The mortuary temple of the18th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III on Luxor's west bank was a hive of activity on Monday, as workers along with Egyptian and foreign archaeologists have packed a pair of colossal statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III in an attempt to transport it to an area almost 60 km far of the temple for restoration.
Horig Sourouzian, head of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project (CMATCP), told Ahram Online that both statues once stood at the northern gate of the temple, 200 metres behind the Colossi of Memnon. However, the statues collapsed and broke into several pieces in 27 BC during a destructive earthquake. These were originally discovered in situ in 1933 but recovered by sand. In 2010, the CMATCP mission uncovered them in the passageway leading to the third pylon of the temple.
“The two colossi are the only ones of this size that have been preserved,” Sourouzian said. “They are estimated to have been about 14 metres tall and show Pharaoh Amenhotep III seated on his throne, wearing the royal beard, the nemes head dress and a pleated shendjyt kilt."
“In order to restore and conserve both statues carved in sand stone, they have been removed to a more dry area almost 60 metres far of the mortuary temple,” said Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud deputy of head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities section at the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA).
“The conservation project aims at returning both statues to their original condition through reassembling all their pieces and fragments as well as consolidating them. Scenes and hieroglyphic texts engraved on the statues bases will be also cleaned and restored,” he explained.
Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim described the statues as one of the most beautifully carved images of Pharaoh Amenhotep III known, and called it "a masterpiece of a royal portrait.”
The statues show the facial features of Pharaoh Amenhotep III with the almond eyes prolonged with cosmetic bands, a small nose and a large mouth with wide lips outlined with a sharp ridge.