Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Pharaoh Rises

After more than three thousand years, the Pharaoh has risen again. Specifically, archaeologists have completed the restoration of a statue of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III that came down in an earthquake thousands of years ago. The completed statue was recently erected and unveiled near the city of Luxor, and is now the largest standing statue of its type in all of Egypt. It is the result of more than a year of work, as it required careful reassembly like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

The statue, which came crumbling down during an earthquake in 1,200 BC, was reassembled at the northern gate of the pharaoh's funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile. The effigy is located directly beside an existing statue of the pharaoh which was unveiled last March. The restored statue measures 43 feet (12.9 meters) high and weighs 110 tonnes.

"These are up to now the highest standing effigies of an Egyptian king in striding attitude," noted German-Armenian archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian in an AFP article.

Last November, archaeologists began the restoration, which required the meticulous assembly of 89 large pieces and numerous small fragments. The completed effigy shows the king wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt, and like the twin statute, it's holding a papyrus roll in each hand inscribed with the pharaoh's name. It also features a belt with a falcon-head handle, which is fastened with a clasp bearing the names of the king.

Amenhotep III ruled during a period of peace and great prosperity for the ancient Egyptian civilization. Accordingly, more surviving statues have been found depicting him than any other Pharaoh. He was succeeded by Akhenaton, who is credited with establishing the world's first monotheistic religion, a cult that venerated the Aton or solar disk. However, Akhenaton's successor, the world-famous "boy king" Tutankhamun, returned Egypt to the worship of the old gods.

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