The Colossi of Memnon
Dating from the New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, during the reign of Amenhotep III, The Colossi of Memnon is a mortuary temple located in Thebes in Egypt. The mortuary temple of the pharaoh is guarded by two statues of about 20 meters in height which saw severe damage during the earthquake that occurred in 27 BC. The temple has now been destroyed completely and all that remains is the 23 meters high statue of Amenhotep III which weighs around thousand ton. The statues even after such destruction by natural and manly action seem to be an impressive piece.
The two statues by ancient Egyptians were referred as Ruler of Rulers and later on travelers named the same as Shammy and Tammy probably meaning left and right. Today however, the two colossal statues once, are designated as el-Colossal or es-Salamat. The statues are crafted from quartzite which has been quarried either from Gebes es Silisla or Giza. The northern statue on the other hand illustrates the pharaoh with this mother while the southern one seems to be of the Pharaoh with his wife and one of his daughters.
The two statues before this were located in front of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III which was destroyed due to some reason. The two Colossi of Memnon are now made of Sandstone and each one consists of a pedestal and the crown and is about 21 meters in heights. The statue now represents the pharaoh seated on the throne wearing the royal headdress of the Nemes which has the divine cobra protecting the same. The sides of the colossi have a representation of the god Hapi of the Nile bending together the papyrus plants and the lotus. The place was famous as a resort during the roman era where many famous travelers and Romans wrote versus and poems about the massive structures and also left behind epigrams on the stones.
Visitors are believed to have visited this place from all across the place to hear the song which was granted to show that you were in favor of the gods. However Septimius Severus, a roman emperor while repairing the statues inadvertently silenced the same forever.
Theories behind the signing statues at the Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon is believed to have been so popular during the Roman period as it’s said that the statues sung. It’s probably due to the expansion of the stone phenomenon which occurred when the sun got very warm during the day time and when the same cooled off in the evening and contracted.
Another theory suggests that the reverberating wind through the cracks made the sounds. However the restoration that occurred during 199 BC led to stopping of this sound forever meaning the statues no longer sung again.
How to get to the Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon is located about half a kilometer east of the Antiquities Inspectorate (the ticket office) on the main road to the West Bank monument area. The statues are always open and no ticket is required to visit the same.