The Colossi of Memnon

pharonic sites

Enroot when you visit the west bank of Luxor, the first monument that will encounter you before the ticket office, will be two gigantic statues known as the colossi of Memnon.

The two huge figures of Amenhotep III were set up in front of his Mortuary temple which most probably was destroyed for unknown reasons. These two colossi are made of sandstone which during ancient times was brought from Gabal El Silselah. Each colossus including the pedestal and the crown is about 16 M in height.

The Greeks named them after the Trojan hero Memnon who was killed by Achilles.

Parts of the northern statue fell and it was cracked because during an earthquake that took place in the year 27 BC.

They became famous in the Roman period because they were said to have sung!


Some theories attribute this phenomenon to the expansion of the stone when it was warmed by the sun during the day and then the natural contraction in the evening. Other theory suggested that the reason is due to the wind reverberating through the cracks.

Unfortunately the restoration which took place during the time of the Roman Emperor Septemius Severus (A.D193-212) made that sound to stop forever! Yes it no longer sings!

This site became a popular resort in the Roman Period and many famous Roman travelers and other travelers throughout the centuries wrote verses and poems about those massive statues and left epigrams upon the stone.

Each statue represents king Amenhotep III seating on his throne, wearing the Nemes or the royal headdress while the divine cobra is protecting his forehead. On the sides of the colossi there is a representation of the Nile god Hapi bending togather the lotus and the papyrus plants, symbolizing the Union of Upper and Lower Egypt.

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