The sphinx is a limestone/rock structure located in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt. It consists of a lions' body and the head of King Khafra. Until 1926 only the head could be seen above ground, until a French-led team excavated the area revealing the entire statue. However, since it has been exposed to both the desert air and pollution from poorly drained 300,000 populous tourist city nearby the condition has declined greatly. The head is expected to fall within 200 years, and it is being eaten away at a rate of 1/5th of an inch per year. Since it was built the sphinx has been under constant maintenance, although the decline of the conquerors of Egypt, the Romans left it to gather dust after withdrawal from Egypt. Both the Romans and the Greeks however did make good efforts to rebuild the crumbling outer of the sphinx. This differs from the industrial-hardcore-and-cement methods used in 1981 by a hasty group of investors. The supreme council of antiquities has since commissioned skilled labourers to do the work properly; using the same methods as were originally used. The 1981 attempt resulted in repair sections simply falling away, and further eroding the inner beast with high salt adhesives. Ideas for saving the battered head include a steel pole being driven through to the neck. There was a beard added in the eighteenth dynasty, although this fell off, and the fragments are scattered among private collections and museums. The largest chunk is approx. 1/13th of the beard located in London.
The nose of the sphinx is missing, and the face badly damaged.
Contrary to popular myth, the nose was not knocked off by French in the Napoleonic wars, or by the British in WWI. Photographs show the nose being missing long before WWI, and accounts of the face being in present state predate the Napoleonic wars by half a millennia.
Riddle of the sphinx: What has 4 legs in the morning 2 legs in the afternoon and 3 legs at night?
Mythology. A figure in Egyptian myth having the body of a lion and the head of a man, ram, or hawk.
A winged creature having the head of a woman and the body of a lion, noted for killing those who could not answer its riddle.
A puzzling or mysterious person.