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Sphinx May Disintegrate Within 25 Years By Bungled Restoration

The 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?

A 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.

The 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.




Others blamed pollution. The bill soared as restorers used 12,000 limestone blocks to shore up the statue's stomach, legs and paws.

British 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.

The 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."

The new stone, it has emerged, was simply used to cover decaying parts of the statue. Other deteriorating parts of the monument were left untreated.


By Adel Darwish

(This news update is courtesy of News Service,  which has a complete daily news service from around the world)

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