Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Egypt's ‘avenue of colossi’ may be found

Story forwarded by Isis from MSNBC.  More to that "statue of Thoth" story I posted a day or two ago...

More than 80 statues already unearthed at funeral site
By Rossella Lorenzi
updated 11:27 a.m. CT, Mon., May 17, 2010

An avenue of colossal granite statues representing an ancient deity could lie by the funerary temple of Tutankhamun's grandfather Amenhotep III, according to Egyptian archaeologists who have unearthed one of these statues at Kom el-Hettan on Luxor's west bank.

Led by Dr. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the team has unearthed some massive evidence to support the hypothesis of such an imposing avenue.

Indeed, an 11.5-foot-tall and 4.5-foot-wide granite statue of Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom, has been dug out at the site.

Since a similar statue was discovered at Kom el-Hettan last year, more colossi could yet be unearthed, Dr. Hawass said in a statement.

“The site could contain an avenue of Thoth statues that once outlined the original path leading to the temple,” Afifi Rohayem, the assistant of the mission’s director, said.

Considered one of the richest men in human history, Amenhotep III (1390-1352 B.C.) ruled for 38 years during a time when Egypt was at the height of prosperity and cultural development. Some of ancient Egypt's biggest monuments were constructed during his reign.

Amenhotep III’s mummy was found in 1898 in a tomb dubbed KV35 by French Egyptologist Victor Loret. Recent DNA tests have revealed that the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh was King Tutankhamun's grandfather.

Unearthed at the northwestern side of the temple, the red granite colossus of Thoth is just one of the several artifacts and statues discovered in the buried ruins of the temple.

More than 80 statues have been already unearthed at the site, including the colossal head of Amenhotep III and a statue of the god Thoth in the shape of a baboon, both discovered a few months ago.

The largest religious complex in ancient Egypt, guarded by two (still standing) gigantic statues of the Pharaoh, known as the famous Colossi of Memnon, the temple stood very close to the Nile river.

Most likely, it was destroyed by floods. Many of its crumbled stones were removed and reused in other building projects.

Traces of the Thoth colossi were first uncovered during the execution of a development project aimed at controlling the subterranean water level on Luxor’s west bank.

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