Statue of Ramesses III as a Standard Bearer

This grey granite statue of King Ramesses III as a Standard Bearer of Amun-Re was found in Karnak in the temple of Amun-Re. Depicting himself as a high priest allowed Ramesses III to symbolically attend all ceremonies in every temple. Engraving his images on the walls and installing his statues in the temples magically ensured his presence.

Placed at the entrance to the temple, the function of this statue was to replace the king during religious processions when he was absent, on which occasion it was the responsibility of the high priest to carry the royal insignia.

Statue of King Ramesses III as a Standard-Bearer of Amun-Re
Statue of King Ramesses III as a Standard Bearer of Amun-Re

Ramesses III was the son and successor of Setnakhte, the founder of the 20th Dynasty. The statue portrays him as a high priest, holding a long standard decorated at the top with a ram’s head, emblem of the god Amun-Re.

Related: Statue of Penbui as a Standard-bearer

He was the last great king of the New Kingdom and died during a palace conspiracy as has been discussed by R Harris I. The text on the statue describes Ramesses’ religious devoutness and the many donations he made to the most important temples in the country.

Artistic inspiration during his reign was based on that of Ramesses II whom Ramesses III consciously attempted to emulate: he too built a temple in west Thebes, at Medinet Habu, that was inspired by the Ramesseum, the “Temple of the Millions of Years” built by Ramesses II.

New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses III, ca. 1186-1155 BC. Height 140 cm. Grey granite, from Karnak Cachette. Excavation by G. Legrain (1905). Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 38682 CG 42150