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Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx (PROSE: The Sands of Time) was a massive stone construction of a sphinx in Giza, Egypt — close to Memphis. (AUDIO: The Eye of the Scorpion)

It was known in Egyptian as Abu el Hob or "the Father of Terror". (PROSE: The Sands of Time) According to one account, it was actually a robot, one of the Kryptolians' Sto-cats. (PROSE: The Sleeping Beast)


The identity of its human face was generally considered a mystery by the people of Earth. Erimem didn't know exactly who it was, but her tutor told her it was Cheops. The Fifth Doctor swiftly dismissed that notion. (AUDIO: The Eye of the Scorpion)

On an earlier visit to Egypt, he told Kamose and Atkins that "the original face of the Sphinx was the face of Horus". (PROSE: The Sands of Time)

According to Peri the reason that the face was so badly mangled was that Napoleon Bonaparte's army "used it for target practise". For this reason, she felt that it would not corrupt the timeline to give Erimem's re-construction workers the image of Elvis Presley to use as a template — especially since it seemed thematically appropriate to use the visage of a "King of Memphis" for the statue. Thus, the Sphinx looked like Elvis for some 3,000 years. (AUDIO: The Eye of the Scorpion)

Disputed age and origin[]

According to one account, the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith discovered that Sphynxes were actually Sto-cats, robots placed on uninhabited planets by a race known as the Kryptolians in the hope that life would evolve there in the subsequent one million Brelian years. Once that time was elapsed, the Kryptolians would beam out a radio-active signal across the universe and awaken their creations, who would subjugate the local species for benefit of the Kryptolians. The Doctor claimed that "no one knew" how long a Brelian year lasted, meaning it was impossible to know when Earth's Sphynx would awaken. (PROSE: The Sleeping Beast)

However, many accounts disagreed with this notion. On one visit to Egypt, the Fifth Doctor was not exactly sure when it was built, estimating it at between eight and ten thousand years prior to the late 20th century, (PROSE: The Sands of Time) but seemed more certain later, placing it at 10,000 BC. (AUDIO: The Eye of the Scorpion) On both occasions he was quite certain it was built before the Great Pyramid, but noted that 20th century historians seemed to wrongly feel that the Pyramids were older. (AUDIO: The Eye of the Scorpion, PROSE: The Sands of Time)

According to one account, the Great Pyramid was built first, proven when the Daleks pursued the First Doctor there to recover the taranium core. Lead by Khepren, the Egyptians attacked and buried the Red Dalek beneath a pile of stones, which Khepren decided to carve into the figure of a Sphinx. (PROSE: The Mutation of Time)

According to a party of scientists that Chris Cwej and the Seventh Doctor met in 2157, it was about a thousand years younger than the one on Mars. These scientists contended that both Sphinxes was built by Osirans. (PROSE: GodEngine)

This belief was variously agreed and disputed by the Fifth Doctor. When he visited with Tegan and Nyssa, he clearly believed that the Sphinx was Osiran in origin. Indeed, he met a man named Rassul who flatly said, "The power of the Osirans devolves from the Great Sphinx in Egypt." The Doctor also claimed that although legend said that Thutmose was "told by the Sphinx in a dream to dig it out" of the sand, the pharaoh was in fact probably hit by a "pulse of Osiran mental energy". At that time, he claimed that the Sphinx was carved from "living rock". He also said that it had certain astronomic functionality. The sun, he said, rose directly between its front paws. When the sun set, the line it took as it sank "trace[d] perfectly round the head of the sphinx" when viewed from a certain distance. (PROSE: The Sands of Time)

However, when the Fifth Doctor was later in Egypt with Peri, he thought it was constructed by Atlanteans. The proof of this was in the fact that it served as the ark of their civilisation. Deep beneath its foundation, between its paws, lay a vast library called the "Hall of Records", containing all of the knowledge of Atlantis. He, Erimem and Peri descended what locals thought was a nearby well and investigated this "hall of records" in an attempt to lure the stasis box entity away from other people — and therefore other hosts — to defeat it. Though successful in this effort, they were barely able to escape from under the Sphinx before the tunnels — which also led to the Great Pyramid of Giza — collapsed. (AUDIO: The Eye of the Scorpion)

Often buried[]

Over the centuries, sand sometimes consumed the statue and it needed digging out. (PROSE: The Sands of Time)

Bernice Summerfield visited Cairo in 1798, where she was in the company of an artist named Vivant who sketched, amongst other things, the Great Sphinx. At the time, it was buried deep beneath the sand, with only its uppermost features visible. (PROSE: Set Piece)

Behind the scenes[]

The Sands of Time, released in 1996, is in fundamental and irresolvable conflict with The Eye of the Scorpion, released in 2001, about the Fifth Doctor's opinion of the origin of the Great Sphinx. According to just the Virgin Books explanation, the Sphinx is unambiguously a creation of the Osirans, and this is something both the Fifth Doctor and Seventh Doctor accept as read. But The Eye of the Scorpion, whose fourth part is largely set underneath the Sphinx, irresolvably disagrees with this, giving clear proof that it was created by people from Atlantis.