Amenhotep III and Sobek: a Masterpiece of Statuary on Display at the Luxor Museum

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Sobek, The Crocodile God.

By Hedwig Storch
This relief from the Temple of Kom Ombo shows Sobek with typical attributes of kingship, including a was-sceptre and royal kilt. The ankh in his hand represents his role as an Osirian healer, and his crown is a solar crown associated with one of the many forms of Ra.

Sobek (also called Sebek) was an ancient Egyptian deity with a complex and elastic history and nature. He is associated with the Nile crocodile or the West African crocodile and is represented either in its form or as a human with a crocodile head. Wikipedia

A fantastic statue; The god Sobek, accompanies the Pharaoh Amenhotep. Here is another brilliant report by Marie Grillot to catch our senses. 💖🙏

Amenhotep III et Sobek : un chef-d’œuvre de la statuaire exposé au musée de Louqsor via https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/

Amenhotep III and Sobek – calcite – 18th dynasty – statue discovered in 1966 (1967?)
in the temple of the crocodile god Sobek-Ra, lord of Sumenu in Dahamsha
Luxor Museum – Inventory number: Luxor J.155.

This incredible statue was discovered entirely by chance in 1966 by workers carrying out the earthworks of a canal in Al-Mahamid Qibly, fifteen kilometres south of Armant. The location turned out to be a temple dedicated to the “crocodile god Sobek-Ra, lord of Sumenu”. The excavations that were subsequently carried out brought to light “part of a paved courtyard, a door facing east, a large number of private stelae and votive statues dating from the reign of Amenhotep III; as well as an enigmatic chamber, filled with water, which turned out to contain this great dyad of Amenhotep III and Sobek-Ra, usurped by Ramesses II” (“Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign”, David O’Connor, Eric H. Cline ).

Other sources place the discovery on July 27, 1967, in the temple of Sobek in Dahamsha, or trace its precise location in a slightly different way: “in a well-closed by a slab of sandstone. The slab was sliding on two bronze wheels” ( Ancient Egypt and Archeology Web Site).

The statuary group, 256.5 cm high, is carved from a single block of what is commonly called “alabaster”. But, in work cited as a reference, Agnès Cabrol quoting Professor Claude Traunecker, specifies that “we prefer the term ‘calcite’ to that more common ‘alabaster’ because it corresponds better to the nature of the material which is used in Egypt; calcium carbonate (not calcium sulphate, which is true alabaster)”. The block used here could come from the Hatnoub quarry in Middle Egypt.

Amenhotep III and Sobek – calcite – 18th dynasty – statue discovered in 1966 (1967?)
in the temple of the crocodile god Sobek-Ra, lord of Sumenu in Dahamsha
Luxor Museum – Inventory number: Luxor J.155.

As soft as luminous, its white colour is sublimated by the veins that cross the stone. Its texture and grain allow it to be polished to perfection, so “this luxury rock, prized by kings and gods, was used in architecture, statuary and funerary furniture”.

In this representation: “The iconography of the two figures is classic and traditional. The fearsome god Sobek is seated on the right, on a throne whose sides are covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions. He is represented in his usual anthropomorphic form, with a crocodile head”.

In her “Dictionary of Egyptian Mythology”, Isabelle Franco tells us that “Sobek (Soukhos)” was the “god of waters and fertility manifesting in a crocodile. He ended up being considered a primordial god, fighting the enemies of the divine order”; hence the importance of this “close image” with Pharaoh!

His tripartite wig, adorned with a central uraeus, is surmounted by a modius on which rests an Atef crown. It comprises horizontal ram horns, a sun disk and two tall feathers.

Amenhotep III and Sobek – calcite – 18th dynasty – statue discovered in 1966 (1967?)
in the temple of the crocodile god Sobek-Ra, lord of Sumenu in Dahamsha
Luxor Museum – Inventory number: Luxor J.155.

In “Ancient Egypt and its Gods”, Jean-Pierre Corteggiani reminds us that whatever Sobek looks like, “he may have no crown, or wear either a simple solar disk or one or the other of the divine hairstyles combining the usual elements which constitute these: one of the most frequent is formed of a mortar surmounted by the solar disk and two ostrich feathers – or two remiges – to which are often added a pair of ram’s horns (and sometimes two uraei that frame the whole)”.

He wears a necklace-usekh and a large bracelet. His body, well proportioned, is dressed in a simple loincloth, short and pleated. His legs are powerful, and his feet are bare.

His right arm is bent under his chest as his forearm is extended in the direction of the Pharaoh. The ankh cross he holds in his hand and carries towards him is meant to breathe life into him: “with the ankh symbol of life, he intends to ‘revive’ Amenhotep III”.

Amenhotep III and Sobek – calcite – 18th dynasty – statue discovered in 1966 (1967?)
in the temple of the crocodile god Sobek-Ra, lord of Sumenu in Dahamsha
Luxor Museum – Inventory number: Luxor J.155.

The Pharaoh, whose size is smaller, is represented young, in the attitude of walking. “The composition, the quality of the engraving and the surface of the stone make the portrait of the king ineffably soft, human and almost vulnerable compared to the monstrous reptilian”.

He is wearing the pleated nemes held on the forehead by a headband on which the protective frontal uraeus is fixed. “The alternating stripes of the nemes are left raw as if to hold gesso and gilding, perhaps in contrast to the other stripes of blue colour”.

His face with full cheeks is of perfect symmetry. His almond-shaped eyes are elongated with a line of blush, flat and rectangular, the thin eyebrows which surmount them follow their exact shape.

Amenhotep III and Sobek – calcite – 18th dynasty – statue discovered in 1966 (1967?)
in the temple of the crocodile god Sobek-Ra, lord of Sumenu in Dahamsha
Luxor Museum – Inventory number: Luxor J.155.

The nose with delicate nostrils has suffered slightly. The mouth is sensual, with hemmed lips surrounded by a thin line accentuating its relief.

The chin is adorned with a fake beard, slightly flared, attached by an apparent jugular. His neck is adorned with a necklace-usekh.

The body of ideal stature is perfectly modelled. His arms are held along the body while the outstretched forearms rest on the short loincloth with the hands flat. The garment is owned by a wide belt with an under-umbilical buckle on which a cartouche is engraved.

It is that of Ramses II who usurped this statue and “made the name of Amenhotep III disappear from the front of the throne of Sobek, and added his own inscriptions on the base, on the king’s belt, on the right side of the throne and on the back and sides of the dorsal slab”…

Amenhotep III and Sobek – calcite – 18th dynasty – statue discovered in 1966 (1967?)
in the temple of the crocodile god Sobek-Ra, lord of Sumenu in Dahamsha
Luxor Museum – Inventory number: Luxor J.155.

This work is, without question, that of a highly gifted and talented sculptor: it is one of the most emblematic pieces of the Louqsor museum where it is exhibited under the inventory number: Louxor J.155.

Marie Grillot

Sources:

Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign, David O’Connor, Eric H. Cline, University of Michigan Press, 2001 – 393 pages https://books.google.fr/books?id=MzVszHxO3JoC&pg=PA78&dq=sobek+amenhotep+III+Luxor&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiH9tCJ0YjgAhUvy4UKHcsJDz8Q6AEIMzAB#v=onepage&q=sobek%20amenhotep%20III%20Luxor&f=false http://www.ancient-egypt.co.uk/luxor_museum/pages/amenhotep%20iii%20sobek%201.htm

Amenhotep III: Egypt’s Radiant Pharaoh, Arielle P. Kozloff, P144,145,146 https://books.google.fr/books?id=GNqDvyCp2_wC&pg=PA145&lpg=PA145&dq=amenhotep+III+and+sobek&source=bl&ots=hUkVsaWGfe&sig=ACfU3U0jPchzxctdGq1Asx_EJSzg0XbQow&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjC—L1YjgAhXC34UKHQ0VDFg4HhDoATAFegQIBRAB#v=onepage&q=amenhotep%20III%20and%20sobek&f=false

Joyful in Thebes: Egyptological Studies in Honor of Betsy M. Bryan p349

https://books.google.fr/books?id=qgdPDgAAQBAJ&pg=PA350&lpg=PA350&dq=MDAIK+egypt+SOBEK&source=bl&ots=k3im87yCmZ&sig=ACfU3U20RFNgOw242y4FQGIcsLi6NiRlzQ&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiF59no3YjgAhWn34UKHcEsCAIQ6AEwEnoECAIQAQ#v=onepage&q=MDAIK%20egypt%20SOBEK&f=false

8 thoughts on “Amenhotep III and Sobek: a Masterpiece of Statuary on Display at the Luxor Museum

  1. Another fascinating article! Thank you for sharing Aladin. I’m always impressed with these Egyptian statues, sculptures and reliefs, as it’s so hard for minds to grasp that the people we call primitive thousands of years ago, also created these incredible pieces of art. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 2 people

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