Ramesside Glass Vessels

Glass is something we rather take for granted in the modern world. We have our windows with large, flat, clear panes; cheap jewellery might have coloured glass to mimic semi-precious stones; food comes in disposable glass jars.

But in ancient Egypt glass was more of a luxury item. Glass working & production were unknown before the New Kingdom, so glass used prior to that was naturally formed in the desert. And even once glass can be made rather than found it’s valued similarly to semi-precious stones.

And it didn’t even really look like our modern idea of glass – if I say “glass vessel” then whether you think wine glass or vase you’ll be thinking see through. But as these vessels demonstrate the Egyptian glass vessels were opaque and look more like painted stone at a glance.

These four date to the Ramesside period, in the second half of the New Kingdom. This was in the middle of the period when Egyptians made glass – it started around the time of Akhenaten and faded out at the end of the New Kingdom, only returning with the Ptolemies.

Ramesside Glass Vessels. New Kingdom, Dynasties 19-20, c. 1320-1085 BCE. Acc. No.s: 30.8.170 (plus others unknown)

They are now in the Met museum, the blue one at the back has the accession number 30.8.170 but I don’t have the details for the other 3.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/846/category/6

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=20a09042bdc1
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=30f6a084fcaa

Mummy Mask of the Mistress of the House Iynaferty

Iynaferty (or Iineferty) rejoiced in the title of “Mistress of the House”, which actually just means she was a housewife but sounds rather grander. She was buried at Deir el Medina in her husband Sennedjem’s tomb (and presumably lived at Deir el Medina too!).

Sennedjem also had a fabulous title – he was “Servant in the Place of Truth”, which means he was one of the people who worked on building the royal tombs in the nearby Valley of the Kings. Given the richness of his tomb, probably quite a senior figure in the workforce.

This is Iynaferty’s mummy mask and it’s quite beautiful. I particularly like the lotus flower motif on the top of her head. She’s also depicted as having natural hair poking out from the wig, with two little pigtails framing her face. Perhaps a glimpse into contemporary fashions?

Mummy Mask of the Mistress of the House Iynaferty. From the tomb of Sennedjem (TT1), Deir el Medina. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, reign of Rameses II, c.1279–1213 BCE. Acc. No.: 86.1.6

It was found in TT1 at Deir el Medina, and is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 86.1.6). It dates to the reign of Ramesses II.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1587/category/6 and go one to the right for a close up of the head.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=2514110b5c84
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1d65d50953a8

“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

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

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

Stela of Userhat and His Wife Nefertari

This fragment of a stela was found in the temple of Montuhotep II at Deir el Bahri, but you can tell from a glance that it must date to a much later period than that – the two figures, of Userhat and his wife Nefertari, show the influences of the Amarna art style.

And the textual evidence backs this up – the text that remains on the stela includes mention that Userhat is a priest in the mortuary cults of both Amenhotep III and Tutankhamun. The names of the kings are not in cartouches, but inside squares representing the temple enclosure.

I love the elegance of this piece and all the delicate details in the depictions of the two people. You can clearly see the difference in texture between Nefertari’s hair and the band she wears across her forehead. Their fine quality linen clothing is also particularly well done.

Stela of Userhat and His Wife Nefertari. From the Temple of Montuhotep II, Deir el Bahri, Thebes. New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, c. 1327-1209 BCE. Acc. No.: 05.4.2

It’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 05.4.2

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1005

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1443e93a0721

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