Why Are So Many Ancient Statues Missing Their Noses?



If you’ve ever visited a museum, you’ve probably seen at least one ancient sculpture that’s missing a nose. A smashed or missing nose is a common feature on ancient sculptures from all cultures and all time periods of ancient history. Even the nose on the Great Sphinx, which stands on the Giza Plateau in Egypt alongside the great pyramids, is famously missing. Some people believe that the noses on the majority of these sculptures were deliberately removed by someone, but that’s not true. While a few ancient sculptures have been deliberately defaced, that’s not representative of the majority of sculptures that are missing noses. For the vast majority, the reason the nose is missing has nothing to do with people at all, but merely the natural wear that the sculpture has suffered over time. They are beaten, battered and damaged by time and exposure to the elements. The parts that stick out — noses, arms, heads — are almost always the first parts to break off or wear away.