Time’s stalwart guardian, the Sphinx, has seemingly forever sat upon the Giza Plateau. In fact, according to most estimates, this enigmatic creation is believed to have been built when Khafra’s pyramid was constructed between 2558 to 2532 BC.
The term sphinx comes from the Greek for strangler; although it has been suggested that the word originates from the ancient Egyptian phrase shesep ankh (living image).
Many scholars have surmised that the face of this fantastical creature is, in fact, an image of Pharaoh Khafra himself; although this has still yet to be confirmed. It certainly seems plausible, as the Sphinx stands at the end of a ritual causeway that leads up to Khafra’s pyramid.
Recently, there has been a lot of contention regarding the accepted age of the Sphinx. Some scientists have suggested that the Sphinx may belong to an older civilisation, dating as far back as 12,000 years. These controversial conclusions were founded upon the level of erosion that has affected the main body of the sculpture. The maverick scientists who promote these theories, believe that the erosion lines could only have appeared during a period of high moisture in the region, pre-dating the age of the Pharaohs by thousands of years, during a period that followed the last great Ice Age. If this could be proven, then the history of civilisation would have to be radically updated.
Traditional Egyptologists are not swayed by such ideas, as they are not by the predictions of American mystic, Edgar Cayce, who had visions of a lost library of ancient wisom laying within the Sphinx. There have been several legitimate excavations to discover if, indeed, a space within exists. Towards the back of the sandstone statue near its tail, a small, hollow chamber was discovered, but nothing that would hint towards a larger, more important inner complex.
With a maximum height of 20 metres, and a length of 73 metres, the Sphinx instantly enthralls the visitor with both powerful mythology and ancient history. There are efforts to preserve it from the increasing threat of Cairo’s pollution, which is causing the Sphinx to suffer from stone’s equivalent of cancer. How much reconstruction should be done, has been a source of great contention, but with the current environmental assault, if work is not continued, this fabled art piece will be challenged to survive another millennium.
Photography & Report by El-Branden Brazil
Napoleon was an influential force in the birth of Egyptology. Accompanying his troops, were also engineers, surveyors, artists and archaeologists, who were required to document the great ruins of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. This led to an explosion of interest in all things Egyptian throughout Europe at the time; an interest that has never waned.
Regardless of the myths that abound, Napoleon was not responsible for the destruction of the Sphinx’s nose. According to legend, Napoleon ordered his troops to aim at the nose for target practice. In actual fact, the nose was most likely removed by a Sufi, named Sa’im al-dahr, in 1378. The reason for this disfigurement was a response to the continuing Sphinx worship that many Egyptians at the time still practiced. In Islam, idol worship is disallowed. A recent event that echoes this, was the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan by the Taliban.
The inner sanctum of the Pyramids drew Napoleon in, like so many before him and since. After exploring the chambers of Khufu’s Great Pyramid, Napoleon requested to be left alone in the King’s Chamber. When he finally emerged, he is reported to have been extremely shaken and shocked by something within. When asked what had happened, he refused to discuss it and insisted that the incident never be spoken of again.
A friend, who visited Napoleon in his final days, asked him to tell him the secret of that day. Napoleon was ready to speak, but then shook his head and declined. Enigmatically, he responded, ‘No, what’s the use. You’d never believe me.’
Much fanciful speculation has been written about what occurred. Some have suggested that Napoleon was given a vision of his future.
Interestingly, myth also speaks of Alexander the Great spending a night within the chamber. Although, this has never been substantiated, it is very likely that Alexander would have visited the Pyramids, during his brief period in Egypt.
In his autobiography, the great occultist, Aleister Crowley reported a strange event that occurred within the Pyramid, with his wife, Rose, in 1904.
‘The King’s Chamber was aglow as if with the brightest tropical moonlight. The pitiful dirty yellow flame of the candle was like a blasphemy, and I put it out. The astral light remained during the whole of the invocation and for some time afterwards, though it lessened in intensity as we composed ourselves to sleep. For the rest, the floor of the King’s Chamber is particularly uncompromising. In sleeping out on rocks, one can always accommodate oneself more or less to the local irregularities, but the King’s Chamber reminded me of Brand; and I must confess to having passed a very uncomfortable night. I fear me dalliance had corrupted my Roman virtue. In the morning the astral light had completely disappeared and the only sound was the flitting of the bats.’
Shortly afterwards in Cairo, Rose began to channel an entity called Aiwass, which provided Crowley with his occult magnum opus, The Book Of Law. Over three days, he scribbled down the magickal instructions as they were communicated to him. From this point on, Crowley followed the dictum: ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’
Did Napoleon and Crowley’s strange experiences within the King’s Chamber actually happen? Perhaps, within, great ancient secrets await for those receptive enough to gain access. However, it is also highly possible that both these men of extreme personality became intoxicated by the tantalising mystery that surrounds the Pyramids. Quite clearly, the Pyramids were built with the spiritual in mind, but the reality of the experiences that both men had, is but theirs alone.