Height: 111.000 cm
Length: 216.000 cm
Gift of Lord Prudhoe (1835)
Ancient Egypt and Sudan
Red granite lion of Amenhotep III
From Soleb, Sudan
18th Dynasty, around 1370 BC
A lion with many names....
This lion is one of a pair collected from the Meroitic site of Gebel Barkal by Lord Prudhoe, which is why they are sometimes called 'Prudhoe lions'. Originally from the Temple of Soleb in Nubia, the lions acted as guardian figures before a temple built by Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), an elaborate monument to the cult of the king as a deified 'lord of Nubia', embodied by the lion.
The inscriptions on both lions reflect their re-use by many rulers. Originally inscribed by Amenhotep III, they were renewed by Tutankhamun (1336-1327 BC), along with an indication that they were moved by his successor Ay (1327-1323 BC). In the third century BC the Meroitic ruler Amanislo moved the lions south to his city of Gebel Barkal and engraved his names on them.
Unlike the traditional pose of the lion or sphinx, which lies straight with its paws out in front of its body, these lions are depicted naturalistically, lying on their sides with forepaws crossed. They are often given as examples of the skill with which the Egyptian artist could represent animals, even on a monumental scale.
A.P. Kozloff and B.M. Bryan, Egypts dazzling sun: Amenhotep (Cleveland Museum of Art, 1992)
T.G.H. James and W.V. Davies, Egyptian sculpture (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)
E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)