Colossi of Memnon in Luxor Egypt | Facts, Mythology, History | Discover Secrets about the top Luxor attractions, Where are the located, When did the Colossi of Memnon stop Singing? and more about Best Things to Do in Luxor | Theban Necropolis.

The Colossi of Memnon show the glory of an era of ancient Egyptian History called The New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt and Egypt was so powerful and wealthy country at that time.

Nowadays, Colossi of Memnon are some of the top Luxor attractions, and visiting the statues is always part of Egypt tour packages and all Luxor Tours from Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Meanwhile, Nile cruises Luxor Aswan always include the statues in their program as one of the best things to do in Luxor.

Colossi of Memnon in Luxor Egypt

Where are the Colossi of Memnon located?

The Colossi of Memnon is located on Luxor West Bank, in front of the Mortuary temple of Pharoah Amenhotep III from the 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom. The colossi are the nearest from the Nile River and on the way to Habu temple and before Merenptah temple and Ramesseum temple.

When was the Colossi of Memnon in Luxor Egypt built?

This popular tourist attraction on the west bank of the river Nile dates back to the reign of the Kings Amenhotep III (1386-1353 BCE). That means, they were completed maximum by 1350 BCE. By the time of the Greco-Roman Era, the two statues were very famous and people came and camped around them to enjoy their music.

 The origin of Colossi of Memnon’s name

Originally, the Colossi of Memnon represent the Pharoah Amenhotep III with his wife Tiye and his mother Mutemwiya. So, simply they are two massive monumental stone statues of King Amenhotep III (1386-1353 BCE) from the 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom of Egypt.

What does the Colossi of Memnon represent?

The two statutes depict the Pharoah Amenhotep III seated on a traditional throne decorated on both sides with the sign called Sema-tawy. Same as the sign on both sides of the statue of King Khafre, builder of the second largest Pyramids of Giza.

God of the Nile Hapi ties the Lotus and Papyrus Planet around a human trachea. The trachea represents unification, while the papyrus and lotus represent Lower and Upper Egypt. Moreover, the statutes are ornamented with imagery of his mother and his wife.

What did the Colossi of Memnon look like?

The Colossi of Memnon represent the king Amenhotep III seated on a traditional throne, putting above his head the royal headdress called Nemes.

The Copra on the forehead for protection and his hands resting on his knees symbol of royalty. The face facing east, the Nile and sunrise. Besides the two legs of the King stand two ladies on a small scale, his wife Tiye to his right side and his mother Mutemwiya to his left side. Both statues are 18 meters high and each one of them weighs 720 tons. They are carved from single blocks of quartzite sandstone.

What is unique about the Colossi of Memnon in Luxor Egypt?

Colossi of Memnon are very unique because of their sizes as they are the second biggest statues in Egypt after those of King Ramesses II and Nefertari at Abu Simbel. Besides, the majestic appearance of the statutes and the mysterious sounds sent out by the northern colossus statue every day at every sunrise.

However, both statues are quietly damaged but they remain as symbols of the powerful Ancient Egyptian civilization and ancient Egyptian culture.

What was the Colossi of Memnon made of?

Memnon Colossi are made of quartzite sandstone which was quarried at el-Gabal el-Ahmar since 1350 BC. The Quarries are near modern Cairo and later on, they transported them for more than 600 km to Luxor.

What happened to the Colossi of Memnon?

In 27 B.C, a strong earthquake destroyed the northern colossus, causing the collapse of its top and cracking of its lower half. Following this earthquake, the remaining northern colossus started to “sing “right at dawn because of the wholes caused by the statue. Strabo and the Greek historian reported the sing as a blow.

Vocal Memnon | singing statues of Memnon

We mentioned that after the earthquake, the northern statue had some cracks in it. Scientists and researchers think that the cause of the sound was due to a rise in heat and humidity, playing off one large, cracked stone. The legend of the “Vocal Memnon” spread outside of Egypt and the people came to see these enormous statutes till 196.

The Greek mythology

According to Greek mythology, Memnon was an Ethiopian king who joined the war on the side of the Trojans against the Greeks and was killed by the Greek champion Achilles.

Memnon was the son of Eos, the goddess of Dawn but was slain by Achilles.  The Greeks saw him as a hero because of his courage and skill in battle. Since then, he became a hero among the Greeks.

When the Greeks came to Egypt starting from 323 BC, and when they saw the impressive statues, they associated them with the legend of Memnon instead of Amenhotep III.

When did the Colossi of Memnon stop Singing?

The Singing Phenomena last for a long time and 8 Roman Emperors registered their names on the statutes. While, Emperor Hadrian and his wife visited the statutes, camped around them, listened to the music, and wrote their names on them.

After the Colossi became a famous tourist attraction, Septimius Severus visited the Colossi of Memnon in 199 AD. During his visit, Septimius Severus decided to close the wholes by having the two halves re-connected. This caused the statue to stop ‘singing’ forever. Nevertheless, the Colossi of Memnon is a tourist attraction even today.

Why is the Colossi of Memnon important?

These enormous colossi of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III from the 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom of Egypt are very important because they were flanking the entrance of his mortuary temple. In other words, they were guarding and protecting the temple of the king. We can still see that after thousands of years and that severe earthquake, they still guard and protect the temple on the west bank of Luxor.

The Mortuary temple of Amenhotep III | Temple of Millions of Years

Location of the Mortuary temple

The temple is known also as the temple of Kom El-Hettan and was designed and built by the engineer Amenhotep, Son of Habu for the Pharoah Amenhotep III during the New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty. This Mortuary temple was built on the west bank of the River Nile.

The Entrance to the Mortuary temple

The temple-like all the Egyptian temples were connected to the Nile River via an artificial Canal ending with a harbor. Then the entrance was flanked by the huge statutes of the King leading to the long Hypostyle Hall and then the Peristyle Sun Court.

The ax of the temple is East-West facing the sunrise as the king worshipped the sun god Amun. The temple included numerous rooms, halls, and plateaus, which mirrored the vision of the Field of Reeds, the Egyptian paradise. Very little remains today of Amenhotep’s temple.

The Mortuary temple of Amenhotep III was the largest at that time, even bigger than the Karnak temple. It covers 86 acres. Historians guess that the temple had 4 entrances and each was decorated with 2 seated statues of Amenhotep III. Meanwhile, they discovered the ruins of 3 Pylons, the Heb Sed Festival court, and the holly of the hollies.

Interesting Facts About Amenhotep III

  1. King Amenhotep III was born in 1388 BC and died in 1353 BC
  2. He reigned Egypt between 1391 BC to 1353 BC
  3. Amenhotep III ruled the Egyptian Empire for about 42 Years
  4. Amenophis III (Amenhotep III) was the son of Thutmosis IV and the father of Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), and the great-grandson of the legendary Pharaoh Thutmosis III.
  5. He became pharaoh at around the age of 12
  6. Queen Ty, The Great Royal wife was the wife of Amenhotep III and the mother of Akhenaton
  7. Although Amenhotep married many foreign princesses
  8. He was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty.
  9. His name Amenhotep means “Amun is Satisfied
  10. Amun was the main god during his reign
  11. There are more than 250 statutes for his right now
  12. Amenhotep III was one of the most successful ancient Egyptian Pharaohs during the ancient Egyptian history
  13. One of his mesmerizing palaces is the palace at Malkata which is located on the west bank of the Nile near Thebes. This astonishing place contains many rooms, a festival hall, gardens, a lot of libraries, kitchens, conference rooms, and Amun Temple.
  14. The king’s reign was a great prosperity and security stability
  15. His Mummy was found in El Deir El Bahari Cache in 1881 with 45more kings
  16. His tomb in the Valley of the Kings carries the Number KV22


Restoring the statues of Memnon

Restoring the Colossi of Memnon started in 1998 under the supervision of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the German Institute of Archeology. The project aimed to restore the statutes and the temple of King Amenhotep III.

New archaeological discoveries in the project to restore Memnon Colossi

Since the project of restoring the Memnon Colossi and the temple of Millions of Years of Amenhotep III started in 1998, Many things have been discovered, and here are some of them

  1. Huge limestone blocks of 3 colossi of king Amenhotep III in the shape of sphinxes
  2. German-Egyptian mission working in the temple of Amenhotep III discovered a group of massive limestone pieces that belong to two royal sphinxes, the remains of walls and columns decorated with ritual scenes in Luxor.
  3. They discovered the Hall of ‘Festival of the Valley which was celebrated annually, in addition to jubilee festivals of the king in the last decade of his reign.
  4. Many busts and three lower parts of statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet were discovered by the mission
  5. Pieces of the sandstone wall decoration depict scenes of the Heb-sed, the jubilee festival of Amenhotep III, and offer scenes of multiple deities.
  6. A small granodiorite statue of an official and his wife, which most probably dates back to the post-Amarna period was also discovered.

 Important Notes

The Colossi of Memnon are one of the best things to do in Luxor and they are included in all the Luxor Day Trip from EL Gouna together with the Valley of the Kings, Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, Valley of the Queens, and Medinet Habu temple.

Egypt Tour Packages including the Nile Cruises Luxor Aswan always include the Colossi of Memnon in their program as part of the Pharaonic temples and Pharaonic tombs schedule.