Statue of Seti I
Once in a weary state, this alabaster masterpiece was discovered dismantled within a cache at Karnak Temple (Luxor, Egypt). It appears that upon the ancient dismantling, the inlaid stones which once filled the eye and eyebrow sockets were removed, as were the likely real and pure golden cuffs that adorned the king’s wrists, placed strategically there by the artists to cover the now visible connecting joints of the hands to the arms.
Standing at 238cm, this larger than life-size statue has the name of Seti I lightly carved upon it, however, it is believed by some that the statue may predate his reign or at least have been finished during his reign while its creation began slightly earlier. The reason for this way of thinking is the clear later 18th Dynasty influence within the style of the depiction. We see a slightly soft pouch upon the lower stomach, as seen with the colossal of Tutankhamun and of course, king Akhenaten, who revolutionised the artistry within his so-called Amarna Period.
The face of Seti, missing the once prominent aquiline nose, has a softness to it that bares resemblance to many statues of the Amarna age or Tutankhamun period. Another additional piece of evidence to thinking this piece may likely have been reused, was the Ramesside era king’s love of usurping (or recycling) of earlier statues and monuments from previous kings. However, the name of Seti upon this alabaster masterpiece is not covering another king’s name, no other name is present but Seti’s.
Despite the kings who came after king Akhenaten being quick to erase the leftovers of such a radical reign, damnatio memoriae was not fully achieved. Here we can see that the Late 18th Dynasty influence still remained rather inspirational for later artists. Despite the blocky Old Kingdomesque broad shoulders and smoothness of the hard alabaster, we still sense the softness and realism coming through this striking piece.
In 2003, the Supreme Council of Antiquities set to fix a previous restoration attempt from the 1970s, which had included iron and concrete:
“The statue was in poor condition: its pieces were held together using iron supports; the middle section, the feet and the base were missing; the middle section and the base had been replaced with cement in 1970 during the previous restoration. The leg and hand surfaces were completely eroded.
Mechanical cleaning was done using fine tools and brushes. The cement and iron supports were removed. Consolidation was done using ethyl silicate. Assembly was done using stainless steel dowels and epoxy resins. The reintegration of the middle section of the statue was accomplished using resin and hydraulic lime mortar for the final layer. The base was done using cement and lime after isolating the contact point of the legs from the base.”
– 2003 the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), under the supervision of Zahi Hawass, Senior Conservator Lotfi Khaled Hassan with conservation team Adel Aziz, Nahed Samir, Mohamed Bosghol and Hemida Bosghol.