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.
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 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 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!
This is a scene from the far left end of a much longer papyrus (around 4m) which is a funerary text belonging to a man called Sethnakhte who was a Tax Master and Steward during the 19th Dynasty (around 3,300 years ago). It was read from right to left so this is the final part.
It shows Sethnakhte on the right, in a very high quality linen garment – the pleats are marked on in red, and the linen is of such good quality that you can see his limbs through his clothing. On the left is Osiris-Wennefer-Khentyamentiu, a composite deity with a falcon head.
Sethnakhte is holding one hand up in front of himself in adoration of the funerary deity, who is actually a statue on a pedestal. In front of the divine statue is an offering table, and Sethnakhte is also holding up a small figure of the goddess Maat.
The whole scene is taking place within a shrine – you can see the top of it has feathers of Maat and uraei snakes alternating as protective elements, and the walls double up as the lines separating the vignette from the rest of the text.
Its provenance is unknown, but it’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no. 35.9.19
This statue depicts a man called Harbes holding onto a statue of Osiris (you can tell it’s a statue of the god because it’s standing on a pedestal on top of the pedestal Harbes is standing on). It dates to the 26th Dynasty, around 2600 years ago.
There are inscriptions on the sides & back that tell us about Harbes: he is the Chief Scribe of the Great Prison who lived in the time of Psamtik II. He also used the name Psamtiknefer (Psamtik is good), which was a common piece of sycophancy used by officials at this time.
The inscriptions also make offerings to Osiris and to Amun-Re, the god he is holding and the god in whose temple the statue was set up. It was eventually found in the cache of statues hidden beneath the floor of Karnak temple and had once been on view in the temple itself.
I don’t actually know very much about this statue. It was in the Cairo Museum but unlabelled when I took the photo in 2016. Judging by the other items around it in the museum, and the way it looks, I’m guessing that it’s an Old Kingdom statue of a family group.
It’s suffered from the depredations of time, there’s an arm missing off both the two chaps where clearly it’s been bashed about at some point, and the paint is chipped and rubbing off. But despite that you can still see that this was once a pretty nice statue.
The three individuals have been represented as prosperous and well off. They’re dressed in fine white linen, carefully pleated for the men’s kilts and a close fitting sheath dress for the woman. They also all wear jewellery and look like they are healthy and well fed.
I particularly like all the detail on the woman’s dress and accessories. The dress, necklaces and bracelet clearly make a cohesive outfit, and I wonder if this was something she would’ve worn in life or an idealised outfit designed for eternity.
As I said, it’s in the Cairo Museum or at least it was in 2016, but I’ve no idea where it came from, when it was made, nor the accession number. If anyone has more information then do let me know! 🙂️
This little piece, only a little over 9 inches wide, is a model tambourine made of faience. This sort of object was given as an offering to Bastet at festivals and the scene visible on this side shows Bastet’s sacred boat sailing on her sacred lake at one of these festivals.
You can see quite a few details on the boat – at the rear is a gazelle head decorating the prow. Next to this are a pair of large oars like you see on model boats, and a little (hawk headed?) chap who may be tending them or may be gazing at the central shrine.
The shrine in the centre contains another sort of a shrine, a naos shrine. On the side of that (or inside, I’m not sure which) is presumably Bastet or her statue flanked by two winged protective beings. To the right is another figure, kneeling and possibly holding a flagpole.