Silver gelatin on glass
29 x 40 cm
Epigraphic Survey, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
The Colossi of Amenhotep.
This pair of colossal statues stood before the entrance to the mortuary
temple of the pharaoh Amenhotep III. The structure was the largest of
any of the mortuary temples of the New Kingdom, but it was somewhat hastily
built. Over time the extensive mudbrick elements of the structure melted,
and later rulers quarried away what stone they found. During the Graeco-Roman
period, the northern statue of the group (to the right) came to be known
as the Colossus of Memnon. Memnon was a warrior who led the Ethiopian
allies of the Trojans against the Greeks during the struggle for Troy.
Because the prenomen of Amenhotep III, Nebmaatra, was pronounced as Nimmaria
or Mimmaria, his name was conflated with the Memnon of the Trojan War.
The colossal statues of Amenhotep III were damaged by an earthquake, probably
in 27 B.C., and the northernmost colossus began to make a "singing"
sound, probably caused by the night dew sublimating in the rising heat
of morning, which was interpreted as the voice of Memnon calling to his
mother, Aurora, the dawn. The Roman emperor Septimus Severus repaired
the singing colossus, and it has ceased to sing down to the present day.