Counterpoises like this are often attached to necklaces made of beads, called a menat, which were used like a rattle to make noise during rituals for the goddess Hathor. This one however was intended to have an aegis attached, it no longer exists but maybe depicted Hathor.
An aegis is a collar with a deity’s face above it, and it would’ve been attached so that when the counterpoise was held in the hand to shake the goddess’s face was upright. I assume (but am not sure) that there would also still have been beads to make it a rattle.
The goddess picked out in gold inlay in the top part of the object is called Nebethetepet – she’s associated with Hathor and personifies the original creative act of Atum. The columns on either side of her do have Hathor heads, and there’s a Hathor head above the shrine too.
At the bottom of the object is Horus as a falcon, sitting in the papyrus marshes – a reference to how he was hidden away when young so that Seth couldn’t find him and murder him like he’d murdered Osiris. Hathor was one of Horus’s protectors during this time.
I like the way bronze with gold inlay objects such as this look, with the shiny gold against the warm dark bronze. But it’s important to remember that’s probably not how it looked! The bronze would’ve been shinier in the past and there may even have been colour added.
The counterpoise dates to the Third Intermediate Period or Late Period, and it’s not known where it was found. It’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 08.202.15.
The vizier of Thebes at the beginning of the 26th Dynasty was a man called Nespakashuty, and he commissioned a tomb in the cliffs at Deir el Bahri near the temple of Hatshepsut and right in the courtyard of a much earlier 11th Dynasty tomb.
Maybe he intended to be too elaborate, maybe he just didn’t live long enough after work was started on the tomb, but whichever it was the reliefs weren’t completed before Nespakashuty died. Which is nice for Egyptologists as it gives a lot of evidence for how the work was done!
This portion shows how the carving was done in two phases. A team of workers has been along the wall and carved out the outlines of all the elements of the design. None of the internal details are present yet, and none of the cutouts (like the vases on her head) have been done.
In the next phase another team (or the same one, perhaps) would come along and do all of the details that you can see drawn in red paint on the figures. They’d also round off the edges and generally make it all look a lot more finished and ready for the painters.
The tomb is numbered TT312 or MMA509, and there are several pieces of relief from it in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 23.3.468) in various stages of decoration.
This is a section from the head end of an anthropoid coffin, and we’re looking at the outer wall. The coffin belonged to a man called Pakherenkhonsu, and it was found in one of the tombs at Thebes (MMA832).
The coffin dates to the 25th Dynasty, however the tomb it was found in was constructed during the 11th Dynasty according to the museum label; wikipedia says 22nd Dynasty which is quite a contradiction! Whichever it is, it’s clear Pakherenkhonsu was re-using someone else’s tomb.
He was a Doorkeeper of the Temple of Amun, a relatively minor part of the temple hierarchy. But nonetheless he must’ve had things worth stealing – his burial was found in a disturbed condition, with his coffins in pieces.
This and other pieces of his coffins are in the Met Museum (this is acc. no.: 28.3.53).
This type of statue is called a “block statue” and is first seen in the Middle Kingdom but then used throughout the rest of ancient Egyptian history. You should imagine the man sitting on the ground with his knees up in front of him hugged by his arms & a tight cloak round him.
The long inscription on the front tells us who he is (Ankhwennefer), who his son is (Peftjauabastet), and that he’d like anyone who comes into the sanctuary of Bastet at Tell al-Muqdam to make offerings for him. He and his son are both priests, royal acquaintances and scribes.
Even though it’s not known where this was found I imagine it was likely to’ve been set up in the sanctuary it names – somewhere prominent where it would catch the eye of a literate person walking past who would read the inscription and make the offerings requested.
It dates to the Late Period, and is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 1993.161).
This coffin belonged to the Noble Lady Shep, and dates to around the 25th or 26th Dynasty (around 2500 years ago). It’s quite a different style to the earlier 21st Dynasty coffins – where they are bright, yellow and busy this one is almost minimalist by comparison!
The scene on the left of her chest (right of the photo) has the Devourer eagerly waiting in front of Osiris. But the scene on the left of the photo shows that she was disappointed – the Noble Lady Shep has passed the Judgement and is escorted by Thoth and Maat to Osiris.
Below these two scenes are, I think, two of the Sons of Horus protecting the deceased. There’s 4 registers of pairs of figures and at the bottom on her feet are two jackals sitting on shrines. Above you can see the bottom of her broad collar necklace and the ends of her wig.
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.
This stela was set up by a man called Pakeshi, who held the title God’s Father of Amun, as did his father Nespautitawi. Pakeshi stands before Osiris and the Four Sons of Horus, and the text below is a fairly standard offering formula. It’s not known where it was found.
It dates to the 25th or 26th Dynasties, somewhere around 750-525 BCE. It’s made of wood with gesso over it and painted in this pastel style that’s typical of the time period (so says the Met Museum, and I assume it’s on this basis that they date it to this period).
Despite looking nicely made it’s got one feature that looks like the artisans who made it dropped the ball – you can see in front of the face of each figure there’s a neatly outlined space where the name should go, but no-one’s come back and written the text in!
This is a large stela from the end of Pharaonic Egypt (dating to the reign of Nectanebo II, sometime around 350 BCE). It was regarded as having magical powers, and was set up by a priest called Esatum specifically so that people could make use of its power to heal themselves.
The Ancient Egyptians of this time regarded written texts as having special properties, which could be activated by pouring water over them. The water would become imbued with the magic of the texts, and could then be drunk as medicine.
Objects like this are called Horus cippi, and most of the others I’ve seen have been small portable objects. This one is a giant in comparison, standing about 85cm (33inches) tall. The texts that cover it are 13 spells to cure or protect against poisonous bites and wounds.
The central niche has Horus standing on crocodiles and clutching snakes, scorpions, an antelope and a lion in his hands – demonstrating his power over these creatures. He’s flanked by Isis and Thoth who protect him in the texts, as well as the sun god Re-Horakhty.
It’s now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 50.85), and was probably originally in the Temple of the Mnevis Bulls at Heliopolis.
This serene face, gazing into eternity, belongs to the coffin of a man called Thothirdes. It was probably found in Saqqara and is now in Brooklyn Museum (acc. no.: 37.1521 NB the museum disagrees with itself about provenance, I’ve gone with the online catalogue).
I don’t think we know anything about his status or job, but he must’ve been middling wealthy – the coffin is nicely decorated, but his mummification is described as “average” and the structural fabric of the coffin has deteriorated a lot.
However they are sure about his sex and dating – he’s been radiocarbon dated to between 768 & 545 BCE, which correlates nicely with the 26th Dynasty date that his coffin style suggests. And the latest CT scan shows he’s anatomically male (it was in doubt after previous X-rays).
This rather haunting face with an enigmatic smile dates to the 4th Century BCE and belongs to a genre of sculptural works that was popular in the Late Period. It’s made of plaster and would once have had inlaid eyes and been painted (there are traces of paint remaining on it).
It’s not entirely clear what the function of pieces like this was. They’re pretty small (this one is big at 23cm tall), and are rarely of a full figure. Some, although not this one, have grid lines and depth guides still visible on their surface.
The Brooklyn Museum offers two hypotheses on their label for the case this was in: they might be sculptors’ trial pieces, or they might be temple offerings. From what they say about the flaws in each theory I’m more convinced by the idea that they are trial pieces.
It’s not known where it was found, but it’s now in the Brooklyn Museum (acc. no.: 82.22).