Is there more than one kind of stone present? What's with the mottled effect?
This is made from granite. Granite can naturally have this type of patterning. The mottled effect is due to the mineral make-up of granite, some of which is quartz, mica, and feldspar! It's a very unique effect when it's used in sculpture, for sure!
What was the purposes of making statues of pharaohs?
Individual ego was a factor, but also Egyptian culture and worldview overall. A statue in hard stone was seen as an eternal object that could aid an individual in his quest to live forever. Kings commissioned statues of themselves as part of larger building programs and for funerary complexes.
For the "Face of Amunhotep II," the rest of the headdress seems to be knocked off. Also, the back of it is flat, so does that mean that it's a high relief carving?
That's a good guess, but this actually comes from a fully three dimensional statue. When the ancient Egyptians carve reliefs, not matter how high, they always showed people in profile. You're right, this statute has suffered a lot of damage and much of nemes headcloth has been broken off.
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!
I'm looking at the "Face of Amunhotep II," and there's a picture of Amunhotep I nearby! Why do they look so different?
There are a few factors. First, carving a 3-D sculpture is a very different process from carving a relief. There are also differences in who created these.
Why does Amunhotep II not come right after Amunhotep I?
In ancient Egypt, when a king was crowed he chose up to five names, in this case "Amunhotep" is the throne name that both of these kings chose.
Of course, Amunhotep II chose his name to recall the accomplishments of Amunhotep I or because of their family relationship.
Oh! I see. So that's why they look similar in the face? They both have narrow eyes?
Partially, also that was a trend seen in the early part of the 18th Dynasty. Notice that the head of Hatshepsut has relatively similar facial features.
So it's like Amunhotep I is the idol of Amunhotep II?
It's possible. It's also possible that he didn't want to be compared to his immediate predecessor, Thutmose III who was a long reigning and successful pharaoh, so he chose the name of a different ancestor.
Oh ! That make sense.
By the way, how did Ancient Egyptians decide who was their king? By family relationship? Were all the kings the son of the last king?
Ideally, the next king will be the son of the previous king and the queen. If the queen didn't have any sons, then the king would choose a son of a minor wife to be his successor.
Of course there were many anomalies throughout history.
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.
What is the function of the stuff on the back of this sculpture's head?
The stuff on the back of the sculpture is holding it in place and keeping it steady, so it doesn't fall over!
Is that stuff part of the original sculpture?
No, it is not. It was added by our conservators to mount the head as seamlessly as possible.
You can see how it has been colored to look like the original stone, but isn't the same texture.
Nice work! We thought it's part of the original.
Sharp eye! We have installation staff who are very skilled at technical details like painting mounts to match different materials.
What’s the significance of the Face of Amunhotep II?
Though this statue is fragmentary we can tell he is a king by his headdress, know as a nemes, adorned with a cobra called a uraeus.
We can tell that he ruled during the 18th Dynasty because of the shape his face is sculpted in.
I inferred from the description that Amunhotep II didn’t look anything like how the statue portrays him, correct? This is just an ideal image?
Kind of. Images of ancient Egyptian kings were certainly idealized to a degree. The way that kings' faces were portrayed changed over time as well.
Kings during the earlier part of the 18th Dynasty, when Amunhotep II ruled, were shown to look similar. They were also all related. So this may indicate a familial resemblance or a trend.
Are there any features of this sculpture that were atypical for the time or that are more important? (The medium used, etc.)
This type of stone, pink granite, was quite common for ancient Egyptian sculptures. Since this face is only a fragment of a larger sculpture, we don't actually have much information about what it really looked like.
The parts that we do see are all very typical.
Is there any evidence that the face of Amunhotep ll was painted?
We haven't found traces of pigment on it, so there's no way to know for certain.
Many statues were painted in ancient Egypt including those in pink and black granite. The pigment often does not survive on these harder stones though.
Is there any evidence of a beard on the Face of Amunhotep ll?
Yes! The Face of Amunhotep II had a ceremonial beard without a strap. Only the beginning of the beard still remains on the chin of the statue as you see it.
Originally, this beard would have been relatively long, narrow, straight, and rectangular, just like the beards you see many other images of living kings.
Is there are another sculpture that shows what the back of the Amunhotep II's head would have looked like?
Definitely. You can find a nemes headdress with uraeus on Pepy II in Statuette of Queen Ankhnes-meryre II and her Son, Pepy II in our old kingdom gallery.
Thanks. Pepy ll's nemes headdress has a snake that extends to the back of the headdress. Was that not the case of Amunhotep ll, or was it broken/eroded?
The headdress and uraus of Amunhotep II were only roughly finished on that sculpture so it's not clear.
Oh, very interesting.