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Sphinxlocked

  • F. J. E. Boddens-Hosang
  •  and Carole d’Albiac

Extract

Type of statue and art form, first found in the early 3rd millennium bc in Egypt and the Ancient Near East, in the form of a mythical animal usually with a human head (see fig.). The sphinx (Gr.: ‘strangler’) could be male or female, and the female version was often shown with breasts. Lion sphinxes were the most numerous, but there were also many examples in the form of bulls or horses. Occasionally they were depicted with various other attributes such as wings, bulls’ horns or snakes’ tails. Throughout Egypt and the Near East the sphinx was seen as a guardian; its role diversified in the ancient Greek world, where it often took on a more sinister aspect....

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W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorff, eds: Lexikon der Ägyptologie (Wiesbaden, 1975–)