September 27, 2013

Mortuary Temples in Luxor

Mortuary Temples
The Colossus of Memnon and its companion
These two somewhat weathered seated statues greet visitors to the necropolis. They are all that remain of what was once the largest mortuary temple in the necropolis, that of Amenhotep III. It is somewhat difficult, today, to imagine a temple which, with its gardens and lake, extended from the Ramesseum to Medinet Habu.

Mortuary Temples in Luxor
Amenhotep’s mortuary temple was probably badly damaged from a high flood. Since then time and neglect wrought havoc with it. In the 19th Dynasty, Ramses II’s son Merenptah used some of the fallen blocks for his own, neighbouring, temple. Finally, nothing was left but these two lonely sentinels on the plain, and, a quarter of a mile away to the rear, a huge sandstone stelae weighing some 150 tons, referring to the dedication of the temple.

Mortuary Temples in Luxor
When an earthquake caused the upper part of the northern statue to fall down, cracks and holes appeared in it. At dawn, when the breeze blew through these, it created a musical sound, which the Greeks and Romans explained in their mythology: when Memnon fell at Troy he reappeared at Thebes as a singing stone statue. At sunrise he would greet his mother Aurora with a plaintive song. Aurora, on hearing the sound, shed tears in the form of the morning dew on the cold stone of the statue. When the cracks were filled in during the reign of Septimius Severus, AD 193, the sound was no longer heard.

Mortuary Temples in Luxor

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