A former minister of archaeology and professor of archaeology at Ain Shams University said that a “magnificent” smiling sphinx of a Roman emperor was found at an ancient Egypt site.
With deep sandy eyes and a wide smirk, the statue is probably modeled on the Roman emperor Claudius, the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a statement Monday. He ruled from A.D. 41 to 54 and is credited with extending the Roman rule to parts of North Africa.
Ancient Egyptian sphinxes often represented a king or royal with the body of a lion, as a symbol of might and power.
The statue was uncovered in a two-level tomb at the archaeological site of the temple of Dendera in Qena province, north of Luxor. The area also includes a shrine to the ancient Egyptian god Horus, also dating back to the Roman era, according to Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
During the excavation of the tomb, “a limestone statue of a Roman emperor was found,” Mamdouh Damati, a former minister of archaeology and professor of archaeology at Ain Shams University, said in the statement.
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He described the statue as “magnificent” with facial features that “meticulously depicted royal features and a light smile on his lips, which have two dimples on the ends.” Traces of yellow and red color also remain on the face, Damati said.
“Preliminary examination of the statue’s face indicated that it was likely to belong to Emperor Claudius,” the ministry added.
A slab from the Roman era was also found with hieroglyphic and demotic inscriptions, which may give more clues once restored.
According to Hawass, archaeologists have unearthed the oldest known gold-covered mummy in Egypt at the Tombs of Saqqara in Memphis.
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