Thursday, January 21, 2010

Leading Archaeologist Discusses the Sphinx is running a feature on American archaeologist Mark Lehner, who has spent decades researching the Sphinx. From the article:

No human endeavor has been more associated with mystery than the huge, ancient lion that has a human head and is seemingly resting on the rocky plateau a stroll from the great pyramids. Fortunately for Lehner, it wasn’t just a metaphor that the Sphinx is a riddle. Little was known for certain about who erected it or when, what it represented and precisely how it related to the pharaonic monuments nearby. So Lehner settled in, working for five years out of a makeshift office between the Sphinx’s colossal paws, subsisting on NescafĂ© and cheese sandwiches while he examined every square inch of the structure. He remembers “climbing all over the Sphinx like the Lilliputians on Gulliver, and mapping it stone by stone.” The result was a uniquely detailed picture of the statue’s worn, patched surface, which had been subjected to at least five major restoration efforts since 1400 B.C. The research earned him a doctorate in Egyptology at Yale.

Recognized today as one of the world’s leading Egyptologists and Sphinx authorities, Lehner has conducted field research at Giza during most of the 37 years since his first visit. … Applying his archaeological sleuthing to the surrounding two-square-mile Giza plateau with its pyramids, temples, quarries and thousands of tombs, Lehner helped confirm what others had speculated—that some parts of the Giza complex, the Sphinx included, make up a vast sacred machine designed to harness the power of the sun to sustain the earthly and divine order.

Click here for the complete Smithsonian article.

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