The 38-centimetre-tall sphinx dates back to the Ptolemaic period
While searching for treasures dating back to ancient Egypt requires preparation, planning and some serious digging, sometimes researchers stumble upon a groundbreaking discovery by simple coincidence.
When a team of Egyptologist was working on the project of reducing the groundwater level in the Kom Ombo temple in Aswan, they accidentally uncovered a buried sandstone statue that turned out to be a sphinx — a creature with the body of lion and the head of a human (and in this case, wearing a snake crown and headdress).
The newly uncovered sculpture made of sandstone is thought to be 2,000 years old and was intact when found.
The discovery was presented by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities on their official Facebook page.
According to general secretary of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, the statue likely dates back to the Ptolemaic period, between 305 BC and 30 BC.
In the Facebook post, Waziri explained that the sphinx was found in the southeastern side of the temple, where a pair of sandstone reliefs of King Ptolemy V were previously uncovered two months ago.
Abdel Moneim Saeed, general director of Aswan Antiquities, said that more excavations were expected to take place around the temple and researchers would try to learn more about the sphinx.
Despite being a true surprise, the newly sphinx still cannot compete with the true queen of such statues — the 73-metre-long and more than 20-metre-high Great Sphinx of Giza. This is believed to have been built next to the Nile river in about 2500 BC for the pharaoh Khafra. The Kom Ombo sphinx is reported to be only around 38 centimetres tall.
The temple of Kom Ombo is considered to be one of the more peculiar in Egypt because it was dedicated to two separate deities — the falcon god Haroeris and the crocodile god Sobek.
Crocodiles have a special history in the area. Three hundred mummies of the animal have been discovered near the temple and are displayed in an adjacent Crocodile Museum.