This truly colossal statue and its companion are all that remains of a huge
mortuary temple built by the pharaoh Amenophis III (Amenhotep) in the 14th
century B.C. The temple, which the pair of Colossi fronted, collapsed in an
earthquake in the first century B.C., and later builders have long since
appropriated its pieces, leaving nothing but an empty field.
An enormous temple once rose behind the Colossi of Memnon.
The quake caused cracks to develop in the Colossi, which ever after began
"singing" when the sun rose. This led the Greeks to deem them the Oracle of
Memnon (an Ethiopian king in Greek mythology), to which they and later the
Romans made pilgrimages. When the Roman emperor Septimius Severus restored the
statues in hopes of gaining favor with Memnon, they ceased speaking their
Egyptians prepare the ladder the NOVA team used to shoot some of the
As you move around the Colossus, which is the northern one of the two, watch
for its southern companion in the background and the range of hills to the
west, wherein lie the Valley of the Kings and other necropoli. Keep an eye out,
too, for a pair of Egyptians standing by the Colossus, who give a sense of just
how immense these 60-foot-tall, 1,300-ton statues really are.