The National Museum of Antiquities recently acquired a set of objects for its Egyptian collection from the former collection of H.C. Jelgersma (1897-1982), a psychiatrist and amateur scholar of Egyptology. The most striking object in this set is a small figurine from the reign of Amenhotep III (1391-1353 BC), the father of the renowned pharaoh Akhenaten. It is a thirteen-centimetre-tall copy of a figurine from an Egyptian temple.

Figurine with features of Amenhotep III

The figurine has the characteristic features of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but the wig with vertical stripes suggests that this is not the head of the pharaoh himself, but of a god with his features. Amenhotep III ordered the making of hundreds of god figurines like this one for temples all over the country.

Rise and fall of the cult of the sun god

The figurine is made of red quartzite, a variety of stone popular in this period of Egyptian history. The colour was probably associated with the rising sun, considering that around this time, the cult of the all-powerful sun god was on the rise. It would reach its height during the reign of Akhenaten. On the forehead of this figurine, there was originally a cobra head, a symbol of power worn by both gods and pharaohs.

  • The acquisition of this figurine was financed in part through the annual contribution from the BankGiro Lottery

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