Archaeologists in Egypt made a surprising new discovery yesterday when they unearthed 12 new sphinxes buried beneath a modern apartment complex in Luxor. Those stone statues were located not far from the famed Sphinx Alley, which is a popular tourist destination and an impressive display of ancient craftsmanship in the city.
The newly discovered road runs along an Egyptian promenade that is thousands of years old and was once used to as part of a ceremony to celebrate the deities Amun and Mut. Until yesterday, the road was only mentioned in a few historical texts, but the discovery is the first solid proof of its existence. The street runs between two spectacular religious sites – Karnak and Luxor Temples, and was likely lined with dozens of Sphinxes when it was first constructed. Under the rule of Cleopatra, the avenue was renovated and eventually it was used by the conquering Romans.
The popular Sphinx Alley is so named for the 850 statues that have already been discovered along that route. Historians believe that more than 1300 of them were in place when it was built under the rule of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Those Sphinxes flanked a number of lesser religious sites where worshipers left offerings for the array of gods in the Egyptian pantheon.
The 12 newly discovered Sphinx statues are not in the best condition. Most are missing their heads and all are in varying degrees of disrepair. Despite that however, the statues will go on display to the public for the first at a new open-air museum in February of 2011, giving Egypt even more amazing artifacts to show to the world.