Lead: In recent decades the Great Sphinx of Gaza has shown signs of advanced deterioration. It may actually be older than was once thought.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Sphinx has fired the imagination of poets, scholars, and tourists for generations. Recently stones have begun falling off this massive statue, masonry veneer from the left hind paw in 1981, and a huge piece of bedrock from the right shoulder in 1988. This has led to speculation that the giant lion-shaped figure is actually much older than had been estimated. Heretofore, archeologists have dated the Sphinx as originating in the Old Kingdom about 2500 years B.C.E. The recent decay has led some scholars to assert that the monument is more like 5000 to 7000 years B.C.E. However this dispute is resolved, it has led to heightened interest in the origins of the statue and to what use it was put in the cultic life of the ancient Egyptian religion. The Sphinx sits within a cluster of burial monuments and temples near Giza just south of the Nile Delta. The three giant pyramids of Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure dominate the skyline. Each of the giant structures had a long causeway or narrow ceremonial boulevard that ran from a temple beside the pyramid down to another temple close to the River itself. This last was called the Valley Temple and served as an entrance to each pyramid complex.