Building the Sphinx

Along with our recent study of ancient Egypt, we built this cool model sphinx from a kit.


The instructions were non-existent.  The whole thing was kind of a puzzle with lots of pieces in 3-D.  At one point Elizabeth said, “Wow…I had no idea how hard it was for those guys who built the Great Sphinx.”  Imagine how impressed she was when I told her that their task was FAR more difficult than our own.  Even though it took us hours to finish, It was a fun and cool project.  We’re holding a vote on whether or not we should bust his nose off.  Oh, and if you want to try your hand at this, you can find this guy on Amazon.

What Is The Sphinx?

The actual great Sphinx of Giza is made of limestone and sits 241 feet long and 66 feet tall (a fair bit bigger than our 10 inch model).  The Great Sphinx has the head of a man and the body of a lion, and stands guard near the pyramids at Giza as it has for centuries, though no one can quite seem to agree on exactly when this beast was built.

This is the Great Sphinx at Giza. There are hundreds of sphinx statues and reliefs from the ancient world. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans all used depictions of the sphinx in their art. Photo by Wknight94, CC license, Wikimedia.

Centuries of wear badly damaged the face of the Sphinx.  Legend has it that either the French used the Sphinx for cannon target practice during the Napoleonic wars or the British troops did during World War 1.  The story goes that someone shot off the nose of the Sphinx during this target practice.  Not true though!  Photos show that the nose was missing long before WWI.  Earlier drawings also clearly show the noseless Sphinx before the Napoleonic wars.  Most likely the wind and sand disintegrated the nose.

The Sphinx is wearing the classic headdress of a Pharaoh and has the beard of a god. The beard fell off.  To go see it, you’ll have to visit the British Museum in London.

Writer’s Workshop

After building and learning about the Sphinx, make up your own story about the man who decided to have this huge statue built.  Consider what his reasons may have been.  Once you’ve imagined and planned out your story, write it down and illustrate it in a booklet.  Finally, if you need ideas you can check out some of the theories about why it was built on Wikipedia . . . some of them are pretty interesting!

Unit 1-1 Free


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