Dating the Sphinx


By Kimberly McGlynn






The Sphinx, as we know it, represents a great symbol of the ancient Egyptians. It is located approximately six miles west of Cairo on the Giza Plateau.  The Sphinx is carved out of limestone of the Upper Mokattam Formation, which is Mid-Eocene in age.   Numerous blocks of limestone were removed to create the Sphinx and these leftover blocks were used to build the Sphinx Temple, which is directly in front of the Sphinx.


Egyptologists believe the Sphinx to be approximately 4500 years old.  They link this age to the Pharaoh Khafra, for who the face of the Sphinx supposedly resembles.  There is no literary hieroglyphic evidence linking the Sphinx to Khafra, but there is archeological evidence.  “Khafra had four twenty-six foot long sphinxes constructed during his time, two in front of each entrance to his Valley Temple.” In addition, “..the center court of the Sphinx Temple is identical to the center court in Khafra’s Mortuary Temple adjacent to his pyramid” (Braginsky, 1998). 


In the past ten years there has been debate over the age of the Sphinx.  John Anthony West, an independent Egyptologist, believes that the Sphinx is much older based primarily on the erosion/weathering of certain walls of the Sphinx.  Dr. Robert Schoch, a professor of Geology, agrees with this idea and has determined that the erosion/weathering is due to significant rainfall that only could have occurred during a wet period.  This wet period is referred to as the Neolithic Wet Phase and dates back to around 7,000 -10,000 year ago.  Schoch uses the most recent (and conservative) date of 7,000 years to explain the Sphinx’s age.




Billington, David, 2000, Redating the Sphinx: the Debate, 22 January 2001.


Braginsky, Art, 1998, Dating the Sphinx: Older than we think,  22 January 2001.


Chowdhury, A.N., Adinarayaria, R.P. and Gauri, R.L., 1990, Weathering of Limestone Beds at the Great Sphinx, Environmental geology and Water Science, vol. 15, no.3, pp. 217-225.


Gauri, K.L., Sinai, J.J., and Bandypadhyar, J.K., 1995, Geologic Weathering and Its Implications on the Age of the Sphinx, Geoarcheology, vol. 10, no.2, pp. 119 - 133.


Schoch, R.M., 1992, Redating the Great Sphinx, KMT, A modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 52-59, 66-70.


More references to be added as Interlibrary Loans have not been received.