This sphinx depicts King Taharqo of the 25th Dynasty, also known as the Nubian or Kushite Dynasty. The object, carved from grey granite, combines two key Egyptian artistic motifs: the sphinx and the Pharaoh's portraiture.

King Taharqo’s likeness is excellently rendered on the head of a sphinx, a lion-bodied creature, resulting in a portrayal of royal authority and divine power. The sphinx measures approximately 40 cm in height, 73 cm in length, and 15 cm in width. Although the object has sustained minor damage, such as a broken nose, the majority of the piece is remarkably preserved.

The sphinx is largely unadorned, with the exception of the intricately designed royal head portraying Taharqo. The face exhibits typical Kushite features such as a round face, almond-shaped eyes, a slightly-retracted lower jaw, and the iconic 'khat' headdress, resplendent with a uraeus. Hieroglyphs above the brow identify the king and his royal title.

The artifact's origin can be traced back to 690 - 664 BC, during the Nubian reign over Egypt when Taharqo ruled as the fourth Pharaoh of the dynasty. The provenance is Temple T at Kawa in Nubia, a crucial archaeological site located in modern-day Sudan, a region important to the multicultural development of ancient Egypt.

The use of the sphinx as a symbol is indicative of the merging cultures and political tension of this era, with Taharqo's decision to adopt this form expressing a claim to the Egyptian throne.

British Museum