The lions originally stood as guardian figures at the Temple of Soleb in Nubia, which was built by the pharaoh Amenhotep III. Unsurprisingly for such magnificent statues, the lions carry many inscriptions which record their re-use by various rulers. The original inscriptions relate to Amenhotep III. The renewal of the temple by Tutankhamun is also recorded: "he who renewed the monument of (or 'for') his father, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Nebmare, image of Re, Son of Re, Amenophis, Ruler of Thebes" Another inscription indicates that they were moved by Ay, Tutankhamun's successor. In the 3rd century BC the lions were moved to Jebel Barkal, a city to the south of the country by Amanislo, a Kushite king of Meroë. Following tradition, Amanislo also had his names engraved on the lions.
The lions measure c.1.20m high and c 2.20m long. They are in a relaxed, naturalistic pose, lying on their sides with their heads turned to the side and their front paws crossed, rather than in the stiffer traditional pose of the sphinx or lion, with its head facing forwards and paws extended to the front.
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- Ruffle, John, "The journeys of Lord Prudhoe and Major Orlando Felix in Egypt, Nubia and the Levant; 1826-29" Travellers in Egypt edited by Paul Starkey and Janet Starkey. London: I.B. Tauris, 1998, p.75-84
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- Ruffle, John, "Lord Prudhoe and Major Felix: Hieroglyphiseurs Décidés" Egyptian Encounters (Cairo Papers in Social Science 23, no. 3 (2000))
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