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Why do Egyptian statues have missing noses ?


Posted on Tuesday, 19 March, 2019 | Comment icon 10 comments

What happened to all the noses ? Image Credit: Walters Art Museum
Tomb robbers may have deliberately defaced statues and artwork to prevent spirits from seeking revenge.
One of the most curious things about ancient Egyptian statues is the absence of the nose in the majority of cases. While it might be easy to chalk this up to age-related deterioration, the selective nature of the damage and the frequency at which it occurs seems to suggest that there may be an alternative explanation.

According to Edward Bleiberg, a curator for Brooklyn Museum's Egyptian art galleries, the removal of the nose was actually a deliberate and purposeful act of sabotage.

The key to this defacement lies in the ancient Egyptian belief that such sculptures contained the souls of the deceased and that statues, paintings and other depictions represented a 'portal' of sorts between the world of the living and the supernatural realm.

For tomb robbers looking to protect themselves from divine retaliation for their acts of thievery, removing the nose effectively 'killed' the spirit by stopping it from being able to breathe.

"The damaged part of the body is no longer able to do its job," said Bleiberg.

For this reason, there is a long history of Egyptian artefacts being deliberately defaced. Even when Christianity arrived, icons of Egyptian deities were damaged to prevent 'demons' from resurrecting.

"Imagery in public space is a reflection of who has the power to tell the story of what happened and what should be remembered," said Bleiberg.

Source: Artsy.net | Comments (10)

Tags: Egypt, Statue, Nose

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Black Red Devil on 19 March, 2019, 13:49
Wasn't the nose of the sphinx defaced by a cannonball fired by Napoleon's soldiers?
Comment icon #2 Posted by AllPossible on 19 March, 2019, 14:04
Interesting I was told that is was something else but this makes more sense. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Buzz_Light_Year on 19 March, 2019, 14:07
I think early sketches of the Sphinx shows that the nose was missing before Napoleon was in the area.   https://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/blog/photo-what-happened-to-the-sphinxs-nose-180950757/
Comment icon #4 Posted by AstralHorus on 19 March, 2019, 16:19
Racism runs deep
Comment icon #5 Posted by Big Jim on 19 March, 2019, 17:42
Just because the ancient Egyptians believed that stuff about spirits doesn't mean that the grave robbers who came later believed that too.  Tomb raids didn't happen all at once so it could have been a way keep track of where they had been before.  Kind of like checkmarks on a list, grab the gold, whack the nose and move on.
Comment icon #6 Posted by MissJatti on 20 March, 2019, 7:22
Ancient statues do come alive, nose or without nose.
Comment icon #7 Posted by RabidMongoose on 20 March, 2019, 7:36
Wasn't that the Persians defacing every statue they saw as Greek (Egypt got conquered by them)? They were removing the `Greek Nose` from everything.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Ell on 20 March, 2019, 10:08
Those nose break off due to differences in the heat capacity of the small nose and the relatively far larger head. They simply fracture because the nose heats up - i.e. expands - and cools down - i.e. shrinks - faster than the larger head.   Pff! Any five year old might tell you that.
Comment icon #9 Posted by HorusonofRah on 20 March, 2019, 16:41
Are these people serious? LMFAO.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Captain Risky on 21 March, 2019, 9:49
no body really nose.


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