The images of pharaohs as sphinxes had been used since the Old Kingdom (the brightest
example of them is the Great Sphinx near the pyramids of Giza). A lion with a man's head in a
king's headwear and with an ureaus symbolized a pharaoh's dual nature. A king was an earthly
image of a deity, a smaller god, a visual embodiment of Ra, the sun god.
The sphinx portrays Amenhotep II (1428–1397 BC), the king of the 18th dynasty, the son of the
great conqueror Thutmose III. It is one of the finest examples of idealized royal portraits dated
back to the middle of the 18th dynasty.