The modern city of Thebes is on the western bank of the Nile. Away to the north of it are the statues of Memnon, two colossal figures that have attracted the attention of nations almost from the dawn of history, and that tower far above fields of moving grain and guard the beautiful valley. Side by side they sit silent, inscrutable, as if weighted with the responsibility of some secret whispered to them in the far-distant past. Each figure rises sixty-five feet above the ground, and each, with its pedestal, is estimated to weigh over one thousand tons. The legs from foot to knee measure twenty feet, while the middle finger of each hand is four and one half feet in length. When the Nile is at its highest level, the water rises above the pedestals of these seated figures.
The colossi of Memnon are all that remain of a temple erected by an ancient king. Just back of them rose a great pylon, or portal, leading to the court of the temple. Many traditions have come down to us regarding the musical sounds that formerly came from the northern statue, and that might be heard soon after sunrise. After the restoration of this statue by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus the musical sounds ceased. They were probably caused by the action of the sun’s rays on the moisture collected within the stones during the dews and damps of night. The cracks in the stones were plastered up, and ever after the statue was dumb.
From ” Egypt, the Land of the Temple Builders”
Memnon (mem’non): a name given by the Greeks to a colossal statue of King Amenophis III (am e no’fis), ruler of Egypt about 1410 B.C.colossi (ko los’i) : statues much larger than life. Septimius Severus (sep tim i us se ve’rus) : Roman emperor from 193 to 21 I A.D.