Egypt in the Galilee: Sphinx found in northern Israel

Remains of statue inscribed with name of King Mycerinus who ruled Egypt more than 4,000 years ago.

July 10, 2013 10:53
1 minute read.
The remains of a Sphinx found in Tel Hazor

Sphinx Hazor 370. (photo credit: Courtesy of archaeologists Amnon Ben-Tor and Sharo)


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Archeologists in Israel have made an amazing and unexpected find - the toes and lower feet of an Egyptian Sphinx linked to a pharaoh known for his pyramid construction.

The feet, believed to be part of a larger statue, was uncovered at the archeological site at Tel Hazor, north of Tiberias, by a team from the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, led by Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman.

The Sphinx was discovered in the layer of Tel Hazor that was destroyed during the 13th century BCE, at the entrance to the city palace.

The fragment carries a hieroglyphic inscription mentioning the name of Mycerinus, who ruled Egypt more than 4,000 years ago, and was responsible for the construction of one of the great pyramids in Giza.

It is the only known Sphinx of this king discovered anywhere in the world — including Egypt - and the only piece of a royal Sphinx sculpture discovered in the entire Levant area (the eastern Mediterranean).

But the archaeologists believe that the sphinx was likely brought to Israel some four thousand years ago, rather than there being a relationship between Egypt and ancient Israel that led to its construction at the site of discovery.

The hieroglyphic inscription found between the toes includes the descriptor “Beloved by the divine manifestation… that gave him eternal life.” Ben-Tor and Dr. Zuckerman believe that this indicates the likelihood that the Sphinx originated in the ancient city of Heliopolis, not far from modern Cairo.

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