Thebes - Colossi of Memnon


Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon


On the West Bank of Luxor, just off the road which leads from the cultivation to the desert, sit the so-called Colossi of Memnon. These are actually statues of Amunhotep III (c.1390-1353 B.C.E.) which are about 64 feet (19.6 meters) in height and are carved of quartzite. These statues flanked the main entrance into Amunhotep’s mortuary temple. Unfortunately, very little remains of this temple, most of the stone having been "quarried" away during the late New Kingdom.

Why are these statues named Memnon? Actually, the name applies only to the northern statue (most distant statue in this picture). It was damaged in an earthquake and began producing at sunrise a "musical" sound which Greek visitors associated with the mythological Memnon calling to his mother Aurora, the goddess of the morning sun. If the sound was not emitted, it was assumed that the god was angry. In the early 2nd century C.E., Emperor Septimius Severus had the statue repaired (to propitiate the god?), and it has not produced the sound since.