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In my first play-through of Mass Effect, I thought these might be statues of the Protheans.

Ilos Statue

However, in Mass Effect 3 with the From Ashes DLC, we later find out that Protheans look nothing like that.

Javik

I've played through all of the Trilogy, though I haven't played some of the DLC.

In fact, I only know of Javik via the Mass Effect Wiki - I'll be playing From Ashes soon, though.

Is there some point at which these statues are explained, that I'm forgetting?

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they might have been originally but that is just speculation –  Paralytic Apr 21 '13 at 15:28
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The statues on Ilos were visually ambiguous, presumably because it wasn't clear at the time how much of a part they would play in the trilogy. It's worth noting that while Ilos was formally a Prothean planet, the term "Prothean" is later discovered to be a name attributed to multiple races inducted into the Prothean empire during the previous cycle.

This is further confused by the statues on Ilos looking remarkably similar to the images given to Shepard by the Eden Prime beacon:

enter image description here

As we later find out in Mass Effect 3, these beacons are in fact Prothean, and Javik (if you have the From Ashes DLC) will berate you for using the beacon, seeing the warnings and then subsequently not acting on them.

If we, for a moment, assume that these statues are not an earlier representation of the Protheans, it is also possible that the statues on Ilos were created by a race from the cycle before the Protheans ruled the galaxy, more specifically the Inusannon or the Zeioph.

The Inusannon were known to have previously inhabited Ilos at some point during a cycle predating the Protheans, and the ruins of Inusannon civilisation later provided the Protheans with the knowledge necessary to develop mass effect technology.

The Zeioph are of note because they are known to have built elaborate crypts on the surface of the planet Armeni.

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Good information here. Could you fill in a little more detail as to when we discover some of this - particularly, when are the Inusannon & Zeioph introduced in canon? Is this all in the From Ashes DLC or are there other sources? –  Iszi Apr 21 '13 at 16:06
    
The Inusannon are mentioned by Javik in ME3 during one of the various conversations you can have with him, as the former inhabitants of Ilos and the species that resulted in the Protheans developing Mass Effect based technologies. –  kalina Apr 21 '13 at 16:11
    
It's very much worth doing From Ashes as early as possible in ME3 - having Javik around for the whole game gives you tons of background info like this. (He's also unintentionally hilarious with semi-regularity.) –  Shinrai Apr 21 '13 at 16:16
    
Indeed he is, his presence reveals a lot about the history of the galaxy over the course of the last 50000 years –  kalina Apr 21 '13 at 16:17
    
@Shinrai Thanks for the tip. I'll keep that in mind when I get around to ME3 in this playthrough. –  Iszi Apr 21 '13 at 17:33
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