The Singing Colossi of Memnon

Some of the greatest mysteries of the known world surround objects whose history is not fully known.  As the sands of time whip around ancient statues, causing the edges to become worn and cracks to appear on their gaunt soon featureless faces, so too do the stories of their origin become difficult to determine with any accuracy.  Historical accounts become worn out and soon unrecognizable from their originals.  Only the stories of what others saw in their presence remain.  Ruins, like the history surrounding them, soon become what they were crafted from originally – sand and dust.  But some say there are certain statues in Egypt that not only stand up to the ravages of time, but will once in a great while even tell their own story to those fortunate enough to gain their favor.

They’re called the Colossi of Memnon.  Crafted for Pharaoh Amenhotep III sometime around 1350 BC.  They stand at the edge of the necropolis in Thebes, not far from Luxor where a modern city lies.  The statues show the features of a once mighty Pharaoh seated staring out across the life giving Nile as his wife Tiy and mother Mutemwiya sit nearby.  They were crafted under the brutal and revered sun over the course of an unknown period of time before they were delivered to the edge of the necropolis to guard the remains of those who would rest eternally therein.

And legend has it there is one more thing about these statues that is worth noting.  It’s said they can speak and even sing.  Accounts vary on what the sound is like, but it has been likened to everything from an adult man speaking to the striking of a lyre.

The mystery has always followed visitors to the site with some of the greatest witnesses including far flung conquerors from ancient Rome.  The sounds seemed to follow a pattern directly proportional to the number of visitors appearing at their base.  Others, including the Greek historian Strabo have reported the sound happening year round with no real way of predicting when it would suddenly emit its haunting tune to those in its presence.

It’s impossible to determine precisely where the sound comes from given the size of the statue, and many of those who have witnessed it have reported it seems to come simply from the general area of the statue.  But what is its cause?  And do the Colossi at Memnon still let out their tune to curious onlookers?

It’s unknown exactly what the cause is, although one theory suggests it could be the sound of the collected early morning moisture from the statue’s surface evaporating coupled with the specific acoustics of the object.  Others have suggested that the statue could simply be an over three thousand year practical joke played on tourists who visit the ancient site looking for a chance to capture the mystery of Egypt’s past.  And still others say it is the voice of Amenhotep III warning visitors that they are straying too near the world in which he now resides – bridging the gap between the every day world we all live in and the world of beyond.