Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Great Sphinx -3

There is a hole in the top of the head, now filled in, that once provided support for additional head decoration.
Depictions of the Sphinx from the latter days of ancient Egypt show a crown or plumes on the top of the head, but these were not necessarily part of the original design.
The top of the head is flatter, however, than later Egyptian sphinxes.
The body is 72.55 meters in length and 20.22 meters tall. The face of the sphinx is four meters wide and its eyes are two meters high.
The mouth is about two meters wide, while the nose would have been more than 1.5 meters long.
The ears are well over one meter high. Part of the uraeus (sacred cobra), the nose, the lower ear and the ritual beard are now missing, while the eyes have been pecked out. The beard from the sphinx is on displayed in the British Museum.
Below the neck, the Great Sphinx has the body of a lion, with paws, claws and tail (curled round the right haunch), sitting on the bedrock of the rocky enclosure out of which the monument has been carved. The enclosure has taller walls to the west and south of the monument, in keeping with the present lie of the land.
When viewed close-up, the head and body of the Sphinx look relatively well proportioned, but seen from further away and side-on the head looks small in relation to the long body (itself proportionally much longer than is seen in later sphinxes).
In its undamaged state, the body is likely to have appeared still larger all around in relation to the head, which has not been reduced as much by erosion.
The human head is on a scale of about 30:1, while the lion body is on the smaller scale of 22:1. There could be a number of explanations for this discrepancy.