Episode 96: The Colossi of Memnon

Interlude: Everything Bigger Than Everything Else.

For 2000+ years, the Colossi of Memnon have dazzled visitors to Thebes. Greeks, Romans and modern tourists are enthralled by their size and spectacle. What are the statues doing there? In this episode, we explore the lost Mortuary Temple of Amunhotep III, in particular the immense statues which are his enduring legacy. From the hallowed sanctuaries of a temple, to the mysterious “singing” made by the Colossi, we visit one of the greatest sites in Egyptian antiquity…

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The Mortuary Complex of Amunhotep III

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The Mortuary Temple in digital reconstruction, showing the Colossi (right) and their four siblings, in descending size, before each of the three pylon gateways (Conservation Project).

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The Colossi of Memnon, with their siblings behind (Conservation Project).

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The restored stelae which describe Amunhotep’s Theban monuments (Conservation Project).

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The temple as it may have appeared when finished (Conservation Project).


An 1848 painting, ‘Statues of Memnon at Thebes during the flood,’ by David Roberts.


Dieter Arnold, The Monuments of Egypt, 2009.

Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunrise, 2014.

Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume II: The New Kingdom, 2006.

Hourig Sourouzian et al., “Conservation work at the temple of Amenhotep III at Thebes, by The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project,” 2016 (Online).

Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, 2000.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Danielle K says:

    if you are not afraid to watch a french movie

    it is about all the work done in kom el hettan and at 34’14 you will see a 3D reconstruction of this HUGE temple and there is also the reconstitution of malgatta

    a millions thanks for your podcast et bravo for your pronontiation which is very helpfull when you are a french listener

    1. DominicPerry says:

      I was not aware of this but I will happily give it a shot! Let’s see how well my French classes have stuck with me :p

  2. Danielle K says:

    i send you the name of the movie which i have found on you tub because ,the link above is not working
    Le harem du Pharaon Soleil 2017 DOCUMENTAIRE HISTOIRE HD
    The reconstitution of kom el hettan is 35 minutes after the beginning
    if your german is better than your french you can try to get it in german because this channel (arte) is a french german channel

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Thank you! 🙂

  3. KIHN Danielle says:

    if you come in january you will be lucky to see queen tiy on the second pylone because Ms Sourouzian is working there at that time otherwise this beautiful statues are hidden behind wood
    hope to see you in front of the colossus of memnon when you will be there
    ii would like to thanks you in person for your amazing work !!!
    i think you will be there the 19 january probably early in the morning
    so i will be waiting for you with home made cake !!!!

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