Who took the nose off the Sphinx

The Sphinx (translated from Greek - "strangler") is a mythological creature with the head of a woman, the body of a lion and the wings of a bird. As you may have noticed, his giant 6500-year-old statue near the Egyptian pyramids is noseless. For many centuries, the fact that the nose of the Sphinx was deliberately repulsed for some special reason, was accused of different armies and individuals - the British, Germans, Arabs. However, it is still customary to shift the blame to Napoleon.

Almost none of these accusations are grounded. In fact, the only one who can be said with certainty that he really did damage to the Sphinx was the Sufi fanatic Muhammad Saim al-Dah, who was beaten to death by the locals for vandalism in 1378. However, it is unlikely that he could beat off a two-meter piece of stone at a height of several tens of meters.

The British and German armies that visited Egypt during both world wars are not to blame: there are photographs of the Sphinx without a nose, dated 1886.

As for Napoleon, sketches with the noseless Sphinx, made by European travelers in 1737, thirty-two years before the birth of the future French emperor, have survived. When the twenty-nine-year-old general first laid eyes on the ancient statue, it probably hadn't had a nose for hundreds of years.

Napoleon's campaign in Egypt was intended to disrupt British ties with India. The French army fought two major battles in this country: the Battle of the Pyramids (which, by the way, did not take place at the Pyramids at all) and the Battle of the Nile (which had nothing to do with the Nile). Together with an army of 55, 000, Napoleon brought in 155 civilian specialists - the so-called savants. This was the first professional archaeological expedition to Egypt.

When Nelson sank the Napoleonic fleet, the emperor returned to France, abandoning both the army and the "scientists" who continued to work without their leader. The result was a scientific work called "Description de I'Egypte" ("Description of Egypt" (French)) - the first accurate picture of the country that reached Europe.

Nevertheless, despite all these facts, Egyptian guides still tell numerous crowds of tourists that the nose of the statue was blown off by a cannonball during the Napoleonic battle with the Turks at the Pyramids.

The most plausible reason for the Sphinx's lack of a nose is 6, 000 years of exposure to wind and weather on soft limestone.