Between the paws of the six-story Great Sphinx in Giza, a slab of hieroglyphs tells the story of how King Thutmose IV dreamed his destiny.
The eight-foot Dream Stela was erected in 1401 B.C., 1,000 years after the Great Sphinx. Age has left the bottom third of the text unreadable.
Under the leadership of Harvard Semitic Museum curator Adam Aja, students created a reproduction of the monument, following a cast that dates to the 1840s. The work is now on display on the museum’s second floor. As an accompaniment, visitors can access an augmented-reality app that sheds light on the Sphinx throughout history.
Extension School student Caitlin Stone was one of 12 students who spent hours last fall poring over two molds Aja brought back from KU Leuven, a university in Belgium, which owns one of a group of mid-19th-century replicas.
“I just love casting,” said Stone, who is working on a master’s in museum studies. “It’s what got me interested in working with Adam. And the added element of the app is amazing in action.”
Aja concocted a blue urethane resin for his team to use in the project. The process demanded intense focus. Students from the College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Division of Continuing Education had between seven and 10 minutes to “paint” the poured resin into the molds’ tiny crevices.
Aja reminded students to “even out.”
“We don’t want clear brushstrokes,” he said. “Curing time is 10 minutes from mixing time to application. After that, the veneer will layer thicker.”