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NOVA: Riddles Of The Sphinx

Airs Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: A team of archeologists, including Mark Lehner (left) and Zahi Hawass, carries out eye-opening experiments that reveal the techniques and incredible labor invested in the carving of the Sphinx. The team also unearths new discoveries about the people who built this gigantic sculpture and why they created such a haunting and stupendous image.

For 45 centuries, the Great Sphinx has cast its enigmatic gaze over Egypt's Giza plateau. The biggest and oldest statue in a land of colossal ancient monuments, its scale is staggering: the mighty head towers as tall as the White House, while its body is nearly the length of a football field.

Explore the Giza Plateau

Savor 360° and other striking panoramas of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids.

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View of the Sphinx and the Dream Stela from below
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Above: View of the Sphinx and the Dream Stela from below

This strange half-human, half-lion image has inspired countless fantastic theories about its origins. How was it built, and who or what does it represent? Surprisingly, the scribes of the period when it was built - during Egypt's Old Kingdom - passed over it in silence.

Adding to the mystery, archeologists found that its creators abruptly discarded their tools and abandoned the structure when it was nearly complete.

Searching for clues, NOVA's expert team of archeologists, including Mark Lehner (director, Ancient Egypt Research Associates), carries out eye-opening experiments that reveal the techniques and incredible labor invested in the carving of this gigantic sculpture.

The team also unearths new discoveries about the people who built the Sphinx and why they created such a haunting and stupendous image.

NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter. Ancient Egypt Research Associates, Inc. is on Facebook.

Video

NOVA: Riddles Of The Sphinx: Prologue

Above: For over 4,000 years, the Sphinx has puzzled all who have laid eyes on it. What is this crouching lion, human-headed creature? Who built it and why? To unlock its secrets, two teams of scientists and sculptors immerse themselves in the world of ancient Egypt — a land of pharaohs and pyramids, animal gods and mummies, sun worship and human sacrifice.

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