Archaeologists unearthed a Sphinx-like statue and the remains of a shrine in an ancient temple in southern Egypt, antiquities authorities said Monday.
The artifacts were found in the temple of Dendera in Qena Province, 280 miles (450 kilometers) south of the capital of Cairo, the Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.
Archaeologists believe the statue’s smiling features may belong to the Roman emperor Claudius, who extended Rome’s rule into North Africa between 41 and 54 A.D., the ministry said.
It said archaeologists will conduct more studies on the markings on the stone slab, which could reveal more information about statue’s identity and the area. The statue is much smaller than the towering, well-known Sphinx in the Pyramids of Giza complex, which is 66 feet (20 meters) high.
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.
Such discoveries are usually touted by the Egyptian government in hopes of attracting more tourists, a significant source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African country.