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Monday, December 03, 2007

The Sphinx Project GeoPanel: Investigating the Nature and Implications of Weathering and Erosional Features Observed on the Great Sphinx of Giza

The standard modern Egyptological attribution of the Great Sphinx (Giza Plateau, Egypt) is to the Old Kingdom Fourth Dynasty, circa 2500 B.C. This standard scenario attributes the weathering and erosional features seen on the body of the Sphinx and in the Sphinx Enclosure primarily to factors typical of an arid desert regime such as wind erosion, sand abrasion, and salt crystallization. In contrast, we have presented evidence that the Great Sphinx and the Sphinx Enclosure were subjected to significant precipitation-induced weathering and erosion, apparently due to rain and attendant water runoff (see, for instance, R. M. Schoch and J. A. West, 1991, Geological Society of America abstracts with programs, v. 23, no. 5, p. A253; R. M. Schoch, 1992, KMT, A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 52-59, 66-70; R. M. Schoch and J. A. West, 2000, Geological Society of America abstracts with programs, v. 32, no. 7, p. A276.). The nature and extent of such precipitation related features strongly suggests that the original Great Sphinx dates back prior to dynastic times when climatic conditions on what is now the eastern Sahara Desert were much less arid (the head was subsequently re-carved, and the Sphinx has been repaired and modified over the millennia). Seismic studies documenting subsurface weathering carried out around the base of the Great Sphinx appear to support the concept of an older original structure (see T. Dobecki and R. M. Schoch, 1992, Geoarchaeology, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 527-544).

The controversy over the nature of the weathering observed on the body of the Great Sphinx, and its implications, has been ongoing for over fifteen years. In an attempt to further these studies, we are interested in assembling a panel of specialists to spend approximately two weeks on site in Egypt systematically investigating the various hypotheses relative to the weathering of the Sphinx. All expenses will be paid along with a modest stipend. If potentially interested, please contact us at the email addresses below.

Robert M. Schoch (schoch(at)bu.edu)
John Anthony West (JAWSPHINX(at)aol.com)

Note to interested parties: Please feel free to circulate this announcement among any persons that might have the necessary expertise to address this issue. Webmasters: This announcement may be posted on appropriate websites (we reserve the right to ask that it be removed, particularly once the panel of specialists has been assembled).

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