CAIRO: The 4,000-year-old Great Sphinx of Giza, under restoration for the past three years, will be opened to the public Sunday, archaeological head of the site Kamal Wahed told The Cairo Post Saturday.
Sunday’s opening ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty and an array of diplomats and public figures, said Waheed.
“The single rock, from which the Sphinx was carved out four millennia ago, along with the sewage system installed in the nearby Cairo suburb of Nazlet el-Samman, have caused the Sphinx’s erosion over the years,” Damaty was quoted as saying on the Antiquities Ministry’s Facebook page.
He added that in spite of several restoration attempts to preserve the monument, the problem with its humid rock core body has never been addressed properly.
“The monument is safe now and was restored using new blocks, which were inserted to consolidate those added during last century’s restoration,” said Damaty, who attributed the delay in completing the restoration work at the Great Sphinx to budget shortfalls at the Antiquities Ministry.
In 1920, the Great Sphinx was restored with cement and gypsum mortar, which caused cracks and stress fractures within the statue’s soft limestone surface. In 1988, a large limestone chunk fell from its shoulder, Minya University Faculty of Tourism and Hotels Dean Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post in August.
The New Kingdom temple built adjacent to the Great Sphinx, which was built by Pharaoh Amenhotep II (1427 B.C.–1397 B.C.) to the northeast of the Great Sphinx, along with the Pharaoh Menkaure (2530 B.C.-2506 B.C.) Pyramid, the smallest of the three Great Pyramids at Giza, will also be opened to the public Sunday, Waheed said.
According to Damaty, the opening of the Pyramid of Menkaure comes as part of the Antiquities Ministry’s rotation strategy in which one of Giza’s three main pyramids is closed for a few months every one or two years for routine cleaning and restoration.