The Ancient Egyptians believed that statues were a living embodiment of
the gods - including statues of Pharaohs who were seen as living gods.
The familiar 'sitting position' of many of the great statues was
believed to allow the living soul (the Ba) to stand erect and "go out
into the day."
Egyptian Statues -
The Materials used to build the Colossal Statues
The Ancient Egyptians built colossal statues to their Gods and their
Pharaohs. These statues were made of the following different types of
- Granite -
Granite is a hard, light colored rock in pink, dark gray and
light gray. Granite was carved into statues using quartz
sand beneath the copper saws and drills
- Basalt - Basalt
is a a dark gray fine-grained rock which is the commonest
type of solidified lava
- Alabaster -
Alabaster is a fine-grained, slightly translucent, stone
with a smooth milk-white surface
- Limestone -
Limestone is a highly porous rock used as a building stone
- Gneiss - Gneiss
is metamorphic rock, similar to granite, characterized by
bands or layers of light and dark minerals
- Graywacke -
Graywacke is a grey rock similar to sandstone but with a
significant content of mud or silt
- Gypsum is a common white or colorless mineral (hydrated
calcium sulphate) used to make plasters. Plaster of Paris is
burnt gypsum. Alabaster is one of the forms of gypsum.
- Gesso - Gesso is
a mixture of glue and either gypsum or plaster of Paris
applied as a ground or coating to surfaces, such as stone or
wood, in order to give them the correct properties to
Decorating the Colossal Egyptian Statues
The Ancient Egyptians built the enormous statues with limited tools and
equipment. Egyptian sculptors first used only flint tools, then tools
made of copper and with time bronze and iron. Statues made of hard stone
such as granite, gneiss, basalt and graywacke were highly polished.
Statues made of softer stones such as sandstone or limestone were
painted in a whole variety of different colors. The stone surfaces of
statues were covered with a form of plaster on which designs were drawn
and colored. The eyes and jewelry depicted in the hard stone statues
were also painted. A sandstone or limestone statue would have been
deemed imperfect if left to show the colour of the stone in which it was
cut, and was painted from head to foot. In bas-relief, the background
was left untouched and only the figures of the statues were coloured.
The Destruction of
an Egyptian Statue
The ancient Egyptian believed that these
statues contained the spirit of a person. When a Pharaoh, such as the
heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten, was so hated, the Egyptians might have
destroyed or defiled his statues. The nose of the statue were smashed
making it impossible for the figure to breathe, thereby killing it.
Eyes, ears, and mouths may also have been defaced to destroy the main
Wooden Egyptian Statues
Most Ancient Egyptians had small shrines and statues to gods in their
homes. Particularly popular would have been a statue to Bes for
protection against evil. These small statues would have been made of
wood such as Acacia and Sycamore or of gold or other precious metals or
ebony in the homes of the wealthy. Wooden statues would have been
covered with plaster and then painted and decorated in various colors.
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and
provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of
Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details
of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.