The Crying Colossus

If the pyramids in Cairo reflect the majestic power of ancient Egypt during its Old Kingdom (3100 – 2180 BC), the temples and colossi in Luxor are the signs of its splendor in the New Kingdom (1550 – 1070 BC).

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

The magnificent Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple on the east bank of the Nile River are just a few examples of Egypt’s impeccable ancient glory. Karnak Temple was built between 11th to 19th dynasties by pharaohs after pharaohs as a holy place to worship the king of the gods. It has grand structures with halls, courts, and colossi. The huge pylons and colonnades make any modern buildings seem small.

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

Luxor Temple was built for similar purpose but in much smaller scale. It is approached by an avenue of sphinxes, which once stretched 1.2 miles all the way to Karnak. In the evening, Luxor Temple looks particularly beautiful when it’s illuminated by lights.

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

On the West Bank of the Nile is the famous Valley of the Kings. Instead of building pyramids, pharaohs in the New Kingdom started digging their tombs deep into the natural pyramid-shaped Theban Mountain. Total sixty-two tombs have been found in the Valley of the Kings, although countless burial treasures are lost. We visited the tombs of Ramses III, Ramses IV and Ramses IX – all of them have dramatic corridors and burial chambers with stunning wall paintings that illustrate soul’s journey to the afterlife.

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

An interesting spot in the West Bank is the Colossi of Memnon – two gigantic statues 60 feet tall standing in the middle of nowhere. Legend has it that one of them broke down in an earthquake. The wind blew through the broken pieces of the statue, making sounds like a sobbing melody as in an opera.

Copyright 2007 Helen Wang

Since then, stories were told generation after generation that the crying colossus was mourning Egypt’s lost civilization.

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