World History Episode 2 The Indus Valley Civilization (Time Stamp 2:57)
The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egyptian, Reign of the Pharoah Khafre c. 2500 BCE
Context in CC: What is a civilization? So John tells us all the things that are symptomatic of civilization and then proceeds to flash us to images of a few places that are representative of civilization and says we’ll talk about them later. This is Egypt, in all it’s exciting and amazing glory. I just really like Egypt, okay?
Greater Historical/Art Historical Relevance: So I’ve already waxed poetic about how cool I think Egypt is, so I’ll spare you that again. The sphinx is a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of man. At least in Egyptian Imagery it has the body of a lion and the head of a man. But while we associate the sphinx with Egypt, and the oldest images of the sphinx originate there, the Greeks had there own depictions of the creature: body of a lion, wings of a bird, and face of a woman. Versions of the Sphinx also exist in ancient Mesopotamia (the Assyrian Lamassu, among others) and Southeast Asia (purushamriga in south India, and manusiha in Burma).
The Great Sphinx was built during the Old Kingdom by the Pharaoh Khafra (who also built one of those iconic pyramids), the face of the Sphinx is believed to be a depiction of the Pharaoh. There are many contradicting theories around the why and the when of the Sphinx creation. But since we’re talking about civilization, it’s important to revel in the fact that Egypt had the organized social structure to allow the rulers to commission these gigantic works of art and usually complete them in a single lifetime.
I know I said I wouldn’t bring it up again, but let’s go back to the fact the ancient Egyptian Civilization lasted a really long time . Long enough that over a thousand years later, when Giza was abandoned, Thutmose IV appointed a team to excavate the Sphinx. They managed to dig out the front paws of the lions body. But think about that. A thousand years. I think sometimes, especially when we study history from a western perspective we forget about the scope of it.