Egyptian archaeologist unearths Roman statue resembling Sphinx

CAIRO (AP) — Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a sphinx-like statue and shrine at an ancient temple in southern Egypt, archaeological officials said Monday.

The antiquities ministry said in a statement that the artifacts were found at the Dendera temple in Qena state, 280 miles (450 km) south of the capital Cairo.

Archaeologists believe the statue’s smiling features may belong to the Roman emperor Claudius, who expanded Roman rule over North Africa between 41 and 54 AD.

Archaeologists say they plan to do more research into the markings on the slab, which could reveal more information about the statue’s identity and locality. At 66 feet (20 m) tall, this statue is much smaller than the famous Sphinx of the Pyramids of Giza.

Archaeologists have also found Roman stone tablets with demotic and hieroglyphic inscriptions.

According to the ministry, the limestone temple includes a Byzantine-era two-tier plinth and an adobe basin.

Such discoveries are usually advertised by the Egyptian government in hopes of attracting more tourists. It is an important source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African country.