And people wonder why the Great Sphinx is so weather-beaten!
Egypt's annual sandstorms blasted the country this month, ripping through cities and blotting out the sun. It's a reminder that outside of the thin ribbon of green that threads through the country along the banks of the Nile, lie hundreds of kilometres of desert in every direction.
Each year, around April / May, the Khamsin winds hit Egypt, blasting up from the south, loaded with sand.
This year, the sandstorms have coincided with a blistering heat wave, forcing millions to shelter inside, leaving the streets deserted. The modern Egyptians could probably sympathise with Napoleon's troops in 1798 when they first faced the Khamsin: "... in the midst of a fine morning the atmosphere became darkened by a reddish haze ... soon we could barely see the disc of the sun." They "choked and fainted in the blinding, suffocating walls of dust."
Fifteen years ago, on my very first visit to Egypt, my wife and I were caught in a wild sandstorm on the Giza plateau. We sheltered amongst the colossal blocks of Khafre's Pyramid Temple as the Great Pyramid of Giza totally disappeared in the orange haze.
Scores of Khamsin storms have taken their toll on the Great Sphinx of Giza, badly weathering the colossal statue along the body which is carved from a softer layer of limestone than the head.
The Sahara sands aren't the only vandals the Sphinx has faced over the years, and the latest Nile Magazine provides a likely solution to the age-old mystery, 'who knocked-off the nose'? Visit the 'NILE Store' page to download yours today.
This 2007 sandstorm was photographed by Gregory Fodor.