Standing (sitting, actually) over 50 feet tall, these seated statues of the great Amenhotep III are the most significant vestiges of his mortuary temple. The missing pieces were taken away for use in other buildings as early as the end of the New Kingdom. Alongside the legs of the colossi are standing figures of the king's mother and his queen, Tiyi. Relief carvings on the bases of the colossi depict the uniting of Upper and Lower Egypt. Ancient graffiti also covers the ruined giants.
The poetry of these colossi is the sound that the northern statue emitted in earlier days. After an earthquake fractured the colossus in 27 BC, it was said to sing softly at dawn. That sound recalled for Greeks the myth of Memnon, who was meeting his mother Eos (Dawn) outside the walls of Troy when Achilles slew him. In the 3rd century AD, Roman Emperor Septimus Severus had the statue mended. After this the colossus was silent. There is currently active archeological work taking place around the statues, but the viewing areas are still open to the public at this writing.