May Disintegrate Within 25 Years By Bungled Restoration
Great Sphinx at Giza, near Cairo, famous in mythology
for its deadly riddle, has set a new poser for archaeologists.
Why, after the Egyptian government spent 10 years and
millions of dollars on its restoration, is it now in imminent
danger of crumbling into the desert?
British team of Egyptologists believes that the huge 4,500-year-old
man-headed lion in the shadow of the pyramids, one of
the world's greatest tourist attractions, could collapse
within 25 years as a direct result of the techniques intended
to save it.
project to restore the Sphinx was mounted after a block
of stone fell from its shoulder in 1988. Some experts
believed the base of the statue was being undermined by
a rising water table.
blamed pollution. The bill soared as restorers used 12,000
limestone blocks to shore up the statue's stomach, legs and
Egyptologist Ahmad Osman and Dr Ali el-Kholy, former head
of Egyptian Board of Antiquities, fear the chemicals used
by the restorers, shoddy workmanship and the failure to close
the site to visitors could prove fatal.
Sphinx, dating back to the 4th dynasty pharaoh Chephren, had
been immersed in sand for at least 2,000 years until it was
uncovered in 1926. "The Sphinx, which has been guarding
the Giza necropolis for thousands of years, seems to be approaching
the end of its life," said Mr Osman. "Unless revolutionary
steps are taken it will disintegrate in 25 years."
new stone, it has emerged, was simply used to cover decaying
parts of the statue. Other deteriorating parts of the monument
were left untreated.