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Riddle of Ancient Egyptian statues' broken noses revealed Open in fullscreen

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Riddle of Ancient Egyptian statues' broken noses revealed

Many Egyptian statues have had their noses broken off [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 March, 2019

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An academic says he'd discovered the reason why so many Ancient Egyptian statues have been defaced.


An antiquarian revealed this week why so many Ancient Egyptian relics had their noses broken off.

Curator Edward Bleiberg, in charge of Ancient Egyptian artefacts at Brooklyn Museum, said that he believes the reason so many statues had been disfigured was not due to wear and tear but another surprising factor.

"The consistency of the patterns where damage is found in sculpture suggests that it's purposeful," Bleiberg said, according to CNN.

The revelation came after research for a new exhibition - 'Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt' - which he is curating.

In his findings Bleiberg wrote that "iconoclasm on a grand scale… was primarily political in motive".

Statues, often of powerful Egyptian figures, were believed to be inhabited, in part, by the essence of a god or a soul and served as "a meeting point between the supernatural and this world", he said according to British media.

Iconoclasm could have been motivated by political or religious reasons, with the nose the easy part of reliefs to destroy.

The belief could have been that the damage to statues would erase some of these supernatural powers.

It could "deactivate an image's strength", he said, where "kings on Earth provide for the deity, and in return, the deity takes care of Egypt". 

Damaging the ears of a god would mean the statue would not be able to hear prayers, he added, according to CNN.

Ancient Egyptian statues are still being uncovered in Egypt, with sites popular tourist attractions, although recent unrest in the country has seen numbers plummet.

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