Mysteries revealed: The Great Sphinx

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By John Davisteacher and freelance writer

Discover the origins of this world famous Egyptian monument

The Great Sphinx

Taking inspiration from the Latin word for ‘a reminder’ (monumentum), our new history series focuses on some of the world’s greatest – and most mysterious – historical monuments. The monuments featured have linked activities designed to encourage children to reveal the mystery (or not!) behind these landmarks. A snap shot of relevant background information (for teacher reference or to extract and share with your class) and a stunning A4 Poster will be provided each month for the monument in focus.

Poster: The Great Sphinx

Download a stunning A4 poster to display in your classroom.

The Great Sphinx facts

Plus, read our FREE Activity sheet, ‘Mysteries revealed: part 2 The Great Sphinx’ for more facts about the site.

Background

  • The Great Sphinx of Giza is a huge stone creature carved from limestone with the head of a human and a lion’s body, complete with paws, claws and a tail. Its position means that it faces the rising Sun.
  • It is the largest monolith (made from a single piece of stone) statue in the world (excluding the paws), standing 73m long and 20m high. It may have been built as long as 4500 years ago. The lion’s body represents strength while the human head indicates the intelligence of the Pharaoh.
  • Most Egyptologists support the view that the Great Sphinx was built on the orders of the Pharaoh Khafre during his reign (about 2520BC to 2494BC). Khafre could have been the model for the human face.
  • The Great Sphinx is the national symbol of Egypt, both ancient and modern.
  • The nose and beard of the Great Sphinx is missing. The nose would have been more than one metre long.
  • For long periods, the Great Sphinx appears to have been buried in sand. It was not until 1816 that the first archaeological dig took place and it was in 1925 that it was finally fully excavated. Today, it continues to crumble away largely because of wind, humidity and smog from nearby Cairo.
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