The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation Distinguished Lecture in Egyptology
Colossal and processional statuary in ancient Egypt: Where? When? Why?

Wednesday 13 July 2016,
18.00–19.00
BP Lecture Theatre
Tickets £30
Members/Concessions £25
Colloquium: £50 (£35) Sackler lecture, reception and private view of the BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds £30 (£25) Colloquium, Sackler lecture, reception and private view of the BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds £70 (£45, undergraduate and postgraduate students at UK universities £25) Concessions (prices in brackets) are British Museum Members, Egypt Exploration Society members, British Egyptian Society members, Sudan Archaeological Research Society members

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Christian E Loeben, Museum August Kestner, Hanover, will examine the original (or not) context of colossal statuary in Theban temples and will review their raison d’être in the light of processional needs and functions during certain periods of the New Kingdom.

Colossal statues are one of ancient Egypt’s most distinctive phenomena. Unrivalled in the ancient world, these monoliths are so gigantic that it is hard to imagine that they were ever moved again after being set in place. Indeed, the original placement of colossal royal statues in pharaonic Egypt can only be ascertained with certainty for the temple of Abu Simbel, where the rock-cut architecture and statuary form an integral unit that has remained unchanged since it was created by Ramesses II. The same might be said of his mortuary temple, the Ramesseum in western Thebes. However, this temple – as well as the same pharaoh’s architectural additions to Luxor Temple directly opposite on the eastern bank of the Nile – prove that colossal statuary was altered and moved to enhance a newly designed temple entrance. Keeping this in mind, the current positions of colossal statues in the considerably more modified Amun Temple at Karnak must be questioned.

The lecture forms part of the annual Egyptological colloquium and will be followed by a reception in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery and a private view of the BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt lost worlds.


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Royal colossal statues in front of the pylon VIII of the Temple of Amun in Karnak. © Wikicommons.