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The Prudhoe Lions

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (series)

    • The Prudhoe Lions
  • Description

    Red granite statue of lion of Amenhotep III: this lion is depicted in a recumbent pose, forming a mirror image to its companion piece. It lies on its side: the forepaws crossed, the farther of the hind paws emerging from under the nearer one, the tail curling forward around the rump and resting on the base. The sculpture combines marvelously the stylized mane and hair with a naturalistic treatment of the body. The muzzle projects realistically, with solid jawbones and raised veins. A stylized circular mane frames the head, and the fur is rendered by a raised surface on the chest, the shoulders, and the back. The eyes are hollowed and were probably inlaid. The whiskers are incised on the muzzle; small, round protuberances in the ear suggest the tufts of hair. The naturalistic treatment of the physiognomy is enhanced by anatomical details - for example, the twisted hind paws, of which the farther one is turned upward. On the external side of the paws, the folds are marked by deep furrows. The rump is treated with a bold modeling of musculature; and parallel depressions alternate with raised ribs on the flank. The lion was later reinscribed several times. First a four-column text was engraved on the breast, identifying the monument as "The good god, lion of rulers, wild when he sees his enemies treading his path, [it is the king] ... divine ruler of Thebes, who brought it." The royal cartouche, in which only the last signs are preserved, could belong to Akhenaten. Shortly afterward, a text of Tutankhamun's was inscribed on the base, stating that the king renewed this monument for Amenhotep III. Ultimately, during the reuse of these lions in Gebel Barkal, the two cartouches of the Kushite ruler Amanislo were added on both lions.These cartouches occupy the left forepaw, because of the anterior four-column inscription. It was probably also at that time that the names of Tutankhamun in the third and fourth cartouches on the base were erased (with the exception of "Amun" and a remnant of "ankh") to be replaced by those of Amanislo, on a plaster patch that is now lost, leaving the original particle of Amun, common to both names.


  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 117 centimetres
    • Length: 216 centimetres
    • Width: 93 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        left forepaw
      • Inscription Translation

      • Inscription Comment

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Translation

        The good god, lion of rulers, wild when he sees his enemies treading his path, [it is the king] ... divine ruler of Thebes, who brought it."
      • Inscription Comment

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Comment

        Incised text of Tutankhamun.
  • Curator's comments

    The companion piece of this lion, also in the British Museum (.1), bears an original inscription of Amenhotep III and mentions the temple of Soleb.See Ruffle, Sudan and Nubia 2 (1998), 82-7, for Prudhoe's travels and the history of how the lions came to London.

  • Bibliography

    • Edwards 1939a bibliographic details
    • Ruffle 1998 bibliographic details
    • Quirke & Spencer 1992 fig. 52 bibliographic details
    • Hofmann 1985 p. 100 bibliographic details
    • Aldred 1988a p. 108 bibliographic details
    • Shaw & Nicholson 1995 p. 162 bibliographic details
    • James and Davies 1983 p. 20, fig.17 bibliographic details
    • Porter and Moss 1951 p. 212 bibliographic details
    • James 1988 p. 215, fig. 148 bibliographic details
    • Winstone 1991 p. 257 bibliographic details
    • Berger 1991 p. 31 bibliographic details
    • Davies 1991 p. 314 bibliographic details
    • Davies 1981 p. 314 bibliographic details
    • Aston et al. 2000 p. 36 bibliographic details
    • Aldred 1988 p. 41 bibliographic details
    • Leclant 1993 p. 42, fig. 45 bibliographic details
    • Quirke 1990 p. 78 bibliographic details
    • Reeves 1990 p.29 bibliographic details
    • Fitzenreiter 2012 pp. 112-113 bibliographic details
    • Kozloff et al. 1993 pp. 181-182, fig. 30a bibliographic details
    • Ladurie 1990 pp. 216- 217 bibliographic details
    • Russman et al. 2006 pp. 50-51, fig. 9 bibliographic details
    • Wilson 1989 pp. 62, 64 bibliographic details
    • Bryan and Kozloff 1992 pp.106, 142, 215, 217, 219-220, 221, 225, 229 [30], pl 18 bibliographic details
    • Strudwick 2006 pp.158-159 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G4/B28

  • Exhibition history


    2006 7 Sept-26 Nov, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Temples & Tombs
    2006 21 Dec-2007 18 Mar, Jackonsville, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Temples & Tombs
    2007 15 Apr-8 Jul, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Temples & Tombs
    2007 16 Nov-2008 10 Feb, New Mexico, Albuquerque Museum, Temples & Tombs

  • Condition


  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • BS.34 (Birch Slip Number)


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Object reference number: YCA62963

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