Colossi of Memnon

These two quartz statues represent king Amenhotep III who was associated with Memnon in the greek mythology seated upon his throne which bears the symbols of the Upper and Lower God Nile Hapi. They have not always stood where they are today. They once stood before the mud brick pylon of a mortuary temple.

These two gigantic, 59-foots tall statues are the first sight that greets visitors who take the ferry across from the East Bank. They were made famous in antiquity by a mysterious sound emitted from one of them each sunrise. Scientists now think that this sound was caused by air passing through pores in the stone as it was warmed in the sunlight, but there is no way to confirm this since the sound stopped centuries ago.

Regardless of its cause, the sound was the source of the statues’ name as it caused the Greeks to believe that the statues were of the immortal Memnon.

In reality the statues are of Amenhotep III and his wife, Tiye, and they used to guard the entrance to a great temple complex that some believe might have rivaled Karnak in size. Amenhotep III, who ruled during the New Kingdom around the peak of Egypt’s historic power, is regarded as one of the most prolific builders of Ancient Egypt. This temple would have been the most significant of his building projects, but little remains of it today.

Archaeologists believe that the temple was quickly ruined by repeated plundering and because, unlike other monuments, it was located within the floodplain of the Nile. The limestone that the Egyptians used in construction was eroded away by centuries of exposure to the annual floodwaters.
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