Why Are Egyptian Statues Missing Their Noses?

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
January 7, 2024

The sculptures and architecture of Ancient Egypt have long been objects of wonder for architects and historians alike. Ranging from the great Pyramids to the lavish statues of all the rulers of Egypt, history enthusiasts mark a common mysterious strain. This is the question of the broken noses of these ancient Egyptian statues.

Why Are Egyptian Statues Missing Their Noses

Wikimedia Commons/Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg), CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0,

There was a common misconception in early days about these noses going missing after years of wear and tear of the statues. However, this theory was deemed incorrect after it was noticed that no other part of the Egyptian statues was going through similar decay. Another popular conspiracy theory started circulating in the early 2000s, claiming that it was a result of colonialism or political rivalry among several rulers. One of the most viral posts which was debunked recently declared that the colonists broke the noses off these statues, since they resembled the features of the black community.

Why Are Egyptian Statues Missing Their NosesWikimedia Commons/Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0

While certainly a case of vandalism, researchers raced to find what caused people to break the noses of these Egyptian statues. Some of the theories suggested it to be political rivalries, but the most respected and celebrated theory regarding the noses is related to religion and belief.

The Ancient Egyptians believed in the supernatural and the afterlife. They also believed in Iconoclasm, which was the belief about destruction of icons or images for political or religious reasons. The common social belief was that once a person died, their aura or life force could still transfer itself in their respective statues. To effectively eliminate itthe possibility, they had to destroy their image or break the statues a bit.

Why Are Egyptian Statues Missing Their Noses

Wikimedia Commons/Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0

Thus, political rivals or tomb raiders would break the noses of these statues, so the life force “could not breathe”. As superstitious as it may sound, it must have guarded the subconscious of a lot many people for a trend to set.

What are some of the other superstitions in your culture similar to the ones in Ancient Egypt?