Head from a Composite Statue
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Amarna Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
Yellow quartzite, pigment
ca. 1352-1336 B.C.E.
late Dynasty 18
New Kingdom, Amarna Period
Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society
Near the high altar of the Great Temple at Tell el-Amarna, Egypt; 1933-34, excavated by John Devitt Stringfellow Pendlebury for the Egypt Exploration Society (excavation no. 33/6); 1934, gift of the Egypt Exploration Society to the Brooklyn Museum.
Yellow quartzite head probably of Smenhkare. Apparently from a composite statue. Originally fitted with separate headdress.
Condition: Poor. Workmanship of the finest quality. The entire surface extensively chipped. Inlay of eyes and eyebrows missing. Nose missing. Extensive traces of red paint on lips.
Head from a Composite Statue, ca. 1352-1336 B.C.E. Yellow quartzite, pigment, 7 1/16 x 5 11/16 in. (18 x 14.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society, 34.6042. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 34.6042_front_SL1.jpg)
front, 34.6042_front_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Why is the nose always missing?
A popular question! There are two main reasons: Either 1) it chipped off by accident or 2) was chiseled off on purpose.
1) Since the nose sticks out from the face and is a relatively small part of the statue, it might the first thing to hit the ground when the statue falls and easily breaks.
2) By cutting off the nose, the statue could no longer breath, thus ritually killing the statue. An ancient Egyptian person might do this if they hated the person depicted in the statue and wanted to harm their afterlife. And...
This was also a known practice in the early Christian period when warrior monks were trying to stamp out the old religion. "Killing" the statue is easier and faster than totally destroying it.
Thanks for the answers.