Hi! Do you know anything about the necklace that Senwosret is wearing? I love the statue, it's in extraordinary condition!
There doesn't seem to be any information tied to this particular pendant, but this is not the only statue of Senwosret III that wears it.
Gotcha, thanks! I'm amazed at the beautiful condition of so many of the pieces in the collection. It's breathtaking.
Who is this seated guy?
This statue shows Senwosret III and is a real highlight of our Ancient Egyptian collection! He's in great condition, make sure to look up close. The sculpture is also loaded with symbols of his status as king. For example, you can see a bull's tail between Senwosret's legs which was part of traditional kingly regalia in Ancient Egypt. Under his feet are nine bows symbolizing Egypt's traditional foreign enemies being subdued by the king.
I was wondering how they polished this sculpture to make it look smooth?
I was once told by a conservator: "You'd be surprised by what you can accomplish by rubbing." High-shine, polished stone, like this was achieved by fine-grit of a hard stone like quartz not unlike sand-paper today. Notice the difference in the technique between the polished surfaces and the chiseled hieroglyphs.
I just noticed the flame-like engravings around this figure's feet. What is this?
I can see why you might think these objects look like flames, but they actually represent nine bows (as in bow-and-arrow). The bows represent a symbolic "Nine Enemies of Egypt." The "nine enemies" does not refer to any specific set of enemies, but rather reflect the political climate of a given time. The enemies could include: Nubians, Libyans, "Asiatics," Hittites, Upper Egyptians, Lower Egyptians, "Sand-Dwellers," people of the oases, et cetera.
What is special about this?
This is a statue of Senwosret III, a pharaoh from ancient Egypt's Middle Kingdom. He was a great military leader and is shown here with many signs of kingship.
I just love how powerful his face is. The deep lines in his face were common in images of Senwosret III and his son Amenemhet III. Some scholars think it was to emphasize the stressful nature of being king. I think you can really see that in his face. It looks so unique!
Why is he sitting like this and what is he holding on his right hand?
He's sitting on a throne because he is a king, King Senwosret III. Most sculptures of men featuring their hands in a fist include a cylindrical object in the fist. We don't know what it is. Some suggestions include: an amulet, a rolled up papyrus with a prayer written on it, or a symbolic representation of a staff or scepter.
In addition to the throne, this statue includes several indications of kingship: notice the bull's tail between his legs. Official pharaohnic regalia included a bull's tail hanging from a belt. You can also see the markings under his feet (nine bows for the nine enemies of Egypt), and, of course, the nemes headcloth with a uraeus cobra on it and the shendyt-kilt. The nemes, uraeus, and shendy-kilt were all items of clothing, like the bull's tail, specifically worn by kings.
I noticed that a lot of the figures in this exhibition are sitting down, is there a particular reason for that? Also, the clothing seems fairly plain considering it is the clothing of a pharaoh.
One of the benefits of seated statues is the amount of flat space they create for inscriptions, which were very important! Standing statues, especially those where the person is shown stepping forward, communicate a sense of dynamic movement instead. Clothing, in general, in ancient Egypt was not particularly elaborate. Garments of the pharaoh and high ranking individuals were made out of fine materials like pleated linen. Where you see more of their wealth and prestige is in accessories like wigs and headdresses.
The "Face of Amunhotep II" seems to have had a beard, but why doesn't the statue of King Senwosret III have one? Is it because one is from the New Kingdom and one is from the Middle Kingdom? It's weird because they're both pharaohs.
There are MANY different ways to indicate that someone is a pharaoh so they don't always have all the same symbols. The beard that you see is actually a false beard and Senwosret III just isn't wearing his in the statue you mentioned.
The big difference in the facial features between the two statues is a great example of a trend, however. Senwosret III looks very 12th Dynasty and Amunhotep II looks very 18th Dynasty.
Thanks so much for your help! I learned a lot!
It this a conventionally shaped throne?
Yes! This shape is also a hieroglyph for the goddess Isis who was the mother of the god of kingship, Horus.
Would the statue of Amunhotep II have had a similar throne?
Maybe, we're not sure if the statue was sitting in a throne or not.
I learned that this is supposed to be an official image of what the king looks like. Can a king be shown without a throne? To the public?
Yes! He can be shown standing in a variety of poses, kneeling, or hunting, or smiting Egypt's enemies.
Who is this, was he a king?
You're looking at a sculpture of King Senwosret III. This statue is in amazing condition, so make sure you take a close look at all the fine details.
You'll notice that there are symbols throughout that make it clear he is king, including the nine bows under his feet, a symbol of Egypt's traditional foreign enemies subdued by the pharaoh.
There is also a bull's tail between his legs. Bull's tails are part of the kingly regalia of ancient Egypt, usually suspended from a belt at the back of the kilt they wore!
Can you provide, if able, types of tools used to craft this statue?
The ancient Egyptians used bronze chisels to roughly carve out the shapes of statues like this one. They then created the finer details by using sand as an abrasive like we use sandpaper.
You can tell the difference between the details that were created with chisels vs. the details created with abrasives by the way the edges of the marks look.
Awesome, thank you.
What does the expression of King Senwosret III show?
The style seen in Senwosret III first came to fashion during the reign of his father, Senwosret II. Previously, idealized faces and figures had been favored for depictions of pharaohs because of the relationship with the gods.
Dynasty XII kings began to be shown with heavy lidded eyes, deep creases in their cheeks, and strong jaws. This is understood as a widespread experimentation in naturalized depictions. Some scholars even speculate that the new style of representation includes such haggard details in order to reflect the burden of responsibility.
Does the back of this statue give a clue as to where it was placed?
Oftentimes, the best indicator of a statue's function or intended location would be in the inscription, but a lack of inscription on the back may be telling too.
I am seeing that the inscription on the front of this sculpture mentions Horus of Nekhen which would suggest Hierakonpolis as a possible site for this statue.
I'm not finding any specifics on the back of this statue. It's possible that the lack of inscription may suggest that the back of this statue was not going to be seen, that it may have been placed in a niche where viewers could not walk around it.
The style of the throne itself: low-backed and with a platform with the feet is typical and historical in ancient Egypt. Many pharaohs are shown seated in the same through (some decorated, some not). It is also recreated in one of Isis's headdresses.
Was this found in a tomb? And how did the Brooklyn Museum get it?
This statue is most likely not from a tomb. Based on the symbols like his clothing, the bull's tail between his legs, and the "Nine Bows" beneath his feet, Senwosret III's role as king seem to be the most important element to this sculpture. It may be from the site of Hierakonpolis, home to important temples to the Horus, the god of kingship in the ancient Egyptian pantheon.
Do you know what the hieroglyphs mean?
The inscription on either side of the throne is the same. It starts with two of the king's names, in the rectangle (known as a serekh) is is Horus name, Netjer-kheperu which is followed by signs indicating his kingship over Upper and Lower Egypt and then his throne name, Khakaure, in a cartouche. Below these may be the name of a city. The inscription ends in a blessing.
Tell me more.
Art styles and trends shifted from dynasty to dynasty. As a pharaoh Senwosret was depicted with deep lines in his face (a departure from earlier, more youthful depictions of kings). Scholars believe it was to emphasize the stressful nature of being king, as well as wisdom, maturity, and humanity.
The statue also contains some important symbols of Egyptian Kingship. There's a bull's tail between his legs which was a traditional part of kingly regalia. His feet also rest on nine bows, symbolizing triumph over Egypt's foreign enemies.