Belgian expansionism and the making of Egyptology, 1830-1952

Dorian Vanhulle: When Egyptological actuality and P&P meet at Kom Al-Hettan


A fantastic discovery has recently been made by the Egyptian-German archaeological mission led by Hourig Sourouzian at Kom Al-Hettan. A granodiorite colossus of Horus, of approximately 1,85 m high, has been unearthed in the hypostyle hall of Amenhotep III’s Temple of Millions of Years, on the west bank of Luxor.



If such hawk-headed statues are not unique, they are not that numerous and are quite complex to apprehend. This discovery is of particular interest for P&P since the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels are lucky enough to have one astonishing statue of a hawk-headed god (E.5188) previously owned by the Belgian King Leopold II. This siliceous sandstone statue, which is 1,99 m high, has been discovered in the Temple of Khonsou (Karnak) by A. Mariette in 1859-1860 and then received by the Duke of Brabant, future King Leopold II, by Saïd Pacha while he was visiting the site on the 2nd of January 1863.

“Dans une des salles, gisait un énorme monolithe en granit de Syène, représentant un oiseau. Cette magnifique antiquité à été donnée à Son Altesse Royale par Saïd-Pacha (…) ”

H. Stacquez, L’Égypte, la Basse Nubie et le Sinaï. Relation d’après des notes tenues pendant le voyage que S.A.R. Mgr le Duc de Brabant fit dans ces contrées, en 1862 et 1863, Liège, 1865, p. 149-150.

The inscription situated near the left leg mentions Masaharta, son of Pinedjem I (XXIst dynasty). However, it has been noticed quite early that such a statue most certainly predates the Third Intermediate Period (XXIst-XXVth dynasties). If Jean Capart dated the statue to the Old Kingdom, it is now largely accepted, on the basis of stylistic and typological criteria, that it belongs in fact to the XVIIIth dynasty.


Backside of the Horus statue of the Art & History Museum Brussels. © Art & History Museum Brussels
Van Rinsveld B., 1991, « Le dieu-faucon égyptien des Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire », Bulletin des Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire 62 : 15-45.

Because of the vast numbers of theriomorphic and anthropomorphic statues of deities discovered at Kom al-Hettan, the particularly high numbers of hawk-headed statues associated with the reign of Amenhotep III and the fact the Pinedjem I did used intensively Amenhotep III’s temple as a source of construction materials for the temple of Khonsou in Karnak, it is greatly plausible that Leopold II’s statue originally came from Kom al-Hettan before being reused by Masaharta. This solid hypothesis finds unexpected support in this new archaeological find.        

This discovery offers us a new parallel in situ and a new lead to follow!

dr. Dorian Vanhulle -


Bryan B., 1997, « The statue program for the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III », in: Quirke S. (ed), The Temple in Ancient Egypt, London : 57-81, pl. 22-24, V.

Johnson R., 1998, « Monuments and Monumental Art under Amenhotep III: Evolution and Meaning », in: O’Connor D. & Cline E.H. (eds), Amenhotep III. Perspectives on His Reign, Ann Arbor : 63-94.

Stacquez H.J., 1865, L’Égypte, la Basse Nubie et le Sinaï: relation d’après les notes tenues pendant le voyage que Son Altesse Royale Monseigneur le Duc de Brabant fit dans ces contrées entre 1862 et 1863, Liège.

Van Rinsveld B., 1991, « Le dieu-faucon égyptien des Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire », Bulletin des Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire 62 : 15-45.

Van Rinsveld B., 1993, « Redating a Monumental Stone Hawk-Sculpture in the Musées royaux, Brussels », Kemet 4/1 : 15-21. 

2 Jan 2020 (12:16)