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Welcome to the Colossi of Memnon



the Colossi of Memnon







This area has a very interesting story that centre's around Amenhotep III (18th Dynasty) mortuary temple in Thebes or more specifically the pair of gigantic statutes which guarded the outer gates of the temple. The Northern statue is Amenhotep III with his mother, Mutemwia, while the southern statue is Amenhotep III with his wife Tiy and one of his daughters.

As the photograph on the left clearly shows all that remains of the temple are the twenty three meter (75 ft) high, one thousand ton statues. The diagram on the left just below the photograph gives an impression of how the temple and statues may have looked.

Ancient Egyptians called the southern of the two statues "Ruler of Rulers", but now they are referred to as "el-Colossat" or "es-Salamat". The statues are made from carved blocks of quartzite (quartzose sandstone) quarried either at Giza or Gebel es-Silsila. On the reliefs on the sides of the statues are depictions of Nile gods joining together plants (papyrus and lotus) which symbolise Upper and Lower Egypt around hieroglyph unite.













The picture above is taken from Art and History of Egypt


The diagram illustrates that the statues are partially without their faces and tall royal crowns.

An earthquake in 27 BC not only caused the temple to fall but also left the northern (right) statue with a bell like tone that usually occurred in the morning when the temperature and humidity were rising. Many people (including Emperor Hadrian, in 130 AD) visited the site just to hear the unusual bell tones created by the statute. Furthermore the sounds led the early Greek travellers to assume that the statues were King Memnon, the son of Aurora (Eos); the goddess of dawn. The Greeks believed that the tones were Memnon greeting his mother (as in the legend) and that the grant of a song meant that the statues were very much in favour of the gods.

Unfortunately the Roman emperor SeptimiusSeverus, attempted to repair the statues in 199 AD and inadvertently took away the music, silencing the statues for ever more.



Northern statue is Amenhotep III with his mother, Mut

We now know that a fissure ran through the statues so that when the stone was warmed (by the early morning rays of the sun) the combination of the fissure and the sun created the sound.

the southern statue is Amenhotep III with his wife Tiy and one of his daughters.
Under threat from rising groundwater and the soft nature of the stone from which they have been constructed, today the statutes appear to stand alone in a field at the side of the road to the Valley of the Kings. Yet there are other treasures worthy of inspection such as the two headless Sphinxes, inscribed masonry blocks and the triad figure in the centre of the site.  

Even without their sound and temple the magnificence of the pair means that "el-Colossat" continue to attract visitors.






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