Fragment of Ancient Egyptian Sphinx Found In Israel

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Image: Hebrew University

A fragment of a sphinx statue that once belonged to the Egyptian ruler Menkaure has been discovered in Israel.

Dating back to around 2,500 BC, the fragment was found at the Tel Hazor dig site, and is of the two front paws of a sphinx. Between the paws is a heirogliphic inscription naming the Egyptian king Menkaure, also known as Mycerinus, who ruled Egypt over 4,000 years ago. The inscription also says, “Beloved by the divine manifestation…that gave him eternal life.”

The researchers uncovered parts of the mythical creature’s paws and forearms. The statue was approximately 20 inches long, and archaeologists estimated the entire statue was 60 inches long and 20 inches high.

This find, however, is puzzling for two reasons: not just because it was discovered in northern Israel, a fair distance from Egypt, but because it’s the only known sphinx statue ever found that mentions Menkaure, who oversaw the building of one of the three pyramids at Giza. The statue may have been a gift from a later Egyptian ruler, or plunder that found its way into Israel.

A sphinx is a mythical creature composed of the body of a lion and the head of a human, featured prominently in Greek and Egyptian mythology. The most famous sphinx, of course, is the Great Sphinx of Giza, sculpted out of limestone and standing on the west bank of the Nile River. It, too, is a mystery, as no one knows when it was constructed, or by whom.

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