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Responses to Pyramids

(posted February 20, 1997)

Question:

Is it true that the original head of the Sphinx is that of a "lion?" If so, have you found any evidence of the original head & when and why was it replaced with the present day head?
M.G., New Jersey

Response:

No, it is not true that the original head of the Sphinx is that of a lion. We know that the Sphinx was carved out of the natural limestone formation of the Giza plateau, as one solid block. There is no evidence that its head was ever replaced, so the human one it currently possesses is in fact the original one as well.

However, this is not unusual, as all extant depictions of the ancient Egyptian sphinx show him possessing the body of a lion and at least the head of the human king (sometimes it also had human hands instead of front paws), as a representation of the awesome power of the King of Egypt.

Thomas Kittredge
Yale University
Square Supervisor, Koch-Ludwig Giza Plateau Mapping Project




Question:

How did they make the point at the top?
Brian, age 6, Maryland

Response:

Thomas Kittredge: The point on a pyramid was made with the placement of a small (about 1 meter high) pyramid-shaped capstone, known as a pyramidion, on the uppermost course of blocks. Even though none of these have been preserved in their original positions, we know that they existed because they have been found in close proximity to the pyramids they belonged to.

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