Wednesday, May 19, 2010
independent - A colossal statue of the ancient Egyptian god Thoth, the deity of wisdom, is the latest artifact to be discovered near the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III during archaeological works aimed at controlling the subterranean water level on Luxor's west bank.
The 3.5 metre tall red granite statue is one of several artifacts discovered in the area since excavations began. The head of a 2.5 metre high statue depicting Pharaoh Amenhotep III in a standing position – possibly the best preserved depiction of the pharaoh’s face found to date - was unearthed at the King's funeral temple at Kom El-Hettan only months ago. A statue of the god Thoth in the shape of a baboon was also discovered. Last year two black granite statues of Amenhotep III were found at the temple, as well as a 5 metre high statue similar to the Thoth statue just found.
Amenhotep III ruled Egypt between 1390 BC and 1352 BC, and recent DNA and forensic research suggests that he was probably the grandfather of Tutankhamun. His temple was built closer to the river than any other temple at Thebes - right on the edge of the floodplain – and within 200 years it had collapsed. Many of its stones were subsequently removed for the building projects of later pharaohs.
The famous Colossi of Memnon, two 18-metre-high stone statues of Amenhotep III, are all that remains of the pharaoh's mortuary temple, once the largest religious complex in ancient Egypt.
In a statement, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Dr Zahi Hawass said that evidence found during the excavation suggests that more colossi could yet be found at the site. Afifi Rohayem, assistant director of the excavations, suggests that an avenue of Thoth statues could be found on the original path leading to Amenhotep III's funerary temple.
Since 1998, the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III has been on the World Monument Fund's list of the planet's 100 most endangered monuments. Extensive excavation and restoration works at the temple site are taking place.
“I believe that in less than 20 years we will have achieved our objectives here,” Dr Hourig Sourouzian, head of the conservation project, said in a video interview with Heritage Key. The final stage of the works at Amenhotep III's mortuary temple will be the creation of an open-air museum.
Click for video
NOTE: Personally, I think that this statue and the other fantastic artifacts recovered at this tomb are simply the tip of the iceberg. Amenhotep III's reign was one of prosperity before his son, the 'Heretic King' Akhenaten, turned the empire on it's ear through abrupt religious reform. For that reason, much of the former religious artifacts and mysteries of 18th Dynasty may have been buried with the old king. We'll see....Lon
Coming from the 18th dynasty and being the ninth Pharaoh to rule during this period, Amenhotep III uplifted Egypt. In addition, he would father a son who would shake Egypt’s foundation and that son would later be referred to as Akhenaten. During Amenhotep III’s reign, which would come to be known as a period of peace and abundance, many structures were constructed that still stand today. Read further for an in-depth look into the Pharaoh that beautified Egypt.
Being born to Queen Mutemwiya and the Pharaoh Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III was given the throne at the age of twelve and remained Pharaoh until the rightful age of 50. Like most Pharaohs he also had many wives. It was believed that he had 317 wives -- all which were well taken care of and were acquired through dowries. His favorite wife, Queen Tiy, was married to Amenhotep III at around the age of 11 or 12. Being his favorite queen, a pleasure temple was constructed in her honor. She was the first women to be given official acts and was believed to be very intelligent. Together they had a son named Amenhotep IV, who later changed his name to Akhenaten.
Amenhotep III ruled at a time when Egypt was in no great danger. Times were prosperous due to trading and when production and life along the Nile River had flourished. Unlike other Pharaohs conquering other kingdoms was not an issue. Construction was the main focus since times were abundant and no real great danger was evident. He enlarged many cities and constructed many temples. He built the temple Malkata located on the western shores of Thebes and the southern part of Medinet Habu. This site was dedicated to housing and also official chambers. His greatest and most famous structure was the Temple of Amun (modern day Luxor), which is known by its ruins and remains a popular tourist attraction today.
Managing to keep the throne for a long 39 years, Amenhotep III died of an unknown disease. He died at the age of 50. He left behind his favorite wife who would later move with her son Akhenaten as well as many other wives. Although not known for war or conquering, he left behind great monuments and temples and grand statues that would begin to tell of an upcoming change -- the Amarna Period.
Jollis and Devilliers (French Engineers from Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition) discovered Amenhotep III’s tomb in August 1799. They charted and logged their findings. Today the tomb is known as KV22 and is located in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb was found empty and the walls badly destroyed due to salt and exposure to the elements. Restoration is underway in the hopes that the tomb can be returned to a suitable condition. It’s believed the mummy of Amenhotep III was found in the royal cache. The royal cache was located in a cut tomb near Deir El Bahri, Hatshepsut’s temple, and was hidden by priests. That tomb was discovered in 1881 by the Abd-er-Rassul brothers.
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