they were originally statues of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep,
marking his tomb.
But over time, their meaning had changed.
And by Hadrian's day,
they were thought to depict a mythical African king, Memnon.
And what had made them such a draw
was that one of the statues
could do things no other statues could.
If you were lucky and came early in the morning,
believe it or not, he could sing.
It was a bit like a lyre with a broken string.
And even in its prime,
it couldn't be relied upon to make a sound every day.
It was taken as a very good omen if it did.
What's amazing is that Hadrian's encounter is recorded
thanks to a piece of vandalism.
For ancient tourists, part of the fun was to have their reactions
carved onto the statue's leg.