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Monday, April 29, 2013

The Colossi of Memnon in Luxor, Egypt

Reaching 60 feet into the sky, the two gigantic statues of Amenhotep III collectively referred to as the Colossi of Memnon are a major attraction on the West Bank of Luxor. The two statues have stood in the same place for the last 3400 years :)


The statues are of Amenhotep III (the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty) and depict him in a seated position. There are 2 smaller figures carved onto the same rock along Amenhotep's legs. These smaller figures are those of his mother and his wife.


When the 2 statues were carved out, they were created with the purpose of guarding the entrance to Amenhotep's mortuary temple. Being so close to the Nile, several inundations resulted in practically all of the temple being destroyed. What remains today of the temple complex are just these 2 statues both of which are badly damaged.


The legend on how they got their name is interesting. Sometime in 27BC, there was a big earthquake which damaged parts of the eastern colossus. And from then on, an hour or two after sunrise, the statue used to 'sing' or 'whistle'. Various theories have been put forward about the reason for this sound. The statues were named 'Memnon' after was an Ethiopian King and a hero of the Trojan War - 'Memnon' who was the son of Tithonus and Eos. Memnon means - The Ruler of Dawn. The statues were probably given this name because they used to 'sing' only at dawn.



The statues are free to visit and there is nothing to see other than these 2 colossal structures. Of course, that doesn't mean that its not worth visiting. It absolutely is - just to see and appreciate the massive structures in the middle of the desert. If you are on a guided tour, your coach or car driver will stop here for 10-15 minutes giving you enough time to take some pictures. The Deir el-Bahari or Temple of Hatshepsut is nearby.

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