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Quartzite Head of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III

Quartzite Head of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III - Joy of Museums

Quartzite Head of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III

This Quartzite head of Amenhotep III has been carved with expert care. The eyeballs noticeably angled back from the top to the bottom lid so that they appear to look down at the viewer. The finishing polish was deliberately varied, from a glittering smoothness on the facial surfaces to less finish on the mouth and eyes, to quite rough surfaces on the brows.  Amenhotep is shown with youthful-looking cheeks, broad, long, and somewhat narrow eyes and the lower lip which curves up to the open corners of the mouth, to produce the effect of a slight smile.

Amenhotep III was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, ruling Egypt from about 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. The Egyptian Sed Festival which dates from the dawn of early Egyptian kings of the Old Kingdom requires a king who has served 30 years of his reign, to perform a series of tests to prove his fitness for continuing as Pharaoh. On completion, the king can serve three more years before holding another Sed Festival. 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 length of his reign.

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Reflections

  • Amenhotep III ruled Egypt when it reached the peak of its artistic and international power. His son who initially ruled as Amenhotep IV changed his royal name to Akhenaten and abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism and introduced the worship of one god, Aten. What role did Amenhotep III play in his son’s upbringing to give his son the confidence to make such a radical change after thousands of years Egyptian polytheism?
  • Amenhotep III mummy was discovered in 1898. A scientific examination of his mummy concluded that the pharaoh was aged between forty and fifty years old at death. He has the most surviving statues of any Egyptian pharaoh, with over 250 figures having been discovered and identified. What did he hope to achieve in commissioning so many statues?

Quartzite Head of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III

  • Artefact:        Quartzite Head of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III
  • Ruler:           Amenhotep III
  • Period:         18th Dynasty
  • Findspot:      Temple of Amenhotep III, Egypt- Thebes
  • Materials:     Quartzite
  • Dimensions: H: 117 cm (max); W: 81 cm; D: 66 mm
  • Museum:      The British Museum

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“As the ostrich when pursued hideth his head,
but forgetteth his body;
so the fears of a coward expose him to danger.”

– Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten

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Photo Credit: 1) JOM