Environment: Fighting to Save the Sphinx

Corrosive salts spark an international controversy

Muslim fanatics knocked its nose off, Greeks scrawled graffiti on its paws and Mamluk soldiers used its face as a rifle target. But the saddest indignity suffered over the centuries by Egypt's Great Sphinx of Giza has stemmed from erosion, seemingly caused by a single enemy—the relentless desert wind. At the present rate of decay, experts say, the 64-foot-high figure could be reduced to a mound of dust in five to ten centuries.

Now, however, a newly discovered threat to the 4,500-year-old monument poses fresh problems for conservationists. It has also triggered a scientific and political controversy....

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