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Colossi of Memnon

Giant Guardians: The Colossi of Memnon in Egypt

The Colossi of Memnon are two giant stone statues that stand in front of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile. For thousands of years, their eyes were turned toward the rising sun as they watched the slow flow of the Nile.

People can see these two giants, 59-foot-tall statues from the East Bank. They have been known for centuries for a mysterious sound from one of them at sunset.

Poetic legend says that the gnomes got their name from the singing voice of Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn and the mother of Memnon. She cried dew tears every day because Achilles killed her son during the Trojan War.

Memnon was a Greek mythical figure born of the goddess Teton (Prince of Troy). He was the king of Persia and Ethiopia and sided with the Trojans in the last year of the Trojan War.

Description of Colossi of Memnon 

They are 18 meters high and weigh 720 tons each. They are carved from individual blocks of sandstone. They are two seated royal statues on an ornate throne, depicting the pharaoh wearing the royal headdress of Nemes and protected by the divine cobra. The king’s hands rest on his knees, and he faces east toward the Nile.

In the front of the statues are two small figures representing his wife, Tiye, and mother, Mutemwiy. The two statues are slightly damaged but remain symbols of the great Egyptian civilization and culture.

Who is Memnon?

Memnon was a hero of the Trojan War. He was the Ethiopian king who led his armies from Africa toward Asia to defend the besieged city. In the end, he was killed by Achilles. The two statues generally refer to the entire Theban necropolis as “Memnonium.” The name has been known for more than 2,000 years.

As you can see in the statue of Memnon.

  • Two double statues show Amenhotep sitting.
  • Two other Minifigures represent Amenhotep’s wife, Tiye, and Amenhotep’s mother, Mutmuya.

Magical Facts about The Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon on the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor and the Earthquake caused the destruction. In 27 B.C., an earthquake damaged part of one of the Colossi. The top half fell, but the bottom half only had cracks. After this happened, strange music started coming from the statue’s bottom half. We think this sound was made when air currents hit the porous surface of the stones, which had been warmed by the sun.

The dew evaporated when the temperature went up, making a sound like a “melody.” However, this can’t be proven because the sound stopped after a restoration hundreds of years ago.

Sounds of Colossi of Memnon 

Travelers from Greece and Rome have been going there to hear music for a long time. The Greek historian and geographer Strabo was the first person to say this, who listened to the legendary tune while traveling in 20 B.C.

The Greek Pausanias and the Romans Tacitus and Juvenal also wrote about the phenomenon. Many travelers and even famous emperors went to see this fantastic sight. Around the year 199, Emperor Septimius Severus fixed the statue. After that, it never sang again.

The Greeks thought the statues looked like the god Memnon because of how they sounded, so that’s what they called them. Amenhotep III was the ruler of Egypt about 3,400 years ago, and the sculptures show him and his wife, Tiye. The figures stood at the entrance to a large temple complex that some people thought was as big as Karnak.

The ruler and his wife are shown sitting with their hands on their knees, and their faces turned east toward the Nile. During the New Kingdom, every pharaoh had a sacred building built in his honor while still alive, which was done to show that he was a god.

Amenhotep III built the entrance where the giants of Memnon stood. Amenhotep’s temple, which covered 35 hectares, seemed the most important and affluent in Egypt. It was so important and rich that not even kings like Ramesses II and Ramesses III could top it.

Recomposed two colossal statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

Colossi of Memnon

Amenhotep III ruled during the New Kingdom, one of the most critical times in Ancient Egypt’s history. He is known as one of the most skilled builders of that time. This temple would have been the most important building he built, but now only a few ruins are left.

Archaeologists think the building was damaged quickly because people kept taking things from it. The giants and ruins of the old temple are in a floodplain of the Nile because their location is unsuitable for conservation.

Because of this, the limestone used to build it was worn away by flooding over many centuries. So, except for the Colossi, almost nothing of the temple is left today. This is because the Nile flooded yearly and ate away at the foundations.

People even think that the vast complex was broken into during the time of the Pharaohs and that some of the temple’s stone blocks were used to build other buildings. Only the two giant statues were left alone, but they are now in a terrible state of preservation.

About the author

Egypt Planners Team is a highly experienced travel agency specializing in memorable trips to Egypt. The team comprises expert travel planners and tour guides with a deep knowledge of Egypt's history, culture, and top tourist destinations.