Relief of Nebhepetre Montuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor

This is a really stunning piece of relief, which came from the temple of Montuhotep II at Deir el Bahri. It was made for the main sanctuary which was built near the end of Montuhotep II’s reign. Even this soon after the start of the Middle Kingdom art has reached new heights.

It’s been carved in low relief and then each hieroglyph has details incised into it and is artfully painted to turn each into a work of art in its own right. If you look closely at the palace facade in front of the king you can see it has lots of delicate crosshatching.

To the right of the scene is Hathor – she was originally damaged on Akhenaten’s orders as part of his focus on the worship of the Aten. She was later restored in the 19th Dynasty but that was done with plaster which has since fallen out again.

Relief of Nebhepetre Montuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor. From the temple of Montuhotep II, Deir el Bahri. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11, late reign of Montuhotep II, c. 2010-2000 BCE. Acc. No.: Met Museum 07.230.2

It’s now at the Met Museum, acc. no.: 07.230.2, and I saw it as part of the Ancient Egypt Transformed exhibition in 2015.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1655/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3c6dfadbf8ad
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=14823c7e898b

Ancestral Bust

This rather fine piece is a little over 40cm tall, and represents an ancestor or some sort of revered person. I don’t think the provenance of this piece is entirely known, but other examples have been found in houses or tombs mostly at Deir el Medina dating to the 19th Dynasty.

I don’t think it’s clear what their function was, but one place I looked when looking them up had a drawing of a stela which shows a woman making offerings to a bust like this – so clearly the focus of some sort of ritual.

This example is unusually large and well made, and given how much paint remains it must’ve been particularly vivid and eye catching when it was new. The face has a serene expression that I find compelling, and I like the details like the earrings and the elaborate broad collar.

Ancestral Bust. From Thebes, Deir el Medina. New Kingdom, early Dynasty 19, c. 1320-1297 BCE Acc. No.: 66.99.45

It is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 66.99.45

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/868

There’s a short paper from the UCLA Encylopedia of Egyptology available here, including the line drawing of a stela showing the bust in use: https://escholarship.org/content/qt59k7832w/qt59k7832w.pdf

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=35f80aa4590c
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1a16b45542ef

Relief of Offerings

These two pieces of relief come from the tomb of a man called Dagi, who counted amongst his titles “sealer, sole companion, favourite of the god, director of those who are among the gods”. He lived during Dynasty 11, and was buried at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna in tomb TT103/MMA807.

The primary point of this relief is to provide Dagi with food in his afterlife, and the offering table is certainly piled high with readily identifiable tasty things. He even has a whole stack of bread moulds for the afterlife bakers to make his daily bread in!

The inscription below gives us those titles I listed earlier and the text at the top is part of what the Met Museum calls his “menu” but I prefer to think of as his shopping list! The full grid originally listed with quantities the foodstuffs necessary for his funerary cult.

Relief of Offerings. From TT103, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Thebes. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11, late reign of Mentuhotep II, c.2010-2000 BCE or reign of Mentuhotep III c.2000-1988 BCE. Acc. No.s: 12.180.245, 12.180.244

The relief fragments are now in the Met Museum, acc. no.s: 12.180.244 and 12.180.245

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1283/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=21cec3866b22
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3e121235c66c

Mummy Board of Henettawy

This is the innermost part of the coffin set of a woman called Henettawy, who was a Chantress of Amun-Ra during the late 21st Dynasty (so about 3000 years ago in the Third Intermediate Period). It’s her mummy board, which sat on top of her mummy inside the inner coffin.

I took this photo of the lower half of it because I found the decoration quite striking particularly in juxtaposition with her other two coffins. They are elaborately decorated with gods etc, as is the top of the mummy board, but the bottom is simple, restrained and elegant.

The red background is represents a red cloth wrapping around the mummy, and over it is depicted a bead net dress. A couple of such dresses have survived (and been restrung), one of which is in the Petrie Museum (see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/culture/petrie-museum/bead-net-dress).

Mummy Board of Henettawy. Henettawy was only 21 when she died, and was buried in a plundered tomb which had previously belonged to one of Hatshepsut’s officals. From MMA59, Deir el Bahri, Thebes. Third Intermediate Period, late Dynasty 21, c.1000-945 BCE. Acc. No.: 25.3.184

It is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 25.3.184.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1546/

I also have a photo of all three parts of the set: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1551/ and if you go right there are several more photos of the coffins.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1fb3a9efb745
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1f7ba5be09de

“Body Image and Structuring the Identity: An Analysis of Body Ornaments in Predynastic Egypt” Maryan Ragheb

The June speaker at the Essex Egyptology Group was Maryan Ragheb who told us about her work on Predynastic body ornaments and identity expression in this period of Egyptian history. Click through to read my write up of her post on my sister blog, Other People’s Tales.

Part of a Statue of Amenhotep I

This face was once part of a 9 foot tall statue of the king Amenhotep I, second ruler of the 18th Dynasty. He had several of these set up to line a processional avenue leading up to the temple of Montuhotep II at Deir el Bahri along which a statue of Amun was carried once a year.

Montuhotep II was the king who had re-unified Egypt to start the Middle Kingdom, and the early 18th Dynasty kings were keen to associate themselves with him. By this they were positioning their own re-unification of Egypt as following in the footsteps of their forefather.

The procession of Amun that Amenhotep I was facilitating with his avenue was presumably the Beautiful Festival of the Valley, which later also visited the temple of Hatshepsut and then the many Mansions of Millions of Years of the later New Kingdom kings.

Part of a Statue of Amenhotep I. From the court of the temple of Montuhotep II, Deir el Bahri, Thebes. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep I, c.1525-1504 BCE. Acc. No.: 26.3.30

The statue was found in the court of the temple of Montuhotep II at Deir el Bahri, and is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 26.3.30).

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1170/

I’ve written about Montuhotep II on the blog before: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2019/09/11/the-one-who-unites-the-two-lands/

And I’ve written about Amenhotep I’s mother Ahmose-Nefertari, too: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2019/12/11/ahmose-nefertari/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=22ae8ceb2193
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=25af2e3cd82b

Shabtis and Shabti Boxes from the Tomb of Yuya and Tjuya

These rather fine shabtis and the accompanying boxes came from the tomb of Yuya and Tjuya (KV46), who were the parents-in-law of Amenhotep III so despite not being royal themselves were granted permission for a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. These items belonged to Yuya.

KV46 was found in 1905 by James Quibell, who at the time was working for Theodore Davis. Quibell was also one of the discoverers of the Narmer Palette about a decade earlier. At the time KV46 was the best preserved tomb in the Valley even tho it had been robbed much of its contents were still there.

The shabtis are really lovely quality work. The wood itself looks smooth and like it would feel nice in the hand. The hieroglyphs are neatly incised and filled with paint and the faces are well modelled. I particularly like the broad collar necklace on the left hand one.

Most of the items found ended up in the Cairo Museum, but Theodore Davis was allowed to keep a few bits which he subsequently gave to the Met Museum which is where I photographed these pieces (acc. no.s: 30.8.56, 30.8.57, 30.8.58, 30.8.59a, 30.8.59b, 30.8.60a and 30.8.60b).

Shabtis and Shabti Boxes from the Tomb of Yuya and Tjuya. These were Queen Tiye’s parents. From KV46, Valley of the Kings, Thebes. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III, c. 1390-1352 BCE. Acc. No.s: 30.8.56, 30.8.57, 30.8.58, 30.8.59a, 30.8.59b, 30.8.60a and 30.8.60b

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1049

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=029b403380df
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=32a9e7e8963a

Head of Seti II

When I took this photo in 2015 the label said it was part of a statue of Amenmesse later usurped by Seti II. But the Met Museum website now says that it matches a statue base known to be that of Seti II. New evidence has clearly come to light in the 7 years since I was in NY!

The changing ideas seem almost appropriate – Amenmesse and Seti II are part of a murky piece of Egyptian history that I’ve not really read much about yet. After Ramesses II died he was succeeded by his son Merenptah who despite being 13th son was the eldest to outlive his father.

Once his successor was thought to be Amenmesse temporarily usurping the throne from Seti II, the rightful heir. But more recent scholarship suggests that actually the two ruled consecutively, with Amenmesse taking power in the south but not managing to take the whole kingdom.

Head of Seti II. From Thebes, Temple of Karnak. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, reign of Seti II, c. 1200-1194 BCE. Acc. No.: 34.2.2

The statue was found at Karnak and this head is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 34.2.2.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/839/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0af0edd63e28
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3dc311f9fb54

Shabti of Senebimi

I saw this shabti as part of the Met Museum’s exhibition called Ancient Egypt Transformed, but it is part of their permanent collection (acc. no.: 11.150.14) and was excavated at Meir in 1910 by Sayyid Pasha Khashaba who sold it to the museum a year later.

Shabtis are plentiful, a single tomb from later Egyptian history might contain hundreds! This one is notable because it is a very early example – it dates to the early 12th Dynasty in the Middle Kingdom not long after shabtis began to be a part of the funerary goods of the elite.

So it’s not surprising that some of the later standard features are missing – like the text on the front is an offering formula requesting offerings for the deceased rather than the shabti spell requesting the shabti to stand in and work for the deceased.

It also has no hands. Later examples generally have arms crossed on their chests and hold the tools of their trade (agricultural implements or overseer’s whips and flails) but this mummiform figure has his hands underneath his wrappings.

I particularly like the slender elegance of this piece, which probably arises from its maker working within the constraints of the piece of wood he had available. The face is also very striking and finely carved.

Shabti of Senebimi. From Meir. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, c. 1981-1802 BCE. Acc. No.: Met Museum 11.150.14

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1637

I’ve written about shabtis on the blog before: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2020/02/01/here-am-i/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=14f6f3ce3891
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0b2a852172db

“The Narmer Palette [Again]: Early Egyptian Stone Carving in Practice” Dr Kathryn E. Piquette

The May 2022 meeting of the Essex Egyptology Group was an in person one, and the talk was given by Dr Kathryn E. Piquette about her fascinating work on the Narmer Palette. Click through to read my write up of her talk on my sister blog, Other People’s Tales.