The pedestals of Biahmu

Al Sanam -The Idol

Eastern Pedestal amidst the fields.

The remains of two large stone pedestals that once supported colossi of Amenemhat III stand just north of the small village of Biahmu, some 7 Kilometers north of Fayoum .The two large pedestals somewhat ruinous, but essentially complete stone ,light yellow in color and now partly supported by Department of Antiquities bricks. 

The Ruins of Biahmu Pedestals

The Walk to al-Sanam is very pleasant, and the fresh ,soft ,sandy color of the pedestals ,standing about 100 meters apart, presents an attractive contrast to the rich green of the very fertile surrounding countryside.How Much more striking the scene must have been thirty-eight centuries ago, with each of the pedestals surmounted by A majestic red quartzite seated colossus of Amenemhat III.

The Eastern Pedestal

The Pedestals Probably Stood about the same height as they do now, about 8 meters, and the colossi according to Petrie reconstruction, probably towered a further 13 meters. Each Colossus and pedestal was surmounted by an enclosure wall of the same solid blocks as the pedestals.

Biahmu 3D reconstruction.

In the thirteenth century ce, Nabulsi saw the two colossi almost intact, one facing west, the other east, but relates that persistent rumors of hidden treasure had led to the removal of their tops. The colossi however, were solid and yielded nothing but their dignity. Nabulsi also describes a pool near the colossi reputed to cure all ills, and into which, in faith of hope, the local population threw objects and money.

In the seventeenth century, Father Vansleb saw part of one colossus, and by 1801, when Dr.Martin Visited Biahmu, The colossi have all but disappeared. In 1888, Professor Petrie removed a number of fragments and passed them on to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford which now holds forty-seven pieces. The best preserved is the nose of one colossus, which is on display in the museum’s Egyptian Sculpture Gallery.

Amenemhat III colossal statue nose from Biahmu . Photo credits:

Other fragments were apparently left in site by Petrie, but these have since disappeared, and now no trace of the colossi remains at al Sanam. 

The purpose of the colossi has not been agreed upon. It is unusual in Egypt to find statuary so completely isolated, so they have been explained as markers of a harbor on the ancient lake Moeris (though no evidence of a harbor has been found) ; as a special monument to the great achievement of Amenemhat III in the province ; or as being somehow related to the main temple of Sobek at Kiman Faris, 6 kilometers away. Christopher Kirby, Who Carried out new studies on the site in the 1990s, believes that the enclosure walls represent open-court, solar temple; the highly polished quartzite statue of the pharaoh in the center of each would have shone brilliantly in the sun.

Entrance Fees : Free
Reference: Neil Hewison, The Fayoum History and Guide.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.