The Alabaster Sphinx of Memphis


The Sphinx of Memphis, carved curing Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, is the largest known statue made of calcite. It is tiny when compared to the great sphinx of Giza, but impressive, unique and beautiful. It is also called the Alabaster Sphinx because calcite and the softer mineral, gypsum, are the two “rocks” known as alabaster. It’s tail was noticed in 1910 protruding from a pile of sand. It was excavated the following year. Only in a rainless environment would it have survived so long.


I shot this during a trip to Egypt in 2009. It is just lying down (sphinxes tend to pose like that)  in a courtyard of the Memphis Museum near Cairo, which houses (inside) a colossus of the 19th Dynasty pharaoh, Rameses II.  I was being harassed by a fellow traveler named Mike from New York, who came up behind me calling “Meester… Meester.” Didn’t fool me. I knew right away it wasn’t a vendor trying to sell me something. Good try, Mike, good try… You’d have more luck “doing” Rodney Dangerfield impressions.