Top attractions in the Louvre Museum – The Great Sphinx from Tanis.
The Louvre has a large Egyptian collection on display and one item in particular of great interest is the giant Sphinx, or Great Sphinx of Tanis. It was found in 1825 among the ruins of the Temple of Amun at Tanis, which was the capital of Egypt during the 21st and 22nd dynasties.
You see it immediately as you enter the Egyptian section. It is a giant statue with the head of a King and the body of a lion. For a moment I could imagine this giant Sphinx jumping on me and clawing into my flesh!Some people believe it is the guardian of the Egyptian collection in the museum. In Egypt it is believed that Sphinxes were intended to protect temples and horizons. He sure does give the impression of protecting something!
It is one of the largest sphinx sculptures in existence outside of Egypt. It bears the inscriptions of pharaohs Ammenemes II, Merneptah, and Shoshenq I. It dates back to 2600 BC.
How did the Sphinx end up in the Louvre?
I was curious to know how this Sphinx ended up at the Louvre. Why was it not in the Egyptian Museum?
Jean-François Champollion, translator of the Rosetta Stone, convinced King Charles X to purchase three of the major collections that came up for sale at the start of the 19th century. The Sphinx was one of them. The Egyptian collection at the Louvre started to grow to 9,000 pieces. The Louvre sent French archaeologist Mariette to Egypt, where he later discovered the Serapeum at Saqqara. At the time the Egyptian government had agreed to share objects unearthed at archaeological sites directed by scientists, so between 1852 and 1853 he sent 5,964 works to Paris, including the famous Seated Scribe. Furthermore, certain major works entered the museum through the generosity of individuals who have bequeathed a large number of objects to the Louvre.
Interesting facts about the Great Sphinx and the Egyptian collection:
- When it was put into the Louvre there was no machinery strong enough to lift the 26 ton beast and carry it around. So they made a whole in the wall and then the sphinx was pushed and pulled until it was in place. The hole was then sealed up again.
- The Louvre’s Egyptian collections consist of more than 50,000 pieces.
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