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Amenhotep III (Fragment)

Fragment van een beeldje van Amenhotep III., Inv.-Nr. 020.004.001
© Stiftung DKM | Photo: SDKM

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1390 – 1353 BCE

Grey limestone

9.5 x 3.8 x 8.2 cm HWD

Fragments can also have a great charisma, especially fragments of Egyptian works of art. Of this statuette of Amenhotep III, only the lower part with base and supporting back pillar has been preserved, but it can completely complement our mind’s eye. The finely executed inscription identifies the statuette as King Amenhotep III and as a ruler beloved by the god Thoth. The ancient Egyptian canon of proportions was also transferred from the relief to the round painting. The framework for this was formed by the base and back pillars, from which the proportions of the individual body sections were measured. The base and back pillars of large-format statues also have a static function. On the surfaces of the stone block to be worked on, a grid of lines and the outlines of the figure to be reproduced were transferred. Gradually, it was chiselled out. One problem was that the line network had to be worked through again and again and had to be applied repeatedly. This was the only way to guarantee that the proportions were respected, which is why the Egyptian works of art, and even only individual fragments of them, still seem perfect to us today in their balance.

The pinnacle of artistic production in the 18th Dynasty was reached during the reign of Amenhotep III. Although one may correctly deduce that Amenhotep III was the first “Ramesside” ruler because he, like Ramesses II after him, erected an enormous number of huge buildings and colossal statues. More than 45 of his colossal statues (i.e. over three metres high) as well as many small-scaled statuettes made of the most diverse materials still exist. They depict him alone, together with one of his daughters or together with his “Great Royal Consort” Tiy. Only the lower section of this small statue of the king has been preserved. The crack runs just above the knees. Amenhotep III once stood in a striding posture on the base rounded at the front, his arms probably resting on his sides. The back pillar as well as the filling at the left leg contain inscriptions. The inscription on the left side is complete and reads: “The perfect god, Nebmaatre, beloved of Thoth”. The preserved lower section of the inscription on the back pillar reads: “(…) Nebmaatre, beloved of Thoth, Lord of the Ogdoad city (Hermopolis Magna)”. Amenhotep III celebrated three renewal festivals, the so-called Sed festivals, over the course of his 38-year reign. The king had to demonstrate superhuman, even godly powers to guarantee the safekeeping of the divine and worldly order. Because the ancient Egyptians believed that divine powers were used up after 30 years of reign, they had to be magically renewed in a special ceremony, the Sed festival. It seems possible that these small-scale statuettes were produced on the occasion of one of these Sed festivals and presented to deserving civil servants as gifts. They were intended to serve the king’s daily rites in private chapels.

André Wiese


A. Kozloff – B. Bryan – L. Bergman, Egypt’s Dazzling Sun. Amenhotep III and his World, Cleveland 1992, 193–214. General literature: M. Müller, Die Kunst Amenophis’ III. und Echnatons, Basel 1988. Linien stiller Schönheit, Duisburg 2008, 34–35. Ägypten | Egypt, Duisburg 2011, cat.-no. 29, 62–63.