Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed 12 new Sphinxes beneath existing developments in the major city of Luxor.
It has taken 18 months for authorities to relocate and compensate those living above the site in apartment blocks before the excavations could begin, and although the site was known from ancient texts, this is the first actual proof of its existence.
The antiquities were found along a road linked to the already famous Sphinx Alley which runs between Luxor Temple and the Temple of Karnak and most of them are missing their heads. They are believed to date back to the days of the founder of the Pharaonic dynasty as they are inscribed with the name Nectabi I, who died on 362BC.
The famous path between the two temples marks the route that ancient Egyptians followed once a year, carrying the statues of Egypt’s supreme god King Amun, and his bride Mut; the goddess worshipped as a mother. The new discoveries are on a road which crosses this path from east to west.
The latest unearthing follows the discovery of 850 fragmented Sphinxes that have been found over recent years along Sphinx Alley which is believed to have been built by the immensely wealthy Pharaoh Amenhotep III. He built the road around chapels dedicated to the gods and 1,350 Sphinx statues are thought to have originally lined the route. The Romans were also thought to have used this road, and Ptolemic Queen Cleopatra is believed to have renovated it when she left her cartouche; an inscribed hieroglyphic, in the Temple at Luxor.
Local specialists believe that only 30% of the country’s treasures have been found to date and hear of new discoveries every day.