How to Build a Model of the Sphinx of Giza

Updated November 21, 2016

According to Egyptologist Zawi Hawass, the Great Sphinx of Giza--a large carving of a lion with a human head---represents the Egyptian sun goddess Sekhmet, who was often depicted as a lion with the head of a human. Frequently, carvings of sphinxes served to recognise or memorialise Egyptian leaders by combining the basic attributes of Sekhmet's form with a recognisable face. The Great Sphinx was carved sometime between 2723 and 2563 BC during the fourth dynasty and its face is thought to be a portrait of the pharaoh Khafra. Models of the Great Sphinx can be made out of almost any material, including paper, fibres, and clay. In this article, you'll learn how to make a clay model of the Great Sphinx.

Roll out your clay and shape it into a long rectangle. This will be the body---including the legs---of your model Sphinx. Using the photos as a guide, shape the rectangle so that it resembles the Sphinx's body, with step-like layers on the body going from the bottom to the top if its back.

Cut away the clay between the Sphinx's front legs and shape the legs. They are very long in comparison to the rest of the body, so make sure they are accurate by referring to the photos.

Roll out a ball of clay for the Sphinx's head. Shape the face of the Sphinx first, making its forehead and jaw, and indicate where its nose used to be. Shape the triangular headdress behind the face, pulling the clay to stretch. Create a short neck.

Place the head on the body of the Sphinx and blend the neck in with the body. Use a small knife or modelling tools to create more detail on the model, including its eyes, lips and toes.

Paint your model Sphinx as you like. Hawass and other Egyptologists have found fragments of paint on the Great Sphinx, and believe that it was originally brightly painted. Colors commonly used in ancient Egypt included black, green, red, blue and yellow. Apply the paint, allow to air dry, and then fire your model in a kiln to preserve it.


Look at lots of photographs of the Great Sphinx to understand its proportions and details.


Work slowly when using a knife or modelling tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Photos of the Sphinx
  • White pottery clay
  • Knife or clay modelling tools
  • Paint (optional)
  • Kiln
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