Experts in Egypt believe that a statue of a sphinx may have been discovered in Luxor.
Discovered between the temples of Karnak and Luxor during the construction of the new Al-Kabbash Road, the statue is said to have the body of a lion and the face of a man, the same as the famous Great Sphinx of Giza. While there is no word on the size or provenance of the find, locals are said to have described it as “huge.”
However despite sensational claims to the contrary in the press, the find will not be a “second [Great] Sphinx.”
Bassam al-Shamma, a researcher in Egyptology, was not surprised by the find, observing that there are several such statues throughout Luxor such as those for King Aymanhotb III and Thutmose IV and noted the proximity of the site to the Valley of the Kings. Bassam al-Shamma is an expert in the second sphinx theory, having searched for the remains of the statue for many years. All other sphinx that have been found have originally come as a pair in tune with Egyptian religious belief in duality, leaving the Great Sphinx of Giza as an unusual anomaly. al-Shamma believes that this is in fact no anomaly and that there must be a twin sphinx, as yet undiscovered.
Archaeologist Michael Poe agrees:
“[A] source (fragmentary papyrus) states that there was another Sphinx facing this one on the other side of the River Nile, and both of the monuments were constructed here to represent the dividing line between Northern and Southern Egypt… Have you ever seen only one Sphinx in later Egypt that didn’t have another? Not only did the ancient Egyptians mention the second Sphinx, but so did the Greeks, Romans, and Muslims. It was destroyed between 1,000 and 1,200 AD… At the access to buildings and temples there are two Sphinxes, side by side, but on the avenue or approach to the temple, they are facing each other. At times they may have as much as 100 or so facing each other in the avenue. The Nile is Egypt’s Avenue, and it divides the North and South. Countless ancient writings about the two Sphinxes suggest that they were facing one another.” – Michael Poe
Critics however point out that while monuments were indeed frequently seen in pairs, the rule was not as universal as some might believe. Most sphinxes that have been discovered date from a period later than the one at Giza and were not literally always constructed in pairs, rather as a collection lining processional routes such as at Karnak. Critics also point out that the Great Sphinx of Giza is not a free-standing statue but carved from the rock, making the placement of any potential second statue a matter of nature. While the sphinx does indeed face east toward the Nile, the river is a whole five miles away. No ruins have been found to suggest a second sphinx was present.
While no taint should be cast on Poe’s credentials as an archeologist, he is said to have been “ordained a Priest of Ptah” and practices Kemetism or Egyptian Neopaganism, which might leave him open to accusations of pseudo-history and woo.
While not a “second Great Sphinx” however, the latest find is none the less exciting.
General Director of Luxor Antiquities Mohamed Abdel Aziz says that his ministry is working on lifting the statue which cannot be lifted directly due to the nature of the environment and urges tourists to come and see the project at Luxor.
Michael East is a writer with a wide variety of eclectic tastes including politics, history, archaeology, professional wrestling and British science-fiction. A former Students' Union President and newspaper editor, he has studied at a variety of institutions and graduated in both history and politics.
He is interested in truth, justice and the unAmerican way. Named as TIME Person of the Year in 2006 and 2011, he is known variously as a rake, a libertine and as the King in the North... if to nobody else but himself.