Jar of Pepi II

This alabaster jar is well over 4000 years old, dating to the reign of Pepi II at the end of the Old Kingdom. It’s about 5½ inches tall, and presumably once held some sort of unguent or ointment or other cosmetic. It no longer has a lid, but probably did when new.

It’s a beautiful piece of work, I am always a fan of these sorts of vessels with the juxtaposition between the creamy alabaster and the neatly incised and coloured text. And although it’s showing signs of its age, you can still imagine how lovely it would’ve been when brand new.

The text gives us two of the names of the king – on the left his Horus name in its serekh (Netjerikhau), and on the right his throne name in a cartouche (Neferkare). Below the names “given life like Re” runs in both directions sharing an initial hieroglyph.

The rulers of Egypt appear to’ve shared my liking for these sorts of pieces – for instance a thousand years later Tutankhamun was buried with many alabaster vessels, several labelled with his names. They probably took them rather more for granted as a piece of everyday life!

Jar of Pepi II. Provenance unknown. Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6, reign of Pepi II, c.2289-2255 BCE. Acc. No.: 12.182.17

This jar is now in the Met Museum, acc. no. 12.182.17

See this on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1329/

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

And about Pepi II: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2020/05/11/pepi-ii/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3cc89e1b1a4e
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1cb4b3f8b5dc

Pectoral and Necklace of Sithathoryunet

This beautiful piece of jewellery was found in the tomb of a woman called Sithathoryunet, who had the titles King’s Daughter and King’s Wife. She was buried next to the pyramid of Senwosret II, and it’s thought that she was his daughter and wife of his son Senwosret III.

The pectoral was made using the cloisonné technique which involves cutting semiprecious stones to the right size to fit perfectly into the gold framework. Given it’s only just over 3 inches wide at its widest it displays an awe-inspiring level of skill on the part of its crafter!

The cartouche contains one of Senwosret II’s names, and the piece can be read as the sentence: “The god of the rising sun grants life and dominion over all that the sun encircles for one million one hundred thousand years to King Khakheperre”. Propaganda, as well as beauty!

Pectoral and Necklace of Sithathoryunet. From the Tomb of Sithathoryunet (BSA Tomb 8), Lahun. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reign of Senwosret II, c. 1887-1878 BCE. Acc. No.: Met Museum 16.1.3

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1645/

It’s now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 16.1.3) and they have a long write-up on their site explaining the symbolism: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544232

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=34b4e26f41e1
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3b3ec607fc4f

Dog Figure

This dog figurine is really rather elegant and graceful. It’s a bit under 8 inches long and is made of elephant ivory. You can tell the dog represents a domestic dog because he’s wearing a collar.

The bit that looks like a lever under his chest actually is a lever! Moving it opens and shuts the dog’s mouth, and if the mouth were opened we’d apparently see teeth and a red tongue.

Although it’s not known where it was found, it’s dated to the reign of Amenhotep III of Dynasty 18. It’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 40.2.1

Dog Figure. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, c. 1400-1350 BCE. Acc. No.: 40.2.1

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1062/ with a couple of other photos, one to the left and one to the right.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0f58aee26da6
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0859c2813019

Pedestal for a Small Statue

This delicate ivory pedestal is tiny – only 5cm high and 3cm from front to back. Once upon a time it would’ve held a small statue (presumably a bit bigger – I’m imagining the back of the pedestal coming up to the statue’s knees, but that’s pure imagination).

The carving on it really shows off the skill of the artisan who made it – the side panel we see in my photo can’t be more than 2cm tall (if it’s even that big). And yet the three foreigners with their offering tables are clearly delineated.

They are lined up worshipping towards the back panel, and on that was written the name of Akhenaten with the sun disk of the Aten above it. So a nice little piece of royal propaganda: all the peoples of the world bow before the king.

Pedestal for a Small Statue. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, c. 1353-1336 BCE. Acc. No.: 30.8.222

It was probably found at Amarna, and is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 30.8.222).

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/993/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=249d98e2333a
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1366311e4d52

”Understanding ’Composite’ Forms of Egyptian Divine Beings”, Jordan Miller

At the beginning of March Jordan Miller visited the Essex Egyptology Group to give the talk at our first in person meeting since the pandemic began! He talked about understanding composite forms of Egyptian divine beings, click through to read my write up of his talk on my sister blog Other People’s Tales.

Statuette of Amenhotep III

This is a close up of the torso of a small statue of Amenhotep III. I took this photo because the detail on this piece is fantastic – I love the pleats on the clothing, and the little knotted cord that holds the fringed shawl in place.

It’s known to be Amenhotep III because his name is inscribed on it. The text associates him with the god Amun-Re, and it’s thought to’ve been made for his third heb-sed festival which was celebrated in Year 37 of his reign.

The museum says you can tell it was late in his reign because the king’s shape is “portly”. But I think it also has hints of the androgynous style of the Amarna period – that’s quite the feminine looking waist from this angle (less so in profile though).

Statuette of Amenhotep III. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, c.1391-1353 BCE. Acc. No.: 30.8.74

It’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 30.8.74

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1072 go one to the left for a full length face on photo, and one to the right for a full length profile.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3728cfae1b95
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1754e53807ab

Stela of Tetu and Nefertjentet

This stela makes up in enthusiasm for what it lacks in skill. It dates to Dynasty 11, and is still quite clearly in a “provincial” First Intermediate Period style, when local elites didn’t have access to the skilled craftsmen of the court of the Old Kingdom kings.

The couple seated on the right are Tetu and his wife Nefertjentet. In front of them their 5 daughters and two sons present offerings to them, including a table piled high with food. The text labelling each of their children is a mix of hieroglyphs and hieratic.

The artist has clearly had a bit of a tough time working out how to position Tetu and Nefertjentet on their chair. It’s obvious they’re supposed to be side by side, but is she on his left as her arm position suggests or his right as her legs suggest.

But for all its technical flaws I rather like it. It has a dynamism that some of the more formal art can lack.

Stela of Tetu and Nefertjentet. From debris east of TT279, el-Assasif. First Intermediate Period – Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11, c. 2124-1984 BCE. Acc. No.: 19.3.33

It’s now in the Met, acc. no.: 19.3.33

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1209

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=22156ac9be41
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1aacc33f7050

Model Boat of Ukhhotep

This is a model boat which was probably found in the tomb of Ukhhotep in Meir, dating to the 12th Dynasty around 4000 years ago. It apparently bears the name of Ukhhotep although it’s not visible in this photo.

It’s showing a part of a funeral – the deceased in his coffin, presumably representing Ukhhotep, is being transported by boat to his final resting place. He’s accompanied by two women mourners, representing Isis and Nephthys mourning the dead Osiris, and two priests.

I like all the little details in this scene. The canopy over the coffin has a leopard skin on top, and both priests are also wearing leopard skins (their official “uniform”). You can even see the head of the cat on the shoulder of the priest at the back of the photo.

The priest closest to us holds an incense burner, looking like a spoon on a long stick. And the priest at the rear has a scroll which has an actual offering text written on it (you can’t see it in any of my photos, but the museum has a good one).

Model Boat of Ukhhotep. Probably from the Tomb of Ukhhotep, Meir. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, c. 1981-1802 BCE. Acc. No.: 12.183.3

It’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no. 12.183.3

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1238/

See a top down photo on the Met’s site: https://collectionapi.metmuseum.org/api/collection/v1/iiif/545439/1228134/main-image

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1f82f640eb0f
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=005eca7a34d4

Relief Decorated Chalice

This rather beautiful blue chalice is about 15cm tall, and is made of faience. It dates to the Third Intermediate Period (between 2500 and 3000 years ago) and is said to have come from Tuna el-Gebel (it’s now in the Met in New York, acc. no. 26.7.971).

The scenes on it are really finely modelled – you can even see the feathers on the bird (next to the man carrying the calf) and the scales on the fish. I’m not sure exactly what the meaning of these scenes is, but I think they are all to do life, creation and rebirth.

I’m particularly intrigued by the man holding apart some sort of antelope-y creature and what looks a lot like a rhino (I’m sure it isn’t, but I’m not sure what it is!). It reminds me of earlier motifs of men with beasts, so perhaps it’s depicting man bringing order to chaos.

Relief Decorated Chalice. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 22-25, c. 945-664 BCE. Acc. No.: 26.7.971

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/818/ and go one left to see it alongside another similar vessel.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=28d60a1982e5
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=300b4e15c19c

Shabti of Djehutyirdis

This shabti belonged to a man called Djehutyirdis, who was the son of Nephthysiti. He was a High Priest of Thoth (and I think his name means something like “given by Thoth”), and he lived during the 30th Dynasty (about 2400 years ago).

It’s made of faience, and it’s really finely detailed. You can see his agricultural tools, ready for use on his owner’s behalf in the Field of Reeds. He also wears a false beard like Osiris, to show his owner has successfully been reborn in the afterlife.

You can only see a little bit of the inscription on this photo, but the hieroglyphs are also very crisp and sharp. It’s a fine quality piece of work, for the burial of an important person.

Shabti of the High Priest of Thoth, Djehutyirdis, born of Nepthysiti. Presumably from Hermopolis. Late Period, Dynasty 30, reign of Nectanebo 1, c. 380–362 BCE. Acc. No.: 12.183.10

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1443 and go one to the right for a full length photo of this piece.

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

And about the Field of Reeds: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2020/03/11/field-of-reeds/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=046a3bb35fbc
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3359211c22b4