Restoration of the Great Sphinx of Giza underway

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Restoration experts and technicians have installed metal scaffolding around the Great Sphinx of Giza earlier this week to begin work on renovating and cleaning various parts of the structure including the eyes, eyelids, cheeks and chest. The initiative was ordered by Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Al-Damati.

(photo: TNN)

(photo: TNN)

(photo: TNN)

Safaa Al-Araby, manager of restoration for the Giza governorate, told Al-Ahram news portal that necessary periodical maintenance is conducted on the Sphinx every three years, the last of which was in October 2011. This maintenance is fully funded by the Ministry of Antiquities, under the supervision of Egyptian restorers and using Egyptian equipment.

(photo: TNN)

Carved from the bedrock of the Giza plateau, the limestone Sphinx was built in approximately 2500 BC and has the body of a lion with the head of a king or god. It is not absolutely certain by who and for which Ancient Egyptian pharaoh the structure was built.

(photo: TNN)

(photo: TNN)

The Great Sphinx does not appear in any known inscription of the Old Kingdom, and there are no inscriptions anywhere describing its construction or its original purpose, according to Egyptologists. However, there is a general consensus that the Sphinx was built for the pharaoh Khafra (2558-2532 BC), the builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza.

(photo: TNN)

(photo: TNN)

It would appear to visitors as though the head is small in proportion to the body, which has been buried several times over the past several thousand years.

(photo: TNN)

(photo: TNN)

It is also clear that the one-metre-wide nose on the face is missing. Conflicting reports state that the nose was broken off either by a cannonball fired by Napoleon’s soldiers or by British or Turkish troops.

(photo: TNN)

(photo: TNN)

In 1817 CE, the first modern archaeological dig, supervised by the Italian Captain Giovanni Battista Caviglia, uncovered the Sphinx’s chest completely. The entire Sphinx was finally excavated between 1925 to 1936, in digs led by French Egyptologist Émile Baraize.

Since then, major restoration efforts by Egyptian archaeologists and restorers have been constant.

(photo: TNN)

On his part, Restoration Director for the Pyramids area, Khairy Abdul Rahman, added that the Sphinx’s full face and chest area will be restored. The eye-lids will also be cleaned of acid and alkaline secretions that are produced by the pigeons, sparrows and crows of the area.