Ancient Egypt for Kids
The Great Sphinx is a stone monument built about 4000 years ago, in ancient times. It is located on the Giza Plateau in Egypt. It was carved out of limestone with a human face on a lion's body. It is 66 feet tall. That's really high.
The ancient Egyptians were sun worshipers. The ancient Egyptian word for sphinx means the "living image of Atum". Atum to the ancient Egyptians was the creator god and the setting sun. The Sphinx was probably built to honor the Egyptian sun god, Re. Atum was also the god who guarded the passageway to the afterlife, a place the ancient Egyptian believed was where you went after you died. So the Sphinx might have been built to remind the ancient Egyptians that you had to do good deeds and earn your way to your afterlife by first traveling through the dangerous underworld and survive its horrible monsters, which took magic of course. But nobody really knows why the Sphinx was built.
Some archaeologists believe the Sphinx is part of a set of monuments built to create a very special place of worship. These monuments include the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx, the Causeway, and the Valley Temple, all of which can be found on the Giza Plateau.
Once, the Sphinx was brightly colored. But today, due to air polution and water damage, the colors are mostly gone. The Sphinx has been decaying for centuries. Over the years, the Sphinx has lost his nose, his royal beard, and various other pieces. Part of his beard is in the British Museum. After guns were invented, the Sphinx was further damaged by soliders using the Sphinx as target practice.
The Egyptian government continues to try and restore it, but it's an uphill battle. The Sphinx is guarded so that no further damage is done by people. But flakes from the limestone, the building material of the Sphinx, occasionally land on tourists as they visit this incredible monument.