Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon

What is the colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon are twin statues representing Amenhotep III in a seated position. His hands rest on his knees and his gaze is directed towards the east, in the direction of the Nile River and the rising sun. The statues are carved in blocks of quartzite, brought especially from Giza and the quarries of Gebel el-Silsila, north of Aswan, including the stone bases.

Where is the colossi of Memnon located

Located in the vicinity of Medinet Habu, the Colossi of Memnon are the only visible remains of the funerary temple of Amenhotep III that was located in the area. The statues, about 18 meters high, presided over the monumental entrance of the temple and were carved on blocks brought expressly from Gebel el-Ahmar by order of the architect of the temple, Amenhotep son of Hapu. They are oriented towards the east and are representations of king Amenhotep III. On both sides are represented the queen Mutemuia and the wife Tiyi.

Where are the colossi of Memnon how old are they

The colossi are famous since antiquity because the one on the right side, called talking colossus, had the peculiarity of emitting a sound at sunrise. The Greeks, and more specifically Strabo, detected this phenomenon and gave rise to the legend. It was said that this colossus was the image of the mythical warrior Memnon, son of the Aurora, killed in a confrontation with Achilles, and every morning he greeted the appearance of his mother on the horizon with a moan.

The origin of Colossi of Memnon’s name

The real phenomenon is that after the earthquake of 27 A.D. the upper part of the statue crumbled, causing a crack up to the waist, and the heating of the stone with the first rays of sunlight caused it to emit that characteristic sound. The place became a place of pilgrimage for illustrious travelers who came to the statues to observe the phenomenon, leaving, many of them, their impressions engraved on the plinth, such as the emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina. The colossus "sang" until the restoration ordered by Septimius Severus at the beginning of the 3rd century.

Destruction and conservation Colossi of Memnon

For many years I worked on the excavation and conservation of the temple of Seti I at Qurna, so I passed daily by Kom el-Hettán, the site of the famous funerary temple of Amenhotep III and saw its lamentable situation. This extensive area, since the 1960s, was covered by weeds more and more abundant since the irrigation of the fields both south and north of the site, especially between the months of November to March. Subsequently, in the 1980s, the deteriorating condition of the colossi became evident to the eyes of the many tourists who visited the colossal statues.

Colossi of Memnon
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Stunning cities to visit in Egypt
  • Greater Cairo – the capital of Egypt, home to the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and fabulous Islamic architecture.
  • Luxor – the gateway to the Valley of the Kings, amongst other fabulous attractions.
  • Aswan – a more relaxed option, full of amazing sights.
  • Port Said – the center of the third-largest metropolitan area, has a cosmopolitan heritage, home to the Lighthouse of Port Said.
  • Hurghada – a town on the Red Sea, filled with all-inclusive resorts and diving.
  • Sharm El Sheikh – a hugely popular resort town on the Sinai peninsula, with some of the best scuba diving in the world.
  • Alexandria – Egypt’s window on the Mediterranean, with still-palpable glimpses of the past.
Popular destinations in Egypt
  • Greater Cairo – the capital of Egypt, home to the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and fabulous Islamic architecture.
  • Luxor – the gateway to the Valley of the Kings, amongst other fabulous attractions.
  • Aswan – a more relaxed option, full of amazing sights.
  • Port Said – the center of the third-largest metropolitan area, has a cosmopolitan heritage, home to the Lighthouse of Port Said.
  • Hurghada – a town on the Red Sea, filled with all-inclusive resorts and diving.
  • Sharm El Sheikh – a hugely popular resort town on the Sinai peninsula, with some of the best scuba diving in the world.
  • Alexandria – Egypt’s window on the Mediterranean, with still-palpable glimpses of the past.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the Colossi of Memnon located?
The Colossi of Memnon are two gigantic stone statues representing the pharaoh Amenhotep III located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the Egyptian city of Luxor.
How big are the Colossi of Memnon?
Each statue is 14 meters high, weighs 700 tons, and stands on a 4-meter-high pedestal weighing 600 tons. In total, the ensemble is 18 meters high and weighs 1,300 tons.
Who built the Colossi of Memnon?
The Colossi of Memnon in Luxor were built by the architect Amenhotep in 1350 BC in the 14th century during the reign of Amenophis III (18th dynasty)
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