Egyptian. Cast of the original in the British Museum, London. Granodiorite statue from his mortuary temple at Thebes (Luxor), 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom, c. 1391-1353 BCE. 

Amenhotep III ruled Egypt for thirty-eight years (c. 1391-1353) during what is largely considered the Golden Age of the 18th dynasty. The wealth and success of his reign are reflected in art – over 1,000 statues of Amenhotep III were commissioned during his lifetime. Additionally, his mortuary temple in Thebes was the largest of its kind at 328 feet wide by 1,968 long when it was constructed.

The statue from which this work was cast was created for Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple. The temple, which would have functioned as the focus of Amenhotep III’s cult after his death and subsequent deification, was filled with numerous statues and sculpted works of art. Here, the Pharaoh is represented seated on a throne with his arms placed on his legs, palms down. He wears a short kilt, the nemes headdress with a fake beard, collar, and a bull’s tail which is visible between his legs. Both of his eyes have a rimmed upper eyelid – a feature which was employed frequently in depictions of Amenhotep III. The sides of the throne depict intertwined lotus and papyrus flowers symbolizing the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. All art in ancient Egypt had a magical purpose – it is likely that worshippers at the temple would have made offerings to Amenhotep III through this statue or used it to facilitate prayer to his ka, or life force, for assistance.

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