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  • Description

    Upper part of a red granite colossal statue of Ramses II: the middle part of the statue has not been found, and the left elbow is broken. Aside from the damage to the nose, the sculpture is in good condition and displays very good workmanship. The surfaces are smoothly polished, with the exception of the band on the forehead, the eyebrows, and the cosmetic bands around the eyes, which were left unpolished, probably to facilitate the application of paint. All the decorated elements of the king's attire are finely chiselled. Ramses II wears a double crown upon a curled wig. The royal uraeus is fixed at the forehead. A decorated fillet, tied in the back, encircles the wig and ends with two streamers falling on the sides, each supporting a uraeus crowned by the sun disk. A ceremonial beard is attached under the royal chin. A broad collar, fringed by a row of drop-like pearls, surrounds his neck, and a bracelet adorns each of his wrists, the one on the right decorated with an incised 'wedjat' eye, symbol of soundness. The visage is almost round, with full cheeks. Under the wide forehead, the eyebrows, depicted in raised relief, form two symmetrical arches on the protruding brow-bone. A faint depression separates them from the heavy upper eyelids. The eyes, placed horizontally and framed by cosmetic bands, gaze slightly downward. The narrow root of the nose expands gently toward the base, which is broken. The mouth, slightly slanting, is articulated by well-defined edges. Two little hollows mark the corners of the lips. The rounded chin overlaps the top of the tapering beard. The neck is broad, the chest schematic, with large shoulders. On the arms of the sovereign are engraved his birth and throne names. The cartouches are surmounted by a double plume flanking a disk, and placed on the hieroglyphic sign for gold. The back pillar bears two vertical columns of a delicately incised hieroglyphic inscription that ends on the lower part of the statue.


  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1280BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 158 centimetres (including plinth)
    • Width: 68 centimetres
    • Depth: 52 centimetres
    • Height: 15 centimetres (plinth)
    • Width: 52 centimetres (plinth)
    • Depth: 52 centimetres (plinth)
    • Weight: 495 kilograms
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        back pillar
      • Inscription Translation

        Titles/epithets include : Mighty Bull beloved of Maat (Horus Name)
        Titles/epithets include : Who protects Egypt and subdues the foreign countries (Two Ladies' Name)
        Titles/epithets include : Rich in years and Great of Victories (Golden Horus Name)

        "the perfect god, son of Khnum, and born from Anuket, Lady of Elephantine."
      • Inscription Comment

        Two vertical registers of incised hieroglyphs.
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        left arm
      • Inscription Translation

        Ramses Meriamun
      • Inscription Comment

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        right arm
      • Inscription Translation

        Usermaatre Setepenre
      • Inscription Comment

  • Curator's comments

    This bust derives from a colossal statue that represented Ramses II standing, hands crossed over the chest, and holding the insignia of royalty, the flail and the crook. Measuring 22 7/8 inches (58 cm) high, the base of the statue supporting the royal feet was unearthed much later in the temple of the god Khnum at Elephantine and recently identified by the author of this entry as belonging to the bust. The royal costume was certainly a kilt, completed with an animal tail hanging between the legs. The tip of the tail is still preserved on the lower part of this sculpture, which is kept on Elephantine.

    B. Porter & R. Moss, 'Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings' V (Oxford, 1937), p. 243;
    T. G. H James, 'Hieroglyphic Texts from Egyptian Stelae etc. in the British Museum' 9 (London, 1970), no. 67, p. 9, pl. 5, 5a;
    D. Valbelle, ‘Satis et Anoukis’ (Mainz am Rhein, 1981), no. 149, p. 19;
    T. G. H. James & W. V. Davies, ‘Egyptian Sculpture’ (London, 1983), pp. 41-42, fig. 49;
    S. Quirke and J. Spencer, 'British Museum Book of Ancient Egypt', (London, 1992), p. 71, fig. 51;
    H. Sourouzian, ‘Standing Colossi of the Middle Kingdom Resued by Ramesses II’ in ‘Mitteilungen der Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo' 44 (Wiesbaden, 1988), pp. 281-284, figs. 1, 2, pls. 42, 43;
    M.A. Corzo, 'Nefertari Luce d'Egitto' (Rome, 1994), p. 144 [17];
    'Egyptian Treasures' [exhibition catalogue], (Shanghai, 1999), pp. 33-35 [1].

    K.A. Kitchen, 'Ramesside Inscriptions' 2 (Oxford, 1979), p.715.


  • Bibliography

    • Andrews 1990 89 bibliographic details
    • Russmann 2001 89 bibliographic details
    • Andrews 2000 p.20-21 bibliographic details
    • Shaw & Nicholson 1995 p.240 bibliographic details
    • James 1970 pl.5 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.54
    1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.54
    1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.54
    2011 10 Feb - 10 June, Coventry, Herbert Museum, Secret Egypt
    2011 Jul–Sept, Newcastle, Great North Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2011 Oct–2012 Jan, Dorchester, Dorset County Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2012 Feb–June, Leeds City Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2012 Jul-Oct, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2012 Nov–2013 Feb, Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    2013 Mar–Aug, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery , Pharaoh: King of Egypt
    History of the World, Abu Dhabi. March 2014 - Onwards

    [Theme: Born of the Gods]

  • Condition

    good (incomplete - upper part only)

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • ES.67


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Object reference number: YCA467

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