Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon (by Walwyn)

The only remains of the mortuary temple built by Amenhotep III. These statues are made from carved blocks of quartzite sandstone quarried at Gebel es-Silsila. The statues stand 19.5 metres high, and each weighs one thousand ton. They date from the 14th century B.C, and depict Amenhotep III sat on his throne, and wearing the Nemes, or royal headdress, with the divine cobra protecting his forehead.

An earthquake in 27BC created a collapse of the northern statue after which it was heard to “sing” every morning at dawn: a light moaning or whistling, probably caused by rising temperatures and the evaporation of dew inside the porous rock.

Colossi of Memnon (by Walwyn) Colossi of Memnon (by Walwyn) Colossi of Memnon (by Walwyn)

The legend grew that the statues were that of King Memnon. He was said to have been a King of Ethiopia, and son of the goddess Eos, who had been slain by Achilles during the Trojan War. The sound was said to be Memnon greeting his mother Eos, who responded by weeping over the tragic death of her son. The Roman Emperor Septemius Severus (193-212 A.D), after which the whistling stop.

In the mid C19 the statues were surrounded by water when the Nile flooded each year.

There are two shorter figures are carved into the front throne alongside his legs: these are his wife Tiy and mother Mutemwiya.