Natural Craftsmanship

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Scientists recently found evidence that the majestic Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt is not entirely man-made, Popular Mechanics reported.

Located near the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx is one of the many monuments that define the craftsmanship of ancient Egyptians.

But archaeologists have pondered over its origins.

In 1981, geologist Farouk El-Baz questioned whether the ancient builders made the Sphinx from scratch similar to the pyramids. He suggested that desert winds formed the overall contours of the lion-like figure and stonemasons then carved the rock with its unique features.

In a new paper, a research team initially focused on studying how water can erode clay. They constructed clay mounds with non-erodible plastic at the upstream end, simulating “hard inclusions.” As water flowed over the mounds, it eroded the clay, but the non-erodible plastic retained its shape, resulting in formations resembling seated lions.

The team explained the findings draw parallels with geological features called yardangs, which are sharp, irregular ridges of compact sand. When they added dye to the water, they observed how winds might shape structures like the Sphinx if met by a compact yardang upstream.

“Releasing dye upstream reveals compressed streaklines under the head, and this accelerated flow digs the neck and reveals the forelimbs and paws,” they wrote in a poster about their study. “These results show what ancient peoples may have encountered in the deserts of Egypt and why they envisioned a fantastic creature.”

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