Colossi of Memnon

Memnon 400
Colossi of Memnon
Photo by: girolame, Creative Commons

When it comes to the task of reflecting the magnificence of the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, Colossi of Memnon does just that. Known to the locals as es-Salamat or el-Colossat, the site holds 2 colossal stone figures of the Pharaoh.

The statues were erected in 1350 BC in the Theban necropolis along the Nile River near the city of Luxor. Both figures are in a seated pose with hands on knees and a straight gaze eastwards. One of the figures aptly called the Northern statue has a smaller figure on the side resembling the Pharaoh’s mother Mutemwia. The Southern statue has smaller figures of Tiy, Pharaoh’s wife and one of his daughters. On the sides of the sculpture are depictions of Nile gods representing Upper and Lower Egypt.

The Colossi of Memnon is carved out of quartzite sandstone from el Gabal el-Ahmar. The two statues towers a height of 75 ft (23 m) and was originally built by Pharaoh Amenhotep III to act as guards to a Theban temple when he was considered as a living god on earth. The sculptures are heavily damaged due to weathering and human meddling albeit they are still worth the tourist’s visit. Modern travelers name the figures Tammy and Shammy (slang Arabic words for right and left, respectively).

There is a running legend with the sculptures claiming that long ago, a moaning sound can be heard when the sun’s rays hit them in an early morning. The moan was thought to be the sound of King Amenhotep III calling his mother. The sound is said to have disappeared when the Romans attempted to repair the pieces.

Aside from the huge statues, the site also has remaining artifacts. There are 2 headless lion bodied sphinxes and a crocodile tailed sphinx. With the efforts to preserve the remaining artifacts, may the pieces be available to tourists of the future generations.

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