Red granite statues of King Amenhotep III, believed to be the grandfather of King Tutankhamun, are popping up like mushrooms in Luxor, Egypt.
Today an Egyptian team from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) led by Dr. Zahi Hawass has found the upper half of a double statue featuring the powerful Egyptian pharaoh with the falcon-headed sun god Re-Horakhti.
The ninth ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Amenhotep III (ca. 1390-1352 B.C.), reigned for 38 years during a time when Egypt was at the height of prosperity and cultural development.
His mummy was found in 1898 in a tomb dubbed KV35 by French Egyptologist Victor Loret.
The newly discovered double statue has been unearthed on the northwestern side of Amenhotep III’s funerary temple on Luxor’s west bank.
Demolished during the Nineteenth Dynasty, the temple was apparently the largest ever built of its class .
Originally, it had two entrances: one on the eastern side guarded by two (still standing) gigantic statues of the Pharaoh, known as the Colossi of Memnon, and one at the northern side, where the granite statue was located.
Last February a massive granite head depicting Amenhotep III was unearthed at the same site.
Moreover, last month a similar double statue of the Egyptian pharaoh, seated on a throne next to the Theban god Amun, was also dug out in the same area.
In fact, an overwhelming number of the statues feature King Amenhotep III in company of different deities, such as Amun-Re, Re-Horakhti, Sobek, and Sekhmet, the goddess of healing.
"The Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project has unearthed more than 80 statues of the goddess Sekhmet during their excavations at the temple," Hawass, secretary General of the SCA, said in a statement.
Most likely, the Sekhmet statues were erected because Amenhotep III was very sick during his final years.
More Amenhotep III statues are expected to come to light in the next few months. According to Mansour Boraik, General Supervisor of the Luxor Antiquities Department of the SCA, a number of statues of the pharaoh are still partially buried under some private farmland that surrounds the temple.
Luxor authorities are now trying to reach an agreement with the farmers to buy this section of land so that the statues can be fully excavated.
“In the future, this area will be converted into an open-air museum that will display the objects found in the mortuary temple complex,” Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.
Lorenzi, Rossella. 2010. "Statue Unearthed in Tomb of Tut's Grandfather". Discovery News. Posted: November 4, 2010. Available online: http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/statue-unearthed-in-tomb-of-tuts-grandfather.html