Quartzite head of Amenhotep III

From Egypt
18th Dynasty, around 1350 BC

The rejuvenated king

An exact likeness was not the main intention of most Egyptian art. However, a number of Egyptian statues are thought to resemble their subjects. Generally, the aim was to express a certain idea or show the subject in one particular light. Most royal statues show the king in an idealized form as the ruler of the world, neither very young nor very old.

This head of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC) has distinctively young features, and would seem an exception to this rule. There does, however, appear to be a reason. After a period of rule of thirty years, it was customary to celebrate a jubilee (know as a sed festival), at which the king's powers were symbolically reinvigorated and rejuvenated. The ceremony was then repeated every three years. It is known that Amenhotep III celebrated three such festivals. The images of him with youthful features seem to date to this later part of his reign, and are part of a conscious attempt to portray himself as renewed in the process. This ultimately led him to identify himself with the sun-god, Re.

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More information


W. Seipel, Gott-Mensch-Pharao (Vienna, Kunsthistoriches Museum, 1992)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 23.800 cm (max.)
Width: 16.500 cm

Museum number

EA 30448



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