The Sphinx of Hawara: A Sphinx with a Mysterious Past


The Sphinx of Hawara, also known as the Crocodile Sphinx or the Shmun, is an ancient Egyptian sphinx located in the Fayoum region of Egypt. This enigmatic statue has a mysterious past, leaving archaeologists and historians intrigued by its origins, purpose, and symbolic significance.

Discovery and Location

The Sphinx of Hawara was discovered in 1843 by the renowned archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius during his excavation of the pyramid complex of Amenemhat III. It was found lying near the entrance of a labyrinth-like structure known as the Hawara Pyramid, which is believed to be the final resting place of the pharaoh.

Presently, the Sphinx of Hawara can be admired in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, captivating visitors with its imposing presence and enigmatic allure.

Description and Features

The sphinx stands at an impressive height of approximately 20 meters, and it is made of limestone. Though erosion and the passage of time have taken a toll on its features, it still exhibits remarkable craftsmanship and detail.

One distinguishing characteristic of the Sphinx of Hawara is its unusual headwear, featuring the headdress of the crocodile god Sobek. This combination of a human-headed lion body with the crocodile symbolism is unique, adding to the mystery surrounding its original purpose and symbolism.

Purpose and Symbolism

The purpose and symbolism behind the creation of the Sphinx of Hawara remain a subject of debate among experts. Some speculate that it represents the pharaoh Amenemhat III himself, as a manifestation of his divine power and connection to the gods.

Others believe that the sphinx might have served as a guardian to the entrance of the pyramid complex, warding off evil spirits and protecting the pharaoh’s tomb. The association with Sobek, the crocodile god, could also suggest a connection to the waters and fertility, linking it to agricultural rites and traditions.


The Sphinx of Hawara continues to captivate scholars and visitors alike, with its mysterious origins and symbolic significance. While its purpose may never be fully unraveled, its presence serves as a testament to the intricate artistry and spirituality of ancient Egypt.

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