Egypt Travel Guide – The Colossi of Memnon

On your way to visit the west bank of Luxor, the first monument that you will encounter, before you get to valley, is the two gigantic statues known as the Colossi of Memnon. The Greeks gave them their name, after the Trojan hero Memnon, who was killed by Achilles.

These two, gigantic figures of Amenhotep III were originally situated in front of his Mortuary temple, which was destroyed for unknown reasons! The 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 21m tall and represents King Amenhotep III seating on his throne, wearing the Nemes, or royal headdress, with the divine cobra protecting his forehead. On the sides of the colossi there is a representation of the Nile god Hapi, bending together the lotus and the papyrus plants, symbolizing the union of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Parts of the northern statue cracked and fell during an earthquake in 27 BC.

This site became a popular resort in the Roman Period. Many famous Romans, and other travelers, wrote verses and poems about these massive statues, and they also left epigrams on the stones. They reason that they became famous during the Roman period is that they were said to have sung! Some theories attribute this phenomenon to the expansion of the stone, when the sun warmed it during the day, and then the natural contraction in the cool of the evening.

Another theory suggested that the reason was due to the wind reverberating through the cracks. Unfortunately the restoration, which took place during the reign of the Roman Emperor Septemius Severus (193-212 A.D), made the sound stop forever! Yes, sadly, they no longer sing!

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