Two colossal statues of Amenhotep III unveiled in Luxor
Archaeologists have just unveiled two colossal statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III in Egypt’s famous temple city of Luxor. The statues had lain in pieces for centuries, with more and more pieces getting uncovered over the last few months. Finally, after a massive effort, the statues have been restored and put back to their original sites in the funerary temple of the king, on the west bank of the Nile.
The statues join two other 3,400-year-old colossi twin statues of Amenhotep III, which both show the pharaoh seated. “The world until now knew two Memnon colossi, but from today it will know four colossi of Amenhotep III,” said German-Armenian archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian, who heads the project to conserve the Amenhotep III temple.
One of the newly restored statues is 11.5 metres tall and 3.6 metres wide and weighs an incredible 250 tonnes. Archaeologists said with its now missing double crown, the original statue would have reached a height of 13.5 metres. The statue depicts the pharaoh seated, with his hands resting on his knees. He is wearing a royal pleated kilt held at the waist by a large belt. His throne is decorated on each side with scenes from that era, showing the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Beside his right leg stands a nearly complete figure of Amenhotep III's wife Tiye, wearing a large wig and a long tight-fitting dress. She is tiny in comparison to Amenhotep III, who towers over her. A statue of the queen mother Mutemwya, would have originally stood by his left leg.
The second statue, of Amenhotep III standing, has been installed at the north gate of the temple.
The reign of Amenhotep III marked the zenith of ancient Egyptian civilisation, both in terms of political power and cultural achievement, under his 36 year reign. Countries like Babylonia, Assyria, and Mitani were emerging as potential new rivals, and Amenhotep began writing to the other rulers of the Near East, carving letters on small stones that messengers took to foreign princes. The Amarna letters, as they became known after they were found in 1887, were the key to Amenhotep's success, especially when backed up with gifts from Egypt's great wealth.
The 18th dynasty ruler became king at the age of around 12, with his mother as regent. He died in around 1354 BC and was succeeded by his son Amenhotep IV, widely known as Akhenaten.
Featured image: newly-displayed statue of pharaoh Amenhotep III in Egypt's temple city of Luxor. Source: AFP