Archaeologists working in King Amenhotep III funerary temple on the west bank of the city of Luxor have unearthed a beautifully carved statue which may represent Queen Tiye. This great woman was the royal wife of king Amenhotep III and the grandmother of Tutankhamun.

The mortuary temple of Amenhotep III was erected between 1390 and 1353 BC to honour the New Kingdom pharaoh even after his death.

Thus massive structure measured 100 metres wide by 600 metres in length. It would have contained many statues like the one that has just been found, representing the king and his family but also gods and sphinxes.

However, the temple complex was built close to the Nile and repeated flooding caused a lot of destruction inside its walls. An earthquake in 27 B.C, combined with pillaging of stones for reuse in other structures worsened the damage.

By the end of the 20<sup>th century, only one thing from the original structure remained intact – the Colossi of Memnon, two massive stone statues weighing around 720 tons and seated on thrones.

Since the early 2000's, archaeologists from the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, led by Dr. Hourig Sourouzian, have been working to identify parts of the temple that survive behind the Colossi of Menmon.

Ancient Egypt
The statue is the first of the Queen found at the site carved in alabaster. Egypt ministry of Antiquities

It is clear that many interesting artefacts still exist despite the levels of deterioration sustained by the temple over the years.

Dr. Sourouzian, explained that the statue was accidentally discovered when the archaeologists lifted the lower part of king Amenhotep III colossus. It was found beside the right leg of the king's colossus.

The minister of Antiquities, Dr. Khaled El-Enany described the statue as "beautiful, distinguished and unique." The fact that is was carved in alabaster makes it special because all the statues of Queen Tiye discovered previously at the site had been carved in quartzite.

Colossi of menmon
The Colossi of Memnon at the site, Luxor. Brian Lawrence/Getty Images

Although the statue was found in a very good state of conservation, consolidation work and fine restoration will now be conducted.

The team has made a number of major discoveries at the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III this past year. At the beginning of March 2017, when they found a stunning black granite statue representing Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III seating on a throne.