Egyptian and Roman sculptures

Egyptian and Roman Sculptures

            Sculptures were made to encapsulate a piece of history or culture of a specific period in time - Egyptian and Roman sculptures introduction. Throughout the years, artists innovated and advanced sculpting techniques that have improved the way sculptures are made thus the final product was also refined. More so, sculptures were created to represent the eminence or splendor of a significant personality, a memorable event, exquisite items or organisms and others in order for the public to appreciate and celebrate the great qualities possessed by these objects or elements. In addition,  sculptures are the only form of art that have a tactile characteristic wherein viewers can use their sense of touch to fully comprehend and even interact with work of art.

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            Moreover, in the ancient times particularly during the Egyptian and Roman periods, sculptures were used honor notable rulers or leaders. Fortunately, most of these 3-dimensional  statues were preserved that have withstand time and the contemporary world was able to take a glimpse of the rich culture and tradition of the ancient Egyptians and Romans. Two of these sculptures that were found and studied were the Egyptian sculpture of Khafre and the Roman sculpture of Augustus of Prima Porta.

            The sculpture of Khafre was excavated from the Valley Temple in Giza in the year 1860. This enormous sculpture stands five feet in height. It is currently on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. This sculpture was probably made during the Old dynasty when Khafre ruled Egypt from c. 2570-2544 BC. Khafre was the successor of Djedefre who was his half-brother. According to historians, Khafre ruled the kingdom of Egypt for an estimated 15 years. The religion based on sun was given much importance during his tenure as ruler.  More so, he continued the tradition initiated by his predecessor of using and adding “the title added the title ‘Son of Re’ to the royal titulary.” At the time of his reign, abundance and growth dominated Egypt as manifested in the construction of  “high quality and richness of private tombs.” He even built his own “funerary monument” in Giza in the form a pyramid where his sculpture was put inside it probably to protect Khafre in the after life (Kinnaer, 2007, “History”). “The life-size diorite statue of Khefren on a throne protected by Horus” was an evidence of the ingenuity and “high craftsmanship” of the ancient Egyptians. T he seated king was craved from an enormous block of black diorite wherein the “legs were carved” to imitate the “paws of the lion, whose heads decorated the front of the throne.” On the periphery of the seat were the engraved “sema-tawi symbols. These archaic graphics were  included in the sculptures of the thrones of the royalty to demonstrate the “unity between the Upper and Lower Egypt” as symbolized by the knot placed around the hieroglyph. For the statue of Khafre, he was portrayed wearing the nemes headdress decorated with a ureaus. The facial features where sculpted with “narrow eyes, prominent nose and a full closed mouth” which exuded “power and authority.” At the back of the head of the king, Horus in the form of a falcon with outstretched wings, is placed to give protection. Horus is believed to be the “god of the divine kingship.” Meanwhile, at the lower part of the statue, Khafre was wearing a skirt and his hands were laid paralleled to his legs with the right hand either holding a piece of cloth or a rod which could symbolized the absolute power of the king. Additionally, the torso and the arms were illustrated with strong and well-defined muscles to show the human strength of Khafre  (Kinnaer, 2007, “Statue of Khfren”)

            On the other hand, the sculpture of Augustus of Prima Porta sympolizedAugustus’ military prowess. Based on historical facts, the statue was believed to symbolized the commemoration of the triumph of the Romans against the Parthians. Compared to other Roman leaders, Augustus was  depicted as a mere mortal and not the traditional deified  supreme being (, 2005, “Historical Reflection on the Statue ”). The head of the statue contained details that were very recognizable such as the broad head with a Primaporta styled hair, full close mouth, keen ridged eyebrows, smooth round chin and  pointed nose highlighted. The breastplate with intricate graphical details and the hand in an upright position signified his authority. Meanwhile, the presence of the robe suggested the godliness of Augustus and the cupid riding a dolphin emphasized the divinity of the “founder of Venus and Italy namely the Julian family to Aeneas” (Ramage, 2005, p. 111-112).

            The obvious difference between the two sculptures of notable leaders was the posture. Khafre was in a seated position to emanate regalness of a royalty while Augustus was in a standing position to emphasize Augustus’ divinity. Also, elements symbolizing the gods were also included such as the falcon for Khafre and the dolphins for Augustus to stress divine sanctity. However both statues were made to showcase mortal but of Herculean robustness shown through their well-defined muscles of their bodies.  Moreover, in terms of form, the Roman sculpture have embodied an accurate illustration of human anatomy wherein every body part was proportional. Meanwhile, the seated Khafre’s bodily form looked a little bit distorted because of its posture.  Though the body was misrepresented, it was still able to emanate a sense of intimidation. The two characteristics of regalness and strength, were boldly displayed  because the people needed to see that their rulers possessed superior qualities because back then, they were the only people that can be associated with the gods and goddesses. By mere looking or touching their sculptures was most likely a way to be one with their leaders and the divine beings.


Kinnaer, J. (2007, January 14). History. Retrieved July 8, 2008, from http://www.ancient-  

Kinnaer, J. (2007, January 14). Statue of Khefren. Retrieved July 8, 2008, from

Ramage. N. H. (2005). Roman Art, 4th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. (October 2005). Historical Reflection on the Statue. Retrieved July 8, 2008, from>

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