My Thoughts

The Riddle of the Sphinx


How old is the sphinx of Giza? Conventional archaeology credits its sculpting to the pharaoh Khafre, builder of the second largest of the Giza pyramids. The generally accepted date of construction is 2,500BCE, but is that correct? Is it possible the sphinx could be far older? Older even than Egyptian civilization itself?

In photographs, the sphinx is stunning, as it is in person. But seeing it up close you get the feeling something isn’t quite right. And it isn’t. The head is too small for the body.

Silhouette of the Sphinx

The Egyptians were master sculptors. They knew proportion. They knew how to get it right. So why didn’t they? One possibility is that it isn’t the original head and that re-carving it made it smaller. Could an Egyptian pharaoh have co-opted someone else’s statue and put his own face on it? There are those who believe it to be more than just a possibility.

The Orion Correlation Theory

In 1983, Robert Bauval published a theory that the three main pyramids in the Giza complex match the three stars in Orion’s belt: the diagonals of the two largest pyramids line up perfectly, with the third smaller pyramid slightly offset. According to the theory, the Nile River lines up with the Milky Way and the sphinx lines up with the constellation Leo.

Orion's Belt

The interesting thing is, these structures don’t line up with the stars as we see them today. Rather, they match the night sky as it appeared around 10,000BCE. How would the Egyptians of Khafre’s time know how the stars had looked 7,500 years earlier? For that matter, even if they did know, why would they recreate a pattern that no longer existed?

The Water Erosion Theory

In 1990, geologist Robert Schoch visited Egypt with the purpose of studying the sphinx from a geological point of view. To his great surprise, he saw features that could only have been caused by water erosion. And not just any water erosion; specifically, rainfall and runoff.

Erosion on the Body of the Sphinx

The problem with this, of course, is that the sphinx sits at the edge of the Sahara Desert, one of the driest regions on earth. The total rainfall since 2,500BCE cannot account for the degree of erosion on the body of the sphinx.

However, prior to 3,000BCE, the Sahara Desert was much wetter than it is today. According to Schoch’s calculations, based on the amount of annual rainfall and the extent of the erosion, the sphinx must date to no later than 5,000BCE and possibly as early as 9,000BCE, which would put it close to Bauval’s estimate.

The Problem

If there was an advanced civilization capable of building the pyramids and the sphinx 11,000 – 12,000 years ago, why is there no trace of it? Dynastic Egypt began about 3,000 years ago and previous to that the population of Egypt was presumed to be primitive Neolithic farmers.

But there is evidence of an advanced civilization on earth at that time, just not in Egypt. Gobekli Tepe in Turkey is a ceremonial centre built about 11,600 years ago. There is no evidence of any habitation surrounding it at the time – no homes, no agriculture and no cooking fires. Yet, there it is. Somebody must have been there to build it. And since Gobekli Tepe exists, we must at the very least admit the possibility that the sphinx is much older than we thought.


  • Dale Long


    I'd heard bits and pieces of this and it always piqued my curiousity. The rainfall theory is new and very curious. I love this kind of stuff. I hated regular history but historical mysteries... The Egyptians were known for covering over other kings. Who knows how many times. Like you said, maybe they found the piramids and claimed them instead of building them. Great stuff Lisa!

    • Lisa


      Actually, the rainfall theory has been around since the early 90s. I have to admit an error. According to Robert Bauval's theory, although the alignment of the pyramids matches the stars in 10,000BCE, they were built around 2,500BCE, but on the site of an older complex. I relied on second-hand sources to describe his theory and I don't usually do that. The problem is that Mr. Bauval doesn't explain his theories on his website - you have to buy his book if you want to know what he thinks in his own words. However, there are those who do think the pyramids are far older than Egyptian civilization and I might blog about that at some point.