History Files


Ancient Egypt

There was a Second Sphinx

Edited from the Times of India, 2 September 2007

Two sphinxes existed on the Pyramids Plateau, according to a study which was published in 2007 by Egyptologist Bassam El Shammaa.

El Shammaa said the famed half-lion, half-man statute was an Egyptian deity that had been erected next to another sphinx, which has since vanished without a trace. This theory, however, is in contradiction to the general belief that a single colossal statue functioned as a guard to the pyramids.

El Shammaa said the idea of two sphinxes is more in line with ancient Egyptian beliefs, which were mainly based on duality.

Documentary proof?

The pyramid texts that had been recovered at Saqqara, especially from the Wanis Pyramid, contain descriptions of the ancient Egyptian conception of how the universe was created. Basically, this concept underlined the belief in duality. Whenever anything comes up that deals with the solar cult, we should speak of one lion and one lioness, facing each other, posing parallel to each other, or sitting in a back-to-back position, according to Mr el Shammaa.

The double avenue of ram-headed sphinxes fronting the first Karnak pylon and its counterpart of human-headed sphinxes at the Temple of Luxor emphasise this duality, alongside other indications such as the double crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, Isis, Osiris, Habtoor and Horus. Egyptian records and mythology suggested that lightening destroyed part of the sphinx, but Mr el Shammaa suggested that this may reference the second sphinx, which was eliminated after being cursed by the chief Egyptian deity.

Pyramid texts

Utterance No 600 says that Atum - the 'complete one' and creator god in ancient Egyptian mythology - created his son Shu and daughter Tefnut, shaping them as a lion and a lioness and placing each one on an extreme tip of the universe. Shu was to take the solar disc between his jaws and hand it to his sister Tefnut who in turn would capture it between her jaws and by so doing they would achieve the full cycle of the sun.

The idea of there being two sphinxes at Giza was intriguing and plausible, but it was totally opposed to another theory that the one and only Sphinx was constructed well before Egyptian influences could be brought to bear on it. Only later was its proportionally-sized head carved down to produce something that looked suitably pharaonic. Weather patterns along the flank suggest water-wear which could only have come, according to the theory, from rainfall much heavier than pharaonic Egypt would have seen.



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