These two tiles were presumably once part of some decorative piece of furniture. As the Met Museum purchased them from a Greek antiquities dealer in Geneva in 1967 with no record of where they’d come from we’re unlikely to ever find out what exactly they were part of.
They are in the shape of cartouches and contain the name(s) of a king of the 19th Dynasty who we call Seti II – he was a grandchild of Ramesses II. The one on the right has a variant of his birth name: Seti mery en Ptah “The one who belongs to Seth, beloved of Ptah”.
You can see the Seth animal sitting at the top right of the text (you read this one right to left) and Ptah standing with his staff at the bottom left. The left tile also has this name in the bottom half of the tile – but someone has hacked out the Seth animal.
The left tile also has one form of Seti II’s throne name in the top half: User kheperu Ra, mery Amun “The strong one of the manifestations of Ra, beloved of Amun”. As with most throne names of Egyptian kings (even Akhenaten’s) it references Ra.
They are currently in the Met Museum, acc. no.s: 67.161.1 (l), 67.161.2 (r)
A useful site for seeing how to read Egyptian king’s names, and finding out what they translate as is https://pharaoh.se/
This is a statue of man called Idi who lived around 4,200 years ago during the 6th Dynasty at the end of the Old Kingdom period of Egypt’s history. He was definitely a high official (which is no surprise, as limestone statues are a high status item) and may even have been Vizier.
As with a lot of Egyptian artifacts found before the 20th Century it’s not really known for sure where it came from – it was gifted to Commodore Matthew C. Perry by the Egyptians and subsequently Perry’s granddaughter sold it to the Met Museum in the 1930s (acc. no.: 37.2.2).
It may’ve come from Abydos as there’s a Vizier of the right name and time period buried there, but there’s a little bit of circular reasoning here as he’s thought to be a Vizier because of that tomb … however it’s a pretty rare name in the Old Kingdom so it’s plausible.
These 3 metal vases are called situlas and form part of a set used for drinking wine. You can just see the edge of the associated wine strainer at the left of the picture (wine in ancient times had more solid bits than it does now, so you strained it like you do loose tea today).
They are rather beautiful, as well as being made of precious metals (silver for the rear two, electrum in front and gold for the strainer). As well as elegant shape two of them are also decorated around the rim and one at the base with leaf and flower motifs.
They were found in the temple of Bastet at Bubastis as part of a collection of objects that had been buried in antiquity – probably because they were no longer in use for rituals but were still considered sacred so couldn’t just be binned.
The rituals they were used for were probably Festivals of Drunkenness which became a particular part of the worship of Bastet and other goddesses like Hathor in the New Kingdom (which is when these vessels date to), and emulated the drunkenness that pacified these goddesses.
They are now in the Met Museum, acc. no.s: 07.228.17, 07.228.18, 07.228.22 (and 30.8.369 for the strainer).
Neferu was the first wife of Montuhotep II (who reunited Egypt at the start of the Middle Kingdom), and these relief fragments come from her tomb (TT319) in Montuhotep II’s temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. They are now in the Met Museum, acc. no. 26.3.353a.
These fragments are part of a scene that graphically lists various ritual items used in the funerary rites. They don’t show actual rituals, and the people and items are not drawn to the same scale (nor are the different items drawn at the same scale).
To the top left of this scene there are four men carrying what I thought was a shrine or some sort of roof until I read the museum information – that is, in fact, a bracelet! As I said, not to scale. To the right of that bracelet is a single man holding up a funerary boat.
You can also spot some graffiti to the left of that man’s head. This is ancient – the tomb was open to visitors during Hatshepsut’s reign & afterwards, and many of those visitors left their mark on the walls. This was not regarded as destructive like we would think today.
This rather finely carved vessel is called a lentoid bottle (because of its shape) or a New Year’s Bottle because in Ancient Egyptian culture these vessels were filled with some sort of liquid and given as gifts in the celebration associated with the New Year.
The inscription on the front asks the Theban Triad (Amun, Mut, Khonsu) to give protection to the God’s Father Amenhotep, son of God’s Father Iufaa, and two inscriptions on the sides also ask Montu and Amun-Re to give him a happy new year.
It looks a bit dull today, though you can see that the carved decoration retains some of its original colour. When new it would’ve been much brighter – the original glaze was a bright turquoise against which the dark blue decoration would’ve stood out.
It’s not known where it was found, but it dates to the Late Period and is now in the Met Museum acc. no. 30.8.214.
This bright and eye-catching stela belonged to a man called Khety (in the centre) and his wife Henet (behind to the left). It shows them receiving offerings from their son Montuhotep (to the right). These people lived around 4000 years ago, at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty.
If you look closely at the photo you can see traces of the red gridlines the artist used to line everything up, it’s most clear at the left but you can see it elsewhere too. Using this means that the figures all have the same proportions, which unifies the composition.
Full gridlines like this were an innovation in the early Middle Kingdom – in the Old Kingdom they used horizontal rules to line up various features but didn’t elaborate the system into as fixed a canon of proportions as was done in the Middle Kingdom.
I like the details in the offerings and the way the artist has used the paint to enhance the carved shapes, like the way the skin on the leg of beef is black & white, or the way you can see feathers and the scaly legs of the goose that flops across the table.
It’s not known where this was found, but it is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, acc. no. 202.
This is a relatively unusual object – it’s a human shaped granite sarcophagus, which is not unusual in itself but it belonged to a private individual who lived during the New Kingdom and at that period it was generally only royalty who got stone sarcophagi.
The man who was once buried in it was called Usermontu, and he held a suite of high ranking titles including High Priest of Montu and Overseer of the Treasury. This reinforces the impression of very high status that’s implied by the sarcophagus.
And he didn’t just have one stone sarcophagus – in his tomb (TT382) there’s another larger black one, into which this one presumably fitted (this one wasn’t found in the tomb, it was originally bought in Egypt from an antiquities dealer in 1913).
Yet another indicator of his prestige is the size of his tomb, which is bigger than the others around it. That tomb was known at the beginning of the 20th Century, but somehow misplaced and only rediscovered in 2010 when some modern buildings were demolished.
This sarcophagus is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 17.190.2042
This is a 3,000 year old wig, which was found inside the coffin of a woman called Nany. She held the title “King’s Daughter of His Body”, and Egyptologists think her father was Pinedjem I (a High Priest of Amun who used the title “King” during the 21st Dynasty).
The wig is (probably) made of human hair, and then coated in beeswax. You can see that it’s made of a collection of braids which are gathered together along the central parting and would’ve fallen to either side of the head, the longest braid is 25cm long.
Egyptian art shows Egyptians with black hair, yet this wig is brown. I’m not sure why that is (and couldn’t find an answer), it might be that the colour choice in art is more conventional than realistic or it might be that this wig has faded over time.
It wasn’t intended to cover up baldness, but instead seems to be a fashion accessory – if you look closely at 3D depictions of women on coffins or as statues then you will often see the woman’s real hair depicted as poking out along the forehead from under her wig.
It was found in TT358 at Deir el Bahri, and is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 30.3.35
This bowl was found inside the coffins of Rennefer next to her head. She lived during the reign of Thutmose III and her husband, Noferkhawt, was a scribe – she’s buried in his tomb (MMA 729, excavated by the Met in 1935 and this piece is now in that museum acc. no.: 35.3.78).
It’s decorated with a marsh scene – the square in the centre is the water, with lotus plants growing from it. Some of these are in flower, while some are still just buds. There are also some marsh birds (6 in total tho I think only see 4 in the photo) and 2 tilapia fish.
It has become rather discoloured over the course of the 3500 years it’s existed, but you can still see some of the original turquoise colour of the faience on the left of the photo. When new this would’ve been vivid and shiny, and really rather nice to look at.
The design is notable given the find context. The marshes are a place of fertility, the lotus flower is associated with rebirth and the tilapia fish is associated with Osiris. So it was included in her funerary goods as part of the process of getting her into the afterlife.
This jar (acc. no.: 22.2.33) is part of a set of four that the Met Museum bought in 1922. Because they were purchased there’s no record of where they were found but they are thought to date to the reign of Amenhotep III, because similar ones were found in the tomb of his in-laws.
Each jar has a different carving on the lid, a frog in this case and the others are an ibex, a calf or bull and the god Bes. They are clearly not canopic jars (wrong animals/deities, wrong shape) and because there are no inscriptions I don’t think it’s known what they were for.
The frog has a long history in Egyptian iconography, and a strong association with fertility, rebirth and large numbers. It is associated with Heket, the goddess of childbirth, as well as with the male members of the Ogdoad (central gods in one of the creation myths).
It’s a shame we don’t know more about these jars. Were they just a fleeting fashion in elite circles? Were the contents linked to the decoration? And many more questions!