CAIRO: Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty Saturday inspected the restoration project to reassemble the two 3,400-year-old colossal statues of Amenhotep which once flanked the northern entrance of the Pharaoh’s temple in the west bank of Luxor, according to Abdel-Hakim Karar, director of the Upper Egypt Antiquities Department, Sunday.
“The statues were first discovered in 1933. In February 2013, they were rediscovered submerged in irrigation water in a farm next to the Pharaoh’s mortuary temple in Kom El Hettan, west of Luxor, before the Egyptian-European mission tasked with excavation work at the temple started the process of moving the two statues to start the restoration,” said Karar.
The 14 meter-high colossi, which represent the Pharaoh standing on four-meter pedestals, are made of limestone and show him wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.
According to Karar, the temple, along with several statues and pillars, was badly damaged by a severe earthquake in 27 B.C. The restoration work, which featured rejoining more than 20 blocks to the statues, is based on carvings found on the back of one of the statues showing how they looked when erected.
“The statues had lain in pieces for centuries in the fields, damaged by destructive forces of nature like earthquakes, and later by irrigation water, salt, encroachment and vandalism. This beautiful temple still has enough for us to study and conserve,” Horig Sourouzian, head of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project (CMATCP), was quoted as saying by The International Business Times.
When restored, the statues will join the famous Colossi of Memnon, two other seated statues of Amenhotep III flanking the northern entrance of the temple.
“The temple is 10 times bigger than other mortuary temples in the west bank. It used to be 700,100 meters. All its walls have been destroyed, but whatever was inside is still there. Our job is to save the temple that was once prestigious, but unfortunately was very badly damaged. I believe within 20 years, we will have achieved our objectives here,” Sourouzian said in a video at www.discoveringegypt.com.
Amenhotep III, the ninth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, ruled Egypt from 1386 B.C. to 1349 B.C. and his reign is believed to have marked the political and cultural zenith of ancient Egyptian civilization.