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The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation

 
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anneke
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:21 pm    Post subject: The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Reply with quote

There's an article in Al-Ahram which features an interview with Hourig Sourouzian.

Quote:
The Colossi of Memnon, two lonely sentinels, have greeted visitors to the Theban necropolis since Roman times. More recently, as you look beyond the seated monoliths, a temple can be seen progressively re-emerging from what, to an unprofessional eye, earlier appeared as no more than slight elevations and depressions in the packed earth. In this age of advanced technology, what is officially known as The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, simply "Memnon/Amenhotep III Project", under the auspices of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), is casting light on a great monument that was swept away soon after its completion. "Despite the difficulty of our task," announces Hourig Sourouzian -- Egyptologist, art historian and project director -- "I feel wonderfully privileged to be working on this project."


http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/768/profile.htm

Some excerpts:

Quote:

Summer is over. A new archaeological season is underway. And of the many missions, local and international, commencing work at Luxor, the Memnon/Amenhotep III Project is unquestionably the most extraordinary. To put it in Sourouzian's words, "whereas in other monuments we are in presence of walls, sometimes even ceilings, but nothing from the temple furniture remains -- no statues, stelae, altars, etc. -- what we have at this site is exactly the opposite; parts of the equipment and remains of statues survive, and their positions give us a clue to the locations of pylons and walls that are no longer there." Such thinking reflects the general assumption that the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III (1387-1348 BC), of which the colossi are part, was totally swept away by a particularly high flood or an earthquake some time after its completion. All that remained were collapsed pylons, walls, columns and statues, some of which were re-used by later Pharaohs for their own temples, or collected by modern travellers and scholars. The ruin was subsequently obscured -- all, that is, but for the seated colossi, solitary relics of the Pharaoh's Golden Era -- and, a quarter of a mile to the rear, a sandstone stelae inscribed with a dedicatory text.

The magnitude of this ancient catastrophe is best assessed by placing its construction in historical context. Amenhotep III reaped the benefits of his predecessors' conquests and Thebes was at the peak of its glory during his long reign. With economic conditions sound, wealth pouring in from the distant reaches of the Egyptian empire, temples were bursting with tributes which the Pharaoh embellished with new life. He also constructed new ones, entrusting his own mortuary temple to his chief architect Amenhotep son of Hapu. "Kom Al-Hettan (the relevant part of the Theban necropolis) has been subjected to several archaeological campaigns in the past, but it has never been systematically excavated and mapped," Sourouzian recounts. "Blocks, stelae and columns were dug up by early archaeologists, but no provision was made for their conservation. In 1989 it was feared that the Colossi of Memnon were tilting markedly to the south; and the following year, at the request of the SCA, a photogrammatic survey of the seated statues was carried by R Stadelmann, then director of the German Archaeological Institute. It was reassuring to note that the statues were not under threat of collapse as was feared. However, some years later, in the temple proper, a devastating fire erupted in the area of the Peristyle Court..."
....
"Last year, our mission concentrated on lifting the huge torso of the northern colossus of the Second Pylon of the temple," a 450-tonne structure, "with the help of air cushions. First it was raised to a height of nearly two metres above the level where it had fallen, and then by another 3.12 metres. Decorated parts of the colossus were treated by a conservation team, and on completion of the work, the whole thing was wrapped in fabric to prevent the action of sun, salt and vandalism over the holiday season."
....
"Every stage is exciting, but one of my most thrilling moments was when I discovered the statue of Queen Tiye, the wife of Amenhotep III, lying on her side in the mud near the Second Pylon beneath the collapsed colossus of the Pharaoh. When I saw her face and legs I stopped breathing." The queen once stood to the right of the Pharaoh's throne, and her statue, including crown and feathers, measures 3.25m in height.

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anneke
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was an article in KMT Journal a while ago showing off this statue of Tiye. It really is quite amazing Very Happy
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