Sphinx presenting offerings
Sphinxes are fascinating creatures. Originating in ancient Egypt, they have the body of a lion and the head of a human, oftentimes the king. The earliest known Egyptian sphinx dates to the reign of Djedefra, Khufu's son and Khafra's predecessor, from the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom. In later periods, sphinxes were clearly functioning as guardians, often set up along processional ways and at the entrances to temples.
Originally, and for a long time thereafter, sphinxes took the form of a recumbent animal, with its forelegs stretched out and separate from each other. However, some sphinxes were depicted as walking on all fours, and, more rarely, some were depicted as seated.
The sphinx we present today is found in the Luxor Museum. The face is believed to be that of king Tutankhamun, based on the features seen in the eyes and the chin. The statue is made of calcite, it's 53 centimetres in height and was found in the Mut temple in Karnak. The king is wearing a Nemes headdress, and the statue originally had human arms that held a vase.
Check out photos of another sphinx, likely of Hatshepsut, in another one of our posts by clicking here.