Antiquities and Archaeology
Colossal kings rebuilt in Luxor
Two towering statues of Amenhotep III had lain in pieces for centuries
By Garry Shaw. Web only
Published online: 02 April 2014
Two reconstructed colossal statues of King Amenhotep III, who ruled around 1388 BC to 1348 BC, have been unveiled in Egypt. Both statues are carved from red quartzite and have been erected in their original positions within the pharaoh’s funerary temple on Luxor’s west bank.
Standing 11.5 metres tall, and similar in appearance to the famous Colossi of Memnon, which flank the temple’s entrance, one of the statues shows King Amenhotep III seated, wearing a nemes-headdress and a kilt tied with a belt. The king’s hands rest upon his knees, while a figure of Queen Tiye, Amenhotep III’s principal wife, stands beside his right leg at a much smaller scale. Though missing, a figure of Amenhotep III’s mother, Mutemwiya, originally stood beside the king’s left leg. The second statue shows the king standing.
Both statues were rebuilt from fragments unearthed during excavations within the temple area. Speaking with Agence France Presse, Hourig Sourouzian, the head of the conservation project, said that “The statues had lain in pieces for centuries in the fields, damaged by destructive forces of nature like earthquakes, and later by irrigation water, salt, encroachment and vandalism.”
Amenhotep III ruled during Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, a time of great prosperity, wealth and relative peace. Rather than launching military campaigns, he directed his resources towards construction projects and colossal monuments, many of which were later usurped by King Ramesses II. Amenhotep’s vast funerary temple is thought to have been damaged by an earthquake during the 13th-century BC, after which it became a quarry for the constructions of subsequent pharaohs.
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