An Ancient Sphinx Has Been Discovered In Egypt After King Tut’s Grandfather Abandoned It Over 3,000 Years Ago

The sandstone ram-headed sphinx was recovered from a workshop in Gebel el Silsila, and it is thought that the pharaoh Amenhotep III may have abandoned this commission over 3,000 years ago.

The Sphinx and the Great Pyramids of Giza on October 6, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt.
Julian Finney / Getty Images

The sandstone ram-headed sphinx was recovered from a workshop in Gebel el Silsila, and it is thought that the pharaoh Amenhotep III may have abandoned this commission over 3,000 years ago.

An ancient sandstone ram-headed sphinx has recently been discovered inside of a workshop in Gebel el Silsila, Egypt, and archaeologists believe that this 11.5-foot-tall (3.5 meters) beauty may have originally been commissioned by King Tut’s grandfather, the pharaoh Amenhotep III, and then promptly abandoned and forgotten about for over 3,000 years.

As Live Science reports, during excavations at a quarry near Aswan, archaeologists discovered that a very large sphinx had been deposited among an abandoned workshop from the 18th Dynasty that was filled not just with the sphinx, but also with numerous stone fragments containing ancient hieroglyphs that were intended for a shrine dedicated to Amenhotep III, as well as the remains of a cobra that would have once sat on top of the sphinx.

While archaeologists were not certain at first just what this ram-headed sphinx was doing sitting inside of an Egyptian workshop, Maria Nilsson, an archaeologist and the director of the Gebel el-Silsila excavation, suggested that the sphinx may have actually been created at the behest of King Tut’s grandfather and then later canceled.

While the entirety of the body of this sphinx has now been excavated, its head was found to have splintered off over the course of thousands of years and is now lost. Very close to the stomach of this sphinx was found to be another, much smaller sphinx, which archaeologists surmise may have been shaped by a young apprentice.

According to The Daily Mail, archaeologists involved with the excavation in Egypt believe that after the sphinxes were initially left behind, they were accidentally covered over by later Roman-era quarry work.

“Both sculptures are preserved in a rough-cut and prepared for transportation, but were likely abandoned at Gebel el-Silsila as the larger sculpture fractured. Since then, later Roman quarry activity buried the sphinxes in spoil.”

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The largest sphinx was created using an enormous sandstone block which would have weighed 22,046 pounds (10 metric tons) and looks very similar to other sphinxes that were found at the Khonsu Temple at Karnak, which is located very close to Luxor.

When going through reasons as to why this sphinx may have been left behind, Nilsson noted that while there is a very small crack towards the front of it, this alone would certainly not have caused the entire structure to be ruined. Because of this, it may also be that once Amenhotep III died and his son took his place, all of Amenhotep III’s commissions were stopped for the time being, with this one perhaps forgotten about over time.

As Nilsson stated of the newly recovered ram-headed sphinx discovered at the Gebel el-Silsila quarry in Egypt, “One of the aspects that we are considering is whether or not it was left because of the change in rulership.”