Forty years of documenting the Great Sphinx of Giza

Forty years of documenting the Great Sphinx of Giza

Forty years of documenting the Great Sphinx of Giza

In 1979, Mark Lehner and James Allen started work on the first comprehensive mapping of the Sphinx.

  • They studied its structure and geology
  • They documented every detail
  • Their goal was to determine how and when this iconic monument was built
  • Recorded its current state of preservation
  • Their data is now available thanks to a grant from ARCE’s Antiquities Endowment Fund
  • If you’d like to search the data yourself, good starting points are the project homepage or try browsing some of the over 5500 photographs and 364 maps and drawings and see what you find!

Julia Herdman

The Great Sphinx

Ancient Egypt – Cheapskate Coffin Makers

Ancient Egypt – Cheapskate Coffin Makers

About 3,000 years ago, a man named Nespawershefyt, a priest at the temple of Amun at Karnak (in modern Luxor), commissioned a set of coffins for himself.

He wanted an outer coffin and an inner coffin – the smaller of the two to be placed in the larger, much like Russian dolls – and a mummy board that would be placed on top of his embalmed and wrapped body.

Unbeknown to Nespawershefyt, the artisans he had chosen to make his coffins were cheapskates.

  • The wood they chose for the inner coffin was poor and needed lots of patching.
  • They were good at painting though. All the patches were expertly covered with bright yellow paint and text.
  • The coffins were delivered but not needed for years.

Sometime before his death Nespawershefyt decided to update his funerary inscriptions: he had received a promotion at the temple and wanted to mention his new higher-level position on his coffins.

You cannot leave your CV out-of-date for eternity, so the artisans set to work once again.

The coffins can be seen at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

depth, 49, cm, width, 60, cm, length, 206, cm, length, 190, cm, length, mummy board, 179, cm

given; 1822; Hanbury, Barnard, Waddington, George
Accession: Object Number: E.1.1822