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The Colossi of Memnon, the statues that sing at dawn

If anything characterizes Egypt, it is the number of mysteries to be solved. It is a place of ancient history where legends are the order of the day. If you thought that pyramids, temples or sphinxes were enough, now we take you to the colossi of Memnon. They are two gigantic statues that are located on the banks of the Nile, in front of the city of Luxor.

What are the Colossi of Memnon?

The Colossi of Memnon They are two stone statues that represent Pharaoh Amenhotep III, one of the most important of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. His rule lasted between 1390 and 1353 BC They are considered one of the most emblematic monuments of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

Appearance of the statues

The statues are exactly the same and represent the seated pharaoh, with the hands resting on the knees. They are on the banks of the Nile and look in an easterly direction, that is, to the place where the sun rises. To the north is the necropolis of Tebanas. During the rule of Pharaoh Amenhotep III it was the capital of Ancient Egypt, succeeding Memphis.

They measure 18 meters and are built of silicified sandstone which comes from Giza and from a quarry north of Aswan. Its function was to serve as the entrance to the funerary temple in which the remains of the pharaoh were found.

Although they are deteriorated by the passage of time, you can still make out the shape of the cobra on the forehead. And in addition, it is thought that in reality its height would be about 20 meters, taking into account the parts that have disappeared.

Details of the Colossi of Memnon

Although its deteriorated appearance does not show it, in the construction of these statues many elements were taken into account, both from the Egyptian religion and from the pharaoh’s own life.

First, At the feet of these two statues are two female figures. They are Mutemuia and Tiye, mother and wife of the pharaoh, respectively. And between his legs there is an image of one of his daughters. Although these details can hardly be seen due to wear.

Secondly, on the side panels there are Egyptian hieroglyphs and some reliefs showing the god Hapy, the god who flooded the Nile and, therefore, favored the fertility of the surrounding lands. And besides, there is a sign sema-tawyrepresenting the union between Upper and Lower Egypt.

Deterioration over the years

Unfortunately, Both the Colossi of Memnon are poorly preserved for many reasons. The first one, the passage of time. Also earthquakes, wind erosion, Nile river floods, temperature changes or because parts of rock were used as a quarry. In fact, there are hardly any remains of the temple guarded by the colossi.

Mysteries of the Colossi of Memnon

There is a third colossus, which is currently trying to be restored and rebuilt. It is very close to these two statues, with the same mission: to guard the entrance to the pharaoh’s temple.

One of the most intriguing mysteries is the belief that these statues “sang at dawn”. And this is due to the action of the wind during sunrise, which caused the wind to flow through the cracks in the statues and strange noises were heard. All due to the air and the evaporation of water as the temperature rises.

But now it is known that it is due to an earthquake that in 27 BC brought down part of the colossi, especially the one located further south. And as a consequence, these cracks were originated that gave rise to the songs at dawn.

Legends about the chants of the statues

Finally, we want to refer to a nice legend about the sounds of the Colossi of Memnon. Its name is due to Greek mythology. Memnon was the king of Ethiopia who managed to take his army to Troy to defend the city. When she died at the hands of Achilles, her mother, Eos, goddess of the dawn, sent the wind to pick up the corpse of her son.

When the Greeks discovered the statues, they thought that the dew and the sound of the wind were the laments and tears of the goddess Eos. That is why they were called that, because they represent the son of the goddess, who waits for her every day at dawn. Thus, the colossi were very popular in the Greek and Roman civilizations.

“Myths and science serve a similar function: they both offer human beings a representation of the world and the forces that are supposed to govern it. Both set the limits of what is considered possible.”

-François Jacob-

The Colossi of Memnon are located 20 kilometers from ancient Memphis, and also very close to Cairo.. For this reason, we advise you to include them on your route during your trip through Ancient Egypt. Its size and its position at sunrise will make you completely fall in love with Egypt and its charm. Do not miss it!

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