Did the Great Sphinx of Egypt Originally Have a Different Head?

The Great Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids

It's too small. That's the problem that many see with the head of the Great Sphinx at Giza in Egypt: proportionately, it's much too small for the massive leonine body that it sits upon. Does this suggest that once, way back in antiquity, it originally had a different head...like that of a lion?

English geologist Colin Reader is one who thinks so, and in the video he cites another strange fact about the Sphinx's head as evidence for the theory:

We know for most of its life the Sphinx has been buried up to the shoulders and neck in sand. I've seen other places at Giza, the sand tends to protect the rocks that are buried beneath it.

The head's been exposed for almost the entire life of the Sphinx. It's been exposed to wind-blown sand, the effect of the Sun...if anything, the head should be more degraded than the body, but we see the reverse. And for me, there's only one real explanation for that. And that's that the head has been recut.

At a later stage, whatever was there originally, was retrimmed and reprofiled, to give us this pharaoh's head. The inescapable conclusion from that, is that originally this wasn't a Sphinx at all. It started life as something different.

The video goes on to cite more possible evidence for the theory, including an ancient Sphinx sculpture in the Cairo museum that also shows signs of having been recut from its original shape to give it the head of a pharaoh.

Incidentally, Colin Reader also - like fellow geologist Robert Schoch - believes that the Sphinx is older than orthodox Egyptology thinks it is - although his theory is far less radical than Schoch's, redating the famous monument only a few hundred years, rather than thousands. See Reader's journal article "Giza Before the Fourth Dynasty", or this more casual explanation of his ideas, for more detail.

(via @SmithsonianMag)

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Tom's picture
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Isn't it obvious that it is Anubis? Never looked right to me being a lion or a sphinx. It's got to be a dog - Anubis, guarding the gates to the underworld and all that? I thought Robert Temple or Graham Hancock were going on about that back in the 90s.

Fey's picture
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The first link (as per subject line) doesn't appear to be working FYI

And PS - yes I think Anubis is a good candidate for Sphinx - makes a lot of sense in respects to Egyptian mythology / culture...

red pill junkie's picture
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To my knowledge, it was Schoch the 1st to suggest the Sphinx may have had a different head than the smallish human one it currently has.

And that was back in the early 90's.

Also, ever since Emmerich's '10,000 B.C.' came out, I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to Google a screen-grab from the film in which, for some fleeting seconds, the Sphinx was shown with a lion's head --a very fitting homage to Robert IMO ;)

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It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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Blaknyte's picture
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I've said this for years - it's the obvious proof of an older civilization, that for some reason, they refuse to acknowledge. But of course, it's been said, that man often stumbles over the truth, but then he picks himself up and continues on in ignorance. It's obvious the Sphinx is older than the excepted. I'm sure if the casing stones, from the pyramids, hadn't been scavenged for building materials, it would have looked older too.

Luke Skywalker's picture
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In his book, The Sphinx Mystery, Robert Temple recovers an old analysis from an old Egyptological study. This study examines the pattern of the stripes on the headdress.

Different dynasties had different patterns, and only one of these patterns matches this style that was used on the current head of the sphinx. This pattern occurred much later than 2500 BC. Since it was known that the sphinx was carved at least as early 2500 BC, this study had been ignored until Robert Temple revisited it.

I won't spoil the book for anyone, so go read it for yourself. But, this is proof that the headdress was carved far later than the rest of sphinx, which was carved far earlier than 4000 BC.

However, John West and Robert Schoch have evidence that easily proves that the Sphinx is much older than Robert Temple's date of around 3000 to 4000 BC. The erosion is mostly from rainwater, not from moat water.

This current study by C. Reader offers nothing new--the studies of Schoch and West, and provide conclusive of evidence of rainwater erosion, making the sphinx far more than 5000 years old.

So, any new studies need to launch from this point, and then move on to something that is actually new information.

rolandr's picture
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this rather convincing observation was made in "The Sphinx Mystery: The Forgotten Origins of the Sanctuary of Anubis" by Robert Temple

red pill junkie's picture
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But herein lies the problem: If the Sphinx was originally Anubis, that means it was built by the Egyptians; whereas Schoch has tried to demonstrate the Sphinx is actually much older, and probably built by a previous civilization. In which case, it could have had the face of a lion.

And there's also the astronomical alignment, right? Isn't the Sphinx oriented to where the constellation of Leo was located 10,500 years ago?

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It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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jackinthegreen's picture
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I think it was Marduk - Babylonian god - who was symbolised sometimes as a dragon.

Given the close association between civilizations around that time, it is surely conceivable that Marduk and Anubis had common ancestry, possibly with the Sumerians or even an as yet unknown prior civilization.

So if the Sphinx does pre-date the Egyptians, maybe it is a dragon we're looking at, not a lion or a jackal.

Greg H.'s picture
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I was just watching a decade old Sphinx documentary in which the Egyptologist try to debunk as new age nonsense the idea of an old sphinx, the water weathering and argue that Khufu or Khafre (i.e. Egyptians - a very important prideful point to Zahi Hawass) carved the Sphinx. One of their arguments is there was no known civilization in Egypt at the alleged time predating the Egyptions that COULD have carved the Sphinx. This seems in light of Gobekli Tepe discoveries a completely inadequate argument against an ancient Sphinx. Gobekli Tepe is an example of massive organized labor undertaking over hundreds of years 8,000 - 12,000 years ago, by a completely unknown people. I think the evidence for an ancient Sphinx Lion or Dog is perfectly reasonable.

Greg H.

billy mavreas's picture
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i never understood the suppose origin for the constellation symbols. i'm all for a lion but who named the constellation leo ?
is the answer obvious ? like 'oh, it's in the vedas' or something ?

i'm always struck by how the symbols of the constellations are so often trotted out as universal. it makes no sense to me.

red pill junkie's picture
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I'm no expert in this, but supposedly the Zodiack symbols we still use today had their origin in Mesopotamia, and then the Greeks adopted it.

But there seems to be hints that the Zodiack has even older origins.

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billy mavreas's picture
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feel free to trample my ignorance into powder

James G's picture
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I think it was a woman's head possibly Virgo or Isis.

Charles Pope's picture
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Yes, and it indicates that the Sphinx was first carved with a woman's head at the end of the Ice Age during the contiguous astrological ages of Libra, Virgo and Leo. (Maybe the Sphinx had some other form prior to that, such as a dog as suggested by Robert Temple.)

The millennia leading up to the end of the Ice Age is also the time when the Zodiac best reflected the positions of the stars and therefore probably when the Zodiac was itself formulated.

The Name Leo simply derives from the word for lion (leon) in both Greek and Latin.

Brig's picture
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Those who contend that the Sphinx had the head of Anubis are not very observant. Anubis was based on the jackal. The jackal does not exhibit the legs or tail of the Sphinx. The jackal has long slender legs and a long slender tail like many dogs. The Sphinx shows muscular legs and a tail much like a lion. That the face of the Sphinx has been recut at some point s pretty obvious. Schoch has demonstrated this fact rather conclusively. What the face was originally is not known; but the lion fills the bill better than Anubis. Dr. Schock believes the present face on the Sphinx is female. Personally I disagree, but such is personal opinion.

Charles Pope's picture
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I don't think that the Anubis proposition is very convincing either, but I'm trying to be nice to Robert Temple. The "Mad-Dog" was every bit an ancient symbol of terror as the Sphinx. (See the Enuma Elish.) Who knows, maybe the original monument was much larger and was progressively transformed into smaller sculptures over time. It is even possible it was given a "Patriarchal" makeover in the Old Kingdom, but I'm not sure that was necessary. The Sphinx probably already symbolized female authority. However, it could be that an already female head was simply re-carved (in smaller scale) and equipped with male trappings, such as the false beard and masculine headdress. Certainly, a chosen few queens did adopt the false beard and Nemes headdress in dynastic Egypt, and felt completely entitled (by tradition) to do so.

James G's picture
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I'm a firm believer in the work of Ralph Ellis. If he is right and I belive he is, then the sphinx was built in the sign of Virgo or maybe in between Virgo and Leo. I think it was then recarved when the patriarch Shepard Pharos didn't want to see a women's face on the Sphinx.

red pill junkie's picture
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Well, when we think of 'lion' we usually of a male lion; "the King of the jungle," right? But maybe the Sphinx was a lioness. Maybe the builders were all too aware than when it comes to hunting, it's the females who do all the work ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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