Note: The photographs below are in the same order they were taken during the day between 9am till 1pm.
The video editing is taking much more time than expected so they videos will be published on here tomorrow. Don’t miss our videos showing the process of moving the blocks of the statues.
Two colossus of Amenhotep III were standing at the North gate of the funerary temple of the King, facing North. Each was a monolith of quartzite hewn in the quarries of Gebel El-Ahmar near Ancient Heliopolis, and transported to Thebes to precede the Northern gate of the funerary temple precinct of Amenhotep III. Both colossi represent the King striding, crowned by the white crown of Upper Egypt and wearing the pleated kilt, which is held at the waist by a large belt.
Toppled n antiquity by a heavy earthquake at about 1200 B.C they had fallen in South-East direction, broke into several pieces, and remained there until today. The largest piece weighs ca. 35 tons; the total weight of each colossus is estimated to be 90 tons. The total height including the base and the high crown is ca. 13 meters.
These colossi were seen and described by the scholars of the French Expedition to Egypt in 1821, then by Champollion in 1828 and Wilkinson in 1835, until they were re-discovered and further studied, in modern times by Ludwig Borchardt in 1933, who signaled them to Mahmoud Darwich asking him to uncover them in 1949.
Labib Habachi re-studied the partly uncovered colossi and reported about their history providing a brief description and 3 illustrations published in 1981 in cooperation with the Swiss Institute.
Since then the colossi were lying in the irrigated fields of private owners. The original ground of the temple lies 2.5 meters below the actual surface of the fields, and the stone is threatened by constant irrigation and assaults of salt.
Since 1998, the colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III temple Conservation Project, a European-Egyptian team directed by Hourig Sourouzian and co-directed by Rainer Stadelmann, has applied to the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to save and raise these colossi which are part of the concession of the Amenhotep III temple precinct.
Over the years the request has been approved by the Permanent Committee of the SCA/MSA, waiting that the land would be declared property of the Egyptian antiquities.
Recently, in 2010-2011, a team of the Ministry of Antiquities directed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Former Minister of Antiquities, had re-uncovered the statues in an attempt to raise them but the work had been interrupted.
Actually, the Permanent Committee entrusted salvage works on the two colossi to a joint Egyptian-European mission between the Ministry of State for Antiquties and “ The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III temple Conservation Project” directed by Dr. Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud and Hourig Sourouzian.
The colossal pieces was moved on solid ground for cleaning, documentation and conservation, before being reassembled. The operation of moving started officially today, in presence of Adel Abd EL Sattar, Secretary General of Antiquities, Dr. Mohamed El Bialy, Director of the Ancient Egyptian department, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud and the Dr. Ezat Saad, governor of Luxor.
The plan to reassemble the pieces and raise the colossi in the same direction, on solid foundations 16 meters to the west and 8 meters higher on the bedrock belonging to the Antiquities department to solve the problem of the private owned land where it was discovered and moved from.
The plan is been designed by architect Nairy Hampikian, field manager of the works on the site, the foundations will be calculated and constructed by structure engineer Mohamed El Esawy, the moving operations will be led by Mohamed Ali El Ghassab of the SCA and Miguel Lopez of the “ Memnon/Amenhotep III Project”.
The initial phase of the project is financed by grants of the Association des Amis des Colosses de Memnon, Memnon Verin and World Monuments Fund Robert Wilson Challenge to Conserve our Heritage.
(Left to Right) Dr. Ezat Saad, Dr. Hourig and Mr. Adel Abel Sattar
The foot of the statue didn't grow a human head (Just to be clear)
The farm animals nearby enjoyed the event too. Maybe it is equivalent to " Reality TV" for them
Where the dog sleeps tonight? At the foot of the pharaoh
More details of behind the scene events and personal notes plus the exclusive videos, on Luxor Times magazine blog Tomorrow.