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Work Base and feet of a colossus in the name of Amenophis III

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

Pieds d'un colosse royal réinscrit par Aménophis III

© 2006 Musée du Louvre / Christian Décamps

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

Barbotin Christophe

This base belonged to one of the granite colossi erected by Amenophis III in the temple of the royal cult. The sides are engraved with a list of the southern peoples under his dominion. The cartouches inscribed on the flat of the plinth cover a former inscription, which indicates that this colossus was re-used by Amenophis III.

The Pharaoh, ruler of the South

This base belonged to a colossus of a king which was originally about eight meters tall. Two lines of large hieroglyphs, engraved in intaglio on the surface of the plinth in front of the feet, form the pharaoh Amenophis III's two cartouches and epithets. On the vertical faces, beginning at the front on either side of the central hieroglyph (representing the Union of two lands), are the names of the nations south of Egypt. These are engraved inside scalloped cartouches, surmounted by the busts of prisoners whose hands are tied behind their backs, and who are linked together by the stem of the plant of Upper Egypt which is wound around their necks. This stems begins in the hieroglyph of the Union of two lands (in the center of the front face), and symbolizes the submission of these peoples to the pharaoh, whose specific role was to ensure that the union of Upper and Lower Egypt endured.

A second-hand colossus for a Pharaoh

The name of Amenophis III and the origin of the statue - the temple of Kom el-Hettan in Thebes West, behind the famous Colossi of Memnon - leave no doubt as to the identity of the colossus in its present state. However, it is easy to see that the inscription on the flat of the plinth is engraved on an irregular surface, slightly lower than the rest of the plinth which is mirror-smooth - an indubitable sign that this was a second engraving. For once we cannot incriminate Akhenaten's agents, who were instructed to hack out the name of Amun wherever it appeared: the latter appears intact in the king's name in the second line, and it would have sufficed to erase only the signs referring to Amun. It therefore seems obvious that Amenophis III had the titulary of one of his predecessors (Tuthmosis IV?) erased, removed the statue from its original monument, and had it installed in his own temple to complete the series of similar colossi on the east side of the great peristyle courtyard (see the head, a19). According to Egyptian belief, inscribing the new owner's name sufficed to transform the identity of a monument.

An accident during transportation

This scenario could be supported by a break at the front left corner of the plinth, which seems to have occurred subsequent to the second engraving and to have been repaired once the colossus had reached its new destination (where the break was regularized and a fixation bolt attached). A "new" colossal statue was never decorated before it was permanently installed, precisely in order to avoid this kind of mishap.

Technical description

  • Pieds d'un colosse royal réinscrit par Aménophis III

    1391 - 1353 av. J.-C. (18e dynastie)

    provient de la grande cour de son temple funéraire à Thèbes

  • granite

    H. : 1,57 m. ; Pr. : 2,25 m. ; L. : 1,44 m.

  • Feet of a royal colossus reinscribed by Amenophis III

    A 18

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    The temple
    Room 324

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