Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

I Am Not Making This Up: Whatever Happened to the Sphinx’s Nose?

Written By: Tracy - Apr• 24•17

Did you ever look at the Venus D’Milo? Most people think of it as that one statue with no arms.

The one imperfection makes it famous.

Another famous statue, the Sphinx, is missing it’s nose. The popular story is that one of Napoleon’s men shot it off with a canon. However, like many popular myths, this one is definitely false.

Napoleon came to Egypt during the French Revolution. During this time he was a rising star in the French army.

To everyone on the French side involved, invading Egypt seemed like a great idea. Napoleon wanted to cut the British access to India, plunder the riches of Egypt and further his own ambitions. Napoleon’s enemies saw the invasion as a win-win situation. If Napoleon won, the British lost. If Napoleon lost, he wouldn’t be a political threat in France.

Ultimately, the invasion would be unsuccessful. But in the process Napoleon and his men invented Egyptology, found the Rosetta Stone, carted many treasures back to Egypt, and spun it all into a political win. So he’s a bit like the Donald Trump of his era.

But as to the question of the Sphinx, there are drawings of it without a nose that predate Napoleon’s invasion. So where did the story blaming him come from?

The answer is probably that he was easy to blame. Like blaming your ex for everything wrong in your life, it was probably easy for the locals to blame someone they were already salty at for one more thing that was wrong.

What really happened to the Sphinx’s nose? An older story claims that a Sufi Muslim demolished the nose and ears after he discovered that local peasants were making offerings there to control the flood cycle. Writings say that the man was later executed for vandalism.

This story may also be incorrect, seeing as the ears of the Sphinx are still there.

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