Q:

What does the Sphinx symbolize?

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Quick Answer

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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Full Answer

The Sphinx has an unique design: a human-animal hybrid that combines a lion's body with a man's head. Ancient Egyptians considered such mixed Egyptians to signify the divine. Depictions of the gods often evoked animal images. Thus, the Sphinx represents a composite of the mortal and the immortal. By placing the head of the pharaoh on the lion's body, the Egyptians were expressing the notion that their ruler was more than a man. The pharaoh was descended from deity and served as the bridge between two worlds.

This way of thought had its roots in man's social evolution. In the primitive days of humanity, men lived in fear and awe of wild animals, which seemed superior by virtue of their strength, speed and ferociousness. However, as man's collective intelligence increased, so did his ability to tame nature, and this bolstered his confidence. The placement of the pharaoh's head on the animal body represents humanity's dominion of nature and chaos.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the purpose of the Great Sphinx?

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    The purpose of the Great Sphinx is not known by scholars, though it is thought that it was built as a divine image of the King at that time. It is also thought that this is what the many builders of the Great Sphinx thought when they were building it, although the evidence is not conclusive.

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  • Q:

    How long did it take to build the Great Sphinx?

    A:

    There is inconclusive evidence as to when the Great Sphinx of Giza was carved and how long it took. The most commonly accepted theory is that it was carved in place around 2500 B.C.E, during or after the reign of the Old Kingdom pharaoh Khafra (also known as Khephren).

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  • Q:

    What does the Sphinx represent?

    A:

    The Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt is generally believed to be a monument to the Egyptian Pharaoh Khafra. The Egyptians regarded the lion as a god, and the placing of the pharaoh's head on top of a lion's body was meant to suggest that Khafra's nature was also divine.

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  • Q:

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

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    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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