You’ve probably heard of “the Egyptian Sphinx mystery”? Jonathan Gray shares some fascinating secrets about its true age. So how old is the Sphinx – really? On the plateau of Giza west of Cairo, Egypt, sits the Great Sphinx of Giza, a statue 240 feet long, with a lion’s body and a human head wearing the headdress of the Pharaohs.
WATER DID IT!
It is surrounded by desert sand. But there’s evidence of erosion.Erosion by wind-borne sand? No. By water! says Gray.
The edges of the rock are rounded. And there are apparently deep fissures in the rock.The impressions on the stones are not horizontal, as would be caused by sand and wind (like the pyramids in the area); instead, they are vertical.This suggests that the Sphinx has been subjected to heavy rainfall.
The erosion is stronger on the upper parts of the Sphinx and its enclosure walls than around the base. This erosion of these “upper” surfaces exhibits a pattern of weathering commonly associated with exposure to rainwater run-off.
There is a rolling and undulating vertical profile, with many vertical and sloping channels where joints in the bedrock have been opened up.
French scholar R. A. Schwaller, independent Egyptologist John West, and geologist Robert Schoch examined it. Schoch contrasted this situation at the Sphinx with the state of weathering seen at other rock-cut features of the Giza Plateau.
For example, in various Old Kingdom tombs, erosion by windblown sand has picked out areas of poorer quality rock, but has left the anciently cut facades and doorways not markedly damaged. But the highly rounded weathering on the Sphinx and its enclosure indicates the action of rainwater over a long period.