Archeologists have discovered the remains of two huge sphinx statues, each measuring 26 feet in length, at the funerary temple of King Amenhotep III, a pharaoh who reigned about 3,300 years ago, according to a recent statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
A team led by Horig Sorosian found the sphinxes partially submerged in water at the funerary building, known as the “Temple of Millions of Years,” located within the vast ruins of Luxor, Egypt, which includes the ancient city of Thebes.
Amenhotep III’s temple is packed with artifacts and was once a resplendent feature of Luxor. However, it has been eroded by thousands of years of floods and at least one ancient earthquake. The discovery of the sphinxes is part of a decades-long effort to restore the temple and the Colossi of Memnon, which are two gigantic stone statues of Amenhotep III that mark the entrance to the funerary complex.
The sphinxes are also representations of Amenhotep III, who is shown adorned with a mongoose headdress, a royal beard, and a broad necklace, according to Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. During the cleaning and restoration process of the statues, Sorosian and her colleagues came across an inscription that reads “the beloved of the god Amun-Ra,” which is the royal name of Amenhotep III.
In addition to their striking scale, the sphinxes mark the location of a processional road used for festivals. The pharaoh’s long reign, which ran for over 30 years, is referenced in inscriptions on the wall of a hall within the complex that acknowledge Amenhotep III’s right to the throne and depicts celebrations, according to ARTNews.
Sorosian’s team also discovered three black granite busts of Sekhmet, a goddess of war who took the form of a lioness, which will be moved to their original place within the temple.
The sphinxes are just the latest of many discoveries from ongoing excavation and restoration efforts at Luxor, which have included a never-before-seen mud-caked mummy and the “lost golden city” of Aten.