Q:

What happened to the nose of the Great Sphinx of Giza?

A:

Quick Answer

Archaeologists believe the Great Sphinx of Gaza's nose fell off due to a combination of weathering and human vandalism. While Napoleon Bonaparte is often blamed for this destruction, the missing nose has been gone since at least the 14th century.

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Full Answer

Currently, the most accepted theory explaining the fate of the nose is from medieval Arab scholarship. Makrizi, Rashidi and others blame the Sphinx's vandalization on Mohammed Sa'im al-Dahr. Described as a "fanatical Sufi," al-Dahr was allegedly upset that Egyptian peasants still paid tribute to the great statue, even though Islam specifically forbids graven images. The peasants, in their turn, allegedly lynched al-Dahr and buried him near the Sphinx. Archaeologists have identified the marks of chisels on the scarred statue, indicating that the nose was likely removed by force and carried away.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are some of the theories regarding the construction of the Great Sphinx?

    A:

    One of the theories to explain the purpose and symbolism behind the construction of the Great Sphinx at Giza is that it was built to guard the tombs of the pharaohs buried nearby. Support for this theory is based on the symbolism of lions as guardian figures and the monument's body of a lion with a human head, presumably that of a pharaoh. Another theory suggests that the Sphinx was erected by the Egyptian Pharaoh Djedefre to identify his father, Pharaoh Khufu, with the Sun god, Ra, and honor the family dynasty.

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  • Q:

    When was the Sphinx built?

    A:

    Although conclusive evidence is lacking, some scholars agree that the Great Sphinx of Giza was constructed during the reign of the pharaoh Khafra, from 2520 to 2494 B.C. Dissenting Egyptologists suggest that the statue was erected by Khafra's father, Khufu, between 2589 and 2566 B.C.

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  • Q:

    What does the Sphinx symbolize?

    A:

    The Great Sphinx of Egypt symbolizes the royalty of Egypt as links between the man and deity and simultaneously acts as a symbol of man's dominance over nature. Some scholars also suggest that the Sphinx is a depiction of the solar god Atum. The sphinx's majestic and imposing appearance serve as a form of warning to looters entering the Necropolis.

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  • Q:

    What are some facts about the Great Sphinx of Giza?

    A:

    The Great Sphinx of Giza is located on the Giza Plateau near Cairo. The Sphinx was carved out of limestone and features the head of a human with the body of a lion in a reclining position. The body of the sculpture is carved out of soft yellow limestone, while the head is made of hard grey limestone.

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