The Great Sphinx of Giza Facts


The Great Sphinx of Giza is a statue of a reclining lion with a human head that stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile, near modern-day Cairo, in Egypt. The Sphinx’s dimensions are 73.5 m (241 ft) long, 6 m (20 ft) wide, and 20 m (65 ft) high. The Great Sphinx faces due east and houses a small temple between its paws.

Why is the nose missing?

The one-metre-wide nose on the face is missing. The Egyptian Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the fifteenth century CE, attributes the loss of the nose to Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim fanatic from the khanqah of Sa’id al-Su’ada. In 1378 CE Sa’im al-Dahr found Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest and he became so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and he was hanged for vandalism. Other legends claim that the nose was broken off by a cannonball fired by Napoléon’s soldiers and that it still survives. Sketches of the Sphinx by the Dane Frederick Lewis Norden, made in 1737 and published in 1755, illustrate the Sphinx already without a nose.

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