Dating back to the New Kingdom, the 18th Dynasty, during the reign of Amenhotep III, The Colossi of Memnon is a mortuary temple located in Thebes. The mortuary temple of the pharaoh is guarded by two, 20-meter-high statues that were severely damaged during a 27 BC earthquake. The temple has now been destroyed completely and all that remains is the 23 meters high statue of Amenhotep III which weighs around a thousand tons. The statues, even after such destruction by natural and manly action, seem to be impressive pieces.
The two statues were referred to as Ruler of Rulers by ancient Egyptians, and later travelers named them Shammy and Tammy probably meaning left and right. Today, however, the two colossal statues together are called el-Colossal or es-Salamat. The statues are crafted from quartzite quarried from either 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. They are truly a sight to behold.
The two statues were previously located in front of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III which was destroyed. They're now made of sandstone and each one consists of a pedestal and a crown of about 21 meters in height. The statue now represents the pharaoh seated on the throne wearing the royal headdress of the Nemes, protected by the divine cobra. 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 verses and poems about the massive structures and also left behind epigrams on the stones. As you walk around, [icture the ancient Romans vacationing in this now barren place.
Visitors are believed to have come to this place from all over to hear a song. It 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 song forever.
Theories Behind the Singing Statues of The Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon is believed to have been so popular during the Roman period because it is said that the statues sang. This was probably due to the expansion of the stone which warmed up during the day and cooled off at night.
Another theory suggests that the reverberating wind through the cracks made the sounds. However, the restoration that occurred in 199 BC stopped the sounds from happening and the statues never sang again.
Perhaps, though, the statues were unhappy with the renovations and thus they ceased to perform any longer.
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 leading to the west bank monument area. The statues are always open and no ticket is required to visit them.