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Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon, one of Luxor‘s most popular tourist attractions, gained popularity due to its majestic appearance and the mysterious sounds emitted by the northern colossus statue at every sunrise.

Where can I find the Colossi of Memnon?

Two magnificent twin statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and two smaller statues carved by his feet (one being his wife and the other his mother) stand graciously in the horizon of the magnificent Luxor horizons on the West Bank of Luxor Egypt.
The two 60-foot-tall statues stand at the entrance to Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple. They are famously known as the Colossi of Memnon due to a phenomenon caused by one of the statues following an earthquake.

Originally built in the Theban Necropolis west of the Nile River in the modern city of Luxor, the Colossi of Memnon are two colossal statues made of quartzite sandstone that archaeologists believe were quarried near modern Cairo at El-Gabal el-Ahmar and then transported 420 miles overland to the ancient city of Thebes.

When was the Colossi of Memnon constructed?

Pharaoh Amenhotep III ruled Egypt from 1386 to 1349, during the 18th Dynasty. Egypt experienced a period of great prosperity and artistic progress during his reign, which was known as the Old Kingdom. Egypt’s architectural work improved dramatically during the Old Kingdom, and the majority of these monuments still stand today.
Many of these magnificent monuments were constructed during Amenhotep III’s 39-year reign, including the Colossi of Memnon, which was completed in 1350 BC. The Colossi of Memnon was built in front of what was once Amenhotep III’s temple (destroyed by an earthquake soon after its completion). The Amenhotep Temple was built as a funerary temple for Pharaoh Amenhotep III. The Colossi of Memnon was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 27 BC and then restored by Roman emperors during the Roman Empire in ancient Egypt.

colossi of memnon
colossi of memnon

The origin of the name Colossi of Memnon

The modern Arabic name for the Colossi of Memnon is Kom el-Hatan, but it is better known by its Roman name, the Temple of Memnon. Memnon was an Ethiopian king who travelled from Africa to Asia Minor with his army to help defend the besieged city under attack, but he was killed by Achilles.
Memnon, whose name means “steadfast or resolute,” was the son of Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Due to the cry at the dawn of the northern statue, also known as the “Vocal Memnon,” Memnon was associated with the Colossi many years after its construction. Memnon rose to prominence as the “Ruler of the West.”

The Guardians of the Gate: What was the purpose of the Colossi of Memnon?

It served as the Temple of Amenhotep III’s guardians. The Colossi of Memnon was designed to keep evil at bay in the Pharaoh’s temple. Despite the fact that the temple was destroyed by a severe earthquake, the Colossi of Memnon has stood for thousands of years.

The “Vocal Memnon’s” Legend

The northern Colossus was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 27 BC, collapsing from the waist up and cracking the lower half. Following this occurrence, the remnants of the northern colossus began to “sing” an hour or two before sunrise, right at sunrise.
The sound was mostly heard in February and March, which could be because those were the months when people were most likely to visit the statues. According to the Greek historian and geographer Strabo, who heard the sound while visiting the Colossi of Memnon in 20 BC, the sound was described as a “blow.”

According to legend, the “Vocal Memnon” brought good luck to those who listened to its strange sounds. This rumor spread beyond Egypt, bringing many foreign visitors, including several Roman Emperors, in search of the blessing that the “Vocal Memnon” could bestow.
Since its popularity, many people throughout history and today have attempted to debunk the “Vocal Memnon,” but no explanation has ever been proven, and they remain a mystery of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

you can visit The Tombs of the Nobles during your Nile Cruise trip between Aswan and Luxor with Al Sahel Travel.

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