About sight: Colossi of Memnon

On the left bank of the Nile, on the road to the Valley of the Kings, all tourist buses make a stop at the two giant statues, called the Colossi of Memnon. These two statues received the name of Memnon, one of the heroes of the Troy War, later. At the time of creation these were the statues of Pharaoh Amenophis III who built a mortuary temple in XIV B.C. Following his example, Ramesses II (he built Ramesseum) and Ramesses III (he built Medinet-Habu) then built their own mortuary temples.

These two colossi were located at the most giant temple of the ancient Egypt. They reached the height of 18 meters (6-floor building). And they were one meter taller than the statue of Ramesses II, of which only the head is now stored at the Ramesseum. The weight of each colossus is 700 tonnes.

The Colossi of Memnon were located in front of the first pylon of the temple, which was nearly twice as tall as the statues. This temple was even larger than the Karnak Temple. It occupied the area of 35 hectares. The temple was on the inundated land, so it quickly went to ruin, although people contributed to its final destruction, having pulled it down to build other temples.

The ancient Greeks gave the colossi the name of Memnon, when the half-ruined statues began to emit long-drawn-out melodious sounds in the morning. Memnon was the son of Aurora, the Goddess of the Dawn, killed by Achilles during the Troy War. Aurora begged Jupiter to daily revive her son Memnon for at least a moment, when she rose above the world. According to the myth, Memnon responded to her with a long moan.

It was just at sunrise that the colossi also emitted moans after they were severely damaged during the earthquake of 27 B.C. The fact was confirmed by all historians of that time. The scientific explanation of the phenomenon is that the early rays of rising sun began to heat cold and wet stones. And the statues began to emit the vapour, which went out all the cracks and caused vibration and the sound similar to the long-drawn-out moan.

The «moans» of the Colossi of Memnon ceased in 199 A.D., when the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus decided to restore the statues and patch up all cracks caused by the earthquake.

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