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Egypt unveils two massive restored pharaoh statues

Story highlights

  • Two massive ancient statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III unveiled in Luxor, Egypt
  • Statues, discovered in February, join two other giants nearby, the Colossi of Memnon
  • Egypt's tourism sector continues to feel effects of political instability

Archeologists in the historic city of Luxor, Egypt have unveiled two massive ancient statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III to the public.

The newly restored quartzite statues, one of which is more than 11 meters high and weighs 250 tonnes, can be found at the funerary temple of Amenhotep III.

They join a pair of already famous giants at the temple known as the Colossi of Memnon -- two 16-meter-high images of King Amenhotep III seated on his throne, also made of quartzite.

The unveiling was presided over by German archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian, who heads the temple of Amenhotep III conservation project.

The two new statues, discovered during excavations at the site, were originally in pieces before being restored and raised to their current standing position at the temple.

According to the World Monument Fund (WMF), the temple of Amenhotep III was erected between 1390 and 1353 B.C. for the pharaoh. It was 100 meters wide and 600 meters long, but only the lower sections of the structure remain.

The Colossi of Memnon, which mark the entrance of the temple of Amenhotep III, are the most visible remains of what was once the most richly ornamented of all Theban monuments, says the WMF.

Pharaoh Amenhotep III and his wife Tiye.

"The temple structure was originally destroyed by earthquakes, and, since it was never fully excavated, the site was overgrown with vegetation and threatened by seasonal floods and agricultural development," says the organization.

"These problems were compounded by an increase in surface salts from rising groundwater, a by-product of the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s."

Luxor, 635 kilometers from Cairo, is divided by the Nile into two areas commonly referred to as the East and West Bank -- the latter home to some of Egypt's most prized ancient temples and monuments.

The unveiling comes at a time when Egypt's tourism sector is fighting to pull itself out of a slump due to political instability that's lingered since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

According to the Daily News Egypt, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said on Saturday that the tourism sector is completely collapsed, adding that great changes are needed to improve conditions.

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