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Great Sphinx: This Facial Reconstruction Rewrites History

By February 1, 2021Blog

The Great Sphinx, a giant 4,500-years-old limestone statue situated near the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, is one of the world’s largest and oldest statues. Measuring 240 feet (73 meters) in length and 66 feet (20 meters) in height, it is also one of the most recognizable relics of the civilization of Kemet, though the origins, the original features, and the history of the colossal structure are still debated.

Today, we call it “sphinx”, but it was not the name used by the African people who originally built it. The name “sphinx” was given to it in antiquity, about 2,000 years after the commonly accepted date of its construction, by reference to a Greek mythological beast with the head of a human, a falcon, a cat, or a sheep and the body of a lion with the wings of an eagle. However, contrary to the Asian and European sphinxes, those from Kemet have a mans or a woman’s head on a lion’s body and no wings.

In Kemet, during the New Kingdom, the “Sphinx” was revered as the solar deity Hor-em-akhet, meaning “Horus of the Horizon”. Pharaoh Djehutimesu (Thutmosis) IV also specifically referred to it as such in his Dream Stele.

During the numerous foreign invasions of Kemet, various changes occurred. Kemet has a specificity that makes it very different from most civilizations and countries that have been invaded. During most countries’ invasions, invaders try to impose their own cultures and ways of life on the people they are invading. But in the case of Kemet, it was the exact opposite.

Invaders used to change their own cultures and adopt the culture of the invaded people (Kemites). And sometimes, they even went way further and tried to merge their cultures with it. Sometimes, they even tried to take credit for Kemet’s African heritage by force and portray themselves as the original Kemites.

For example, 150 years after Herodotus’ death, Ptolemy Philadelphus, the Greek ruler who controlled Kemet at that time, started the removal of the African identity of Kemet. He ordered the removal of evidence from all scriptures and even made changes to the art. For example, he wanted to make the ancient statues look more Greek; a strategy that is very common in history. It’s used by invaders to brainwash the invaded people and rewrite a country’s history. By changing the facts, the ancestral features, and the art, the old truth will be forgotten and after one or two generations, a new reality will emerge, a reality at the advantage of the invaders.

Falsifications - Greeks - lies

So, Ptolemy Philadelphus ordered to replace the African expressions and names like “Kemet”, meaning Black Country or black land, as well as the symbols of the black or Nubian identity and origin of the civilization. He replaced Kemet with “Aegyptus”, the Greek variant of the current name Egypt.

He also ordered the rewriting of Herodotus’ books to fit his agenda. Herodotus’ work was genuine as he mostly wrote about what he saw and heard. So his work expressed the true history of that civilization as he had seen and heard about it. He clearly placed it in its Black African context, showing that it was the accomplishment of the Aethiopians or Black/Nubian Africans who were the true rulers and descendants of the builders of the pyramids. These facts could not be accepted by Ptolemy Philadelphus who wanted to make Kemet a Greek accomplishment and remove anything that would remind people of its African origin.

For example, that “artistic” combination of the head of a human with the body of an animal is an African invention. Sphinxes existed in Africa since the early periods of the Kemetic civilization, and most of the foreign variants appeared later. From Kemet, the “sphinxes” were imported to both Asia and Greece around the 15th to 16th century B.C.

But today, we only remember it through its Greek name “sphinx”, which can lead people to believe that it is a Greek or foreign (non-African) invention, just as most things related to that ancient African civilization. Everything about it is seen through a Greco-Roman lens and not in its original African context, which is a smooth but vicious form of cultural appropriation. 

And since we are taught Kemet’s history mostly by European scholars and through European books, we see it that way and don’t understand that Kemet is a purely African accomplishment. That’s why here in the Imhotep family, we have decided to launch our restoration project in which we do everything we can to bring back the original African memory of Kemet. We are bringing the original faces of the pharaohs, iconic statues, and people back to life.

We believe that its important for Africans to start learning about their ancestors’ accomplishments and start taking credit for what they have accomplished. Its part of our journey to our true selves.

Today, we want to show you for the first time, using the best facial specialists and artists available to us, what Kemet might have really looked like in its African context. We wanted to recreate Hor-em-aket’s or the great sphinx’s face. Its features have been subjected to debate for many years.

According to early European scholars, the sphinx has been built in the image of Pharaoh Khafre (about 2603-2578 B.C), and this is the most commonly accepted theory about that monument.

Hieroglyphic texts suggest Khafre’s father, Pharaoh Khufu, built the Great Pyramid, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in Giza. When he became Pharaoh, Khafre constructed his own pyramid next to his father’s; though Khafre’s pyramid is 10 feet shorter than the Great Pyramid, it is surrounded by a more elaborate complex that includes the Great Sphinx and other statues.

But this theory has been questioned and even debunked during a study conducted in 1992. A team of archaeologists hired a facial recognition expert specialist to study the face of the sphinx to get precise answers and end the debate. Detective Frank Domingo, an NYPD facial recognition expert with 20 years of experience at that time was hired. He explained that there was no way the great sphinx could be Pharaoh Khafre. Especially because his face was completely different from the very controversial statue of Khafre exposed in Cairo Museum. To him, the sphinx was clearly African. And by African, he meant Black African like those who have been pejoratively called “Negroes”.

He studied each part of the face and noticed that most of the features that are observed on the sphinx belong to the African people who live today in Subsaharan Africa; a result that validates the work we do on our platform. This was solid proof that the people of Kemet, the builders of pyramids and pharaohs were actually Black Africans.

At the time period when the sphinx is supposed to have been built, the population of Africa and even of the areas around Africa like the Middle East or Southern Europe were still populated with a black population or just people with very dark skin. As most studies have shown, white skin is quite recent in the history of our planet and first appeared in Northern Europe. It took many millennia for the people who had that skin color variation to migrate south and invade the south of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and finally the North of Africa.

The great sphinx’s date of building is still up to debate today, even though the common belief is that it had been built during Pharaoh Khafre’s reign.
Scholars like Robert Bauval have shown many inconsistencies in that narrative, showing that the statue might be even older than the pyramids situated around it. We won’t necessarily debate about that, even though it is a very interesting topic. Today, we will focus on the facial reconstruction of the great sphinx and see how it might have looked like before the destruction of its nose.

Detective Domingo and Team photographer Caroline Davies went to Cairo Museum to photograph and measure Pharaoh Khafre’s alleged and controversial official statue. Using standard police procedures, Caroline photographed several views of the statue (front, side, eye level, etc) in order to compare them to identical views of the sphinx. In addition, precise measurements of facial features and angular proportions were taken. So, if the face of the sphinx was meant to be of the pharaoh Khafre’s, then it should resemble his alleged statue in the Cairo Museum.

Dr. James F. Romano, a curator of the Egyptian collection at the Brooklyn Museum, explained that all statues carved by the Kemites were astonishing by how lifelike they were carved. He explained that most people believed that the art of Kemet was extremely symmetrical and perfect, but in fact, it was not the case as the Kemites tried to reproduce even the little imperfections that are part of the human features. Details like the fact that one nostril is maybe just a little bit larger than the other one or that one eye is maybe just a little bit larger than the other one was shown in the art. So, according to him, if we find statues that are a little bit too symmetrical, it probably means that it is a recent forgery. 

He spoke about it because of the alleged statue of pharaoh Khafre located in the Cairo Museum. That statue with features a little bit too perfect, a nose a little bit too straight and other features a bit too close to European standards of beauty is still controversial to this day. It looks nothing like most statues of that same period.

After studying the great Sphinx statue, detective Frank Domingo noticed the prognathism that can be observed on the statue of the great sphinx, an extension of the lower part of the face of the sphinx. That feature cant be found on the alleged statue of Khafre. He also observed that the face of the sphinx was more squared, while the alleged face of Khafre was more oval. And proportionally, the mouth of the sphinx was more larger when the one of Khafre was more thinner. Likewise, the eyes of the sphinx are quite large compared to those of Khafre’s. 

Khafre Sphinx Angles 3
Khafre Sphinx Angles 4
Khafre Sphinx Angles 5

After completing his observations, detective Domingo returned to New York to analyze his findings. He established a procedure to study angles and proportions for that analysis. He also established points of reference on the face of each statue to make a comparison, including points on the chin, the outer corner of the eye, and brow reach. While the study of the frontal view showed significant differences, the comparison of the side views completely ended the debate.

The differences were too extreme for both statues to represent the same individual. Either the alleged statue of the pharaoh is a forgery, or both statues portray two different people. 

Here, we believe that this statue is a forgery but thats just our opinion. Whats your opinion? Let us know in the comment section below.

Many scholars through the ages recreated the face of the sphinx. Most of them lived during the period of the renaissance or later, a period during which many racial theories started to appear. People with darker skin and tropical features were discriminated against and considered inferior and slaves. It became very complicated to accept the fact that the Kemetic civilization that inspired the great European civilizations like Greece and Rome could be a black African accomplishment. Therefore, it became important to hide and rewrite history. 

The same thing happened to ancient art all over the world. Many forgeries, more adapted to the racist narrative, have been created to remove all evidence of blackness, and many of the original pieces have been altered. A whole new representation of Kemet started to emerge in European art, a representation that did not take into account reality. For example, many artists created paintings representing the Great sphinx but none of them represented the piece as it actually looked. Most of them tried to hide the African features of the sphinx. You can see some of them below.

The same thing happened to ancient art all over the world. Many forgeries, more adapted to the racist narrative, have been created to remove all evidence of blackness, and many of the original pieces have been altered. A whole new representation of Kemet started to emerge in European art, a representation that did not take into account reality. For example, many artists created paintings representing the Great sphinx but none of them represented the piece as it actually looked. Most of them tried to hide the African features of the sphinx. You can see some of them below.

Great Sphinx - vivant denon - fake
Sphinx-cornelis-de-bruijn-1698 - vivan denon fake
Engraving of the Sphinx by Richard Pocoke, 1743
Sphinx Napoleon

Many ancient scholars who wrote about the great sphinx with honesty and without racial biases said that he clearly looked like a black African.

Gustave Flaubert is one of them. There were also two other French scholars who expressed themselves on this topic: 

Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney, a French philosopher, abolitionist, writer, orientalist, and politician, and Dominique Vivant, Baron Denon who was a French artist, writer, diplomat, author, and archaeologist. He was appointed as the first Director of the Louvre museum by Napoleon after the Egyptian campaign of 1798–1801.

At the sight of the great sphinx, Comte de Volney wrote this:

“Having visited the Sphynx and seeing this head characterized as a Negro in all its features, there was no doubt that the Ancient Egyptians were true Negroes of the species of all the naturals of Africa (…) think for a moment that this race of black men, today our slave and the object of our contempt, is the very one to whom we owe our arts, sciences and even the use of the Word.” 

Dominique Vivant went even further. He wrote about what he saw, but being an artist, he also drew the sphinx. 

This is is what he wrote and drew:

“I only had the time to observe the Sphinx which deserves to be drawn with the most scrupulous care, and which has never been drawn in this way. 

Although its proportions are colossal, the contours which are preserved are as subtle as they are pure, the expression of the head is soft, graceful, and quiet; the character is African; but the mouth, whose lips are thick, has a softness in movement and a truly admirable finesse of execution; it is flesh and life.”

Mesures_du_Sphinx._Vivant_Denon

On Egyptian art, he wrote: 

“As for the character of their human figure, borrowing nothing from other nations, they copied their own nature, which was more graceful than beautiful. (…) in all, the African character, of which the Negro is the charge, and perhaps the principle.”

This was such an interesting topic that we have decided to try our best to recreate for the first time, the face of the great sphinx following the exact same procedure used by detective Domingo. The process has been quite difficult, especially because the face is badly damaged around the nose. So, to recreate the nose, we have focused on trying to recover the harmony of the cranial structure. 

As Detective Domingo said that facial structure is purely African, so it would not have made any sense to add a nose following the features that are not adapted to that type of facial structure. What really mattered is the harmony of the face to recreate something that would have made sense to everybody, knowing the region, its history, and its original people. 

Knowing approximatively when the sphinx has been built (in the ancient Kingdom, meaning early dynasties before any foreign occupation) and its importance to the people of Kemet, it made sense to us that they have tried to create something that would represent their nation over the ages. And to do so, they must have focused on the most common features in their population at that time as said by Dominique Vivant Denon. But we can even say that they tried to represent their ancestral features or those of the founding fathers of their nation. And maybe, Khafre’s original face carried these exact same features, who knows?

So, we have decided to do some research on that part. We tried to find the same features in the area and the result was quite astonishing. Since there are studies on the first African settlers in the area before the dynastic period, these studies show that the main feature observed by Detective Domingo which is a strong prognathism of the bottom part of the face was exactly the one observed on most skulls of these early populations.

These people have been called Badarians. Studies on these populations’ crania and bodies have shown a small and gracile nature but especially a relatively high degree of facial prognathism. The exact same feature can be observed on the great sphinx, a facial feature that is very common among the indigenous black African populations around Egypt today but especially further south and west. That study concluded that the Badarians clustered with the ancient Nubians and other “negro” populations. This really helped us in the recreation of the face. Then to that, we have added the written descriptions of the sphinx by the scholars who have visited Egypt back in the days.

Enough information for us, to recreate something harmonious that made sense. Here is the result, and we hope that we have honored the ancestors throughout this work.

Great Sphinx Great Sphinx 3D
Great Sphinx Front View Great Sphinx 3D Front View
Great Pyramid (Khufu’s Pyramid)
Khafre’s Pyramid
Menkaure’s Pyramid
Great Sphinx’ complex
Sphinx 3D Side view
Sphinx 3D Side view Pyramid Night
Sphinx 3D Front view Night
image-3

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