Ancient Egypt (pottery, Pyramids, monuments)

 
 

Before moving on to Ancient Egypt II, and hieroglyphics, painting and architecture, it is worthwhile here looking again at what we have learned about the art of Egyptian sculpture.


Well Egyptian art is famous for its monumental sculpture, but I hope this page has also highlighted the refined excellence of their smaller works. We must not forget that Egyptian sculpture, and more generally their art, remained remarkably constant over nearly 3,000 years (even as the skills of artisans continued to evolve for furniture and pottery). Many experts have noted that their statues are massive, relatively plain, and often lacking in beauty (“often” as compared with Greek sculpture). Early statues were often unnatural and awkward looking, arms placed close to the sides of the body, and no separation between the legs. Figures were never represented in action, no sense of movement. Everything looked petrified, they were statues, you can not forget that for one moment when looking at them. Groups were very rare, and two figures were an exception. Husband and wife would sit next to each other, possibly holding hands.


In fact Egyptian sculpture served to remind the people that the Pharaoh was their larger-than-life king and god who must be obeyed and worshipped. Very strict conventions had to be followed while crafting statues: a limited number of positions were allowed, for example male statues were darker than the female ones, and for seated statues, hands were required to be placed on knees. Specific rules governed the appearance of every Egyptian deity. Artistic works were ranked according to exact compliance with all the conventions, and the conventions were followed strictly for over 3,000 years (except for a short “naturalistic” period during the rule of Akhenaten and Nefertiti). At the end of the day sculpture was seen as part of monumental architecture, nothing more, nothing less.


On the other hand we must not forget that the archaic style of the Greeks was derived from Egyptian artistic conventions, and often comments and analyses are made based upon a comparison with Greek art rather than considering Egyptian sculpture in its historical, political and geographic context. A purely aesthetic approach fails to take into account the multitude of statements expressed by attitude, posture, costume, and attributes of Egyptian statues which alone provide the basic explanations so necessary for the full enjoyment of a work of art. Two thousand years before the Greeks, the artists of Egypt had already achieved a certain mastery of form and expression. Egyptian statuary was conditioned by several forces such as religious belief, the so-called “law of frontality” (head in profile, the eye and shoulders in front view, and the pelvis, legs, and feet in profile), and a desire to give the statue a human likeness. All Egyptian sculpture, in one way or another, had its origin in funeral customs and was meant to serve a practical purpose: the preparation of man, be he king or commoner, for life after death. This, however, did not pertain to his person alone, but also to his personality and social standing. That is why status carried specific attributes and inscriptions.


Painting was principally found of the walls of temples and tombs, on columns, and on small articles found in burial places. It was decorative, but above all useful. It told the history of a country (wars, conquests and triumphs) and the lives of the kings. Decorative, but not beautiful. The execution was mechanical. Water was just some zigzag lines. Clearly rules existed for the use of colours, e.g. men are always reddish brown, horses were the same shade, women were generally yellow or eventually a very light brown, negroes were black, the Asiatic race yellow. There is only one instance of a man with white skin, blue eyes, and yellow hair. More effort was spent on draperies, colours varied and often the figures could be seen through them.


In trying to evaluate the magnitude of achievement we must not forget that the Egyptian artist had little “competition”, neither from a great civilization of the past nor from neighboring countries. The artist and artisan had nothing but the traditions of his own country and his own imagination and ability to guide him.


Viewed in this light our respect for the achievements of the artists of the Old Kingdom may well be enhanced. Thousands of years before Greek times they already had acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the shape and proportions of the human body and were the first to succeed in the sensitive rendition of living forms in stone. The tightness of the skin over a flexed muscle, the smooth roundness of a well-formed limb in repose were reproduced true to nature for the first time by the sculptors of Dynasty IV (ca. 2680-2560 BC). Their ability to carve from hard material, only with the aid of crude stone and copper tools, a plastic likeness of the human body was without precedent and in the perfection of their newly developed proficiency they reached the peak in the creation of the first great portraits in the history of mankind. In addition the Egyptian sculptor was not merely concerned with the representation of the single human figure, but he also attempted to find a solution for another sculptural problem which ever since has occupied the minds and tried the powers of the great artists of all times and nations - the grouping of two or more persons in one piece.


In some of the works from the later periods we see a good understanding of anatomical detail, an ability to highlight the body under clothes, and an ability to capture an intensely human aspect. In groups we see how relationships between man and wife or between parents and children should be highlighted through touch or gesture while maintaining the divine status of the king.

  1. The entire Egyptian society was dedicated to securing the successful death and resurrection of the Pharaoh. Rules we

So yes there were very conservative conventions set for paintings and sculpture. Static standing or sitting, occasionally with a foot forward but no sense of movement, very limited contact between figures and no natural human expressions.


Yes, creativity, innovation and imagination were not expected from artists, but they were highly trained and skilled artisans and they achieved much. They made fantastic cultural artefacts even if they were not artists in the modern sense. Clearly for them art was a collective process not one of individuals.




Nevertheless Egyptian artisans created some masterpieces. In the British Museum there is a stool that is not only suitable for purpose but one that would sit convincingly in any modern kitchen. Comfortable, simple, convenient, and providing a service for literally 1,000’s of years. Is this not a form of art?





Now on to page two and Egyptian hieroglyphics, paintings and architecture. But just a quick word about gold.





























Perhaps you have noticed the preoccupation the Egyptians had with everything gold. The earliest recording of the use of gold in ancient Egypt was as early as 2600 BC where it was noted that in Nubia it was “more plentiful than dust”. You could extract gold from surface mines or from alluvial auriferous sand (the story of the Golden Fleece could derive from the fact that the sand was placed in a bag made with the woolly fleece inside, water was added and the bag was vigorously shaken, after pouring the water away the gold adhered to the fleece). There are records showing that they could have been 1,300 gold mines in ancient Egypt (a state monopoly), but production would have been quite limited. In fact the oldest map in existence is one of an ancient Egyptian gold mine.


Presumably because of the fact that it shined like the sun (and it was “indestructible” and did not tarnish) it was associated with the skin of the gods, and as such was divine and a symbol of eternal life. It had religious significance and was used for statues of gods, as well as royal artifacts (e.g. funerary masks) and jewellery. But it had no practical or economic value in that domestic trade was done by barter (for meat, beer, fish, clothes, iron, copper), money did not exist until around 400 BC (people were paid with food and gifts), and the government did not store gold (although by 1500 BC it was used in international trade). By 1200 BC the Egyptians had learned to beat gold into leaf and create gold alloys improving its hardness and changing its colour. So gold and gold decorative artifacts were valuable and could be traded, along with papyrus, linen, grain, ivory, ebony, incense, myrrh, oils, cedar wood, and pottery. It is for this reason that tomb robbery was such a lucrative and dangerous business. Annual production of gold in ancient Egypt has been estimated at around 1 ton (as compared to 6 tons mined annually in northern Spain during Roman occupation).

 

The ancient Egypt civilisation coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper (south, also known as part of Nubia) and Lower Egypt (north) under the first Pharaoh. It closed in 30 BC when it fell to the Roman Empire, becoming a Roman province. So the Egyptian civilisation more or less mirrored the entire Bronze Age and emergence of the Iron Age. 

Through their ability to predict flooding and control irrigation they produced surplus crops, which fueled social development and culture. To manage their resources they development a writing system, creating a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders and administrators under the control of a Pharaoh. They organised collective construction and agricultural projects. They became the dominate military and trading power in the region, and possibly in the world at that time. They also were one of the few countries to produce more food than they consumed, and they did it over nearly 3,000 years.

The ancient Egyptians developed quarrying, surveying and construction techniques that facilitated the building of monumental pyramids, temples and obelisks. They developed a system of mathematics, a practical and effective system of medicine, irrigation systems and agricultural production techniques, the first known ships, and faïence and glass technology.

Egypt intended their buildings to last forever, and in many ways they succeeded. Its art and architecture were widely copied, and its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world. Its monumental ruins have inspired the imagination of travellers and writers for centuries.

I do not intend to re-create a history lesson on this page, but to simply try to capture the development of Egyptian art through the centuries exploiting a series of impressive and evocative images. So here goes!


However, you will see that it is impossible to separate Egyptian art from their writing (e.g. hieroglyphs), the culture of their daily lives, their burial customs, their military conquests, their religious beliefs, and the developments they made in technology, medicine and mathematics. So lets start at the beginning!


I suppose the beginning is pottery. And we are immediately into a new world of specialist names, earthenware (a clay-based mix and fired at 1000-1150ºC), stoneware (a clay-based mix a fired at 1100-1300ºC) and porcelain (a clay-based mix and fired at 1200-1400ºC). Terra-cotta is a type of earthenware, and is an unglazed clay-based mix fired at around 1000ºC, e.g. think the Chinese terra-cotta army and Greek terra-cotta figurines. Faïence is tin-glazed earthenware fired at 1000ºC. Ceramic comes from the Greek word for pottery, and is often used as a generic word covering a material, a product and a process, e.g. covering bricks, tiles, tableware, disk brakes, etc. So pottery is just one form of ceramic.

The earliest form of pottery was a hand-shaped clay object or vessel un-glazed and fired in a fire pit (can reach 900ºC). The potter’s wheel was invented in Mesopotamia between 6000-4000 BC. The earliest know ceramic figurines date from between 29,000-25,000 BC, and early examples of “coiling” pottery dating from 10,000-8000 BC have been found in Japan. The earliest pottery vessels appeared in China around 16,000 BC, but pottery was also independently developed in South America around 10,000 BC and in Sub-Saharan Africa around 11,000-10,000 BC.

Simple hand-formed, undecorated low-fired (a porous biscuit form) earthenware is known from the Neolithic period (ca. 10,200 BC and ending between 4500 and 2000 BC). Stoneware was being created as early as 15,000 BC in China. Porcelain arrived much later with the Chinese (around 600-900 AD). And glazing only appeared in Japan around 550-790 AD.


But what about early Egyptian pottery, or even what about ancient Egypt and its pottery?

An Egyptian Pre-Dynastic Blacktop Vessel, Naqada II (3500-3200 BC).

Above is a very good example of an ancient black-top (some times also called B-ware) red pottery of pre-dynastic Amratian design (made from riverine clay). The sides of the vessel are smooth and slightly ovoid in shape tapering toward a narrow pointed base. The exterior is coated with a thin red iron-oxide wash that was burnished to a lustrous finish. The black top is carbon, produced by subjecting the top of the vessel to the actions of dense smoke.


The above example would not be out of place in a modern shop, and in fact the pottery of predynastic Egypt was often of a surprisingly fine quality. This type of pottery was made without the use of a potter's wheel, and it was usually the women who turned out the pottery. Not until the Old Kingdom (ca. 2600 BC or later) do we find the invention of the potter's wheel in Egypt. At first this device was a simple turntable, but later evolved into a true potter's wheel, requiring better preparation of the clay and more control during firing. It should be noted that these potter's wheels were hand turned, and that the kick wheel variety was probably not developed until the Persian or Ptolemaic periods (ca. 300 BC).

The blacktop vessels were probably fired in either open bonfires or very primitive kilns, but they remain some of the most wondrous pottery ever produced in Egypt. It was only with the arrival of the potter's wheel that the kiln was introduced.  

 


















Egyptian faïence hippo found in a tomb of the steward Senbi at Meir, ca. 1981–1885 BC.

This is on show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is unofficially the museum's mascot


Egyptian faïence (as opposed to the much later Italian “faïence” or tin glazed pottery) is a non-clay ceramic displaying a surface vitrification creating a bright blue-green lustre. It might have been developed in Egypt as a substitute for turquoise and lapis lazuli. The colours were also symbolic: blue for the Nile and the home of the gods, and green for vegetation and rebirth.


As we move on to the Pyramids (ca. 2560 BC), hieroglyphs (ca. 3200 BC), and of course, Tutankhamun (1341-1323 BC), we must not forget that Egyptians had already developed large settlements (ca. 7000 BC), dug wells (ca. 7000 BC), built small rudimentary boats (ca. 6000 BC), built stone-roofed subterranean chambers (ca. 5500 BC), had furniture, pots, cups, dishes, bowls, vases and figurines (ca. 5000 BC), wove linen (ca. 4400 BC), built tombs (ca. 4000 BC), knew how to make glazed ceramic beads (ca. 3500 BC), invented cosmetics and masonry mortar (ca. 3400 BC), and had musical instruments (ca. 3300 BC).

Gerzean (also known as Naqada II) pottery dating from between ca. 3500-2300 BC.

The greatest difference between early peoples of Upper and Lower Egypt is seen in their ceramics. While Amratian pottery (Upper Egypt) had some decorative aspects, its primary purpose was functional. Gerzean pottery (Lower Egypt), however, was developed more for decorative uses, being adorned with geometric motifs and highly realistic depictions of animals and people. Here we also find what could be the first representations of gods, but equally it is also possible that these were simply some form of historical record.

Some symbols of Gerzean pottery resemble traditional hieroglyph writing, contemporaneous to pre-cuneiform Sumerian script.

One of the earliest examples of Egyptian sculpture is the Palette of King Narmar (above), dating from ca. 3100 BC. This 63 cm high piece of flat, soft gray-green siltstone   carries some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. A palette normally was used for grinding cosmetics, but this is too large for personal use and probably would have been a ritual or votive object to be donated to, or used in, a temple.

The above sculpture is of Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofret, and it dates from between ca. 2613-2498 BC. He may have been the son of a Pharaoh, and it is suggested that he was High Priest of Ra (The Sun God), Director of Expeditions and Supervisor of Works (even in those days you could tell the Egyptians had already developed bureaucracy).

The “Seated Scribe” (above) is one of the most important pieces of Egyptian art, and also dates from between ca. 2613-2498 BC. It is made from painted limestone and is considered rather special because of its realistic face and hands. He looks “shrewd and alert” and is unusual because statues of the period were usually highly stylised. Equally unusual is that he is portrayed at work. His fingers and fingernails are delicately modeled and his eyes are pieces of white magnesite crystal held in place with copper clips. We do not know who he is, but experts suggest he could be Pehernefer because of his posture (his seated position is associated with royalty). I can’t find much on Pehernefer, except that he had his own tomb, was a “haut fonctionnaire” and was (perhaps) called “Chief of Butchers”, or was the “Overseer of all the Kings Granaries”. It is also reported that Pehernefer succeeded Nefermaat who was a prince and eldest son of the Pharaoh Sneferu, founder of the 4th Dynasty (ca. 2613-2494 BC).


In ancient Egypt the Pharaoh (considered a living god) was the only landowner, the only priest, the only judge and the head of the army, but in practice he was surrounded by servants, courtiers, minister and officials. In the early days responsibility was decentralised to local nobles, but by the First Intermediate Period (ca. 2181-2055 BC) authority was given to a civil servant middle class. Key administrations (as today) were the Treasury, Agriculture, Works, Judiciary and the Army. By the 5th Dynasty (ca. 2494-2345 BC) viziers were usually the kings sons, and they were often known as “second to the king” or “eyes and ears of the sovereign”. New functions were added, namely collection of taxes, maintenance of archives, mobilisation of troops, appointment and supervision of officials, examination of land claims, inspection of local governments, monitoring of inundations, and the exercise of civil law.

Archives became a central feature because people and property had to be registered for tax purposes (resulting in annual tributes), transaction of lands had to be supervised and recorded, and there was a biennial census of raw materials, cattle and produce (resulting in regular dispatches of produce to the royal palace). In addition everything was recorded, wills, title deeds, conscription lists, orders memos, tax lists, letters, journals, inventories, regulations, and transcriptions of meetings. And naturally officials prefixed their names with a long list of responsibilities, ranks and positions. Sounds familiar?

Turning from pottery to monumental sculpture. The Great Sphinx of Giza is a limestone statue standing on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile, and is believed to have been built during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafra (ca. 2258-2532 BC). It is the largest monolith statue in the world (carved out of one block), standing 73.5 m long, 6 m wide, and 20 m high. It is also the oldest known monumental sculpture.

The name sphinx was given to it about 2,000 years after its construction, by reference to a Greek mythological beast with a lion’s body, a woman’s head and the wings of an eagle. The actual Great Sphinx has a man’s head and no wings!

It would appear that the Sphinx became quite rapidly covered in sand because already in  1401 BC there were attempts to excavate it. At that time a granite slab known as the Dream Stele was placed between the front paws. It is possible that also Ramesses II (ca. 1303-1213 BC) undertook a second excavation. The entire Sphinx was finally uncovered (again) in a excavation between 1925-1936. It is said (just one of the many stories) that the nose was forcibly removed in 1378 by someone called Sa’im al-Dahr, who was later hanged for vandalism. One of the fun things about the Sphinx was that many Westerners wrote about it without actually ever seeing it, so at times it has become a woman, acquired breasts, etc. Illustrations were elaborated based upon previous images, so at times the Sphinx became more like a “curly-haired monster with a grassy dog collar”. Other times it became a Roman statue, a woman with straight hair, a “harlot”, a woman with a hairnet, and a man with a rounded hairdo and a bulky collar - and rarely was it shown with the nose missing!


Perhaps it is time to have a look at couple of the most classical and symbolic of Egyptian statues.

The above statue is of Khakhaure Senusret III a Pharaoh who ruled Egypt between 1878-1839 BC. He was the fifth monarch of the 12th Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom, and is considered to have been one of the most powerful and successful ruler of that period. He is probably also the best known of the Middle Kingdom pharaohs because of his many naturalistic statues showing a man with often heavy eye-lids and lined continence. According to contemporary texts Senusret III was a king possessed of a concerned, serious and thoughtful regard for his high office (as well as being a great warrior) - and it kind of shows in his face.

Egyptologists consider the statues of Senusret III's a turning point. It is much loser in terms of the rigid ideological representations of earlier kings and illustrates a shift in both the function of art and a change in the ideology surrounding the king. The human qualities of the statues give a sense of age and tension, rather than the all powerful king portrayed in older works. We see in these statues a shift away from the king as god, and more towards the king as leader.


We must not forget that Egypt was a theocracy with God-Kings or Pharaohs who ruled as kings and upon death became Gods, so it is not surprising that there was a real cult of death and everything was done to ensure that the body survived and that the journey through the underworld to the afterlife was as easy and as comfortable as possible. In fact they believed that a part of the Pharaohs spirit remained with the dead body so it was important for it to be protected and preserved properly, thus the ritual of embalming.

Initially the entire Egyptian society was dedicated to securing the successful death and resurrection of the Pharaoh. Rules were set concerning buildings, statues, decorations, etc., just the size varied. Artists were not expected to innovate, rules were fixed and styles did not change over nearly 2,000 years. Very conservative conventions were set for paintings and sculpture. Static standing or sitting, occasionally with a foot forward but no sense of movement, very limited contact between figures and no natural human expressions. The human body was composed as a hieroglyph, put together as a series of bits and often painted by a team of artists - first outlines, second incision into the stone, then the black lines, then the colours. Much of what we know and have as examples is tomb art, sealed away and protected upon the death of the Pharaoh. It is quite probable that the vast majority of artists never saw the finalised works. Creativity, innovation and imagination were not expected from artists, but they were highly trained and skilled artisans. They made cultural artefacts but they were not artists in the modern sense. Art was a collective process not one of individuals.

Here (above) we have Amenemhat III, the son of Senusret III, who ruled as Pharaoh between 1860-1814 BC (he may have been co-regent with his farther for up to 20 years). He is regarded as the greatest monarch of the Middle Kingdom. He completed the great waterwheels of the Faiyum Oasis diverting the flood waters of the Nile into Lake Karun, thus reclaiming in excess of 150,000 acres of fertile land and ensuring a water supply during the dry periods. Faiyum later became one of the breadbaskets of the Roman world. Amenemhet III ruled over one of the periods of greatest economic growth in Egypt’s history.


Now we come to a particularly well known couple - Akhenaten and Nefertiti. And we will conclude with a quick look at his son, a certain Tutankhamun. Initially it was thought that he was born to a secondary wife of Akhenaten called Kiya, but DNA experts today know that the mother of Tutankhamun was “The Young Lady”, one of Akhenaten’s full sisters.

And here we see above Akhenaten (known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV),  Pharaoh between 1351-1334 BC. He was married to Nefertiti (below you can see one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt) who was his Great Royal Wife. The entries on both of them are quite extensive. Akhenaten tried and failed to force religious reform on to his people (he worshipped Aten, the sun-disk, or giver of life). His reasoned support for a quasi-monotheistic religion lead to him being called by some experts “the first individual in history” and “the first example of a scientific mind”.

The 3,300-year-old bust of Nefertiti is attributed to the sculptor Thutmose, and it was found in his workshop. It is a 47 cm tall stucco-covered painted limestone statue of someone who’s name literally means “the beautiful one has come”. For art experts they recognise the bust conforms to the classical Egyptian art style of the period, and yet it is a very “alive” work. Interestingly a scan of the stone core of the bust indicates that the artist had included wrinkles on her neck, bags under her eyes and a crease and bump on her nose, indicating that he was trying to create a realistic sculpture. However a lot of these “defects” were covered up with the stucco layer.

By looking at the two above sculptures you can see that different styles of art flourished during this short period. It would appear that representations were more naturalistic, especially when depicting animals and plants, commoners, and in particular in imparting a sense of action and movement—for both non-royal and royal people. However, depictions of members of the court, especially members of the royal family, remained extremely stylized, with elongated heads, protruding stomachs, heavy hips, thin arms and legs, and exaggerated facial features.

Is the beauty of Nefertiti a realistic portrait or idealism? Significantly, and for the only time in the history of Egyptian royal art, Akhenaten's family are also shown taking part in decidedly naturalistic activities, showing affection for each other, and being caught in mid-action (in traditional art, a pharaoh's divine nature was expressed by repose, even immobility).

Early artistic representations of Nefertiti tend to be indistinguishable from her husband's except by her regalia, but soon after the move to a new capital, Nefertiti begins to be depicted with features specific to her. Why Akhenaten had himself represented in the bizarre, strikingly androgynous way he did, remains a vigorously debated question. Religious reasons have been suggested, such as to emulate the creative nature of the Aten, who is called in Amarna tomb texts, "mother and father" of all that is. Or, it has been suggested, Akhenaten's (and his family's) portraiture exaggerates his distinctive physical traits.

As mentioned above Akhenaten had a son called Tutankhamun who ruled as Pharaoh between ca. 1332-1323 BC. His nearly intact tomb (the most complete tomb ever found to-date) was discovered in 1922 and the burial mask has become the symbol of ancient Egypt. It is understood that he ascended to the throne at the age of 9 or 10, married his half-sister, and unexpectedly died in an accident at the age of 19.

This shrine stela from the early part of the Amarna period depicts Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Princesses Meretaten, Mekeaten, and Ankhesenpaaten worshiping Aten as a family. From his period there were a plethora of reliefs depicting intimate family moments. The relief uses the concept of the "window of appearances" or a snapshot of life. The figures are framed by a fictive structure which suggests the form of a square window. While Akhenaten leans forward to give Meretaten a kiss, Mekeaten plays on her mother's lap and gazes up lovingly. At the same time Ankhesenpaaten, the smallest, sits on Nefertiti's shoulder and fiddles with her earring. At the top of the composition, the sun-god, Aten, represented by a raised circle, extends his life-giving rays to the Royal Family. The message is that the life-giving power of the sun (Aten) is also essential for the minutiae of life.


Below we see the more traditional of classical view of Akhenaten and Nefertiti offering flowers to Aten.


During his short life he started by reversing the worship of Aten started by his farther, and he restored the god Amun (or Amun-Ra the King of Gods) to supremacy. He moved the capital back to Thebes, started a lot of building work in Thebes and Karnak, and was one of the few kings worshiped as a god in his own lifetime. The tomb of Tutankhamun was found almost intact, yielding many treasures which were exhibited around the world, and making him the most well known and popular of Pharaohs. Here below is a collage of some of the items found in the tomb. 

That’s it. No, I forgot another big name in ancient Egypt - Ramesses II. How can we forget the Pharaoh that for many experts was the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful ruler in the history of the entire Egyptian Empire. He ruled Egypt between 1279-1213 BC, so for an incredible 66 years, and died at the age of 90 or 91. And on top of all that in the 30th year of his reign he was ritually transformed into a god. Still the reality is that he was not a god, and he suffered from severe dental problems (probably a common problem for Egyptians that ate lots of bread made from a mix of floor and sand - remember sand gets everywhere - resulting often in gum or jaw infection and death) and was plagued with arthritis and hardening of the arteries. 

He started things off by winning some major battles, then he went on to build a new capital Pi-Ramesses, and made major additions to Thebes and Abu Simbel, and built the temple complex Ramesseum (some said he was obsessed with building). In modern times he was even issued with an Egyptian passport listing his occupation as “King (deceased)”, and in 1974 was flown to Paris and welcomed with full military honours befitting a king!

And the one thing he really liked was a nice big statue..... Here is a closeup of a sitting Ramesses II colossus in the Luxor Temple.  

This wood carved bust of Tutankhamun may have been used as a clothes dummy on which the King's garments could be draped or his jewellery displayed.

This statuette is of Tutankhamun wearing the tall crown of Upper Egypt. Another similar Statuette shows the King wearing the crown of Lower Egypt.

Cosmetic Jar with a Recumbent Lion on the Lid.


Made of calcite, ivory and gold. 

A pectoral with a winged scarab made of semi-precious stones.

Tutankhamun, from the back of his gold throne.


Below is a wooden mirror case formed in the shape of an ankh, the Egyptian word for “life”. Covered in gold with semi-precious stones.

Tutankhamun headrest with lions.

We must not forget that in an antechamber there were all the household items Tutankhamun would need in his voyage to eternity - bit like my garage.

Maybe he thought this one was a little bit too small. So he has another really big colossus in Memphis. This 60-ton block remains unfinished but it is 10 m tall (and it still does not have any legs). Here he is below “lying in state”.