The actual age of the Great Sphinx in Egypt is long under discussion. Some experts believe that an analysis of weathering and erosion can help fix a date, but does geological investigation and observation back up these theories? Jørn Christiansen does not think so.
The Great Sphinx, a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head, stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt at three pyramids from the period of the 4th dynasty (orange rectangle).
At first glance, the Great Sphinx and the surrounding enclosure walls in its surroundings on the plateau of Giza in Cairo, seems to have been exposed to water erosion for a long time, in addition to the erosion caused by wind and sand as well.
Jørn Christiansen recently visited the Great Sphinx to study the limestone rock, and came to a different conclusion. The rocks have clear signs of weathering and dissolution, mostly caused by rain water penetrating the fractured limestone, long before the Sphinx was carved. The role that water has played in erosion on the Sphinx itself is therefore ambiguous because its signature cannot be distinguished from the imprint from earlier weathering.
Nature has played its own ‘shabby-chic trick’ to make the carved surfaces look older than they are, which has led even trained geologists to conclude that the Sphinx must have been carved while Egypt was still exposed to uninhibited seasonal rainfall and hence was several thousand years older than had been determined by archaeologists.
How old is the Great Sphinx?
Most Egyptologists attribute the carving of the Great Sphinx to King Khafra of the Old Kingdom's Fourth Dynasty, approximately 2,500 B.C. A pre-dynastic dating of the Sphinx resulting from the water erosion hypothesis was first suggested by author John A. West in his book Serpent in the Sky. This was followed up in 1992 in a paper by geologist Dr. Robert M. Schoch, Redating the Great Sphinx of Giza, which deals with scientific investigations of the weathering and erosion, and in which Schoch concluded that the vertical erosion was caused by water erosion after the carving of the Sphinx. This fueled a debate with Egyptologists that has continued for more than two decades. The earlier dating of the Sphinx has further inspired researchers and writers to link the Sphinx to ancient lost civilizations such as Atlantis.
The Sphinx is located on the Giza Plateau, pointing to the East. Note how its southern enclosure wall (red) is quarried parallel to the Causeway connecting the Valley Temple with the Khafra Pyramid, demonstrating an integrated plan for all these monuments.
When Jørn Christiansen investigated the Sphinx and its surroundings, he studied the rocks both inside the Sphinx enclosure walls and outside the fence surrounding the Sphinx and its enclosure walls. Only visual inspection was possible and no quantitative analysis of the rocks was made.
However, the site offers excellent conditions for the inspection, analysis and interpretation of the limestone formations in three dimensions as the enclosure walls are carved at right angles to each other at a height of up to 10 meters. In addition, part of the Causeway immediately to the south of the Sphinx is exposed to bedrock offersing a „map view“ for detailed understanding of the fracturing of the formation.
Source: GEO Expro