Why Are Most Sculptures In Egypt With Broken Or Missing Noses?

Why Are Most Sculptures In Egypt With Broken Or Missing Noses?Many misconceptions that come after the question, “Why are most Egyptians sculptures with missing or broken noses?” pop up often lead to disagreement.

In ancient Egypt, statues are held of great honor, either god, goddess, a wealthy, or a legendary figure. Statues are believed to be a close contact or medium of contact with the figure used on the statue. Egypt is blessed with great artistic prowess in making carvings

 Seeing most of these carvings now with broken noses has brought up questions about wear and tear, religious reasons, or a hidden conspiracy.

Many believe erosion will be the reason for the missing noses. Archeologists point out that harsh winds, rainfalls, and dunes that have met these sculptures can damage delicate parts of these artworks.


Why Are Most Sculptures In Egypt With Broken Or Missing Noses?
Hatshepsut (image credit: ancient.eu)


Some believe humiliation could be the reason for the broken parts of a sculpture. In antiquity, breaking of noses or any other delicate parts of the statue is being done to defame, speak ill of a person’s legacy in other to tarnish their reputations, or deface them from history. Often it usually doesn’t end with the destruction of the noses. Descriptions are often broken and symbols of office amiss.

Yes, some suggest that the missing noses were planned to cover an individual’s identity or race. This is just a mere assumption, as there is no archeological backing surrounding this claim.

Iconoclasm might as well be the reason behind the missing parts of the Egyptian sculptures. In ancient Egypt, religious or political views are also the reasons why most of these damages occur. As Christianity came to Egypt, they began with vandalizing sculptures representing other gods, the early Egyptians worshipped in other to cut the medium of communication with these carved works.

An example of this could be told of Akhenaten (1353 – 1336 BC)  In other to introduce the worship of a solar deity, Aten, he had to vandalize all monuments of Amun. It could be remembered that after his death, the statues of Aten he built was destroyed, and the worship of Amun came back.


Why Are Most Sculptures In Egypt With Broken Or Missing Noses?
Amuhotep, son of Nebiry (image credit: ancient.eu) 

I was talking to an Egyptian business partner I met on a social platform; he told me that most of them believe the spirit of a particular figure is probably invoked into the carvings. Especially in the case of a wicked figure, his or her nose will probably be destroyed with the belief that through the nose, one breathes life. He made me believe that most of the damaged sculptures were done because most of them have harmful or unwanted spirits cast in through rituals.

In the case of Thutmose III, while in the political field, it was seen who destroyed his stepmom’s (Hatshepsut) monuments to wipe off her history as a co-ruler in Egyptian history. This might be among the reasons or erosion 


Why Are Most Sculptures In Egypt With Broken Or Missing Noses?
Akhenaten and His Daughter Offering Sacrifice to Aten (image credit: ancient.eu)


In my opinion, I don’t buy the suggestion that the westerns destroyed the monuments, neither am I saying they were not behind these destructions, because the sculptures in Rome, Persian, Greeks and other non-African continents also met the same fate as that of those in Egypt.