added by archaeologs
(Egyptian: shesep ankh, "living image") Imaginary beast, usually combining the body of a lion with the head of a human being, frequently found in the art and myths of Egypt, the Ancient Near East and Greece. The earliest sphinxes appeared in the iconography of Egypt and Mesopotamia in the early 3rd millennium BC, primarily taking the form of guardian figures. The Great Sphinx at Gize, regarded as a personification of the god "Horus in the horizon", is the most significant surviving archaeological example.
A. Dessene: Le sphinx: étude iconographique (Paris, 1957); H. Demisch: Die Sphinx (Stuttgart, 1977); M. Lehner: ‘Reconstructing the Sphinx’, CAJ 2/1 (1992), 3–26.
The Sphinx was a female monster with the body of a lion, the head and breast of a woman, eagle's wings and, according to some, a serpent's tail.
She was sent by the gods to plague the town of Thebes as punishment for some ancient crime, preying on its youths and devouring all who failed to solve her riddle. The regent of Thebes, King Kreon (Creon), offered the throne to the one who would destroy her. Oidipous (Oedipus) took up the challenge, and when he solved the Sphinx's riddle, she cast herself off the mountainside in despair.
Sphinxes were very popular in ancient art. They were employed as sculptural gave stelae upon the tombs of men who died in youth. In archaic vase paintings they often appear amongst a procession of animals and fabulous creatures such as lions and bird-bodied sirens.
added by archaeologs In Ancient Egyptian, Hittite and early Greek art, a representation of a human head bn the body of a crouched lion. In Egypt, sphinxes were held to guard temples and tombs from intruders; they often bore the features of a pharaoh and the great rock-cut sphinx at Giza, 80 metres long and 20 metres high, is believed to represent Khafra [Chephren], the fourth pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty (r. c2520 bc).
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983