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Work The god Amun protecting Tutankhamun

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Le dieu Amon protège Toutânkhamon

© 2006 Musée du Louvre / Christian Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Author(s):
Aït-Kaci Lili, Letellier Bernadette

This large statue, made of dark diorite, portrays Amun protecting Tutankhamun. It was discovered in Karnak in 1857. The standing king, Amun's chief officiate in the temple, is wearing a feline pelt and faces in the same direction as his divine protector. Amun wears the traditional headdress featuring two tall vertical feathers, as well as the braided bead of the gods.

A young king restores the cult of Amun

Tutankhamun became famous when his previously undisturbed tomb was discovered in 1922. Yet he remains a mysterious sovereign, even for Egyptologists, as entire segments of his reign are still unknown. He was probably born in the capital of King Akhenaten in Middle Egypt, and became king when he was just over ten years old. He was under the control of the traditionalist clergy, who forced him to re-establish the predominance of Thebes and the cult of Amun. This statue is one of a series of monuments that confirmed the restoration of Amun as Egypt's primary deity after the "Armarna revolution," during which King Amenophis IV-Akhenaten chose to worship the god Aten.

A faithful portrait of Tutankhamun

Tutankhamen left several sculpted works, discovered in Thebes, which illustrate his devotion to the god Amun. The Louvre Museum has two large statues portraying a small likeness of the king under the protection of the triumphant god. Mariette unearthed this one during his 1857 excavations on the Karnak site. Amun, seated on a cubic base, is represented in human form, wearing a pleated loincloth and corselet, divine beard and flat headdress topped with tall feathers, an evocation of his heavenly nature. Carefully detailed jewels - necklaces, armlets, and bracelets - decorate his neck and arms. The sovereign is wearing the vestments of the Amun priesthood, a starched loincloth and feline pelt over his left shoulder, along with sandals and a wide necklace. The king's head is now missing, but the god's soft and feminine features, in keeping with the portraiture style of this dynasty, reproduce the pharaoh's face. The almond-shaped eyes, the slightly jutting chin and the full lips correspond exactly to the features of Tutankhamen's face as represented in other works.

Punishment for Aten

This monument suffered from the punishment inflicted on works produced during the el-Amarna period. Horemheb, a general who then became king, had reminders of this era destroyed: the head of the king, Akhenaten's heir, was therefore broken off. All that remains are the two ends of the headdress on the shoulders. His names on the back pillar were struck out, while the divine names of Amun and Ra, included in the inscription, were saved; destroying them meant risking divine fury. The god's hands that once clasped and protected the god were broken, as if to break the link that connected the two figures. Yet the vandal forgot the remove the cartouches on the trim suspended from the belt to the right of the loincloth; this sculpted scene identifies the figure as Tutankhamun.

Bibliography

- Pharaohs of the sun, catalogue d'exposition, Boston, 1999.

- ANDREU G., RUTSCHOWSCAYA M. H., ZIEGLER C., L'Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, n 58.

- HUMBERT J.-M., PANTAZZI M., ZIEGLER C., Egyptomania, catalogue d'exposition, Louvre/Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 1994.

- BARBOTIN Ch., "Le Nouvel Empire, Toutankhamon et ses successeurs", Fiche-visite-Louvre, Salle 26.

Technical description

  • Le dieu Amon protège Toutânkhamon

    1336 - 1327 avant J.-C.

  • diorite

    H. : 2,20 m. ; L. : 0,44 m. ; Pr. : 0,78 m.

  • E 11609

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    The New Kingdom
    Room 26

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