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Author of the Month

Robert Temple, Author of the Month for June 2009

What is wrong with the Sphinx?
By Robert Temple

Books by Robert Temple

Sphinx Mystery: The Forgotten Origins of the Sanctuary of Anubis (Paperback)

US

Sphinx Mystery: The Forgotten Origins of the Sanctuary of Anubis (Paperback)

Sphinx Mystery: The Forgotten Origins of the Sanctuary of Anubis (Paperback)

UK

Sphinx Mystery: The Forgotten Origins of the Sanctuary of Anubis (Paperback)

The Genius of China (Hardcover)

US

The Genius of China (Hardcover)

The Genius of China (Hardcover)

UK

The Genius of China (Hardcover)

Oracles of the Dead: Ancient Techniques for Predicting the Future (Paperback)

US

Oracles of the Dead: Ancient Techniques for Predicting the Future (Paperback)

Oracles of the Dead: Ancient Techniques for Predicting the Future (Paperback)

UK

Oracles of the Dead: Ancient Techniques for Predicting the Future (Paperback)

The Crystal Sun: Rediscovering a Lost Technology of the Ancient World: The Most Secret Science of the Ancient World (Paperback)

US

Crystal Sun, The: The Most Secret Science of the Ancient World [IMPORT] (Paperback)

The Crystal Sun: Rediscovering a Lost Technology of the Ancient World: The Most Secret Science of the Ancient World (Paperback)

UK

The Crystal Sun: Rediscovering a Lost Technology of the Ancient World: The Most Secret Science of the Ancient World (Paperback)

The Complete Fables (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

US

The Complete Fables (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

Aesop - The Complete Fables (Paperback)

UK

Aesop - The Complete Fables (Paperback)

THE SIRIUS MYSTERY. [IMPORT] (Hardcover)

US

THE SIRIUS MYSTERY. [IMPORT] (Hardcover)

Is There Life After Death? (Paperback)

UK

The Sirius Mystery: Conclusive New Evidence of Alien Influence on the Origins of Humankind in the Traditions of an African Tribe (Hardcover)

We are pleased and proud to welcome Robert Temple as the June 2009 Author of the Month. His latest work is The Sphinx Mystery http://www.sphinxmystery.info/sphinx_mystery.html and http://www.robert-temple.com/

PROFESSOR ROBERT TEMPLE is author of a dozen challenging and provocative books, commencing with the international best-seller, The Sirius Mystery. His books have been translated into a total of 44 foreign languages. He combines solid academic scholarship with an ability to communicate with the mass public. He is Visiting Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and previously held a similar position at an American university. For many years he was a science writer for the Sunday Times, the Guardian, and a science reporter for Time-Life, as well as a frequent reviewer for Nature and profile writer for The New Scientist. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and has been a member of the Egypt Exploration Society since the 1970s, as well as a member of numerous other academic societies. He has produced, written and presented a documentary for Channel Four and National Geographic Channels on his archaeological discoveries in Greece and Italy, and he was at one time an arts reviewer on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Kaleidoscope’. In 1993, his translation of the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh was performed at the Royal National Theatre in London. With his wife, Olivia, he is co-author and translator of the first complete English version of Aesop’s Fables, which attracted a great deal of international press attention at the time of it release because of the first translation of the fables which had been suppressed by the Victorians because of prudery. Temple was a colleague of the late Dr. Joseph Needham of Cambridge, in association with whom he wrote The Genius of China, which has been approved as an official reference book (in Chinese) for the Chinese secondary school system, and which won five national awards in the USA. He has done archaeometric dating work and intensive exploration of closed sites in Egypt with the permission of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. His research into historical accounts of the Sphinx is the first comprehensive survey ever undertaken.

What is wrong with the Sphinx?

Have you ever thought there was something seriously wrong with the Sphinx? Next time you are there (assuming you are so fortunate as to be able to go), just stop and look closely. What do you see?

  1. The Sphinx is a gigantic statue the size of an ocean liner with a tiny pimple for a head. Does that look right to you? If we know anything about the ancient Egyptians and their statues, we know that they always got the proportions right. In fact, we could say that they were evidently obsessed with correct proportions in everything. So why would they carve what is still even today the world's largest stone statue and get the proportions wrong?

  2. Why is it sitting down there in a hole in a ground like that? If you wanted to carve the world's largest stone statue, would you stick it in a hole in the ground? Even if you suffered from excessive modesty yourself, would it not be irreverent to the gods to put a sacred statue down in a pit below surface level? Isn't that a bit like sticking a crucifix in a dustbin? Wouldn't any normal person want to flaunt the world's largest stone statue rather than hide it? After all the Great Pyramid is not built in a pit, it is built on a hill. So why is the Sphinx so hidden that from the pyramids you can barely even see it sticking up a bit from a hole in the distance?

  3. Why is it that the Sphinx, which we have always been told is a lion does not actually look like a lion at all? Do lions look like that? You have to ignore the lion-like paws, because they are a more recent construction, purposely made to resemble lion's paws by people doing what they call 'restoration'. We have no idea what the original paws looked like, since they had been rendered unrecognisable by Roman times. But if anyone has ever been to the zoo, he or she knows that lions do not look like that. When Olivia and I first saw the Sphinx we both blamed ourselves, we thought we did not have a certain ability which other people obviously had, an ability for seeing lions. We thought that we must be lion-dyslexic. We looked and we looked and no matter how hard we looked there was still no lion. Continuing to stare did not help. There is no rising chest, no mane, there just is nothing there which is remotely leonine at all.

So we were faced with these problems and we took them personally. We eventually felt that it was our duty to do something about the fact that there were several things wrong with the Sphinx. If nobody else was going to shout that the Emperor has no clothes, we would do it.

It was obvious to us that the head of the Sphinx had been re-carved. We were by no means the first to think this, as it has been suggested by several other people, though their comments have had no influence on 'mainstream opinion'.

It was equally obvious that the Sphinx had once had a much larger head.

It was obvious that there must have been a reason for putting the Sphinx in a hole in the ground.

It was obvious to us as we stood there looking at the Sphinx for the first time that the Sphinx was a crouching dog.

That made sense, because crouching dogs looking outwards with their backs turned towards something are guard dogs, protecting what is behind them. And in this case, behind the Sphinx was the sacred necropolis of Giza. So the Sphinx was symbolically protecting Giza. And who was the traditional guardian of the necropolis in Egyptian tradition? It was the god Anubis, and Anubis was a dog. Furthermore, the best known image of Anubis is the Anubis statue found inside the tomb of King Tutankhamun, which shows him as a crouching dog.

It was all very well to come to these conclusions, but we could not just write them down on a page of A-4 and hand them round to our friends and consider our job done. Clearly there was a lot of work to be done. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot.

It took ten years.

During the course of all this work I accumulated one of the world's largest collections of Sphinx images, in addition to all the photos which Olivia and I took. Together, these form most of the 375 illustrations in our book.

There were also other mysteries about the Sphinx which I felt we had to examine properly. For instance, we could see that there was obviously water erosion on the Sphinx and on the walls of the Sphinx pit. How could this possibly be accounted for? The water erosion on the Sphinx itself had first been pointed out in 1961, in passing, by Schwaller de Lubicz. It had later been taken up as an issue requiring investigation by John Anthony West, in an article which I myself published in a magazine called Second Look of which I was then co-editor. Six months later, West published his book on this subject. West's answer to this enigma was reasonable enough. He suggested that this water erosion must have been caused by rain. But when? He did some research and concluded that the rain could not have been more recent than 12,500 years ago, when the climate in Egypt was different. Taken in isolation, the conclusion that the erosion has been caused by 'ancient rain' is logical. However, taken in context, I found it impossible to agree with this theory. It meant that we would be faced with a period of at least seven thousand years during which no artefacts were preserved of a civilisation capable of carving the Sphinx. That just seemed impossible to me. However, I put this dilemma aside for a while in the hope that some better hypothesis would appear at some time in the future, and it eventually did.

image011
Photograph by Olivia Temple

There were also other mysteries about the Sphinx which I felt we had to examine properly. For instance, we could see that there was obviously water erosion on the Sphinx and on the walls of the Sphinx pit. How could this possibly be accounted for? The water erosion on the Sphinx itself had first been pointed out in 1961, in passing, by Schwaller de Lubicz. It had later been taken up as an issue requiring investigation by John Anthony West, in an article which I myself published in a magazine called Second Look of which I was then co-editor. Six months later, West published his book on this subject. West's answer to this enigma was reasonable enough. He suggested that this water erosion must have been caused by rain. But when? He did some research and concluded that the rain could not have been more recent than 12,500 years ago, when the climate in Egypt was different. Taken in isolation, the conclusion that the erosion has been caused by 'ancient rain' is logical. However, taken in context, I found it impossible to agree with this theory. It meant that we would be faced with a period of at least seven thousand years during which no artefacts were preserved of a civilisation capable of carving the Sphinx. That just seemed impossible to me. However, I put this dilemma aside for a while in the hope that some better hypothesis would appear at some time in the future, and it eventually did.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert Temple

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