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Giza: The Sphinx (1849 photo)

The Sphinx at Giza (photo: du Camp 1852, pl.11). .

The Sphinx, carved from a limestone outcrop in the Fourth Dynasty ca. 2550 BC, portrays a man's head on a lion's body, representing the sun god Ra. 

This calotype image, taken in 1848 by Maxime du Camp, is one of the first known photographs of the Sphinx, dating only four years after the Giza plateau was mapped by Lepsius and his German expedition; and fifty years after the Sphinx was sketched by Vivant Denon in the 1798-1801 French expedition.

Du Camp's tour of Egypt with French novelist Gustave Flaubert in 1848-9 resulted in the first major collection of photographs from Egypt, published in 1852 in a volume entitled Egypte, Nubie, Syrie, Palestine.

Du Camp's captions often contain interesting facts. His caption to this image reads:
"The Sphinx viewed in front, sculpted by order of Thutmose IV (18th Dynasty)." [in this particular, du Camp is incorrect;  it dates from the much earlier 4th Dynasty).
"Called by the Arabs Abou-el-Hoal (the father of terror). Total length: 39 meters; contour of the head at the front, 27 meters; height front the belly to the top of the head, 17 meters."

In this image, more of the lower parts of the Sphinx are shown than in Denon's earlier drawing, indicating early stages of excavation had occurred of the sand drifts which had buried most of the monument.

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