Colossi of Memnon

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Amenophis III mortuary temple

Kom el-Hetan, a few hundred meters to the north of Medinet Habu and almost directly across the Nile from Luxor Temple, is the site of Amenophis III mortuary temple. In its day this was the greatest temple built on the Theban west bank.

Unfortunately, virtually nothing remains of this once great edifice beyond the two immense Colossi of Memnon, which stood before its entrance. These great sandstone statues of Amenophis III flanked by small figures of his mother and his wife.

Tiye is nearly 18m high and were famous in antiquity not only for their size but, following an earthquake in 27bc for the bell-like tone which was emitted by the expanding stone of the northern figure at sunrise. Greek travellers thus equated the figure with Memnon, the son of Aurora the goddess of the dawn, but repairs to the statue in the reign of Roman emperor Septimius Severus silenced the sound forever. The stone of the colossi is believed to have been quarried at Gebel Ahmar, near modern Cairo.

 

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