• Royal Tombs
• Non-Royal Tombs
• Workers Village
The pyramids of the third dynasty and the early fourth dynasty were built on layers of marl and slate. Although this made digging out underground chambers easier, the marl layers could not support the immense weight of stone above them. This may be one of the reasons that Khufu built his pyramid at Giza rather than Saqqara or Dashur. However, Giza had been a Necropolis for some time before Khufu chose to build there. The First Dynasty Pharaoh Djet has a tomb on the edge of the plateau and seals mentioning the Second Dynasty Pharaoh Ninetjer were discovered in a tomb in the southern cemetery. In fact, Khufu had to clear away earlier tombs in order construct his pyramid complex.
Even after the ancient Egyptian pharaohs moved away from Giza as their burial site, nobles and officials continued to live and die there. However, during the First Intermediate Period, the pyramid town of Khufu and the cemetery of Giza were both abandoned and left to decay. During the Middle Kingdom, the pyramids and tombs were plundered, and the causeways and temples were used as quarries by the pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty.
Fortunately, many of the New Kingdom pharaohs protected and revered the ancient monuments of Giza, in particular the Great Sphinx (who they called "Lord of Setpet, the Chosen Place"). A number of Eighteenth and Nineteenth dynasty royals erected stelae between its paws and it was worshipped as a representation of the sun god Harmakhet ("Horus in his Western Horizon"). Amenhotep II built a small temple to the deity nearby in which he names the Sphinx Harmakhet -Hauron (Hauron was a Syrian-Palestinian god of the netherworld brought to Giza by settlers living near the Sphinx) and Ramesses II installed a sanctuary between the forepaws of the Sphinx. Restoration was also conducted by the New Kingdom royals, in particular Khaemwaset (a son of Ramesses II) who took a special interest in preserving many of Egypt´s ancient monuments.
By the Late Period, Osiris was the dominant god in the area. He had absorbed Sokar (whose cult was centred at nearby Rostau) and the Sphinx was considered to be his representative. Apparently, huge pedestals were constructed on the Sphinx's flanks, on which shrines to Osiris and Isis were placed, and Isis gained the epithet, "Lady of the Pyramids".
Since the demise of the ancient Egyptian civilisation, the site has been quarried to aid the construction of Cairo. Most of the limestone cladding of the pyramids ended up adorning the walls of the city. Even so, Giza remains a massive archaeological site which has not yet been fully excavated and new tombs and buildings continue to be recovered.
The skilled workers who live at the site all year round built their tombs near to the pyramids, which was quite an honour. While the tombs are generally made of mud-brick (rather than stone) some used leftover limestone and rubble from the construction of the royal tombs. They employed a number of architectural styles including beehives, small true pyramids and small step pyramids. The majority, however, are mastabas.
* G7101; Mastaba of Qar
* G7102; Mastaba of Idu
* G7140; Mastaba of Khufukhaf
G7101;Tomb of Qar
Qar (also known as Meryrenefer) was buried in a mastaba situated to the east of Queen Hetepheres pyramid in theGreat Pyramid complex. He was an official of the sixth dynasty, probably during the reign of Pepi I. His titles included "Overseer of the Pyramid Towns of Khufu and Menkaure" the "Inspector of wab-priests of the Pyramid of Khafre" and "Tenant of the Pyramid of Pepi I". His wife, Gefi, was a "Prophetess of Hathor". Qar is thought to be either the father or the son of Idu, the occupant of tomb G7102.
His tomb is composed of a stair leading to a small entrance corridor followed by the main chamber, flanked on the west by an offering hall and on the east by storage room. The main room is divided into two courts (labelled C and D) separated by one freestanding pillar and two engaged pillars. Qar is depicted on the pillars at different stages of his life. On the walls his funerary procession is depicted along with offering scenes. At the far end of court D sit four beautiful statues of the deceased and his family. Another statue of Qar was placed in the niche in the eastern wall. Within the offering chamber there are more offering scenes and a False Door set into the western wall.
The artistic style clearly dates the tomb to the latter part of the Old Kingdom as Qar and his family are depicted with wide eyes and slim bodies with a hint of musculature on the torso.
G7101;Tomb of Idu
Idu's mastaba lies to the east of Queen Hetepheres pyramid in the Great Pyramid complex. He was an official of the sixth dynasty, probably during the reign of Pepi I. He held the titles "Scribe of the Royal Documents in the presence of the king", "Tenant of the Pyramid of Pepi I" and "Inspector of the wab-priests of the Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre". Idu is thought to be either the father or the son of Qar, the occupant of tomb G7101.
A descending stair leads down to a large rhomboid vestibule with an entrance corridor connecting it to a rectangular chapel. On the south wall there are detailed depictions of the purification tent and the funerary procession. On the western wall, there is a scene depicting men and cattle returning from the marshes, while on the northern wall, there are a number of scenes depicting the preparation of food and drink, the presentation of offerings, people dancing and children playing.
On the west wall of the chapel there are five niches containing high-relief statues of the deceased and (possibly) family members. One is thought to be Qar, but some scholars consider the others to be the deceased at different ages. There is an unusual false door in the western wall of the chapel with a statue of Idu rising from the floor to receive his offerings. Above the door is a beautiful depiction of the deceased and his wife, Meretites.
There is apparently a curse inscribed on the western doorjamb of the entrance which reads, "As for every man who shall enter this tomb, without purifying himself as the purification if a god, one shall make for him a painful punishment".
G7101;Tomb of Khufukhaf
Khufukhaf I (also called Khafkhufu by some) was a priest from the reign of Khufu who is thought to have been the son of Khufu and Queen Henutsen. His tomb sits east of the pyramid of Queen Henutsen near the Great Pyramid complex. Some commentators consider that Khufukhaf became the pharaoh Khafre.
The mastaba is the southern chapel (G 7140) of the double-mastaba G 7130-40(the northern chapel, G 7130, is that of his wife Nefretkau). The entrance is from the east through the mastaba doorway to the vestibule The only decorated part of the vestibule is the western wall from which a corridor leads to the main chamber. On either side of the door in the vestibule there are two large representations of the deceased with his mother and son. The main chamber walls are covered with depictions of the deceased and his family receiving offerings.
Archaeologists also found tiny model beer jugs (carved with the same offering spells that are inscribed on the walls) as well as real beer jugs. The door to the burial chamber is beautifully carved, but the burial chamber itself is undecorated. Some scholars suggest it dates to an earlier period.
The Egyptians did have slaves (usually prisoners of war or debtors), but the discovery of the workers village at Giza suggests that the pyramids were built by skilled workers and bureaucrats (who lived there all year long) and farmers (who provided seasonal labour during the inundation when they could not work on their farms). The village is about 300 metres south of the Great Sphinx. A 10 metre high wall named 'The Wall of the Crow' separates the mortuary complex from the village, with access via a huge gateway with a limestone lintel. It is thought that as many as 20,000 people may have lived there.
Archaeologists found thousands of potsherds dating from the time of the pyramids, along with the remains of buildings for the preparation of the food, supplies, building materials and medical services that the workers required. The settlement also boasts the earliest known paved street, complete with a drainage gully, and the earliest known hypostyle hall (a building with a flat ceiling supported by columns).Two intact bakeries were discovered, littered with pots, along with a cat-fish processing chamber and a number of copper-working areas. Fragments of wood and ash were found in each of these chambers, showing that even in this early period, the workers were able to obtain a good supply of precious and rare wood from a distant source. Egypt's bureaucracy was already well developed and efficient.
The worker's life expectancy was between 30 and 35 years, and both men and women suffered from the effects of their heavy labour. However, the workers also had access to fairly high quality medical care. Surgeons apparently conducted brain surgery as well as handling fractures and amputations.
Recently, Lehner discovered a series of mud ramps approximately one meter wide, within a series of colonnaded porches which he has suggested acted as a barracks for temporary workers, sleeping up to 2,000 people at once. Chambers to the rear of the barracks were used for the preparation of food, with remains suggesting the workers ate prime beef, bread and fish, and (of course) drank beer. Lehner also found evidence of a separate workers' town, to the east which he believes was the home of the skilled workers and officials, and what he hopes is the remains of a royal palace or administrative building. Inside the structure he found evidence of weaving and copper-working and a large court with numerous sunken grain stores.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is arguably the most enduring symbol of Ancient Egypt. It is probably the most famous ancient structure in the world and the only one of the "seven wonders" which is still standing. It is also an architectural marvel. Although it was not the first true pyramid, in terms of its size (it was the tallest structure on Earth until the nineteenth century AD), technical development and accuracy of measurement it is the most spectacular. Today, with modern building techniques and equipment we would be hard pressed to build such an enduring and enigmatic monument.
The Great Pyramid was built from over 2 million blocks of stone, each weighing more than two tons. These blocks were carved so perfectly that the entire monument was constructed without mortar or cement. You cannot even slip a piece of paper between them. Although it is a true pyramid (flat sided as opposed to stepped), the sides are actually concave. This was not discovered until the advent of flight allowed aerial photographs to be taken of the site. This feature is thought to add to the integrity of the monument and prevent the blocks from slipping (although typically, some have suggested that the curvature had an astronomical significance).
The entrance is on the north face. Just below it is the entrance tunnelled in antiquity. From the descending entrance corridor, an ascending passageway leads to the Grand Gallery. Originally, the passageway was sealed with three, seven ton blocks of pink granite (which are still in place). The passage is supported by a series of four single hollow stones known as "girdle stones". This ingenious feature allowed the passageway to bear the weight of masonry above it. There are also 3 "half girdles" (two stones combined for the same effect).
The Grand Gallery
The Grand Gallery itself is an architectural masterpiece. Its ceiling consists of a corbel vault with seven layers built from enormous limestone blocks. Each block projects about seven and a half centimetres, dissipating the weight of the monument and creating an impressive visual effect.
The Grand Gallery itself is an architectural masterpiece. Its ceiling consists of a corbel vault with seven layers built from enormous limestone blocks. Each block projects about seven and a half centimetres, dissipating the weight of the monument and creating an impressive visual effect.
There is disagreement as to the function of the low ramps which skirt the sides of the gallery. Twenty-seven square openings in the ramp corresponding to twenty-seven niches in the side walls, and Borchardt suggested that wooden beams were placed in the openings to aid the transport of building materials or to support the huge blocks while the masons build the corbelled ceiling. Lehner suggests they were actually holes for large beams which had supported the blocks that roofed the horizontal passage into the Queens Chamber, and provided a continuous floor for the Grand Gallery to the Ascending passage.
The Escape Shaft
There is a small opening in the west wall of the Great Gallery is a just above the door which is known as the escape shaft (also known as the well shaft or service shaft). It leads to a corridor deep under the pyramid, near the entrance to the underground chambers. There appear to be rough footholes in the shaft, which led Petrie to speculate that the shaft was an escape route for the men who were to lower the granite blocks into the ascending corridor when the burial ritual was over. However, it would have been fairly easy to fill in the shaft from above once the burial was complete, so this seems unlikely. Others suggest the shaft provided fresh air for the workers who were digging the underground chamber, but this suggests that the underground chambers and the shaft were built after the Great Gallery. This theory is largely rejected as the underground chambers are assumed to have been the first stage in construction.
The Subterranean Chamber and pit
The descending corridor cuts into the bedrock for a distance of about thirty meters under the base of the pyramid, before turning into a horizontal passageway which runs for about nine meters. At the end of this passageway there is an unfinished niche and a rock cut chamber. The chamber was apparently unfinished and the protective blocks were never placed at the entrance to the chamber. It has also been noted that the entrance was too small to allow a sarcophagus to be carried into the room after completion, leading most experts to agree that the chamber was not intended to be used for a burial despite the fact that the tunnel and chamber conform to the classic pyramid substructure (a descending corridor leading to a burial chamber below ground level).
A further unfinished corridor leads from the south wall for just over sixteen meters, and there is a square shaft on the east wall (halfway between the north and south walls) which descends for about five meters. The shaft is filled with rubble, but apparently descended for about 18 meters when it was cleared.
Like its successors in Ancient Egypt, the great pyramid of Giza was accompanied by all of the standard elements of a pyramid complex. Unfortunately most of them have since degraded or disappeared. Originally, the pyramid was surrounded by a Tura limestone wall over eight feet high, which also enclosed a paved limestone courtyard. Access to the courtyard was from the valley temple, mortuary temple and the causeway. Flanking the pyramid there were three small pyramids intended for Egyptian queens, a small cult pyramid, and a number of boat pits and other structures. The pyramid itself was cased in Tura Limestone, which would have shone in the midday sun, and topped by a gold pyramidion.
There are five boat pits around the great pyramid, and two smaller boat pits beside the queen's pyramids. Three of the pits were empty but fragments of gilded wood found in the causeway suggest that the boat pit beside it once housed a boat. The two pits on the south side of the pyramid still contained their boats. These pits were not the same shape as the other three pits (which were shaped roughly like a boat). Instead they were rectangular trenches which contained disassembled boats. As part of the pyramid's southern enclosure wall runs over one of the pits confirming that the pits were constructed before the end of the fourth dynasty (when the wall was completed).
Both pits had a roof of huge limestone slabs, but only one has been fully excavated (to protect the *******s of the other). weighing between 17 and 20 tons each. The largest is about 4.8 meters long. The boat had been dismantled into 1,224 pieces and laid out in the rough shape of the fully constructed boat. It was reconstructed and can now be viewed in all its glory. It is 43.3 meters (142 feet) long and made of precious cedar wood and acacia. The boat's prow and stern are in the form of papyrus talks. The prow at the stern end is bent over, making the boat reminiscent of an ancient style of papyrus reed boat. There is a small cabin or shrine in the middle of the boat (enclosed within a reed-mat structure with papyriform poles) and a small cabin at the front (probably for the captain). There were ten oars, but no mast, or sail, making it suitable only for river travel.
The craftsmen who constructed the pits left numerous marks and inscriptions, including eighteen cartouches containing the name of Djedefre. This suggests that some parts of the pyramid complex were completed after Kufu's death by his successor. It is also possible that Djedefre's name appears because he used the boats when burying Khufu.
The boats may have been intended for the king's use in the afterworld, or may have comprised the funerary procession. Others have suggested that the boats were the ones used by the pharaoh during his lifetime to attend festivals, and so they were sacred. This seems unlikely following the discovery of wood shavings suggesting that the boats were built on-site. It is also notable that there are no water marks on the hull of the boat which has been reassembled. Hawass, maintains that the boats had different functions. Those by the temple allowed the king to travel throughout Egypt while those to the south were intended to carry the soul of the pharaoh through the heavens with the sun god. The boat by the causeway may have been used in the funeral or have been dedicated to the goddess Hathor. On the other hand, Lehner considers the southern boat pits to have been ritually buried as the pits are not boat-shaped and are too small to have contained the fully assembled boats Therefore, he suggests that they were the funerary boats which were dismantled to discharge their magical energy, and then buried outside the enclosure wall. The others served a ritual purpose.
The Cause Way
According to Herodotus the whole causeway was decorated with fine reliefs. Unfortunately, only a few fragments have been recovered. The foundations rose to an incredible one hundred and thirty feet (over 40m) in order to link the plateau to the valley temple.
The Mortuary and valley Temples
The mortuary temple was destroyed centuries ago. Patches of the black basalt paved courtyard remain along with the sockets which held huge granite pillars that formed a colonnade around the courtyard. At the western end of the temple there is a recess (possibly a sanctuary) flanked by two store rooms. The interior walls were made of limestone and were originally carved with fine reliefs. This temple is the first known temple to make use of limestone, granite and basalt, but there is no evidence of the five niches which later became standard in mortuary temples. There is an area of basalt pavement at the far end of the causeway which is thought to be the remains of the valley temple, but nothing else remains.
The satellite Pyramid
The only remains of this pyramid are the T-shaped trench made by the descending passage and chamber. The possible pyramidion for this pyramid was also found in fragments at the site. It has been reassembled and is kept by the pyramid.
Khafre (or Khafra, "appearing like Re") was the son of Khufu (probably by Queen Henutsen), and the brother of his predecessor Djedefre. His chief wives were Queen Khamaerernebty I (the mother of Menkaure, his successor) and Queen Meresankh III (daughter of his brother Crown Prince Kawab). He had a number of sons including: Menkaure, Nebemakhet, Misuerre, Khenterka, Duaenre, Nikawre (Nekure) and Sekhemkare. We also know of a couple of his daughters: Khameremebty II and Shepsestkau.
Manetho (who called him Suphis II) claims he reigned for sixty-six years and Herodotus (who knew his as Chephren) credited him with a fifty-six year reign. However, it is generally agreed that his reign actually amounted to between twenty-four or twenty-six years because the highest regnal year mentioned in the Will of Prince Nekure (mastaba G 7650) is the "Year of the 13th occurrence" of the cattle count (which was thought to be bi-annual). The section where his name should be on the Turin Kings List is blank but his reign is confirmed as twenty-four years.
He built the second largest pyramid (which he named "Khafre is Great") at Giza and is often credited with the building Sphinx, and it is suggested that the face of the Sphinx models its creator. He also left many beautifully crafted diorite statues of himself.
Like his father Khufu, Khafre is described as a cruel king by Herodotus (although he does not go into much detail regarding his exploits). There are, however, rumours that his accession to the throne was problematic. He was the child of a lower ranked wife and it is sometimes suggested that he murdered his predecessor Djedefre in order to gain the throne. Proponents of this theory note that Djedefre did not choose to build his monument at Giza, instead locating it at Abu Rawash, and suggest that Djedefre usurped the throne before Khafre seized power from him. However, there is no evidence to support this conjecture and nothing in the contemporary records to confirm why Djedefre chose an alternate site or how his reign ended. Whether he was a beneficent ruler or not, Egypt certainly prospered under his reign and there is evidence of trade or diplomacy with Byblos and Ebla (Tell Mardikh in Syria).
Menkaure (Menkaura, "Eternal like the souls of Re") ruled during the fourth dynasty (Old Kingdom) of Ancient Egypt. He may also have used the names Kakhet and Hornub. It is thought that he was either the son of Khufu or the son of Khafre. The Turin Kings list places another pharaoh between Menkaure and Khafre, but the name is damaged. There is also a rock inscription at Wadi Hamamat dating to the Middle Kingdom which lists Khufu, Djedefre, Khafre, Hordjedef (Djedefhor) and Bauefre (Baufra) and does not mention Menkaure. Unfortunately it is not clear that this is a list of kings as some have suggested that Hordjedef was the son of Khufu and a crown prince, but never pharaoh and Bauefre was another son of Khufu who may have acted as vizier.
According to the Turin Kings list Menkaure ruled for eighteen years. However, Manetho credits him with a massive sixty-three year reign while some experts have suggested that he may have actually ruled for around twenty-eight years. His eldest son, Prince Khuenre, died before him and he was succeeded by another of his sons, Shepseskhaf who completed his pyramid and mortuary temple at Giza.
According to Herodotus, Menkaure was a benevolent ruler, unlike either Khufu or Khafre. Herodotus reports that he "reopened the temples and allowed the people, who were ground down to the lowest point of misery, to return to their occupations and to resume the practice of sacrifice". However, the Gods had apparently decreed that Egypt should suffer tyranny for one hundred and fifty years and did not approve of his gentle ways. The oracle at Buto warned him that he would only reign for six more years so he filled each day with drinking and merriment, never pausing to sleep, and so extended his life by twelve years instead of six. Herodotus also claims that his daughter committed suicide. The distraught king ordered that her corpse be buried in a wooden bull.
Evidence from his reign would support the suggestion that he was a beneficent ruler. The tombs of his officials boast large numbers of statues and frequent references to his generosity. For example an inscription in the tomb of Debhen states that the pharaoh actually granted him limestone from the royal quarry at Tura to build his monument. Menkaure also decreed that the children of officials were educated along with the royal children. There is even some evidence, in the form of scarabs, that he was venerated as later as the twenty-sixth dynasty
He built his pyramid at Giza which he named "Menkaure is divine". His pyramid complex included a satellite pyramid for his wife Khamerernebty II. Archaeologists have recovered a number of beautiful statues of Menkaure including fine examples which depict the king with Khamerernebty II and others in which he appears with Hathor and a series of nome gods. A number of unfinished statues were also recovered, supporting the suggestion that the king died suddenly.
The Great Sphinx of Giza
The Great Sphinx of Giza is the largest, the oldest and probably the most famous monumental statues in the world and an iconic symbol of Ancient Egypt. It is a massive seventy-three and a half meters (two hundred and forty-one feet)long and twenty meters (sixty-six feet) high. It takes the form of a couchant lion with the head of a man wearing the Nemes headdress of a pharaoh (although some have argued that it originally had the head of a lion and was later recarved). However, there are numerous debates about its meaning, its age and the name of the pharaoh that built it.
The Great Sphinx of Giza
There is no firm evidence that a cult of the Sphinx was active during the Old Kingdom. The Sphinx temple located in front of the Sphinx is thought to date to the Old Kingdom but it was never finished and there are no records of any priests or priestesses servicing this temple so it may never have been operational.
There are some who argue that the Sphinx pre-dates the pyramids and that there was a solar cult acting in the Giza area before Giza became the necropolis of the fourth dynasty kings. It has been proposed that the Sphinx, the Sphinx temple, the mortuary temple and the valley temple of Khafre were built at the same time and that their attribution to Khafre is erroneous. Referring to the Inventory Stela discovered by Mariette and the Dream Stele some have suggested that the Sphinx was in fact renovated during the Old Kingdom. However, this view is unpopular amongst Egyptologists and some who once proposed it now reject the theory.
The popularity of the Sphinx reached its height in the New Kingdom, often at the expense of the buildings of the pyramid complexes. In particular the causeway of the pyramid of Khafre seems to have been harvested for the stone to repair the Sphinx and build temples in its honour.
Amenhotep II (eighteenth dynasty, New Kingdom) built a temple to the Sphinx in which he also praises Khufu and Khafre, implying that he considered there was a connection between those two pharaohs and the Sphinx.
The Dream Stele (or Sphinx Stele) records that the son of Amenhotep II, Prince Tuthmosis, apparently fell asleep by the Sphinx who prophesised in his dream that he would become pharaoh if he cleared the sand that had engulfed it.
He did indeed effect repairs to the Sphinx and went on to become Thuthmosis IV of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Tuthmosis replaced sections of masonry that had eroded and built a huge mud brick enclosure wall which resembles a cartouche around the Sphinx quarry. Devotional stele were built into this wall including seventeen which depict Thuthmosis (sometimes accompanied by his wife Nefertari) making offerings to the Sphinx. He also built a temple dedicated to Horemakhet in which the Sphinx is named as Horemakhet-Hauron (Hauron being the Syrian and Palestinian god of the underworld).
The Sphinx fared better than most of the traditional gods during the Amarna Period, perhaps because of its strong solar connection. The remains of a villa built by Tutankhamun (and adapted by Ramesses II) have been found close to the Valley temple of Khafre and there is some evidence of another villa dating to the Amarna Period but it is not clear who should be credited with its construction. Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti were depicted as sphinx so it is possible that the other villa was constructed by this enigmatic pharaoh.
Seti I repaired and renovated the temple built by Amenhotep II and Ramesses II renovated the temple of Tuthmosis IV and added two base reliefs on which he appears making offerings to the sphinx.
Unfortunately a number of New Kingdom mudbrick structures were cleared from the area around the Sphinx during the early twentieth century with little or no record being made of them for posterity.
There is evidence of a fairly major repair during the twenty-sixth dynasty (Third Intermediate Period). Patches of masonry that had crumbled away were replaced and the structure was clad in the same limestone used in earlier repairs. Further restoration was conducted during the Roman Period, but this only consisted of the addition of small brick-sized stones to eroded parts of the body of the Sphinx. These can still be seen in places but as they used relatively soft white limestone they have deteriorated badly.
At some point in history, the Sphinx's nose was damaged. This is blamed on a number of individuals or groups:
• Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr (a Sufi Muslim living in the area at around AD 1378) apparently vandalised the monument when became enraged on finding Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx to boost the harvest;
• Either Napoleon himself or members of his army are said to have broken the nose when practicing with their cannon;
• Mameluk troops are also accused of using the Sphinx for target practice; and
• The British Army are also said to have taken pot shots at the Sphinx
The accusation against Napoleon is particularly unfair as he undertook one of the first systematic records of the monuments of Giza and by all accounts showed great appreciation of the monuments. In any case, a sketch by Frederic Luis Norden in 1737 shows that the Sphinx was damaged before Napoleon visited Egypt.
There is some evidence that a ceremonial beard was added to the Sphinx some time after its original construction. However, this too is missing.
We do not know what the Egyptians of the Old Kingdom called the Sphinx.
By the New Kingdom the Sphinx was associated with the god Horemakhet (Horus of the Horizon known to the Greeks as Harmachis). The Sphinx enclosure was known as "setepet" ("The Chosen"), possibly referring to the fact many pharaohs visited the Sphinx early in their reign in order to legitimise their rule.
In the Dream Stele the Sphinx is refered to as Horemakhet (Harmachis), Horemakhet-Atum-Khepri and Atum-Re-Horemakhet. In the temple to Horemakhet built by Tuthmosis IV the Sphinx was described as Horemakhet-Hauron. Hauron was the Syrian god of the underworld, and it is thought his name was applied because of Syrian and Palestinian workers employed by Thuthnosis worked in the area.
The name "Sphinx" in fact relates to a Greek mythological beast with the body of a lion, the head of a woman and the wings of an eagle. The Greek name derived from the verb "to strangle" as the Greek sphinx strangled anyone who failed to answer her riddle. This is a story from Greek mythology and although in the legend the sphinx was said to sit outside Thebes it is generally held that it was Thebes in Greece and a completely different sphinx that were referred to. Nevertheless the tale is still told to many tourists who visit Giza!
It is sometimes suggested that this Greek name stuck because of similarities with the term "shesep-ankh" ("living image") which applied to both the Sphinx and to royal statues.
Medieval Arab writers name the Sphinx balhib or bilhaw, but although there appears to be a coptic link to these names their origin is not known. In modern Arabic the Sphinx is called "Abu al-Hol" ("Father of Terror").
There are two Sphinx temples: one sits directly in front of the Sphinx and is dated to the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt; the second lies to the north-east of the Sphinx and is dated to the New Kingdom.
Old Kingdome Sphinx Temple
The Old Kingdom Sphinx Temple sits on a wide terrace roughly eight feet lower than the base of the Sphinx. This terrace was originally paved with alabaster with granite facing but this has almost all gone now and it is in poor condition.
The Sphinx temple sits on a is built from the same blocks of limestone as the Sphinx itself and the valley temple of Khafre leading many to suggest that the Sphinx is contemporaneous with Khafre's pyramid complex. These blocks are of relatively poor quality and have eroded badly. This temple is very similar in layout to Khafre's mortuary temple. The two entrances in the eastern face, are lined with pink granite. It is thought that the builders planned in covering all of the external walls in granite, but the building was unfinished so the poorer quality limestone blocks were open to the elements and so were badly damaged. The inside of the Sphinx temple was paved in alabaster and clad in fine Tura limestone, alabaster and granite.
The eroded limestone core of the temple is all that remains now. From this we know that it featured a central open air court paved with alabaster with an altar in the centre. The court was surrounded by a pillared colonnade with a series of large recesses in the eastern and western walls to hold cult statues. The temple seems to have had two sanctuaries, one in the east and the other in the west. This level of symmetry was unconventional for its time leading to much speculation on the form of worship intended to be carried out in the temple
It is suggested that the temple was the home of a solar cult which worshipped Khepri as the rising sun, Ra as the midday sun and Atum as the setting sun. The temple itself was oriented to the rising and setting sun and the Great Sphinx itself is often associated with solar theology. If this is the case it is the earliest known solar temple in ancient Egypt.
It is also suggested that the twenty-four columns of the colonnade reflect the hours of the day and it is also suggested that there may have been ten or twelve statues in the court representing the hours of daylight. The two sanctuaries may have represented day and night. Unfortunately we cannot be certain and without more information the meaning of the temple architecture and the activities of any cult located there are conjecture.
This temple was not finished and no references to any priests or priestesses servicing the temple have been recovered so far so it was probably never operational.
New Kingdom Sphinx Temple
The largest New Kingdom temple dedicated to the Sphinx was built by Amenhotep II to the north-east of the Sphinx. It was destroyed in antiquity but has now been restored. It takes the form of an open sun temple with a stepped dias and offering area.
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حتى إذا قامت القيامة ..
عرض كل إنسان لوحته وانتظر عاقبته..
فأبدع في لوحتك .. فما زالت الفرشاة بيدك