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Colossal Granite Statue of Amenhotep III

Colossal Granite Statue of Amenhotep III - British Museum - Joy of Museums

Colossal Granite Statue of Amenhotep III

This enormous red granite statue of Amenhotep III depicts the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. This massive large fragment was created in 1370 BC,  was found in the temple enclosure of Mut at Karnak in Egypt. The statue is made of red granite, and only the head and an arm are known to survive.

Erected by King Amenhotep III, it is one of the many statues that he had ordered to be built in ancient Thebes (Luxor). The left arm is 3.30m long and terminates in a clenched fist, and the head is 2.90m high. The king’s statue would have stood with both arms straight down, holding containers for papyrus documents in his hand.

Colossal Arm of Amenhotep III - British Museum - Joy of Museums

Colossal Arm of Amenhotep III

After its discovery, the statue in 1817 it was ascribed initially as a statue to another Pharaoh by mistake. The confusion arose from the modification of the head by later Pharaohs, a practice that was common in Ancient Egypt. Pharaohs would usurp statues of earlier rulers, modifying and re-inscribing them. The lips have had their corners reduced to suggest a smaller mouth, and the broad cosmetic lines around the eyes or the original image have been largely erased. The alterations were made to represent Ramesses II.

Amenhotep III was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, ruling Egypt from approximately 1386 to 1349 BC. His reign was a period of prosperity and artistic splendour when Egypt reached the peak of its creative and international power. When he died in the 38th or 39th year of his reign, his son initially ruled as Amenhotep IV, but then changed his royal name to Akhenaten.

Amenhotep III has the most surviving statues of any Egyptian pharaoh, with over 250 figures having been discovered and identified. Since these statues span his entire life, they provide a series of portraits covering the whole length of his reign.

Reflections

  • This statue was usurped by a later ruler, who modified it and re-inscribed it to his honour. Are there any modern equivalents to this usurpation process today?

Colossal Granite Statue of Amenhotep III

  • Title:                Colossal Granite Statue of Amenhotep III
  • Ruler:               Amenhotep III
  • Date:                 1370 BC
  • Period:             18th Dynasty
  • Findspot:         Temple enclosure of Mut at Karnak in Upper Egypt.
  • Materials:        Red granite
  • Dimensions:    Head:  H: 2.90m; Arm: L 3.30m
  • Museum:         The British Museum

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“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” Napoleon

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Photo Credit: 1) JOM