Researchers in Egypt Find a ‘3,350-Year-Old Workshop Were Sphinxes were Made’

A Swedish-Egyptian Archaeological team Dr. Maria Nilsson and John Ward from Lund University has discovered an ancient Egyptian workshop were Sphinxes were made.

While excavating the archaeological site of Gebel el-Silsila in Aswan, the group of archeologists discovered a sandstone workshop dating back to the New Kingdom.

Image Credit: Gebel el-Silsila archaeological project.
Image Credit: Gebel el-Silsila archaeological project.

There, researchers say, the ancient Egyptians carved intricate Sphinx statues that were later transported to different cities in ancient Egypt.

As noted by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who surprised the excavation, the archaeological mission discovered a large ram-headed Sphinx within the debris of the ancient workshop.

According to reports, the statue, known as a criosphinx measures five meters in length and one-and-a-half meters in width.

Image Credit: Gebel el-Silsila archaeological project.

The Criosphinx was caved in style compared to other sculptures to the south of the Temple at Karnak.

The archeological context suggests the workshop dates back to the time when Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty ruled over Ancient Egypt.

Amenhotep III was also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent; he ruled Egypt from June 1386 to 1349 BC, or from June 1388 BC to December 1351 BC/1350 BC.

He was the father of Amenhotep IV, later known as Akhenaten, who ultimately succeeded Amenhotep III to the throne.

Amenhotep III has the distinction of having the most surviving statues of any Egyptian pharaoh, with over 250 of his statues having been discovered and identified.

Image Credit: Gebel el-Silsila archaeological project.
Image Credit: Gebel el-Silsila archaeological project.

The Gebel el-Silsila site is located along the banks of the Nile.

According to experts, the site was once known to have been a quarry, but recent excavations have revealed new details that suggest it was also where an ancient Egyptian Sphinx workshop existed.

Image Credit: Gebel el-Silsila archaeological project.

In addition to the Criosphinx, archaeologists working at the site discovered hundreds of stone fragments bearing hieroglyphs as well as the carving of a coiled-up cobra, that is believed to have been crafted to crown the head of the Sphinx.

Furthermore, Abdel Moneim Saeed, Director General of Aswan and Nubian Antiquities has reported that sculpture fragments belonging to a destroyed Naos (shrine) of Amenhotep III (Naos E) as well as parts of an obelisk and a pyramidion were discovered at Gebel el-Silsila.

Dr. Maria Nilsson explains that the team also discovered a smaller practice sphinx most likely carved by an ancient Egyptian apprentice.

Both sculptures, say, experts, were preserved in a rough-cut and prepared for transportation, but were abandoned at the site when the larger Sphinx broke apart.

“One of the aspects that we are considering is whether or not it was left because of the change in rulership,” Nilsson revealed.

The discovery as Gebel el-Silsila was documented by a National Geographic film crew and is featured in Episode 5 of the series “The Lost Treasures of Egypt,” reports Live Science.

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