Feet of a Sphinx Statue Found at Archaeological Dig in Israel

Posted on July 9, 2013

Sphinx statue fragment discovered in Tel Hazor

Researchers have found the feet of a Sphinx statue at an archaeological dig site in Israel. The Sphinx feet were found at a site in Tel Hazor National Park, north of the Sea of Galilee, by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The researchers say the the find at Hazor is an unexpected and important discovery. It is the only piece of a royal Sphinx sculpture ever discovered in the entire Levant area (the eastern part of the Mediterranean).

The fragment discovered has a hieroglyphic inscription between its front legs. The inscription bears the name of the Egyptian king Mycerinus, who ruled in the third millennium BCE, over 4,000 years ago. The king was one of the builders of the famous Giza pyramids. The translated inscription also says, "Beloved by the divine manifestation... that gave him eternal life."

The Hazor Excavations are headed by Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor from the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology, and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman, a lecturer at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology. Prof. Ben-Tor and Dr. Zuckerman say in a statement that the text indicates the Sphinx probably originated in the ancient city of Heliopolis, which is located north of modern Cairo.

The archaeologists believe it is highly unlikely the Sphinx statue was brought to Hazor during the time of Mycerinus, since there is no record of any relationship between Egypt and Israel in the third millennium BCE. They say it is more likely the statue was brought to Israel in the second millennium BCE during the dynasty of the kings known as the Hyksos, who originated in Canaan. It could also have arrived during the 15th to 13th centuries BCE, when Canaan was under Egyptian rule, as a gift from an Egyptian king to the king of Hazor.

Photo: Photo courtesy of Hebrew University archaeologists, Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman.

More from Science Space & Robots