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2 giant sphinxes depicting King Tut's grandfather found at ancient Egyptian temple

By: April Carson

According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, archaeologists in Egypt have discovered two enormous limestone statues of King Amenhotep III that are carved to resemble sphinxes.

The sphinx-like statues, which were originally 26 feet (8 meters) long when built for King Amenhotep III, an 18th-dynasty king known for his peace and prosperity, and whose grandson was King Tutankhamun, were discovered by an Egyptian-German archaeological team.

The ancient Egyptian team that discovered the sphinxes in Thebes's (modern-day Luxor) royal mortuary temple of King Amenhotep III, dubbed the "Temple of Millions of Years" by ancient Egyptians, announced on Jan. 13 that they have found them there.

Amenhotep III's colossal statues are known as colossi, or larger-than-life sculptures. According to Al-Monitor, a news outlet that covers the Middle East, the

archaeological investigation — the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, which began in 1998 — also uncovered ruins of columns and walls at the mortuary temple that ancient Egyptians had adorned with ceremonial and ritual scenes.

The two colossi depict Amenhotep III sporting a mongoose-shaped headdress, a royal beard, and a wide necklace, according to Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. An inscription on one of the colossi's chests read, "the beloved of Amun-Re," a reference to Amenhotep III.

"Before it was destroyed by a major earthquake around 1200 B.C., this temple housed a large number of figures, models, and wall frescoes," Hourig Sourouzian, the head of the archaeological mission, told Al-Monitor.

The team discovered three fairly well-preserved colossal statues of the great goddess Sakhmet, who is shown as a lion-headed woman with the body of a human. The peristyle court in which the Sakhmet sculptures were found had an open interior courtyard known as a peristyle court.

In the peristyle, recent discoveries of wall reliefs depict new images from the Heb-Sed, a royal festival held every three years after 30 years of rule and renewed every three years thereafter, according to Sourouzian.

The Heb-Sed holiday was "one of the most significant festivals in ancient Egypt, celebrating the end of the 30th year reign of the king," according to Abdel Rahim Rihan, director general of research, archaeological studies and scientific publication at South Sinai's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. "The king is depicted on his throne in full strength, with the people around him joyful and awaiting his speech, which promises them another 30 years of wealth and splendor. On this day, the king would also make sacrifices to the gods."

During the peak of the festival, the pharaoh would have raced around a track in the courtyard to demonstrate his bodily strength, according to Rahim Rihan.

The archaeologists pointed out that the conservation project had four components. The team studied the site, then investigated the ruins before developing a plan to return all of the newly discovered items to their correct locations within the temple. Finally, Sourouzian added, the group will manage the area, including how to keep it safe in future years.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

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