Why many ancient Egyptian statues are missing their noses

The missing noses of many Egyptian statues is likely due to more than just erosion or wear and tear, according to one art expert.

Artsy.net notes the Brooklyn museum's Edward Bleiberg researched the issue and determined that the damage was often purposeful and intended to 'deactivate' the image's strength.

While time is believed to be the culprit in some cases, through accidental breakage or the eventual crumbling of materials, Mark Bradley, in a University of Nottingham blog post, expands on this theory which is based on ancient Egyptians' view that the energy of a deceased person or deity could inhabit a statue or other likeness of that figure.

The thinking at the time was that if the nose on a statue was destroyed, the spirit inhabiting it would not be able to breathe, and therefore, could not continue to affect the living through that form.

Meanwhile, other historians have pointed out that the practice of nose docking was an early form of punishment in many parts of the world. The blog posts added "It has been a powerfully symbolic gesture associated with disempowerment, humiliation, visibility, exclusion, lost identity and pain."