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ARCE Sphinx Project 1979-1983 Archive: Maps, drawings, and photographs from the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) Sphinx Project, 1979-1983

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The ARCE SPHINX PROJECT (1979-1983) aimed to produce scale drawings (plans and elevations) of the Great Sphinx of Giza, where no scale drawings of this unique monument had been produced before, to map the greater Sphinx site, including three ancient Egyptian temples situated east of the statue, and the larger quarry forming the Sphinx "amphitheater." Objectives included elevations, profiles, and a detailed master plan of the Sphinx, detailed section and profile drawings showing the masonry restorations added to the statue, topographical maps of the Sphinx ditch and larger quarry, and maps of the structural geology of the site, showing stratification and faults.
The idea was that we could achieve a better understanding of the origin of the Sphinx and how the 4th Dynasty Egyptians created the Sphinx from careful, recorded observations of its structure and geology, and that a good part of the history of the Sphinx could be read from detailed survey and mapping of the stratified masonry on the Sphinx, and from the condition of the bedrock core under the earliest masonry, as well as from analysis of tool marks and mortar bonding the different phases.
Dr. James Allen, then Assistant Director of the American Research Center (now Charles Edwin Wilbour Professor of Egyptology at Brown University) applied as Project Director to the Egyptian Antiquities Organization to survey and map the Sphinx. Mark Lehner served as Field Director. Ulrich Kapp (German Archaeological Institute in Cairo) carried out the photogrammetric survey and plotted the master profiles and elevations of the Sphinx. Team members included Christiane Zivie-Coche (Director, Centre Wladimir Golenischeff, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Egyptology), Attila Vass (survey), Susan Allen (now, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, survey), Peter Lacovara (then Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, now The Ancient Egyptian Egyptian Heritage and Archaeology Fund, survey) and Cynthia Schartzer (archaeology, survey), K. Lal Gauri (University of Louisville, geology), and Thomas Aigner (University of Tübingen, geology).
The ARCE SPHINX PROJECT ARCHIVE includes written, drawn, and color slide photographs and black and white photographs. Drawings include:
  • Master elevations of the front and sides of the Sphinx, scale 1:50.
  • Master plan of the Sphinx, scale 1:50
  • Detailed maps of the 4th Dynasty Khafre Valley Temple, the Sphinx Temple, and the 18th Dynasty Amenhotep II Temple, scale 1:100
  • Topographical and geological maps of the wider Sphinx “amphitheater,” scale 1:200
  • 1:1,000 map of the Sphinx and modern installations to the East as of 1979
  • Detailed architectural sections and elevations of the stratified ancient masonry layers applied to the Sphinx bedrock core body, scale 1:20 and 1:10
  • 5,000 slides
  • 2,716 black and white photographs
  • Profile of the Sphinx area with water table measurements taken during 1981-82.

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