Mental Floss

Common Misconceptions About Ancient Egypt

Ellen Gutoskey
An illustration from Hunefer's Book of the Dead.
An illustration from Hunefer's Book of the Dead. / British Museum, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Unlike the nearby pyramids, the Great Sphinx of Giza wasn’t built from a bunch of hefty stones—it was carved from a single massive hunk of limestone. And while some of the finer details of that process are still a mystery, we do know one thing: Napoleon isn’t responsible for the Sphinx’s missing nose.

As legend would have it, Napoleon ordered it to be shot off with a cannon when he marched into Egypt in 1798. But more than 60 years earlier, Danish explorer Frederic Louis Norden had painted a picture of the Sphinx … without a nose. So who maimed Earth’s greatest sculpture?

On this episode of Misconceptions, host Justin Dodd is covering that question and more myths from the annals of Ancient Egypt. Did King Tut get murdered? Was mummification reserved for the wealthy? And should we stop referring to hieroglyphs as “the first emojis”?

Find out below, and subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel for future illuminating videos.