IT has been found impossible to reconcile what exists of this Temple with the account given by the ancients of the form, character, and exact locale of the famous Memnonium. If the enormous statues of Damy and Shamy, the northernmost of which is, unquestionably, the Memnon of Strabo, were, as he states, in a building called the Memnonium, or placed like the statues before the great propylon of Luxor, this structure must have been destroyed since his time, as well as the Temple of which it formed a part. Various remains are found, and the plan of a vast structure may be traced, which will bear out the statement of Strabo. What, then, is the building now called the Memnonium? Some profound investigators have agreed to consider it as the tomb of Osymandyas. It has also been called the Ramseion, which Mr. Birch, whilst he adopts it, says is a hybrid Greek term for the Egyptian Ei-en Ramos, or abode of Ramses, and has been applied to a magnificent pile of buildings called by Hecatæus the tomb of Osymandyas, and by more recent writers, the Memnonium. There are many reasons, he adds, for believing it to be either this famous tomb, or else modelled upon it. But others look upon it as the palace, or palace-temple, of Remeses III., or Sesostris (antiquaries have not yet settled whether Remeses II. or III. is the Sesostris of the Greeks), the greatest of Egyptian monarchs, whose monuments decorated Egypt and Asia from the rock temples of Aboo-Simbel to the tablets hewn in the rock near the road between Ephesus and Sardis.

    The great propylon of this Temple is in ruins, the lower part only has some remains of the records of the victories of Sesostris; and little exists of what was, probably, not inferior to the Temple of Karnac. The figures on the columns in this view were typical of Osiris, though portraits of Remeses – a practise of the Pharaohs to place their own resemblances on the figures of their gods. This fragment of the Temple, with a portion of a lateral corridor of circular columns, with capitals of the budding lotus, is a beautiful and picturesque object.

    The fragment of a statue of Remeses II. is, however, the great wonder of the Memnonium. Hecatæus says that it was the largest in Egypt. It was formed of one stupendous mass of syenite, or granite, from the quarries near Assouan, or Syene, and represented the king seated on a throne, with his hands resting on his knees. Its foot, judging from the fragments, must have been nearly eleven feet in length and four feet ten inches in breadth. The figure measures from the shoulder to the elbow twelve feet ten inches, twenty-two feet four inches across the shoulders, and fourteen feet four inches from the neck to the elbow. It has now been overthrown, and the colossal fragments lie scattered round the pedestal.

    If it be a matter of surprise how the Egyptians could transport and erect a mass of such dimensions, the means employed to destroy it are scarcely less extraordinary. Had gunpowder been known, it might easily have been effected: it is as probable that they knew the force of gun-cotton, which would have been even more efficacious. The throne and legs are reduced to small fragments, but the upper part, thrown back upon the ground, lies still in the position in which it probably fell. No wedge-marks or indications of slow destruction appear; and if such means had been used, it is probable that the destroyers would have begun at the top, in places of less resistance; but here the force of disruption was applied  in the middle or lower part of the figure, and, though we are ignorant of the means, there is little doubt that an explosive force was used. The figures on the head and in the pedestal are the work of the Arabs, who cut out the pieces for millstones. Its destruction was, perhaps, coeval with the time of the Persians.

    No idea can be conveyed of its gigantic size, it probably exceeded, when entire, nearly three times the solid content of the great obelisk at Karnac, and weighed nearly nine hundred tons.


           Birch’s Historical Notices.                        Wilkinson’s Egypt and Thebes.