What happened to your nose, Mr Sphinx?
Our tour guide explains that Napoleon shot off the nose of the Sphinx during the French campaign in Egypt (1798-1801). I had heard this before and was not surprised. The nose was in the Louvre in Paris, so the story made sense.
However, like many good stories, it was not true. There are numerous drawings of the Sphinx from hundreds of years before Napoleon showed up that have the nose missing. And this lead us on an internet chase as to what had happened to the nose.
One of the more interesting twists lead to a website dedicated to Napoleon stories:
A poll conducted on the Internet found that fully 21% of respondents believed Napoleon was responsible for the Sphinx’s missing nose. One of the most recent examples of the persistence of this falsehood was Louis Farrakhan’s “Million Man March” speech where he said: “White supremacy caused Napoleon to blow the nose off the Sphinx because it reminded you [sic] too much of the Black man’s majesty.” And the perpetuation of this myth in “Afrocentric” circles was even the subject of a segment of the U.S. television investigative journalism program “60 Minutes.”
Wikipedia attributes the loss of the nose to a 14th century Sufi Muslim, who upon finding the peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hung for vandalism. But then goes on to say a citation is needed.