CAIRO: China began demolishing a controversial replica of Egypt’s 4,400 year-old Sphinx two years after Egypt filed a complaint to UNESCO about the monument, B.B.C Arabic reported Thursday.
Footages of the head of the Chinese replica being dismantled were praised by Egyptian social media users. “With full respect to China as a world leading industrial power, it is hard for its version to beat the grandeur of the original one. I am happy that whoever built this ugly version finally understands that a part of the world heritage like the Sphinx should not have been copied,” said Facebook user Ahmed Nemr on his account Thursday.
Unlike the original, which was carved from one piece of limestone, the Chinese Sphinx was made of a reinforced steel framework and a concrete body. According to media reports, the replica, located at the foot of the Taihang Mountains, is part of a new theme park featuring fake cityscapes to attract tourists and be used for movie production purposes.
In September 2014, Egypt’s former Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the ministry had filed a complaint with UNESCO to implement the convention it signed in 1972 concerning the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
The minister feared the replica would have a negative effect on the already struggling Egyptian tourism industry, as “it harms the country’s cultural heritage,” and called on UNESCO to press China to demolish the replica.
The Sphinx dates back to 2,400 B.C. and is strongly believed to represent Pharaoh Khafra, for whom the second pyramid in Giza was built to serve as his resting place.
It stands for the wisdom, power and the authority of the Pharaoh and features a lion’s body and human head representing the Pharaoh’s facial features, Former Head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr. Abdel Halim Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post.
“The Sphinx was buried under sand since the 641 AD Arab conquest to Egypt and was not completely excavated before 1920s,” said Nour el-Din.
This is not the first attempt to replicate the Sphinx. The Luxor Las Vegas Hotel and Casino houses several replicas of ancient Egyptian monuments including a Sphinx.