The Colossi of Memnon is one of the most mysterious and unusual sights of Egypt, which became famous all over the world in ancient times due to the fact that it can “sing”.
Colossi of Memnon or el-Colossat in Egypt are two huge, frozen in stone figures of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, the approximate age of which reaches 3400 years. They are located near the Valley of the Kings in Luxor and near the banks of the Nile River.
According to scientists, the Colossi used to be a kind of guards on the way to the main temple of Amenhotep, which is now completely destroyed. The figures of the pharaohs sit facing the banks of the Nile and watch the sunrise, which speaks of their symbolic meaning.
Getting to the figures of Memnon is quite simple – they are located in the center of the ancient city of Luxor, and are visible from afar. Usually, excursions are organized to visit these places, but if possible, come here on your own – this way you will not only better feel the energy of this place, but also be able to stay around the sculptures for a longer time.
origin of name
In Arabic, the name of the attraction sounds like “el-Colossat” or “es-Salamat”. It is interesting that the inhabitants of Egypt still call this place so today, but a foreigner knows it as a sculpture of Memnon thanks to the Greeks – when they arrived in Egypt and asked the locals for the name of these majestic statues, the Egyptians said the word “mennu”, which was used to name the statues of all the seated pharaohs …
The Greeks, misunderstanding the meaning of the word, began to associate the Colossi with Memnon, one of the famous participants in the Trojan War. It is under this name that we know these sights today.
The Colossi of Memnon in Egypt were built around the 16th century BC. e., and for almost 3000 years they were in Thebes, located a few kilometers from Luxor.
The place where the Colossi of Memnon is located is still shrouded in secrets today. Historians believe that stone statues were erected here as a guard – they stood at the entrance to the largest temple in Egypt, the main temple of Amenhotep. Unfortunately, practically nothing remained of this majestic building, but the Colossi survived.
Of course, due to unfavorable weather conditions (regular floods gradually erode the base of the stone statues), the Colossi are also slowly collapsing, but the restorers are confident that they will be able to stand for more than one century.
According to scientists, the southern statue is Amenhotep III himself, at whose feet his wife and child are sitting. On the right side is the god Hapi – the patron saint of the Nile. The northern statue is the figure of Amenhotep III and his mother, Queen Mutemvia.
Note: Read about the Valley of the Kings in Luxor in this article.
In 27 BC. e. a small part of the temple and the northern statue of the Colossus were destroyed. According to the records found, this happened due to a powerful earthquake. The figure of the pharaoh split, and from that moment began to “sing”. Every day at dawn, a light whistle is heard from the stone, the reason for which scientists have not fully figured out. One of the most likely versions is a strong change in air temperature, due to which moisture evaporates inside the statue.
It is striking that each person heard something of his own in these sounds. Many said that it seemed as if the string of a lyre was breaking, others found it similar to the sound of waves, and still others heard a whistle at all.
Interestingly, the inhabitants of Greece, believing that the statues are named after their war, came up with another legend. They believe that the sounds coming from the stone are the tears of a mother who lost her son in the war.
Singing statues were quite famous landmarks in the ancient world, and many historians and emperors of that time knew about the extraordinary properties of stones. So, in 19 A.D. e. these places were visited by Germanicus – a Roman military leader and politician. Even more incredible is the fact that the sounds emitted by the statue were recognized as the standard, and all musicians of that time tuned their instruments, focusing on the whistling of a stone.
Unfortunately, the stone has been silent for over 1700 years. Presumably, this happened because of the Roman emperor Septemy Severus, who ordered all the pieces of the sculpture to be re-assembled. After that no one heard the “singing”.
- Interestingly, you can visit the statues completely free of charge – the attraction is very popular, but the authorities have not made the entrance paid. For obvious reasons, you won’t be able to get too close to the Colossi – they are surrounded by a low fence, and the guards are closely watching the tourists.
- Experienced travelers advise before the trip to read some facts from the history of Egypt (or at least this place) or take a local guide with you, because without explanation, these will be ordinary sculptures in the middle of a dead city.
- Despite the fact that the central temple was destroyed, it can still be visited – the Egyptian authorities made something like a museum, installing plaques throughout the complex with a detailed description of the appearance of each building.
- According to historians, the Colossi used to be at least 30 meters high, and now they hardly reach 18. But their weight remained the same – about 700 tons each.
- It is interesting that the statues of Memnon were completed from modern materials, since the original parts were not found – most likely, they were dismantled by local residents for outbuildings.
The Colossi of Memnon is one of the main architectural landmarks of Egypt, the interest in which was not overshadowed by either the Luxor or Karnak temples located nearby.