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Luxor West Bank - News February 2013:
The Salvage of Two Threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

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In the morning of February 18, 2013 the salvage operation for two Amenhotep III colossi started. Just like the well-known Colossi of Memnon guarded the western gate of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III (nowadays called Kom el-Hettan) these two 13-metre tall quartzite colossi flanked the north gate - until they toppled down by an earthquake at about 1200 BC in south-east direction and broke into several pieces. Because the original ground of the temple lies 2.50 metres below the actual surface of the fields the fragments remained lying there on privately owned land covered by sand and soil and were at risk of being finally destroyed by irrigation water and salt.

The monoliths were hewn in the quarries of Gebel el-Ahmar near ancient Heliopolis (north-east of Cairo) and represent Amnehotep III crowned by the white crown of Upper Egypt and wearing the pleated kilt.

Since 1998 the "Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project" made all effort to save the statues. In 2010/2011 a team of the Ministry of Antiquities directed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, former Minister of Antiquities, had uncovered the statues in an attempt to raise them but the work had been interrupted on account of the Egyptian Revolution. Today, it was happening finally. A joint Egyptian-European mission between the Ministry of State for Antiquities and the "Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project" directed by Mohammed Abd el-Maqsoud and Hourig Sourouzian started to lift the huge fragments of the statues out of their "bed" north-east of the Merenptah Temple.

The following pictures show in a chronological order three hours of the lengthy proceedings of salvation. When you mouse over a picture you will get information about it. Unless otherwise specified copyright reserved by Living in Luxor.

 

 

At 10 o'clock there were already four pieces of the statues laying on a low loader, which was parked 16 metres west of the pit on a 8 metres higher bedrock:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

Heading down to the pit one could see on both sides of the way already salvaged fragments of most different sizes:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

Beside the pit a huge crane was waiting to lift further (meanwhile unearthed) fragments weighing tons:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

In the pit itsself preparations were made to lift out a fragment with estimated 35 tons weight:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

Meanwhile (at about 11 o'clock) the actual dignitaries, among them the Governor of Luxor Dr. Ezaat Saad. Dr. Hourig Sourouzian, director of the "Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project" welcomed rhm and explained the planned procedure based on the plan of Nairy Hampikian, architect and field manager of the Amenhotep III temple project:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank - in the foreground Dr. Hourig Sourouzian (right) with the Governor of Luxor Dr. Ezaat Saad (left)

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank - Plan of Nairy Hampikian

Ar the first attempt t lift the prepared part of the statue it turned out that they misjudged its weight seriously.

Salvage of a huge fragment of an colossus of Amnehotep III, Luxor West Bank

Instead of the estimated 35 tons its weight was obviously about 47 tons, the cables howeber could take just 40 tons (the crane itsself 100 tons). Therefore
more cables had been needed. The colossal fragment was let off the hook again.

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The crane moved upwards to the low loader in order to unload the four pieces to a prepared bed of sand and raise them there:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

Meanwhile fragment 2 had been prepared for lifting:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

Part 3 followed:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

And finally fragment 4:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

Finished! All the unloading action had just taken half an hour:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

And as is right and proper a watchdog for the precious pieces reported for duty immediately:

The salvage of two threatened Colossi of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hettan, Luxor West Bank

During the afternoon and tomorrow closed to the public the salvation team will continue to get the huge fragments out of the pit. Then they will be cleaned, restored and reassembled. The procedure is thought to take about one year.

 



 
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