It is thought the Roman emperor Claudius could have inspired work found in the temple of Dendera
The statue is uncovered at the temple of Dendera. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Archaeologists have unearthed a sphinx-like statue and the remains of a shrine in an ancient temple in southern Egypt.
The artefacts were found in the temple of Dendera, in Qena province, 280 miles (450km) south of Cairo, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said.
Archaeologists believe the statue’s smiling features may belong to the Roman emperor Claudius, who extended Rome’s rule into north Africa between AD41 and AD54, the ministry said.
The archaeologists also found a Roman-era stone slab with demotic and hieroglyphic inscriptions. The limestone shrine includes a two-layer platform and a mud-brick basin from the Byzantine era, the ministry said.
The unearthed statue. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
It said scientists would conduct further studies on the markings on the stone slab, which could reveal more information about the statue’s identity and the area.
The statue is much smaller than the towering sphinx in the Pyramids of Giza complex, which is 20 metres tall.
Such discoveries are usually touted by the Egyptian government in the hope of attracting more tourists, a significant source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped country.