Friday, April 23, 2010

The Colossi of Memnon

My husband and I have just returned from a fantastic trip to the Middle East. We visited Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Egypt. It was exhausting to say the least but so worth the trouble. After a twelve hour flight, we landed in Amman, Jordan, spent three days there, drove to Israel to spend the Holy Week and Easter in Jerusalem. From there we flew to Cairo and then to Louxor, an hour south of Cairo by plane, to cruise the Nile River from Louxor to Aswan.

Louxor is situated in the South of the Valley of the Nile, called Upper Egypt. Temperatures range from 65 in the morning to 100 oF at 2 pm. We started our tours at 6 am to be back to our cruise boat (a small ship that can host 100 guests)before the smoldering heat of noon. In Louxor, our first visit includded the awesome Colossi of Memnon.

The Colossi of Memnon (known to locals as el-Colossat, or es-Salamat) are two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. For the past 3400 years they have stood in the Theban necropolis, across the River Nile from the modern city of Louxor. I am standing in front of the pictures wearing brown and a white hat. See how huge they are.

[To enlarge the pictures, click on them]

The twin statues depict Amenhotep III (fl. 14th century BC) in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze turned eastward toward the river and the rising sun. Two shorter figures are carved into the front throne alongside his legs: these are his wife Tiy and mother Mutemwiya. The side panels depict the Nile god Hapi.

The statues are made from blocks of quartzite sandstone which was quarried at either Giza (near modern-day Cairo). Including the stone platforms on which they stand, they reach a towering 18 metres (approx. 60 ft) in height.

The original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple (or mortuary temple): a massive cult centre built during the pharaoh's lifetime, where he was worshipped as a god-on-earth both before and after his departure from this world. With the exception of the Colossi, however, very little remains today of Amenhotep's temple. Standing on the edge of the Nile floodplain, successive annual inundations gnawed away at the foundations.

The Greek historian and geographer Strabo, writing in the early years of the 1st century, tells of an earthquake (in 27 BC) that shattered the northern colossus, collapsing it from the waist up.

The Memnon legend was attached to the northern of the two statues by the Greeks. After the earthquake, a fissure ran through the statue and it was heard to "sing" every morning at dawn: a light moaning or whistling, probably caused by rising temperatures and the evaporation of dew inside the porous rock.

The Ancient Greeks thought that the statue represented King Memnon, and the sound was him greeting his mother Eos. Hearing the "Vocal Memnon" was reputed to bring luck.

According to our guide, when hearing the whispered song, a woman in love would assume her beloved was singing to her.

A constant stream of visitors, including several Roman Emperors, came to marvel at the statues.
Unfortunately attempts were made to repair the statue by the Romans, and since this time the Colossi have been silent.

Memnon was a hero of the Trojan War, a King of Ethiopia who led his armies from Africa into Asia Minor to help defend the beleaguered city but was ultimately slain by Achilles. The Greeks associated the Colossi with his name. They referred to the entire Theban Necropolis as the "Memnonium". The name has remained in common use for the past 2000 years.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat~

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, winner of 2009 BEST contemporary romance at READERS FAVORITE and 2009 BEST ROMANCE NOVEL at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll.


Eva S said...

Thanks for your wonderful pictures! I love to "travel" with you, the pictures from Petra made me want to go there. Perhaps one day....

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Wow, Mona! What beautiful pictures. Thanks you so much for sharing your stories about your travels. I feel like a fly on the wall reading about them. hehee


Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Mona

Great photographs! Thanks for
sharing them with us. We most
likely won't ever trek into
that area, so you do us a great
favor in "taking" us along on the

P.S. I've missed spending time
on the Writers At Play blogsite!
I miss my favorite corner of the
tree house on the Playground!

Pat Cochran

Mona Risk said...

Eva, I am so happy to see you back. Nake sure you travel with me tomorrow to visit the temple of Queen Hatchepsout. Hope i have the spelling correctly.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Steph, Iknow you like to travel. Glad you enjoy these pictures.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Pat, I am so happy to see you here. I missed you too and God, how I have missed the Playground. Since Terri stopped the blog we haven't had much happening. Each one is busy writing or publishing. I had my fourth book out, Rx for Trust. Hope to see you here for more amazing pictures.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing them. What a fantastic trip.

Tiffany Green said...

Wonderful information and pictures, Mona! I like the part about the "singing" statue.

Monique DeVere said...

Oh this is fantastic, Mona! I love armchair travel.

Thanks for taking me on a lovely trip. I'll be popping back to see where we're going next:)


Mona Risk said...

Hi Karen, enjoy the trips.

Mona Risk said...

Tiffany, I am hoping that some of the pictures and stories can inspire new ideas for my writers friends.

Mona Risk said...

Monique, there will be many more armchair trips this month.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Mona,
What an amazing journey you had. Thank you so much for sharing with us mere mortals who haven't trvelled to these ancient places.



Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Mona, These are just great photos and I love hearing about your travels. I have always wanted to visit this area. What a great trip and, I am still glad you got home safely. :)

Mona Risk said...

Hi Margaret and Paisley, stay tuned for more pictures and mazing stories tomorrow.

Mary Ricksen said...

I love to see you standing in front of all these amazing things!