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Arch 0150 Paper

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Published by: Clark Craddock-Willis on Apr 11, 2012
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Clark Craddock-Willis3/12/12Arch 0150-Laurel Bestock The Colossal Statue of King MenkaureWhen I visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I was simply struck by theColossal Statue of Menkaure (museum number 09.204). Its grand nature made me feelthe same admiration of the great King Menkaure in 2012 that the artist intended so manythousands of years ago. Sculpted from clear alabaster stone, the statue was found inseparate pieces by George Reisner as he excavated the third
 pyramid at Giza’s temple
.
1
 According to the museum plaque dedicated to the sculpture, it was carved sometimebetween 2490-2472 B.C. during the 4
th
dynasty
’s rule
and this is evidenced, primarily, byit being a representation of the 4
th
dynasty ruler Menkaure. The statue is sculptedmeticulously and it was Reisner who noted that, whoever the sculptor was,
Histreatment of the muscles, tendons, and patella in the knees of the large alabaster statue of Mycerinus (no
. 1) is unexampled in the history of Egyptian art…striving for a life
-likeportrait of the face he was rep
roducing.”
2
 Menkaure
’s
is depicted wearing the classic, kingly nemes with a uraeus wrappedaround his forehead as well. These are both royal symbols with the nemes being the royalheaddress, and uraeus the serpent deity protector. His narrow beard is also arepresentation of kingship. His hand is clutching a folded cloth that spreads onto histhigh, an Egyptian symbol for authority.
3
He is also wearing a kilt with a centralprojection, something reserved only for kings until after the old dynasty.
4
Still, there aresome questions as to whether this is an actual representation of the great ruler for a
1
Reisner, George Andrew.
 Mycerinus, the Temples of the Third Pyramid at Giza,
. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1931.Print.
2
Ibid.,
3
Kemp, Barry J.
100 Hieroglyphs: Think like an Egyptian
. New York: Penguin Group, 2005. Print.
4
Boston Museum of Fine arts, 09.204
 
Clark Craddock-Willis3/12/12Arch 0150-Laurel Bestock variety of reasons. Even Reisner seems to come to the conclusion only based on locationand circumstance, not necessarily because of the facial features.
5
And this even though heseems to have found the pieces separate and the statue purposely destroyed.
6
 The Menkaure in this statue is pictured younger than in the other, more famousrepresentation of him,
King Menkaure and his Queen
. He also appears to have a certain
“supreme control”
7
in his aura, along with a strong and imposing frame, very differentthan his other image with his wife holding him. This depiction seemed more fitting in my
mind for such a grand king at one of the first “golden ages” of the Egyptian
people.Reisner actually proposes that these two versions of the King that appear are represented
 by two different sculptors: “{sculptor} A (the severe type) and {sculpt
or} B (the softerrounded type),
and lists other sculptures that could have been crafted by the two;
8
 however, there is no documentation of either of their existences or some competitionbetween them.The statue is also striking for the oddly small head of King Menkaure in relationto the rest of his body. Egyptians are not known to be have carelessly poor proportions instatues,
and some claim that this is either to emphasize Menkaure’s large shoulders or 
perhaps because it was supposed to be seen from below, with people looking up the greatking.
9
It should be noted that the head was not found with the rest of the pieces but 2
months later in a “robber’s trench.”
10
Reisner, however, writes that:
5
Reisner, George Andrew.
 Mycerinus, the Temples of the Third Pyramid at Giza,
. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1931.Print.
6
Ibid.,
7
Boston Mueseum of Fine Arts, 09.204
8
Reisner, George Andrew.
 Mycerinus, the Temples of the Third Pyramid at Giza,
. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1931.Print.
9
Mueseum of Fine Arts, 09.204
10
Boston museum of fine arts, 09.204
 
Clark Craddock-Willis3/12/12Arch 0150-Laurel Bestock 
“The same relation between head and sh
oulders is seen in the statue of Rahotepfrom Medún (in Cairo); and the workmanship of that statue, as well as of the Mycerinus{Menkaure} statue, is so fine that the form given must be assumed to have beenintentional. In all probability Mycerinus and Rahotep were actually distinguished byunusually heavy shoulders. Rahotep was a member of the ro
yal family of dynasty IV”
11
 Was the fourth family dynasty simply hereditarily
“heavy shouldered”
as Reisnersuggests? Why, then, is this same depiction not present in the sculpture of 
 Menkaure and  His Queen
? It is interesting to think about what problems the artist may haveencountered. Or, if the statue was purposefully proportioned and, as the museum plaquesaid, it is because it was to be viewed from the kneeling position, while one bowed below
Menkaure’s
might.
12
 
The statue’s purpose
, as hinted at by the museum, was to accept offering and to be
seen in the great king’s temple.
13
 
It’s grandiose nature gives evidence to the idea that the
 statue was
supposed to be seen and praised by the king’s old subjects and loyalists.
Thisis one of the largest statues to be found from the 4
th
dynasty period, and perhaps thepeople saw their king as larger than life as well. Perhaps that is the reason for his broad-shouldered body, his calmly collected face, and the cool, kingly aura depicted. A greatking deserves to be remembered as the strong broad-shouldered king he is depicted ashere.
11
Reisner, George Andrew.
 Mycerinus, the Temples of the Third Pyramid at Giza,
. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP,1931. Print.
12
Boston museum of fine arts, 09.204
13
 
Ibid.,

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