I’m watching a recent episode of NOVA right now. I’m actually interrupting my watching to write this. It’s about the statue in Egypt known as the Sphinx. We all know it. It’s the statue of a lion with a Pharaoh’s head that sits near the great pyramids of Egypt. The big Sphinx.

I’ve seen quite a few Sphinx TV shows but I’ve never read a book about it. Almost all my Sphinx knowledge comes from these TV shows. Though I must have read some magazine articles on the Sphinx being that I’ve subscribed to “Archeology” magazine for a long time.

The Sphinx has had many TV shows dedicated to it because some people seem to think it was built way before the pyramids. That’s not the generally accepted view but it’s prevalent enough to capture the interest of TV producers. They love wild speculation. It makes for good TV if not good archeology.

I’m a fan of history in general and though I’m conservative about what we actually know relating to what people said and did way back in the mist of time I love the idea of ancient lost civilizations. People doing wild, far out, and interesting things way back when and now we don’t know a thing about them. It’s a fun notion. It sets the imagination free.

I may not believe these far out ideas about the Sphinx but I’m willing to entertain them. After all, I’m not a historian or an archeologist so my reputation will take no hit from pondering wild ideas. Ancient intelligent gorillas made the Sphinx? I’ll give it a listen. I dig a good story.

This NOVA special is one of the conservative ones about the Sphinx. They don’t care about the wild ideas and are sticking with the mainstream historical ideas. The only problem with that is there is not a lot that is known about the Sphinx. It makes for a pretty boring tale. They seem to know a lot more about the pyramids. The Sphinx has mostly blank pages in its history book.

I’ve always had one problem with the Sphinx that I’ve never seen addressed in any of these TV shows. My problem with the Sphinx is this: It’s an awful, awful sculpture. All of the other monumental art or building I’ve seen from ancient Egypt (in pictures since I’ve never been there) has been “A” level work. The Sphinx is “C” level work at best.

I’ve seen other small Sphinxes from Egypt not based on the big one that actually look good. Nicely designed and well proportioned. I’ve also seen other small Sphinxes that were clearly base on the big one that look as ugly as the big one. The nicer looking small Sphinxes are rarely, and usually quickly, shown on these shows for some reason.

Sure the Sphinx has been degraded by time but even the recreations I’ve seen of it reveal a terrible sculpture. Only the head is actually well done. The head has the usual Egyptian quality of art but the shapes and proportions of the lions body are bizarre and ugly. I’ve heard it mentioned on a couple of shows the the head is too small, which is true, but it’s more than that. It’s bad overall sculpture and that doesn’t fit with the rest of the ancient monuments over there. I mean it’s ugly in a way nothing else I’ve seen in ancient Egypt is. Maybe the TV shows are hiding the other ugly stuff but that sounds a little far fetched to me.

I have no idea why the Sphinx would be of lesser quality than the rest. I don’t know if it’s way older than the mainstream Egyptologists say it is or that it’s just weathered beyond the abilities of computer animators to reconstruct it as it once really was but it I can tell you that it doesn’t look right to me. It looks like a local high school kid’s work got left in Da Vinci’s studio and now gets displayed beside it. With an artist’s eye I can see it doesn’t fit but that doesn’t mean anything to historians who have completely different vision.

So there you go. I don’t have any answers for you just my observation. That’s an ugly statue. I don’t know if there is anything more to the Sphinx then we already know but give it a look yourself. You tell me if you think that’s “A” level work.