Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Second Sphinx?

Hola darlings! It's raining hard right now, been doing so since about 5:30 p.m. Fortunately, I had my trusty umbrella with me and so during the walk home from the bus stop I was able to keep the rain out of my eyes and face! From about the waist down the rest of me was soaked, oy! Amazingly, there was still some 7 inch deep drifted snow left up near the garage door when I got home - I thought what was left after the past couple days of milder temperatures might have melted away today, particularly with the rain. Oh well. So, I was a good homeowner and tired as I was, and wet as I was, I pulled out the shovel and got even wetter while I shoveled away the rest of the snow. Anyway, while I'm slowly drying off I visited Daily Grail and came across this interesting story. I do not think I've posted about it before. Generally I'm very skeptical when it comes to this kind of thing - particularly speculation that there is a "something" "somewhere" deep beneath Giza that - take your pick - hides (a) endless treasure (b) the knowledge of the Universe (c) Goddess (d) gold-plated bon bons, but I have to say the author has put together a compelling argument that I think warrants further investigation with respect to the reality of a second "mirror" sphinx on the opposite of the Nile. A fascinating logistical problem, trying to pinpoint the possible location of the now destroyed second Sphinx. The article is from Histories & Mysteries, written by Antoine Gigal: A Second Sphinx at Gizeh? 23rd February, 2009 Antoine Gigal has unearthed historical evidence that shows that until the 11th century AD, a Second Sphinx existed on the Gizeh plateau, which has since been dismantled. In 1858, Fran├žois Auguste Mariette was charged by the Duke of Luynes to verify the proposition of Pliny the Elder that the Sphinx had been constructed, and was not monolithic. He opened a trench near the pyramid of Khufu (4th Dynasty, 2589-2566 BC) and in a sanctuary of Isis (dating from the 1st century BC), where he found the so-called “Inventory Stele”. The stele states that “during the reign of Khufu, he ordered the construction of a monument the length of the Sphinx.” This logically concludes that the Sphinx was already there, and that the standard theory, which is that the Sphinx is contemporary with Khafre (4th Dynasty, 2520-2494 BC), is incorrect. No wonder therefore that the majority of Egyptologists try to turn the attention away from the Inventory Stele, as it poses too many problems. Some prefer to affirm that this stele was a list of the inventory of the temple of Isis and that it therefore dates from the 26th Dynasty only. Maybe, but Mariette, its discoverer, passed more than ten years researching the Gizeh plateau, and walked away with the conviction that the stele was erected by Khufu himself. It was Captain Giovanni Battista Caviglia who, in 1816, cleaned the Sphinx and its surrounding temples from the sand, and attributed the construction of the Sphinx to Khafre because of the proximity of his pyramid to the Sphinx. However, not a single inscription has confirmed this link and the Sphinx is not even in alignment to this pyramid. There is also a text from Pharaoh Amenhotep II (ca. 1448-1420 BC), in which the Sphinx is mentioned and is labelled “older than the pyramids”. Then there is the famous Dream Stele of Tuthmosis IV (18th Dynasty, 1420-1411 BC), in which certain Egyptologists (all too quickly) believe they have seen the name of Khafre on a piece of the inscription – today no longer present – on the stele, in the praises to a deity, even though the name is not there in reality, but only in the outline of a single syllable, which is long from conclusive in such an affirmation. They have furthermore inserted, in the translation, a second syllable that does not exist on the stele itself! Tuthmosis IV was only a prince and at the time, no heir to the throne. After a hunt, he reposed in the shadow of the head of the Sphinx, which was the only part of the monument that was still above ground – the underlying structures all covered by sand. In his sleep, he dreamed that the Sphinx asked him to be uncovered from the sands. In return, the Sphinx would give him power and fortune. Indeed, Tuthmosis decided to execute his dream and became soon afterwards Pharaoh, as well as very rich. However, that what is particularly interesting on the Dream Stele of Tuthmosis IV is the representation of the Sphinx. There are two! Equally, one can see that the two Sphinxes sit on architectural constructions, i.e. a small temple with a gate. The usual interpretation from Egyptologists is that these temples are merely the representation of that what is present in front and to the South of the Sphinx. However, such a conclusion should fail to satisfy anyone, as it is well-known that the rules of perspective for the ancient Egyptians were very strict, and no official artist would allow himself to deviate from reality to such an extent. Most importantly, in the Inventory Stele, there is mention of a lightning strike that struck the cap of a Second Sphinx, as well as a sycamore tree, a sacred tree in those days, which was burned by the same lightning strike. The lightning strike marked the beginning of the end of this Second Sphinx. According to archaeologist Michael Poe, who refers to papyrus fragments from the Middle Kingdom, the Second Sphinx was located face to face with the still-existing Sphinx. It was located on the other side of the Nile, and was destroyed by a violent rising of the river Nile ca. 1000 AD. The local people took stones from the structure to rebuild their villages. This thesis is confirmed by other texts, such as those of the great Arab geographer and scholar Al-I-Drisi (1099-1166 AD) in his two geographical encyclopaedias (Kitab al Mamalk, Al-Mamsalik, and Kitab al Jujori). He mentions the presence of two sphinxes at Gizeh, monuments he describes in great detail: one is in a very bad state, licked by the waters of the Nile, and several stones are missing. Other authors also mention the existence of two sphinxes. The famous historian Musabbihi writes about a “sphinx smaller than the other” (likely because the other one had deteriorated badly by that time) on the other side of the Nile, made from bricks and stones (Annals of Rubi II, ca. 1024). In total, these accounts presents conclusive evidence that in origin, there were two sphinxes: one, the Sphinx which still exists; a Second Sphinx on the opposite side of the Nile, made from bricks, at first damaged and in relatively modern times, the 11th century, used as a quarry, thus completely dismantling the structure. As to the precise location of the Second Sphinx, at the moment, there are three possibilities. The work is made especially hard as the area has many modern buildings. We only know that the Sphinx was on the other side of the Nile, a river that was much wider in those days, especially at the time of the inundations. The all-important question is, nevertheless, this: why is not more written about this Second Sphinx? What is there to hide? Why not mention its deconstruction together with the removal of the outer lining of the Great Pyramid, which was equally used by the people of Cairo for their homes. Perhaps the reason is more complex: because these Sphinxes hide something that gains access to something underneath the Gizeh plateau? Let us note that in the 10th century AD, the greatest Arab chroniclers and historians mentioned the existence of gates that provided access to subterranean galleries under the Sphinx. That, however, is a different story.

Antoine Gigal is a French writer and researcher, and the Egyptian correspondent for the French ‘L’Egypte’ magazine.Gigal’s early years were spent in Africa and South America, where her father worked as journalist and diplomat. This has taken her all over the world exploring diverse cultures and civilizations. She studied at Sorbonne Paris III University and the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO), where she graduated in Chinese and Japanese languages and civilizations.

Speaking Arabic, Spanish, Italian and French, for the last 20 years, she was lived mainly in Egypt, and calls Paris her second home. Gigal lectures extensively on Egypt and leads several study tours of Egypt every year. Gigal has travelled to even the most remote archaeological areas and is able to gain access to monuments not open to general public. With the eye of an astute detective, Gigal has made a name for herself in France as someone who is able to bring new and first-hand information about the mysteries of ancient Egypt.

I'm wondering about that sacred Sycamore tree that was struck by lightening. How do you get a tree to grow in the middle of the desert? Well, of course, they were quite near the Nile - but you still need dirt, not sand, to grow things in. Did they haul in dirt by the wheel barrow full? Were there special attendants for the tree, who watered it daily during the hot stretches? Did they know about fertilizer (for instance, the American Indians whom the Pilgrims met when they landed at Plymouth Rock taught the English about using dead fish partially buried around the roots of corn plants to help them grow more - granted a couple thousand years later!) and mulching?

When the tree was destroyed by the lightning strike, was a sapling replanted, or did the tree resprout from the roots -- those would not have been killed by the lightning.

So many questions - and no answers.

According to Frazer's "The Golden Bough," Sycamore bough figured in the celebration of the yearly re-enactment of the funeral rites of Osiris as they were described in a "long inscription of the Ptolemic period:" On the twenty-fourth of Khoiak, after sunset, the effigy of Osiris in a coffin of mulberry wood was laid in the grave, and at the ninth hour of the night the effigy which had been made and deposited the year before was removed and placed upon boughs of sycamore. Lastly, on the thirtieth day of Khoiak they repaired to the holy sepulchre, a subterranean chamber over which appears to have grown a cplum of Persea-trees. Entering the vault by the western door, they laid the coffined effigy of the dead god reverently on a bed of snad in the chamger. So they left him to his rest, and departed from the sepulchre by the eastern door. Thus ended the ceremonies in the month of Khoiak."

No mention of what happened to the year-old effigy placed upon the "boughts of sycamore." Was it burned? Was it set on a special reed boat and set adrift on the Nile - perhaps "fired" like the Vikings did a thousand years later?


Also wondering if this quaint custom has any possible connection to the ancient Egyptian rituals:

In discussing "Relics of tree-worship in modern Europe," Frazer cited Sir Henry Piers "Description of Westmeath" writing in 1682: "Among ancient customs still retained by the Cornish, may be reckoned that of decking their doors and porches on the first of May with green boughs of sycamore and hawthorn, and of planting trees, or rather stumps of trees, before their houses."



Anonymous said...

It's nice to see that there were other references to a 2nd Sphinx. I reported the 2nd Sphinx years ago in Prodigy's web site when I was their Egyptology moderator. At the time I speculated that since the Nile was much closer to the remaining Sphinx and has moved consistently further East, it would have eventually innudated the 2nd Sphinx and eventually taken it away. There was no hills close by to carve the 2nd Sphinx out of and therefor it would have been of an inner core of mudbricks and outer core of stone. If they were facing each other on each side of the Nile they could also have symbolized the line between Upper and Lower Egypt. Dr. Michael Poe

Jan said...

Thanks for your insight. This is a fascinating subject. I re-read the article and was amazed at this quote which escaped my notice the first time:

Musabbihi writes about a “sphinx smaller than the other” (likely because the other one had deteriorated badly by that time) on the other side of the Nile, made from bricks and stones (Annals of Rubi II, ca. 1024).

Thus, the second sphinx was mentioned well within historical memory by someone considered an otherwise reliable source, a mere thousand years ago!

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