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Egyptian Archaeologists Uncover Sphinx Enclosure Wall at Giza

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Sphinx Wall at Giza, Egypt
Egyptian archaeologists dig an assessment trench in front of the Sphinx at Giza. The excavators have found a wall that once enclosed the Sphinx. Source: Supreme Council of Antiquities via Bloomberg

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A team of Egyptian archaeologists has uncovered the remains of a 3,400-year-old wall on the Giza plateau that once protected the Sphinx from desert winds, the country’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.

The two sections of mud-brick wall, which stretch for 132 meters (433 feet) in total, have been dated to the reign of Thutmose IV, the council said in an e-mailed statement. According to ancient Egyptian texts, the pharaoh built the enclosure after the Sphinx appeared to him in a dream complaining that it was being choked by sand.

The team also uncovered a third, older section of wall that is believed to be part of a settlement for priests and officials overseeing the mortuary cult of the pharaoh Khafre, the secretary-general of the council, Zahi Hawass, said, according to the statement.

Egypt’s government is building its own wall around the Giza site to protect the monuments from looters and prevent touts from disturbing visitors. Tourism, which accounts for 12.6 percent of jobs, is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency and brought in $10.8 billion last year, according to the Tourism Ministry.

Khafre, also known as Chephren, died in about 2532 BC after building the second of the pyramids that dominate the necropolis at Giza. It is commonly believed the statue of the Sphinx was also built during his reign, historians have said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Digby Lidstone in Cairo at dlidstone@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net; Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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