved in his study of more than 50 temples along the Nile that the ancient Egyptians had indeed used this series of numbers on purpose, once again demonstrating their great knowledge and sophistication in architecture. Now I'll show you in this article that the Sphinx holds many secrets still unknown to most and that our current view of it is distorted from its original appearance.
The ignored inscription of the left paw of the Sphinx
In 1817, Gianbattista Caviglia** (1770-1845) cleaned the front of the Sphinx, something that had not been done since the fall of the Roman Empire. He first found a fallen piece of the Sphinx's beard (now at the British Museum!), then, cleared of sand, he found an inscription on a toe of the left paw of the Sphinx: 13 lines of text in Greek, engraved conspicuously with reference to how this is an official documentation dating from 166 AD after the reign of Marcus Aurelius to commemorate the restoration of the walls surrounding the Sphinx by the Romans. This text is exciting and yet one does not have a chance to view it today on the sphinx, as successive restorations - and especially the last - were covered with incredibly thick layers often disfiguring the contours of our Sphinx, as stifling as the bandages of mummification.
Written in Greek, and in capital letters, I know that there are now three existing translations in English and one in Latin of this text: one from a copy made by Henry Salt (1780-1827) British Consul General in Cairo in 1815 and a great collector of Egyptian antiquities that had paid Caviglia in 1817 to explore the Sphinx, whose transcription was published in the "Quarterly Review " vol. 19) in 1818, translated by Dr. Yong (who even strove to restore some permanently erased words) in English and Latin ...and another from the great Egyptian archaeologist Selim Hassan* (1893-1961), the first Egyptian to occupy a chair of Egyptology ...and finally, one from the Reverend Coleridge of Eton, published in: "Operations conducted at the Pyramid of Giza" by Colonel Vyse in 1842. I will give here my own translation of the inscription; I tried to be as faithful as possible to the grammar of ancient Greek and not to invent the missing words:
"This structure is the work of the immortal Gods.
Placed so as to dominate the soil of this Land of harvest,
Built in the center of a cavity from which they withdrew the sand,
Like an island of stone in the vicinity of the pyramids,
So that we can see it,
Not as the sphinx defeated by Oedipus,
But as a sacred servant of Leto,
Who guards with vigilance;
The Sacred Guide of the Land of Egypt."
The reference to Leto*** here is understandable because at the time of the Pharaohs, Ptolemies who were of Greek origin, ruled over Egypt; and Giza was in an administrative district called "Letopolitain".
The text is signed "Arrianos" - probably the historian and Roman philosopher of Greek origin who wrote the life of Alexander the Great ("Anabasis of Alexander").
Thus, in addition to the reference to the immortal gods as the creators of the sphinx, which is interesting (and which we will return to), we can see by the text itself that the Sphinx was considered an island. This is certainly new to some of you.
A lion that was a dog and the island of the sphinx
However, the scholar Robert Temple and his wife Olivia have just published a book of 565 pages in English titled "The Sphinx Mystery, the forgotten origins of the sanctuary of Anubis", well documented with many elements excavated from oblivion or multiple scattered collections inaccessible to the public, in which he explains "The moat of the sphinx in the Ancient Empire was known in the Texts of the Pyramids as the lake of the jackal, the channel of God, the channel of Anubis, the Lake of Life ..."
Now there are many references to this throughout ancient Egyptian literature: for example on the altars in the tomb of Tutankhamen in reference to Rostau (Giza) it is cited that its topography is that of water and there is mention of "The house of the lake" regarding the island of the Sphinx. Even Auguste Mariette who dug around the Sphinx in 1858 admits that the Sphinx enclosure had to contain water of the Nile in ancient times (see references). In the text of the Sarcophagi, we hear about the lustral basin, Lake of the Jackal. Why?
Quite simply, because of the academic Temple's assertion that the Sphinx was originally made in the image of Anubis ("Jackal" is a bad name translation because there have never been jackals in Lower Egypt, but rather wild dogs) the guardian of the site par excellence, and he proves it with forceful analysis, photos and research.
The sphinx would have become leonine towards the Fourth Dynasty when lions were very fashionable in all representations; then the Middle Kingdom Amenemhat II would have affixed this image to his face (and not Cheops). But I will not go into too much detail of the work of Temple here, only a few points here and there. The fact that the original Sphinx could be the representation of Anubis is something I've been announcing for years in front of the Sphinx itself to those who accompany me in my tours: "in situ" the slope of the back, the tail, signs of erosion from water of the moat. It should be understood that since antiquity the Sphinx has undergone many restorations, the last of which which consisted of additions of thick courses of ugly and useless stones which only make the contours of the sphinx appear clumsy and without finesse. This is very visible today in the legs, which now look like huge papier-mache bars. We have pictures from the early 19th century and many later photos and after careful analysis we see big differences in the "modern" restorations and successive ones. The "Coffin Texts" does not only speak of the lake of the "jackal" (Anubis) but it also mentions: "His name is 'dog faced', his size is huge" (verses 1165-1185). Twice in the "Pyramid Texts", Anubis is cited as being "the height of the West" (the only pivotal height in Lower Egypt is the Giza Plateau) and The Lake of the "Jackal" is also cited in the book "The Caves". The outstanding researcher Terence Du Quesne enumerated many references to Anubis "Lord of Rostau (Giza)" in inscriptions and on the walls; he has listed ten sources of this particular title to date.
It is only after the fifth dynasty that the title "Lord of Rostau" is given to Osiris. Let us recall that Anubis in Egyptian is "Inpou", "that which has the shape of dog"; he is also known as "The Way Opener" and guide of the souls and is represented under the name of "Upuaout, path opener" at Abydos in the south. He is also "Lord of the Land of Dawn" and as Rene Lachaud excellently writes: "(...) He brings out the anubienne light of initiation that corresponds to the ambiguous moment 'between dog and wolf ' where day and night interpenetrate." Also, in "The Book of Going Forth by Day" (which is the real title of The Book "of the Dead"): "Oh! Anubis who is with his secrets. Lord of the secrets of the West. Lord of what is hidden." That Anubis presides on the Giza plateau is hardly surprising because in Giza/Rostau we are at the crossroads of the greatest mysteries. You'll quickly understand why. One never speaks to you about the "Book of the Construction" which is engraved in the enclosure of the Temple of Horus the falcon, in Edfu in southern Egypt. Yet, when you read up on it, it's inside references to other lost texts like "The Sacred Books of the Temples" that bring together a description of the history of places of pilgrimage along the Nile. And what says this text? It says that these places were established by a group of "creative entities" the "Shebtiw" associated with Thoth. It is said that they, also called the "Elders", the "Falcons", were installed in a first place on Earth and that this first place isŠ Rostau! I.e. Giza! Also, according to this text, books and sacred objects of power were sealed in a secret place underground by "Shebtiw" and they built over it an immense enclosure and pillars to protect it. This place is called Bw-HMR, the place of the throne of the soul. In addition, in this text it is always suggested to us that the underground world of Giza is a microcosmic model of the passage of time and the process of the first creation in our physical universe ... you understand the Sphinx better now than before; this is not nothing!
The ancient Egyptians also named Giza/Rostau in their descriptions: "The Beautiful Place of the First Time" and "The Secret Place" and it is true that the whole Giza plateau that I've traveled for 20 years, yard by yard, is packed with thousands of subterranean entries, ventilation shafts and bottomless wells. This all proves the presence of an impressive underground network about which I will on occasion speak more of in other articles.
In any case it is only in the Middle Kingdom (when, according to Temple, for a long time the Sphinx had already lost its Anubis head) where for the first time, in hieroglyphics appears the name:: "Sphinx": "Sheshep" which translates literally as "image "or" statue". The full name of the Sphinx was then "Ankh-Sheshep": the "living statue". The Sphinx is a living symbol representing many things of the invisible celestial and terrestrial. In the Coptic language, the oldest language still spoken in Egypt today, the Sphinx is called: "bel-hit", "The Guardian". And just after the year one thousand, they called the Sphinx "Twtw": "I am image" that the Greeks retranscribed as Tithoes and identified with Kronos, the god of time. And what is also interesting is that, quoting Manetho, Pliny states that Tithoes belonged to the mythic kings of the very first dynasties, or rather what we now call the famous dynasty of zero (since we begin the first dynasty with Menes [2920 -2770 B.C.] though several documents cite previous pharaohs, but their qualifications of gods or demigods is disruptive to the academic conscensus), otherwise properly inscribed in the Turin Papyrus (The Canon of Turin) and the Latin author makes it clear that Tithoes succeeded the god Amun and that he would be the first builder of the labyrinth of Fayum (120 km south of Cairo at Fayoum Lake), the oldest of all labyrinths that people came to visit in the ancient world. And which is in ruins today at the foot of the pyramid of the Hawara site that I visit regularly ...
A sphinx much older than one thinks
In 1858, our notable Auguste Mariette was commissioned by the Duke of Luynes to verify Pliny the Elder's statements regarding that the Sphinx was built and not monolithic. He opened a site near the pyramid attributed to Cheops (who reigned 2551-2528 BC, 4th Dynasty) and in a nearby shrine of Isis, he found the stele called "Inventory" where it says that the sphinx and the large pyramid existed well before the reign of the leaders of the 4th dynasty before 2575 B.C. The text states that: "During the reign of Cheops he ordered the construction of a monument along the Sphinx." Logically this means that the Sphinx was already there before ... But if it was there at the time of Cheops, this means that contrary to what the "mainstream" says, a fortiori, it could not have been built on order of Chephren's successor on the throne! Note that the theory that the Sphinx was built by Chephren - just because the road on its south side leads to the foot of the pyramid of Chephren - was launched without any evidence or knowledge by Caviglia who was still a Master Mariner paid to clear the sand from the Sphinx! No inscription confirms his lightly founded theory. There are also other documents proving that the temple adjoining the Sphinx has exactly the same kinds of marks of erosion that existed before the reign of Cheops. In an inscription which was preserved in the museum of Bulak, the royal scribe of the Pharaoh Cheops notes a dedication he himself had found on an earlier document. The dedication says that the sun himself presided over the gigantic structure, "whose origin is lost in the mists of time." However, if we take this into consideration, all the current chronological dating in Egyptology courses should be re-examined! A little too much for some ... This is why the majority of Egyptologists today turn away from this stele called the inventory, because it calls into question too many of their achievements. Some also prefer to say that this monument that lists an inventory of the temple of Isis dates back only to the 26th dynasty. Perhaps, but the explorer Auguste Mariette, who spent over ten years excavating the Giza plateau, has always said that the stele was erected by Cheops himself.
As for the supposed resemblance of the head of the Sphinx with Chephren himself - this theory has been invalidated for 30 years by the Director of the Department of Forensic Medicine of the New York Police, Dr. Frank Domingo, expert on facial morphology. After photographing the Sphinx from different angles and lighting and then the statue of Chephren in the Cairo museum, he compared them with his scientific method and concluded that no doubt, they were indeed two different people...
Robert Temple proves this through the study of the coiffe and certain features and also because of the obsession of the Pharaoh for the sphinxes of Amenemhat II (1929-1892 B.C.). In any case, if the Sphinx originally had a good head of Anubis, and much later it assumed this pharaoh's head, one could also surmise that others before Amenemhat II could have also affixed their face, the head of the sphinx comprising many traces of multiple repairs, the current head being extremely disproportionate compared to the body. There is also a text of the Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1448/1420 B.C.) with a reference to the Sphinx as "older than the Pyramids." Then we have the famous stele of Tutmosis IV which has led to my research on the second sphinx.
In search of the second sphinx
It was generally accepted for long periods since the ancient Egyptians that the Sphinx was covered with sand, except for the head, until the Pharaoh Tutmosis IV (18th dynasty: 1420-1411 B.C.) cleared sand from it. And we have the wonderful story of Tutmosis IV engraved for eternity on a stele of pink granite and erected between the paws of the Sphinx: it is known as the stele of Tutmosis IV.
The Pharaoh who was not even yet a prince, not even belonging to the main lineage of Pharaonic succession, came to rest after a hunt in the shadow of the head only recently installed then, and fell asleep. There he dreamed that the Sphinx spoke to him in his sleep, begging him to rid him of his suffering because he could not endure anymore standing with the burning desert sand covering him. In exchange, he would give him the power and wealth. Tutmosis awoke and decided to hurry and in a short time became pharaoh and very wealthy. What is particularly interesting in relation to the stele of Tutmosis IV is the representation which is made of the sphinx. Look, there are two Sphinxes! Moreover, they are reversed, and for the question of ancient rules of perspective of one reality, two sphinxes are actually reversed. Moreover, they are lying on structures with portals indicating that the sphinx gives access to an elsewhere, an underground complex. But where did the Sphinx drawn on the second pillar go? What is curious is that very few people have begun to seek answers...
In the famous stele of the inventory preserved at the museum of Cairo, it is made mention that a flash of lightning would have struck down the cap of the second sphinx involving its destruction like that of a sycamore tree, sacred at the time, which was also burned by the lightning. For the archaeologist Michael Poe who refers to fragments of papyrus of the Middle Kingdom, this second sphinx would have been destroyed by a particularly violent rising of the Nile about 1000 A.D. The villagers would then have taken the stones to rebuild their village.
Then, I started searching in Egypt and thanks to my knowledge of Classical Arabic I quickly found texts confirming the existence of the two sphinxes. Thusly, two geographical encyclopaedias (Kitab Al Mamalik, Al-Mamsalik and Kitab Al Jujori, the great geographer, and Arab scholar Al-Idrisi [1099-1166]), mention well the presence of two sphinxes at Giza, one in very bad condition that is reached by the water of the Nile and has many stones missing. Other authors also mention the existence of two sphinxes: The celebrated historian Musabbihi wrote about a "sphinx smaller than the other" on the other side of the Nile, in very poor condition, consisting of bricks and stones (Annals of Rabi II, circa 1024).
So I searched tirelessly for years for the location of the second Sphinx. The task is very difficult because all the opposite bank of the Nile is covered with buildings of the megalopolis of Cairo and of its gigantic suburbs. How to find the location of a missing sphinx? And it is there that one of my charts intervened, that of a meticulous satellite analysis of which I am a specialist, coupled with a field study of the lesser details. After having traveled thousands of streets, I identified two possible locations (see satellite photo of the Nile). That's when the great Egyptian geologist and archaeologist, Dr. Barakat paid me the honor of contacting me after reading my articles on this subject in English, to tell me that he greatly enjoyed my work and had arrived at the same conclusions, which as you can imagine, reassures me in the continuation of this research. I will devote myself this summer and will meet with the geologist during interviews which promise much and of which I will share with you later. Furthermore, following the example of the Arab historians who saw it in their time, we advance the assumption that one of the two sphinxes was female. Al Idrisi said clearly that the second Sphinx was female and located on the east bank of the Nile facing the male sphinx that we all know. Remember also that the verb form of the Greek name "Sphinx" is "Sphingo" which means to strangle. The two sphinxes facing each side of the Nile, formed a bottleneck, like a watch on ships coming from Upper Egypt or down south ...
The second location of the Sphinx could hold many secrets even from prehistoric times, many things in the basement. This will be in the future, without doubt a huge archaeological project, as Dr. Barakat said. I would also say, and I'm not the only one, that both sphinxes are similar to the two pillars of Hercules, one indicating the material capacity expressing itself upwards through spiritual power (the female sphinx) and the other (the current one), the spiritual power expressing itself in the underground material world, but this is the subject of one of my books in progress...
In any case, to temporarily close the loop, and to add my contribution to the work of Temple even if he does not speak at all about second sphinx, I discovered recently that there was long ago, two Upuaut (Anubis). On the stele JE 47381 three registers are represented: an "Upuaut of Upper Egypt, controller of the Two Lands" ("Wp-wAwt smaw aba-Tawy") and in the middle register we see him along with "Wepwawet of Lower Egypt" ("Wp-wAwt mttyt"). Thus, the two sphinxes could well have originally represented two Anubis... In a future article I will talk about the current state of comparative findings regarding pits discovered inside and under the Sphinx of Giza ... still many things that few know ....

Text and Photos by Antoine Gigal
Translation to English: Lisette Gagne
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* Selim Hassan (1887-1961): He is for me, one of the three greatest Egyptologists and archaeologists of all time. He tirelessly excavated at Giza and Sakkara from 1929 to 1937 and discovered many structures that are being rediscovered today and just wrote a extraordinary 16 volume "Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt". He's published a total of 170 books on archeology in Egypt.

*** Gianbattista Caviglia (1770-1845): Italian Master Mariner, he was hired by Richard Vyse, the English Egyptologist who noticed in him a strong capacity for resourcefulness, so he began archaeological excavations with him on the small pyramid of Mykhérinos. His attention, however, was quickly captured by even more promising structures such as the Sphinx, the Great Pyramid and others.

**** Leto: The story of Leto as it is told in Greek mythology may rouse in us a strong interest in Egypt. Leto, daughter of Titans (powerful Elder Gods who ruled during the golden age under the direction of one of them: Cronos [Saturn] after his father Uranus [Heaven] for the first 21 generations of Titans) : Coeus, ruling over a celestial zone between the two terrestrial poles and Phoebe linked to the full moon and to luminous purification, and she became pregnant by Zeus. The wife of Zeus: Hera was so extremely jealous, she saw to it that "all land fled Leto" so that she could find no land on which to give birth. It is said that then Leto left Hyperborea for Lycia in Anatolia (country of the wolves, perhaps an old form of Anubis?) disguised as a she-wolf, and then went on to the island of Delos. There are several final destinations for the birth of Leto and experts are struggling to know which is correct. In any case she gave birth on an island that was not connected to the earth itself even under the sea, a floating island of some sort or an island "manufactured". In Egypt, similar stories are told of Isis taking refuge on a floating island in the Nile Delta. The Giza Sphinx with its island was indeed a place suitable to be linked to Leto. She struggled against many chthonic monsters and the Titans living underground and was attacked by Python before giving birth to the twins Artemis and Apollo. The Greek grammarian Antoninus Liberalis, a hundred years after Christ, tells us all this in great detail. He is the author of "Metamorphoses" a story about 41 metamorphic changes inflicted by offended gods). Note that Herodotus tells us that Leto was worshiped in Egypt in the form of the cobra goddess Wadjet, protectress of Lower Egypt.


  • Auguste Mariette: "Letter to the Vicomte de Rougé on excavations in the vicinity of the Great Sphinx of Giza", Egyptological Library, vol. 18, Paris, 1904.
  • Alexander Badawy: "Ancient Egyptian Architectural Design: A Study of the Harmonic System", Berkeley university, 1965. and: "History of Egyptian Architecture", Berkeley University, 1968.
  • Selim Hassan: "The Great Sphinx and Its Secrets: Historical Studies in the Light of Recent Excavations " vol. 8, Cairo Gov. Press, 1953.
  • Terence Duquesne: "Anubis and the Spirit of the West", Darengo Publications, 1990.

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