Quartzite head of Amenhotep III

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

An exact likeness was not the main intention of most Egyptian art. However, a number of Egyptian statues are thought to resemble their subjects. Generally, the aim was to express a certain idea or show the subject in one particular light. Most royal statues show the king in an idealized form as the ruler of the world, neither very young nor very old.This head of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC) has distinctively young features, and would seem an exception to this rule. There does, however, appear to be a reason. After a period of rule of thirty years, it was customary to celebrate a jubilee (know as a sed festival), at which the king's powers were symbolically reinvigorated and rejuvenated. The ceremony was then repeated every three years. It is known that Amenhotep III celebrated three such festivals. The images of him with youthful features seem to date to this later part of his reign, and are part of a conscious attempt to portray himself as renewed in the process. This ultimately led him to identify himself with the sun-god, Re.


  • Title: Quartzite head of Amenhotep III
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 23.80cm (max); Width: 16.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: 1899,0313.1
  • Place: Found/Acquired Egypt
  • Period/culture: 18th Dynasty
  • Material: quartzite
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Kyticas, Panayotis

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Google apps