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Monday, 8 July 2013

Israel's sphinx riddle


4,500-year-old Sphinx Discovered at Tel Hazor
Photo: Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman

By MATTHEW KALMAN
Fragments of a rare 2-metre-high Egyptian sphinx thought to be 4,500 years old have been discovered at Tel Hazor, the large archaeological site in northern Israel. Hebrew University Professor Amnon Ben-Tor, director of the excavation, says an inscription between the legs of the sphinx suggest the face of the sphinx is Pharoah Menkaure, believed to have built the smallest of the three pyramids at Giza on the outskirts of Cairo. If so, it is the first likeness of Menkaure ever found.
"Finding something like this is very exciting," Ben-Tor told Israel Radio. "It seems this sphinx is of Menkaure, a king who ruled Egypt in 2,500 BCE. This is the only known sphinx in the world of this king. We know of many sphinxes of different kings in Egypt but no sphinx of this king has been found until now - either in Egypt or outside."
So far, only parts of the front feet and the chest have been retrieved, but archaeologists hope to find more of the sphinx as they continue the dig. The inscription says the sphinx was originally carved in ancient Heliopolis, near Cairo.
Ben-Tor believes the sphinx was brought to Tel Hazor 3,000 years ago, either as Canaanite war booty or as a gift to the then ruler of Hazor by an ancient Egyptian king.
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