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Restoration of the Sphinx

August 20, 1995

Egyptian antiquities officials have announced plans to strip away cement used in an earlier, admittedly slap-dash restoration and to restore the Sphinx to its natural beauty, according to Associated Press.

The cement has damaged the monument's limestone, threatening the entire structure, according to Zahi Hawass, director of antiquities. "Limestone is like a human being, it needs to breathe," he said. "It stopped breathing. The Sphinx had been killed by this restoration."

In this last phase of the current decade-long project, 35 workers will replace the cement on the north side of the Sphinx with limestone.

Built 4,600 years ago at the foot of the Giza pyramids by Pharaonic artisans, the limestone statue has deteriorated since the 1920s, when sand that had buried it for centuries was removed. In 1988, a huge chunk of its right shoulder toppled to the ground, costing the then-antiquities chief his job. The new restoration effort on the 240-foot-long statue began soon after.

Workers already have removed cement from the south side of the Sphinx and replaced it with limestone. The statue's tail was rebuilt as well, using natural mortar. Still to be restored are the face, neck and chest.

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