Is the Sphinx 12,000 years old?

I have seen several conspiracy theory threads lately and thought about one that was prevalent when I was in college.

Is the Sphinx 12,000 years old?

I read a book at the time that postulated that the Sphinx has rainfall erosion that could only have happened when the Giza area was rainy. It also said that the alignment of the Giza plateau was designed to mimic Orion’s Belt. This alignment only occurred 12,000 years ago.

I have also seen articles from geologist(s) to confirm the rainfall erosion pattern; apparently it caused a scuffle between the archaeologists and geologists. I can’t find the news articles, but many web sites are dedicated to this theory.

The main wiki entry is surprisingly well-balanced about this:

Basically, you’ve got this:

  • most Egyptologists believe that the Sphix was built around the time of the Great pyramid (give or take a generation)

  • but there are no records of its origins (unlike many other monuments in Egypt)

  • reputable scientists DO believe that apparent water erosion indicates its age is much greater (at least by 2-3000 years); most Egyptologists find counterarguments against this idea, but it’s not totally preposterous

  • virtually no one believes Hancock and his ilk, and the correlations to Orion’s belt are in fact incorrect (the alignment wouldn’t work at the time proposed, and the sphinx apparently should be on the other side of the pyramids to properly correspond)

I could certainly get behind the theory that the body of the Sphinx is considerably older than the head, but the idea that the pyramids are 12000 years old is one I have trouble with, partially because they don’t show the rainfall-type erosion that the Sphinx body does, and also carving an existing rock into lion shape isn’t the same as building those three pyramids.
A yardang that’s been resculpted several times doesn’t seem to overturn the history of much of anything IMHO, but I don’t think you’ll ever get an Egyptologist to give an inch on this, having to deal with aliens and stargates and such gets them all twitchy.

That one guy that seemed to be a big proponent of the 12000yo Sphinx has shot down some other Atlantis discoveries (ancient city off the coast of Japan - natural formations says he) but he seems to go off the deep end when around the Sphinx. I only buy about a third of what he says, but that third was enough to make me suspect there is more to the story. Not a highly advanced ancient civilization, however.

Just my 2 cents, based on little more than Discovery Channel shows (so worth slightly less than 2 cents)

Damn. And I was fascinated with his premise, too. Sigh. Ah well.

That misses an important nuance (which is also missing from the Wikipedia article).

While some reputable geologists do support an older dating on the basis of the water erosion theory and most Egyptologists do disagree with them, the main counterarguments to the water erosion theory have actually been put forward by other reputable geologists, most notably August Matthusen. This is not a case of there being a consensus among geologists that contradicts the consensus among Egyptologists. Rather it is that the geologists disagree among themselves, with many of them agreeing with the Egyptologists. And some of the geologists think that the Egyptogists do have the date wrong, but only by a few hundred years.

One thing I never hear mentioned in these discussions is the fact that, even 4500 years ago the Sahara was considerably moister than it is today. The desertification process was well under way, but still there was enough moisture to support a savanna-like ecosystem, with large herbivores and other animals dependent on plant life. Isn’t it entirely possible that over the first couple hundred years of the Sphynx’s existence, there could have been some major rainstorms, enough to cause erosion?

One factor not considered is that the Sphinx’s body was buried for many centuries. Its body is hydrophilic limestone, and sand can contain and hold moisture well a few feet below the surface.

The book 'Ancient Mysteries ’ did a remarkable disarm of this claim. Noting it was not as well supported as its proponent claimed, and other factors that could contribute to its age.

Something is still wonky here. The Egyptologists rebuttal on the way that the Sphinx was eroded was shot down by all 3 geologists. From the wiki article toadspittle referenced. Underline is mine.

Arguing totally out of ignorance here (no, really), but if the Sphinx predated the pyramids by thousands of years, or a couple days, really, wouldn’t its location relative to the pyramids be kind of a moot point?


[Ignorance here, too.]
Not if they were but built there for the same reason - quarry access.

Which is the very reason why I pointed out that there was a ‘nuance’ that the Wikipedia article missed. Or, if you want me to put it bluntly, that section of the article oversimplifies the controversy to the point of being wrong.

That Schoch, Reader, and Coxill have proved their point has not been accepted by, among others, Matthusen, James Harrell and Alex Bourdeau, all of them also geologists. Those critics have argued just as strongly that there are indeed other explanations that do, after all, ‘account for what they consider as geologists to be “classic” water erosion patterns’. To repeat, the main rebuttals to the water erosion theory were put forward - and are still being argued - by other geologists.

So, given that the geologists cannot agree among themselves, the Egyptologists have quite reasonably taken the view that the geological evidence is clearly so ambiguous that rejecting the archaeological evidence on that basis alone would be silly.

I have no problem believing that the body of the Sphinx is constructed from the naturally eroded outcrop of rock exposed to water erosion from the end of the Ice Age…back when Egypt was a jungle instead of the desert it is now.

from the Wiki article: