Archeologists in Egypt have discovered a Sphinx-like statue that likely dates back to the time of Ancient Rome, authorities said Monday.
Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a translated statement that archeologists discovered "a limestone statue...in the form of a Sphinx." The artifact was found inside "a limestone cabin dating back to the Roman era." The discovery occurred near the Hathor Temple in Qena Province, 280 miles south of Cairo.
Experts believe that the Sphinx depicts the Roman emperor Claudius, who ruled the Roman Empire from A.D. 41 to A.D. 54. The Associated Press noted that Claudius is credited with having "extended Rome's rule into North Africa." A statue honoring Claudius would not be an uncommon occurrence, as The Washington Post reported that "Ancient Egyptian Sphinxes often represented a king or royal with the body of a lion, as a symbol of might and power."
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This new statue is much smaller than the world-famous Sphinx at the Pyramids of Giza, which towers over tourists. However, experts still marveled at the find, with Dr. Mamdouh Damati, a former minister of archaeology and professor of archaeology at Ain Shams University, calling the Sphinx "wonderfully beautiful."
Damati added in the ministry's statement that the statue was "magnificent," and had facial features that "meticulously depicted royal features and a light smile on his lips, which have two dimples on the ends." Remains of red and yellow paint were also found.
Additionally uncovered at the site was an ancient shrine containing multiple tombs.
The discovery of this Sphinx comes just one month after archeologists found an ancient gold leaf-covered mummy south of Cairo, which BBC News described as "one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt."
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