Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon

Two big quartzite statues experienced as the Colossi of Memnon are all that rest of the magnificent social system which was built as a mortuary temple for Amenophis III.  Earlier the statues flanked the pylon gates of the temple, now they model side by side amid fields of corn with their hands located neatly upon their knees, quiet facing east waiting for the rise of the new-born sun.  On one position of Amenophis’s feet stands the little figure of his wife Queen Tiye and on the other face stands an equally diminutive figure of his mother Mutemuia.

These two colossal statues were misnamed Memnon by the Greeks who thought that they represented the mighty Memnon who Achilles killed in the battle for Troy.  In Roman times, wind passing through a crack in the northwest statue gave out a baleful cry which was thought to be Memnon crying to his mother Eos.  The crack appeared after an earthquake some 30 BC and stopped when Septimus Severus ordered its doctor in 199 AD.  The statues although anonymous and badly damaged are still very amazing although the south statue now has an appearance of being burned after it was recently treated with preserving material.

Amenophis III, now as well referred to as Amenhotep III, came to the throne when he was only 12 years old and governed Egypt from 1390 – 1352 BC when he passed at the age of 49 years.  He was buried in the Western Valley near the Valley of the Kings. 

His prevail was a time of peace and successfulness when Egypt’s wealth inflated enormously and, without any wars to worry about, he shipped on a large building programme including a mud-brick palace known as Malqata, the scant ruins of which are close to the Medinet Habu.  In size, his mortuary temple may well have rivalled that of the mighty temple at Karnak but it was established on the flood-plane and hurt corrosion and earthquake damage soon after its completion.  Many of its finely carved stone stops were later reused in the building of the Medinet Habu and the Ramesseum.  Extensive digging of the temple site has of late started and the bases of some exceptionally big statues have been exposed in 2005.

The car park beside the statues can be complete of tour buses early in the morning so the best time to view the statues is late in the afternoon when most of the tour buses have gave or at night when the statues are light.