Archaeologists excavating Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple in Luxor have uncovered a colossal statue of the pharaoh. It’s 42 feet tall (13 meters) and consists of seven enormous blocks of quartzite. The head hasn’t been found yet, but they’re looking for it, so this giant may turn out to be even more of a giant than he is now. As it is, this 3,400-year-old statue is the largest of its kind ever found in North Africa.
The statue is apparently one of a pair that once flanked the northern entrance to the temple. They are thought to have been brought down by an earthquake in 27 B.C. which severely damaged the temple. The matching statue has not been found yet, but this isn’t actually the first time these colossi have come to light. The pair was first discovered in 1928, only to be reburied at the site under sand for their own protection. The team hopes to find the second colossus in the next digging season.
Meanwhile, the blocks are being cleaned and restored in the hope that they can be reassembled at their original location.
Archaeologist Abdel Ghaffar Wagdi, supervisor of the 7-month excavation, announced that two other statues have also been found. They’re less dramatic in scale, however. One is an intact black granite statue of the lion-headed goddess of healing, Sekhmet. She is six feet tall. The other is a statue of the baboon god Thoth.
There have been an abundance of Sekhmet statues found at Amenhotep III’s temple, leading some archaeologists to conclude that the pharaoh was ill towards the end of his life, possibly from arthritis, and made regular offerings to Sekhmet for her protection.
Amenhotep III was the seventh pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, reigning from 1391 B.C. to 1353 B.C. He was the father of Amenhotep IV, later known as Akhenaten, and the grandfather of King Tutankhamun.