Statue of Harbes Holding a Figure of Osiris

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.

Statue of Harbes Holding a Figure of Osiris. From Cachette, Temple of Amun, Karnak, Thebes. Late Period, Dynasty 26, reign of Psamtik II, c.595-589 BCE. Acc. No.: 19.2.2

It is now in the Met Museum, acc. no. 19.2.2

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1455/category/6

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=10d228ffaccd
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=20e00936f7f5

Barque Sphinx

When an Egyptian deity was taken on procession its statue was placed in a shrine on a small boat (called a barque) which was carried by the priests. As well as the main deity there was also an entourage, including a sphinx like this one mounted on a pole at the prow.

The Ancient Egyptians called it a “sib”, and it stands poised and alert ready to defend the deity in the shrine – it was described as “trampling the sun god’s enemies”. Accompanying it on its stand are two snakes with raised heads, also protective symbols.

Even though the description references the sun god, I think these sibs appeared on barques carrying other deities – rather than being literal it’s intended to reference the night and day voyages of the sun god in his boat, as are detailed in the Egyptian funerary texts.

Barque Sphinx. Provenance unknown. Late Period, Dynasty 26, c.664-525 BCE. Acc. No.: 2011.96

It’s not known where it was found, but it dates to the 26th Dynasty (c.600 BCE) and is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 2011.96)

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1594/category/6

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=21557f760899
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=290e6e0256aa

Statue of Amenemope-em-hat

This statue represents a man called Amenemope-em-hat, who’s shown here kneeling and holding a representation of the goddess Hathor in front of him. He lived during the reign of Psamtik I at the beginning of the 26th Dynasty (aka Saite Dynasty), which was around about 650 BCE.

Like his father he was the Overseer of the Singers of Amenemope (a form of the god Amun). These singers would’ve sung at cult rituals for Amenemope. He was also Director of the Singers of the North, a high level title implying authority over musicians throughout Lower Egypt.

The style consciously harks back to older times – the Saite Dynasty elite were keen to stress their links to Egypt’s deep past. Prior to them Egypt had been ruled by Kushite kings, and then the Assyrians had sacked Thebes, so reasserting continuity legitimised the new kings.

Statue of Amenemope-em-hat. Said to be from the temple of Ptah, Memphis. Late Period, Dynasty 26, reign of Psamtik I, c.664-610 BCE. Acc. No.: 24.2.2

The statue was probably found at the temple of Ptah at Memphis, and is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 24.2.2),

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1470/category/6

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1def8e2f0d9b
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=156437bc3d0f

Reliefs from the Tomb of the Vizier Bekenrenef

In the reign of Psamtik I, in the 26th Dynasty, the Vizier of Lower Egypt was a man called Bekenrenef. He built his tomb at Saqqara, cut into the cliff face at the eastern desert edge. The stone there isn’t great quality so he lined it with Tura limestone before decorating it.

The tomb was found early in the history of Egyptology, by Lepsius who published what it looked like in the middle of the 19th Century. Sadly before the end of the 19th Century most of the reliefs had been removed from the tomb and dispersed around the world.

It takes a bit of imagination to see it as it was when it was new. The limestone would be gleaming white – this is the same stone as was used for the outermost layer of the Great Pyramid. And the decoration was all painted, blue for the text and reds & yellows for the figures.

The decorative scheme of the tomb was heavy on texts, and light on figures. I believe these are magic spells, and come from the antechamber to the innermost room (which was presumably the most sacred part of the tomb).

Reliefs from the Tomb of the Vizier Bekenrenef. From the Tomb of Bakenrenef, east of the Step Pyramid, Saqqara. Late Period, Dynasty 26, reign of Psamtik I, c. 664-610 BCE. Acc. No.: 11.150.50d1-9 (left) and 11.150.50c (right)

It was purchased, along with other reliefs from the tomb, by the Met Museum in the early 20th Century and is displayed there (acc. no. 11.150.50). They have quite a detailed description of the tomb if you expand the “Curatorial Interpretation”: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/549495

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1469/category/6 and go to the right for more pictures.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=12dd3533e6e7
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=2a6466ed0316

“The Temple of Amun at Medinet Habu: Birth Place and Burial Place of the Primordial Deities” Lucia Gahlin

At the beginning of July Lucia Gahlin visited the Essex Egyptology Group to talk about the Small Temple at the site of Medinet Habu which was actually more important to the ancient Egyptians than the big temple of Ramesses III that we go to visit as modern tourists. Click here to see my write up of this talk on my sister blog, Other People’s Tales.

Head of the Anthropoid Coffin of Heribsenes

The head of this coffin is interesting – at first glance it’s a rather fine piece of work, but as you look more closely you can see it doesn’t look like it was made all in one go! The face doesn’t quite seem to match the surrounding wig, and looks rather nicer quality.

The coffin itself is inscribed for a woman called Heribsenes who lived in the 26th Dynasty, but the Met Museum’s website dates the face to the New Kingdom based on the style. So anything from 500 to 1000 years older than the rest of the piece.

But this doesn’t appear to be a modern frankenstein of a coffin – the wig is nicely shaped round the face, for instance. So this is ancient re-use: Heribsenes (or those burying her) saw this fine old coffin fragment and thought it would look rather nice on her coffin.

Head of the Anthropoid Coffin of Heribsenes. Provenance unknown. Late Period, Dynasty 26, c. 664-525 BCE. Acc. No.: 33.5

It’s not known where it was found, but it is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 33.5

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/949/category/6

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=37b16342bb5d
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0f08432526b5

Funerary Stela of Nesikhonsu

This is a detail from a stela that was commissioned by a man called Nesikhonsu, who lived during the 26th Dynasty (so around 2500 years ago). He held several titles, including God’s Father – which is a priestly title and is involved in the daily ritual in temples.

The vignette shows Nesikhonsu standing in front of the god Atum. You can see he’s wearing a very fine linen robe with a leopard skin over the top. Leopard skins were worn by Egyptian priests, in particular by sem priests – presumably this was also one of Nesikhonsu’s titles.

If you look closely you can see that as well as all the colour that remains on the stela there are also hints of gold leaf. Atum must once have had golden skin and the giant lotus flower that Nesikhonsu is presenting to the god had golden sepals. It was probably quite garish!

Funerary Stela of Nesikhonsu From passage in Tomb MMA60, Deir el-Bahri. Late Period, Dynasty 26, c.664-525 BCE. Acc. No.: 25.3.210

The stela was found in tomb MMA60 at Deir el Bahri, and is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 25.3.210).

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1486/category/6

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3ce88553077e
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=2cbe0131c2bf

Inner Coffin of Ankhshepenwepet

This is a close up of the front of the coffin of a woman called Ankhshepenwepet who lived during the second half of the 25th Dynasty, around 2500 years ago. She was buried in the temple grounds of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el Bahri, and her tomb was robbed in antiquity.

Around the middle you can see the deceased being led from the far right of the photo towards several divine beings. Thoth leads Ankhshepenwepet away from the weighing of the heart, which you can just see around the right hand side of the coffin as you look at it.

The queue of beings is headed by Osiris with Isis behind him, but I think most of them are the judges from the Hall of the Two Maats. These are the divine beings to whom the negative confessions are addressed as the deceased demonstrates they are worthy to enter the afterlife.

Inner Coffin of Ankhshepenwepet. She was buried in Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el Bahri. From MMA56, Deir el Bahri, Thebes. Third Intermediate Period, second half of Dynasty 25, 690-656 BCE. Acc. No.: 25.3.202

The coffin is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 25.3.202.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1506/category/6

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0b369df1eb39
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=2c9be89548d0

Menat Counterpoise

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.

Menat Counterpoise (for Attachment to an Aegis). Provenance unknown. Third Intermediate Period – Late Period, c. 800-525 BCE. Acc. No.: 08.202.15

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.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1436/

Some of the legends I’ve retold on the blog are referenced in this object:
The Heliopolitan creation myth: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2019/11/01/how-everything-became/
The death of Osiris: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2019/09/01/the-draught-of-her-wings-was-the-breath-of-life-in-his-nose/
Two episodes from the dispute between Horus & Seth: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2020/01/11/from-his-own-mouth-condemned/ and https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2021/06/07/weep-not-for-horus/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0bb24103d1d8
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=235d635a0a20

Relief from the Tomb of Nespakashuty

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.

Relief from the Tomb of Nespakashuty. From the bottom of west wall of outer hall of the Tomb of Nespakashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), Deir el-Bahri. Late Period, Dynasty 26, reign of Psamtik I, c. 656-610 BCE. Acc. No.: 23.3.468

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.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1446/ and there are two more photos to the left.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3f1b7345da10
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3790af18a0cb