People often ask me, ‘well, it’s not really as exciting as Indiana Jones, now is it?’
I reply, ‘to an archaeologist, yes, it certainly is!’

— Zahi Hawass

VIDEO: Drilling Under the Sphinx

In recent years, the rising water table has begun to pose a threat to many monuments and sites in Egypt, including Giza, so holes have been drilled under the Great Sphinx of Giza in order to test the groundwater levels and assess the risk.

Drilling under the Sphinx to keep its paws dry.

You can find a transcription of this video on

Related Egyptology Video: Interview with Dr Mark Lehner about the Lives of the Pyramid Builders

Dr Mark Lehner, has given a video interview to Heritage Key in which he explains what he and his team are doing in their latest excavation - Dr Lehner wants to know the answer to a question that rarely gets asked - Where did the workers who built the pyramids live?  Watch the video.

In early 2008, the SCA, in cooperation with Cairo University’s Engineering Center for Archaeology and Environment, began to drill a series of holes under the Sphinx to measure the level of the groundwater, which has risen dramatically in recent years.  We also implemented a system to pump the water away from the Sphinx and the temples, to preserve them.  During the drilling we recovered samples of the limestone that show how it is absorbing the groundwater, which affects the quality of the stone.

This project also provides a good chance to test the theories about secret passages and hidden chambers existing under the Sphinx.  People used to ask me all the time for permission to look under the left paw of the Sphinx to see if anything is hidden there. But now we are drilling under the Sphinx to preserve it.  This hole we drilled under the left paw has reached 10 meters underneath the Sphinx, and when we inserted cameras into the hole to check the groundwater, we did not find any hidden chambers. We hope this will help put to rest these theories.  Now people may think the mystery of the Sphinx will be finished by this project, but I feel that this monument will always hold its wonder.


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