Disc from the Tomb of Hemaka

This is part of the grave goods of a man called Hemaka, who was Seal Bearer of the King of Lower Egypt in the reign of Den. Den was the fifth king of the First Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and reigned for four decades around about 2950 BCE.

It’s not clear what purpose this disc had – there are others with different designs from this tomb, and they have definite holes in the centre. So they’re been suggested to be spinning discs (but still the function isn’t clear).

And you can see that this design would probably work quite well if it was spinning round: the dogs would seem to chase and catch their prey. It’s a very typical Egyptian scene and has connotations of the victory of order (domestic dogs) over chaos (desert gazelles).

Found at Saqqara in the tomb of Hemaka, now in the Cairo Museum (acc. no.: JE70164).

Disc from the Tomb of Hemaka. These have been suggested to be spinning disks but their function is unclear. From the Tomb of Hemaka, Saqqara. Early Dynastic Period, Dynasty 1, reign of Den, c. 2920-2770. Acc. No.: JE70164

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/475 and go left for photos of the other two discs.

I’ve written about Den’s mother on the blog before: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2021/03/07/almost-but-not-quite-a-king/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1f5366b3a4eb
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3f370938abae

At the beginning of July Dylan Bickerstaffe talked to the Essex Egyptology Group about the Egyptian harem. Click through for my write up of his talk on my sister blog, Other People’s Tales.

Stela or Offering Table with the Name of Senwosret II

This object caught my eye in the Cairo Museum because of the style – I like the very clear and elegantly carved hieroglyphs, which are neatly filled in with black to stand out against the white alabaster. When new it would’ve been very striking!

The two cartouches on it are, I think, those of Senwosret II. Comparing it to https://pharaoh.se/pharaoh/Senusret-II the one on the lower right is the name Senwosret, and the closest nesu-bity name for a Senwosret is Kha Kheper Ra. The middle hieroglyph doesn’t look quite right tho.

I have no information about this, sadly. If there was an information label in the museum I appear not to’ve photographed it – if anyone knows more about the object please let me know! 🙂

Stela or Offering Table with the Name of Senwosret II. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reign of Senwosret II, c. 1897-1878 BCE (?).

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/542/

I’ve talked about the Naming of Kings on the blog before: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2019/08/11/the-naming-of-kings/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3204a5fe4407
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=2a11012145e7

Sarcophagus of Prince Thutmose’s Cat

Thutmose was the oldest son of Amenhotep III (and probably Tiye), but he died prematurely and Amenhotep IV took the throne instead (later Akhenaten). This is one of the few things that has the name of Thutmose on it, if it didn’t exist we wouldn’t know he had been Crown Prince.

But it’s not some solemn and grand thing, it’s the sarcophagus in which his pet cat was buried. I like the way the cat is portrayed on its sarcophagus with all due formality, seated before its very own table of offerings wearing a rather fine scarf.

And I like that the grand Crown Prince, Overseer of the Priest of Upper and Lower Egypt, High Priest of Ptan in Memphis and sem-Priest Thutmose still loved his cat enough to ensure it was well fed in the afterlife!

Now in the Cairo Museum, acc. no.: CG5003 (although not everyone is convinced of its authenticity, I found a paper by Heimo Hohneck from 2014 which casts doubt on it but I don’t have full access to the paper (or good enough German) to see what he says).

Sarcophagus of Prince Thutmose’s Cat. From Mit Rahina. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III, c. 1387-1350 Acc. No.: CG5003

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/462/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=33fe5b83c2ff
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=34ff6bc3ae09

Statue of Khafre Protected by Horus

This statue represents the 4th Dynasty king Khafre who was the builder of the second pyramid at Giza. It was found by Auguste Mariette, in 1860, in Khafre’s Valley Temple near the Great Sphinx. It’s now in the Cairo Museum (acc. no.: JE10062 or CG14).

It’s quite a large piece – 168cm (5’5″) tall and as the king is seated it’s larger than life size. This is quite the contrast to the only known statue of Khufu (Khafre’s father, and builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza) which is tiny.

I’ve taken the photo from this angle to show the falcon Horus who sits behind the king’s head as an emblem of his kingship and as his protector. I also like the way you can see how the nemes headdress stands out from his head and curves around his ear.

Statue of Khafre Protected by Horus. From the Lower Temple of Khafre, Giza. Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, Reign of Khafre, c. 2520-2494 BCE. Acc. No.: JE 10062 or CG14

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/510

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3254be8287da
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=12305701d348

Pottery Vessel Decorated with a Ring of People

This pottery vessel in the Cairo Museum reminds me of that Naqada I period bowl lined with hippopotami from the Manchester Museum that I shared a photo of recently, and of the iconic Naqada II period female figurine in the Brooklyn Museum.

Sadly I don’t know anything more about this piece, I’m not sure if there was a label for it in the museum in 2016 (I didn’t find it to photograph it if there was). I would guess it is likely to be roughly contemporary with the pieces it reminds me of, so around 6000 years old.

If anyone has more information on the piece, an accession number or anything else about it, please let me know!

Edit: Isabel Plumed García has given me more information. It was found by the excavations of DAI (German Archaeological Institute) at Abydos, led by the late Günter Dreyer. It was found in grave U-502 at the Umm el-Qaab cemetery and dates to the late Naqada I period.

This grave was badly damaged, but the excavators could tell that it originally belonged to a premature baby of about 6-8 months gestation.

There are traces of black bitumen wigs on the heads. The white and red paint was added some time after the item was originally manufactured.

The above information is taken from a publication by G. Dreyer in Antike Welt 1996/3 p.242.

Thanks to Isabel for the photo of the relevant book page, and the information.

And @Egypt_Stories on Twitter has given me the last piece of the puzzle – the accession number is: JE 99583.

Pottery Vessel Decorated with a Ring of People

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/482
and another image of the same piece here: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/480

See the hippopotamus bowl: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/428
See the female figurine: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/257

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=2a4411334132
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1d77d15fedb4

Face of a Statue of Thutmose III with a Modern Replica Body

When I spotted this piece in Cairo (acc. no.: JE90237) it looked awfully familiar – I had seen something identical looking the year before in the NY Met Museum! This one has the real face and a replica body, the Met Museum one has a replica face and the real body.

The two parts ended up in two different places because they were found decades apart when the rules for where objects went were different. The body was found by the EEF in 1907 in the temple of Montuhotep II at Deir el Bahri, and gifted to the Met Museum.

But the face wasn’t found until 1964 when a team of Polish archaeologists were working on the Temple of Thutmose III, which stands between Montuhotep II’s temple and that of Hatshepsut.

The replicas were made in the 1990s, and now both objects are displayed with a replica of their other part!

Face of a Statue of Thutmose III with a Modern Replica Body. The face of this statue was discovered a few decades after the body, and they are now in separate museums. The face here is original, with a cast of the body which is now in the Met Museum in New York. Face from Temple of Thutmose III, Deir el Bahri (body found at Temple of Montuhotep II nearby at the same site). New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Thutmose III, c. 1479-1425 BCE. Acc. No.: JE90237

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/557/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=30f031075b2c
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0f481dc0fc27

Early Middle Kingdom Stela of Amenemhat

This stela caught my eye in the Cairo Museum (acc. no.: JE45626) because of the vibrant colours and the rather unusual postures of the figures for a piece of Egyptian art. It dates to the early Middle Kingdom, so around 4000 years ago.

I found a paper by Lucas Baqué-Manzano about this stela which discusses the figures and what the scene means. On the right is Hepyt, the wife of the deceased who seems to be presenting the offerings. And the other three are her husband Intef and his parents Amenemhat and Iy.

Which way round the men are appears to be a matter of debate, but Baqué-Manzano suggests that it is recently deceased Intef on the right, meeting his previously deceased parents in an illustration of one of Coffin Texts.

CT146 calls itself “Assembling a Man’s Family for Him in the Necropolis”, and this is what Baqué-Manzano thinks is going on here. The joyous reunion of a family in the afterlife, with plenty of food.

Stela of Amenemhat. From Tomb TT R4, Assasif. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11, c.2135-1994 BCE. Acc. No.: JE45626

Baqué-Manzano’s paper can be found here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323612023_Beyond_the_Offering_Table_Cairo_Stela_JE_45626_Studien_zur_Altagyptischen_Kultur_SAK_41_2012_p_33-42

See the photo on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/539/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1c7e9f60a99b
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=24c764154365

Album of Photos from Cairo Museum

I am slowly working through my photo backlog and have finally finished processing my photos from the Museum of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, which I last visited in 2016. I’ve put them up on my photo site:


There’s a couple of hundred photos, and as many as I can have accession numbers and useful captions. However quite a few are missing that information – if you do see an object you recognise and have an accession number for, please let me know!

Canopic Chest of Tutankhamun. From KV62, Valley of the Kings. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun, c. 1334-1325 BCE. Acc. No.: JE60687

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3fc4e2ad0136
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1fb83b9657f8

A Single Hieroglyph from a Text

One of the striking things about the hieroglyphic script is that each sign can be made into a work of art in its own right. This is single sign from a longer text, it’s a quail chick hieroglyph, which we transliterate with the letter “w” and it would be pronounced “oo”.

It’s roughly 10cm from beak to feet, and the artist has spent some time making it as good as he can. It’s incised into the limestone in sunk relief, then extra details have been carved into the overall form like the wings. And finally it’s been painted in multiple colours.

And each hieroglyph in the text has been treated to the same sort of care, the whole thing must’ve been stunning. It’s possibly from the tomb of Montuemhat, who was Mayor of Thebes when it was sacked by the Assyrians in 663BCE and was in charge of rebuilding it afterwards.

A Single Hieroglyph from a Text. Possibly from the tomb of Montuemhat at Thebes. End of Third Intermediate Period – beginning of Late Period, late Dynasty 25 – early Dynasty 26, c. 670-650 BCE. Acc. No.s: 60.131.2

It’s in the Brooklyn Museum, acc. no.: 60.131.1

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/119/ and go left for a wider view of the two fragments of text in the museum.

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3c88a56ef445
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3c90ca075faf