Discovery of sphinx in northern China tomb presents something of a riddle

The sphinx is a famous icon from ancient Egypt of 5,000 years ago, but a statue of one has been excavated in China dating back more than 1,000 years. The marble sphinx, which has western features, is in good condition and was discovered in a tomb in a cemetery along with carvings and bronze, iron and pottery artifacts.

The sphinx was found with eight other carvings, including a warrior, lion, camel and horse in Guyuan City in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The sphinx stands 36 centimeters (14.2 inches) high and has little damage except to the face. The name of the deceased man, who was interred with his wife’s remains, was Liu Jun, Shanhai Daily says.

A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion and was known across Eurasia in ancient times and into the present, though apparently they were rare in northern China.

Archaeologists have been excavating a small cemetery of 29 graves dating to the Tang Dynasty of 618 to 907. They are preparing the area for construction of a water plant. The archaeologists have found 150 funerary items in the graves.

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