The Talking Colossus

In ancient times, people traveled to Egypt from vast distances to gaze upon the pyramids and Sphinx and other architectural marvels. But the most famous tourist attraction was a pair of gargantuan statues that stood guard over the capital city of Thebes for more than 3,000 years.
What made the statues so popular was the fact that one of them the so called "Vocal Memnon" could talk.

The phenomenon was reported by thousands of visitors, including the great Greek geographer Strabo. Many came to worship and pray at the base of the statue. Some described the sound as "like the blow of mighty winds." One worshiper said it was more like the "voice of a sweet goddess crying out for a lost child."

According to another Greek geographer, Pausanias, the statue spoke every day at sunrise, usually after a large crowd had gathered at its feet to pay homage.
"Every day at sunrise, it cries out," he wrote in Guidebook of Greece, the only guidebook to have survived from the ancient world. "One would compare the sound most nearly to the breaking of a harp or string."
Many witnesses believed that they had heard the voice of Memnon, the legendary king of Ethiopia, who was said to have been slain by the Greek hero Achilles in the Trojan War.
On the legs and base of the "talking" statue were many inscriptions of the names of distinguished visitors, often with lengthy messages. The inscriptions, written mostly in Greek and Latin, reveal the firm belief of the visitors in the miraculous sound.
Archaeologists believe the pair of statues known as the Colossi of Memnon are really twin statues of the Pharaoh

Amenophis m, who reigned from about 1417 to 1379 B.C. Carved from red sandstone, they tower 64 feet above the ground, with shoulders 20 feet broad and fingers more than 4 feet long.
In 27 B.C., an earthquake struck Thebes with great force, damaging one of the statues. The giant split across its body, and the upper part of the magnificent structure was hurled to the ground.
Soon after the earthquake, reports began to circulate that the damaged statue had begun to "talk" usually around sunrise every day.
For 200 years, visitors marveled at the talking statue. Then, early in the third century, a Roman emperor Septimius Severus who ruled from A.D. 193 to 211, went to Thebes and ordered the damaged statue repaired.After the statue was repaired, however, a strange thing happened it never spoke again.
How, then , did the statue "speak?"
One theory holds that the sudden, fierce heat of the sun expanded the cold, damp stone unevenly along the cracked surface. This might in turn have set up vibrations that were interpreted as a melodious voice.

Another theory is that the sound might have been caused by a current of expanding air making its way through a damaged section of the stone.Skeptics attribute the phenomenon to human intervention an ingenious subterfuge to guarantee that gifts and offerings would continue to pour into the shrine.Perhaps the Theban priests were expert ventriloquists. Or perhaps they concealed someone at the base of the statue before dawn. If so, they must have been incredibly skilled or lucky to have kept up the deception for so long.
Source : 100 of the world's greatest mysteries by E. Randall Floyd


Post a Comment