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In our own era of reckoning with national monuments and other public displays of art, "Striking Power" adds a germane dimension to our understanding of one of the world's oldest and longest-lasting civilizations, whose visual culture, for the most part, remained unchanged over millennia.This stylistic continuity reflects -- and directly contributed to -- the empire's long stretches of stability.Without a nose, the statue-spirit ceases to breathe, so that the vandal is effectively "killing" it.To hammer the ears off a statue of a god would make it unable to hear a prayer.These campaigns of vandalism were therefore intended to "deactivate an image's strength," as Bleiberg put it.Tombs and temples were the repositories for most sculptures and reliefs that had a ritual purpose.It might seem inevitable that after thousands of years, an ancient artifact would show wear and tear.

They believed that the essence of a deity could inhabit an image of that deity, or, in the case of mere mortals, part of that deceased human being's soul could inhabit a statue inscribed for that particular person.

This means that the person doing the damage could read!

"The understanding of these statues changed over time as cultural mores shifted.

In the early Christian period in Egypt, between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD, the indigenous gods inhabiting the sculptures were feared as pagan demons; to dismantle paganism, its ritual tools -- especially statues making offerings -- were attacked.

After the Muslim invasion in the 7th century, scholars surmise, Egyptians had lost any fear of these ancient ritual objects.

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Nefertiti's husband Akhenaten brought a rare stylistic shift to Egyptian art in the Amarna period (ca. The successive rebellions wrought by his son Tutankhamun and his ilk included restoring the longtime worship of the god Amun; "the destruction of Akhenaten's monuments was therefore thorough and effective," Bleiberg writes.