Colossal Statue of Akhenaten
The colossal statue of Akhenaten serves as a significant archaeological and historical artifact, shedding light on the reign of this unique king and the religious revolution he initiated. In this sculpture, Akhenaten is depicted wears the Pschent or the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, as well as the Khat headdress.
The colossal statue of Akhenaten is a representation of the king in a distinctive style that deviates from traditional Egyptian art. The king holds heka and nekhakha (the crook and flail) scepters, symbols of power and authority. His features are presented in the typical style of the Amarna Period, with narrow slanting eyes, a long thin face, and thick lips.
Akhenaten is known for his religious reforms, particularly his promotion of the Aten, the sun disc, as the supreme deity. Here we see the King standing, wearing a kilt that hangs below his swollen stomach. It is tied with a belt, decorated with the royal cartouche.
A group of colossal statues of King Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), originally from the Temple of the Aten at Karnak. These statues may represent the first time that Akhenaten’s new religious thoughts were translated into the ancient Egyptian art and architecture.
These statues were originally placed in the temples of Akhenaten’s new capital city, Amarna, but many were later destroyed or repurposed after his death.
The surviving examples provide valuable insights into the artistic and religious changes that occurred during Akhenaten’s reign.
Related: Colossal Statue of Amenhotep III
The mystery behind the colossal statues of Akhenaten at East Karnak has led to numerous interpretations of the material.
One theory regarding the purpose of the statues suggests that the king wished to separate himself from ordinary people and associate him solely with divinity and the Royal Family.
“… In the endless procession of Egypt’s pharaonic masters, Akhenaten stands alone. He looks different: his often freakish appearance in art – elongated and effete – is totally at odds with that of the traditional Egyptian ruler-hero. And he appears to have acted differently also – most famously by his abandonment of Egypt’s traditional pantheon in favour of a single god, the Aten, or solar disc.”
― Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet, by Nicholas Reeves (#aff)
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1353-1336 BC. Sandstone, from the Temple of Aten, Karnak. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 49529