Ancient Egyptian Statues
Their Many Lives and Deaths
A fascinating, richly illustrated study of the role and significance of ancient statues in Egyptian history and belief
Why do ancient Egyptian statues so often have their noses, hands, or genitals broken? Although the Late Antiquity period appears to have been one of the major moments of large-scale vandalism against pagan monuments, various contexts bear witness to several phases of reuse, modification, or mutilation of statues throughout and after the pharaonic period. Reasons for this range from a desire to erase the memory of specific rulers or individuals for ideological reasons to personal vengeance, war, tomb plundering, and the avoidance of a curse; or simply the reuse of material for construction or the need to ritually “deactivate” and bury old statues, without the added motive of explicit hostility toward the subject in question.
Drawing on the latest scholarship and over 100 carefully selected illustrations, Ancient Egyptian Statues proceeds from a general discussion of the production and meaning of sculptures, and the mechanisms of their destruction, to review the role of ancient statuary in Egyptian history and belief. It then moves on to explore the various means of damage and their significance, and the role of restoration and reuse.
Art historian Simon Connor offers an innovative and lucidly written reflection on beliefs and practices relating to statuary, and images more broadly, in ancient Egypt, showing how statues were regarded as the active manifestations of the entities they represented, and the ways in which they could endure many lives before being finally buried or forgotten.
1. Statues Carry the Mark of History
2. Statues in Egypt
3. Bringing a Statue to Life
4. Intentionally Mutilated or Accidentally Damaged?
5. Destroying to Annihilate
6. Remembering to Forget
7. Magic or Ritual Act
8. Restoring, Transforming to Re-activate
9. Dismantling to Reuse
10. Mutilating to De-activate?
"Simon Connor has brilliantly synthesized his recent scholarship on Egyptian statues to produce a masterpiece. Connor looks carefully at the evidence of the statues themselves, especially the kinds of alterations they suffered over the entirety of their existence. He offers lucid and jargon-free interpretations of what he sees. Both experienced scholars and students will greatly benefit from reading this book."—Edward Bleiberg, Brooklyn Museum
“This is a long-needed, tremendously exciting study and there is probably no better individual to undertake it than Simon Connor. While there are numerous volumes on ancient Egyptian sculpture, few delve into the matters addressed in Ancient Egyptian Statues and none approach it as a principal focus.”—Peter Lacovara, The Ancient Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage Fund and co-author of Nubian Gold
"Simon Connor’s concise account of ancient Egyptian sculpture is a totally original, well informed, and fascinating look at why statues were made, how they were regarded, and how and why they were used and reused for many different purposes. This beautifully illustrated book holds many surprising facts and insights on the production and consumption of art in antiquity. A must read for anyone who loves Egyptian sculpture."—Emily Teeter, University of Chicago
"Simon Connor tells an engaging story of ancient Egyptian statues, from their creation and original placement to their reuse in various and sometimes surprising contexts. His wide-ranging selection of examples and his comprehensive bibliography provide ample material for study for scholars and Egyptophiles alike."—Ronald J. Leprohon, University of Toronto
"This important new study challenges the pervasive (Western) notion that statues capture one moment in time. Pharaonic sculpture can seem particularly static. Simon Connor masterfully demonstrates the constant dialogue between people and Egyptian sculptures, charting multiple lives and afterlives."—Campbell Price, University of Manchester