Pharaonic Egos Balancing on Sphinxian Riddles

I watched something about the Egyptian Sphinx on Netflix the other day during my afternoon workout.  I should say that I watched with half-attemtion, because I don’t remember any names or titles; and I’m not going to look any of them up, though I easily could, because pinpoint accuracy is not relevant to my intent.  What I mean to show, rather, is that I could poke holes in the Alpha Tenured Professor’s case even while counting my push-ups.

An Academic Maverick made the simple observations early on that the Sphinx’s head is far too small for its body; that the body is that of a lion; that the body’s stones show clear signs of water erosion while the head is comparatively clean-cut; and that the monument would therefore have originally represented a lioness and have been constructed before any of the pyramids, the human head being added much later and–of course–shrinking the original lion’s noggin.

This cluster of theories dribbles challenge all over Egyptologist orthodoxy, apparently (and you may take my metaphor as aquatic, or you may picture a male feline marking out turf: the latter is much more appropriate to academic protocol).  Alpha Tenured Scholar made his appearance immediately after Maverick’s, and his mug ruled over the rest of the flick like a bust of King Tut.   Scholarly Maverick’s theories are balderdash (Alpha argued) because 1) the Sphinx would have been built downstream in a flood plain if the walls of the pyramids hadn’t been previously constructed; 2) there would have been tools lying about such early construction, for some unexplained reason; 3) the stones in the Great Pyramid were plainly quarried from the pit in which the Sphinx’s body nestles, proving that the Great Critter was a cleverly carved leftover; 4) the Sphinx aligns with the Great Pyramid to mark equinoctial events; and 5) representing Pharaoh X on a lion’s body would have expressed appropriate reverence to the Sun (for arcane ritual reasons), now that his pyramid had been built.

From various awkward positions on my sides and back, I wondered 1) why Professor Alpha thinks that the Sphinx did not suffer water damage when the erosion is evident up to its neck; 2) why any tools could not have been carried away by the water, if not leaving them lying about would grossly have violated Egyptian etiquette; 3) why the stones from the Sphinx’s pit could not have been used on the Great Ptramid in afterthought (lifting out blocks being, at the time, the preferred technique of roughing out the enigmatic creature’s figure); 4) why one structure necessarily had to be built before the other to produce whatever celestial alignment was desired; and 5) how a given sacred structure of an agrarian, proto-literate culture anywhere in the world could possibly have nothing to do with solar or seasonal cycles.  Such alignments are still discernible in the Native American mounds up and down the Mississippi Valley, and in Chaco Canyon.

In particular, how is it that the Sphinx’s head is so bloody small?  Never really answered that one, did we?  And back to Numero Tre… how did the quarriers just happen to leave a huge island in their pit that was just the shape of a lioness’s recumbent body if the original intent was not, in fact, to make the Sphinx?

What’s pompously styled scholarship is often no more than fashioning shapes out of fluffy clouds… and then promoting or firing people around you on the strength of their agreement or disagreement.  The one or two really obvious, slap-in-the-face facts sometimes get ignored completely as Professor Pharaoh and his minions labor to erect a lasting monument to his brilliance.

Believe me: whatever we know about the distant past is likely to be found in the pile of “things we don’t know that we know.”  Our explanations are so sloppy and incoherent that entire TV serials are made interpreting all the mystery as evidence of extraterrestrial visitation.  Sure… makes as much sense as the “scholarship”.

Author: nilnoviblog

I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Latin/Greek) but have not navigated academe very successfully for the past thirty years. This is owed partly to my non-PC place of origin (Texas), but probably more to my conviction--along with the ancients--that human nature is immutable, and my further conviction--along with Stoics and true Christians-- that we have a natural calling to surmount our nature. Or maybe I just don't play office politics well. I'm much looking forward to impending retirement, when I can tend to my orchards and perhaps market the secrets of Dead Ball hitting that I've excavated. No, there's nothing new (nil novi) under the sun... but what a huge amount has been forgotten, in baseball and elsewhere!

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