In Greek mythology, the sphinx is a creature with a head of a woman, a body of a lion, and the wings of a bird. This mythical creature was given a famous role of a guardian of the city of Thebes. Anybody who wish passage must answer a riddle or be devoured. The riddle goes: “Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?”
The riddle (and a second one) was answered by Oedipus, and the sphinx killed herself in despair. In Egypt, however, the sphinx is a symbol of power and wisdom. Sphinxes are made with heads of kings or gods on a lion’s body. The most famous of all Egyptian sphinxes is the Sphinx of Giza. This sphinx has been an inspiration for many authors, film makers, historians and was even used as a subject for abstract painting.
What’s amazing about this man-made structure is that it’s made out of bedrock of Muqqatam Formation; which was formed 50 million years ago from sediments and remains of now-extinct plankton at the bottom of the sea. It was believed a quarry was built where the sphinx stood. The quarry was for the stones to be used for the construction of the great pyramids. In the area where the body of the sphinx is located, the stones were believed to be substandard.
A visionary has conceived an idea to use that substandard stone to form a Sphinx. When the Sphinx was completed, it was left for years and was buried under tons of sand. Legend has it that when King Thutmose IV was still a prince, he fell asleep beneath the shade of the Sphinx. The Sphinx implored the prince to uncover him from the sand and promised him the throne. The request was granted and Thutmose was ordained king of Egypt.
Right now, the sphinx is slowly deteriorating because of the elements and smog. Restoration only caused further damage to the Sphinx, so it was left alone. No one knows whom the Sphinx of Giza signifies. Most historians speculate that it was Cephren, others state it was his guardian deity.