Like the pyramids, the Great Sphinx of Giza is surrounded by mysteries that have puzzled archaeologists for centuries. One of the mysteries is how people managed to create such a grandiose structure. Research has now concluded that they were helped, and not just by anything: by the wind. After reproducing the weather conditions prevailing at the time of the monument’s construction, the researchers determined that the basic shape of the statue was created through erosion, and that only the fine details were worked on by humans.
The study’s authors were inspired to conduct the experiment by the fact that the world’s deserts are full of unusual rock formations called jardangs. The jardang formed as a result of wind erosion is often similar in shape and proportions to the Sphinx.
This observation led to the theory that the iconic statue may have started out as a natural gerdinge, imagined by the ancient Egyptians as a mythical creature with the head of a human, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle. So, instead of building the Sphinx from scratch, the monument’s creators may have modified an existing desert rock.
During the research work, experts reproduced the environment of Giza, and then built mounds of soft clay, in which harder and less erodible materials were embedded. These structures were then placed in a tunnel and water flowed through them. The flowing liquid can be used to perfectly reproduce the prevailing winds in northeastern Egypt.
To his surprise, the flowing water created a sphinx-like shape of amorphous matter; Liquid nicely sculpted around the solid material, the neck, limbs and paws of the legendary creature became clearly visible.
“Our results provide an easy-to-imagine explanation for how the sphinx-like rock formations emerged through erosion. Our theory is supported by those jardangs that resemble sitting or lying animals.” Published noticeN. Lev Ristrov, author of the research.