Two ancient Amenhotep III statues are prepared to be unveiled in Egypt. Following months of work, officials announced the 3,400-year-old statues are restored and ready for display. The massive effigies honor the ninth pharaoh of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty.
A team of archaeologists, led by Egyptologist Hourig Sourouzian, announced their discovery of the red quartzite statues in February. The pieces were found buried in the city of Luxor, along the west bank of the Nile River. The site is thought to be an original funerary temple.
The recently discovered statues were found in numerous pieces, which were scattered throughout the site. Lead archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian explains that the statues were heavily damaged:
The statues had lain in pieces for centuries in the fields, damaged by destructive forces of nature like earthquake, and later by irrigation water, salt, encroachment and vandalism.
As discussed by The Australian, the statues are massive. One of the statues depicts Amenhotep III in a seated position, with his hands resting on his knees.
The entire statue weighs approximately 250 tons and is nearly 38-foot-tall. The statue sits on a base, which is more than 11 feet wide. The researchers believe the original statue had a crown, which would have added more than 6 feet in height.
The archaeologists said the statue depicts Amenhotep III wearing a royal kilt, which is held in place by a large patterned belt.
Two other statues depicting the pharaoh have been on display at the site for years. Sourouzian said “The world until now knew two Memnon colossi, but from today it will know four colossi of Amenhotep III.”
The son of Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III was appointed king at the age of 12. As reported by BBC, in addition to maintaining his empire, the young king is thought to be the first pharaoh to distribute news reports about current events. The news was inscribed on large blocks of stone, which were periodically distributed throughout the region. Archaeologists and historians believe Amenhotep III’s reign marked “the zenith of ancient Egyptian civilization, both in terms of political power and cultural achievement.”
Following his death in 1354 BC, the pharaoh was replaced by his son, Amenhotep IV.
Tourists are accustomed to seeing the two statues guarding the 1 million-square-foot temple. However, the two “new” statues will certainly be a welcome addition.
Although the temple is the largest ever built, it was almost completely destroyed during a 27 BC earthquake. Although numerous artifacts have been recovered and restored, archaeologists believe the “temple still has enough for us to study and conserve.”
Sourouzian said local villagers helped uncover the Amenhotep III statues and numerous other artifacts throughout the temple.
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