The Old Giza

One of the hairiest problems to deal with in today's world is whether or not to put the beard back on the Sphinx. At one time, they say the Sphinx had a very impressive beard, but most of it has been cracked off by wind and sand over 4,500 years.

Whatever was left, the British took back to London and put in the British Museum. Just why it is more important to have the Sphinx's beard in a museum rather than on the Sphinx's chin is not easy to understand. Presumably the British believe there is some archaeological value in not only seeing a Sphinx without a beard, but also a beard without a Sphinx.

At any rate, it was undoubtedly too inconvenient to move the whole Sphinx to London. Half the museum would have to be torn down to get the Sphinx inside, and even then it might not go with the frieze from the Parthenon.

What remains of the Sphinx sits in its original place, without the beard. Many think being beardless makes him look younger. It may be true, give or take 1,300 years, but even without a beard he is a long way from John Travolta.

But being handsome isn't everything. A young, handsome face really doesn't make it, Sphinxwise. The deep wisdom of the ages requires the whiskered look.

If the answer hung on these points alone, the issue might be debated for centuries. But there is another problem, which has to do with the neck. Beards, it seems, are a protection to necks.

Human necks suffer only wrinkles and ring around the collar.

However, a beardless Sphinx gets thinner and thinner around the neck as years go by, until it cracks up and the head rolls off.

A plastic beard has been suggested, which is certainly indicative of the times. It predicts a rather awesome trend. Replacing worn parts with plastic would eventually result in an all-plastic Sphinx. If this is to be the result, it might be better to do it all at once and get it over with. Of course, a plastic Sphinx would probably offend historic purists.

It is a pity these ancient monuments aren't all they are cracked up to be.

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