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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Egypt

  • Statue of Osiris (upper part)

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Statue of Osiris (upper part)

    664–525 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Height: 55 cm (21 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Greywacke

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    29.1131

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) - 109 More Info

    Description

    Osiris, god of the dead, stands mummiform, arms folded right over left, with wedge-formed feet. Head and hands emerge from a shroud so smoothly contoured to the shape of the body that details such as arms, elbows, and kneecaps emerge from the plain undifferentiated surface as islands of relief, while the crook and flail appear less as accessories than as organic outgrowths of the underlying form. The base and back pillar are inscribed with mortuary texts on behalf of the “king’s acquaintance” Ptahirdis, whose father’s name was Wepwawetem-saf and whose mother’s name was Merptahites. The statue has the oldest modern history in the Egyptian collection. The upper part (from the knees up) was excavated in 1928 by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition in the shaft of Giza tomb 7792, east of the Great Pyramid. The lower part (base and ankles) was discovered 130 years earlier. It was brought to France by General Jean Lannes (later marshal of France and duke of Montebello), one of Napoleon’s most valiant officers, who participated in the short-lived but epoch-making Egyptian Campaign of 1798–1801, the beginning of the modern science of Egyptology. General Lannes by all reports was no antiquarian. The feet of Osiris passed down in his family for six generations until 1999, when Egyptologist Olivier Perdu, visiting French country house collections of antiquities, recognized it as belonging to the MFA fragment. Although it does not directly join (approximately 8 centimeters [3 inches] in the middle are restored), its size, shape, material, and above all the identical names and titles of the personages mentioned in the inscriptions leave no doubt that it belongs. Through the generosity of a friend the lower part was purchased by the Museum, and the two fragments, sundered in antiquity, are now one. The result is both a masterpiece of Late Period sculpture and a historical link with the founding moment of modern Egyptology.

    Multimedia

  • Model of a funerary boat

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Model of a funerary boat

    2010–1961 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length x width x height: 100 x 19 x 38 cm (39 3/8 x 7 1/2 x 14 15/16 in.)

    Medium

    Wood

    Classification

    Models

    Accession Number

    21.880

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Calderwood Middle Kingdom Funerary Arts - 119 More Info

    Description

    While late Old Kingdom tombs had included limestone statuettes of people engaged in chores such as food preparation, a new development occurred during the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom. Now, models made of wood, a less costly material, were manufactured in large numbers and placed in the burial chamber to furnish provisions for the deceased in the afterlife. In symbolically providing for the tomb owner's needs, the models functioned in much the same way as painted scenes of these activities did on the walls of tomb chapels. The tomb of Djehutynakht contained what may be the largest collection of wooden models ever discovered in Egypt. At least thirty-nine of them, including these four, represent scenes of food production and crafts. Upon opening the tomb, however, archaeologists discovered that robbers had ransacked it in antiquity, possibly on more than one occasion, throwing the models haphazardly around the small burial chamber. Only through years of research and restoration are they being returned to their original configuration. The models vary greatly in quality, and many of them were mounted on pieces of wood recycled by the artists from old boxes or chests. The colorfully painted figures nevertheless convey a liveliness and energy that give us a sense of the bustling activities of Egyptian daily life. They also demonstrate innovative poses and subjects that would never have been attempted in the more formal sculptures that represented the tomb owner and his family. Toward the end of Dynasty 12 a change occurred in Egyptian burial customs for reasons that remain unclear. Although model boats continued to be placed in tombs, the scenes of crafts and food production disappeared permanently from the repertoire of funerary offerings. At approximately the same time, early versions of shawabtys, mummiform figurines intended to serve on behalf of the deceased in the afterlife, began to become more common in burials. Along with a collection of wooden models representing scenes of daily life, Djehutynakht equipped his tomb with a fleet of more than fifty-five model boats, the largest collection known from a single Egyptian tomb. Several types of craft are represented, including funerary vessels, boats for traveling, ships for troop or freight transport, hunting and fishing boats, and kitchen boats of the sort that would have accompanied a Middle Kingdom official and his entourage on voyages up and down the Nile. Although they vary in size and quality, all of Djehutynakht's boat models are constructed in the same fashion, with the hull carved from a single piece of wood, while the cabins, masts, other fittings, and crews were made separately and attached with pegs. Wide-hulled funerary vessels, like the example seen here the made of papyrus bundles lashed together, transported the deceased either to a cemetery across the Nile or to the sanctuary of the god of the afterlife, Osiris, at Abydos. Models of such vessels were painted white with reddish lines representing the bindings. The prow and the upright, inward-curving stern of this example terminate in rosettes imitating papyrus umbels, and the pair of eyes on the prow were believed to provide magical guidance in steering the ship clear of obstacles. On the deck, a canopy encloses the bier that would have held the mummy of the deceased. The two figures bent over at one end of the bier represent priests offering incense and recit-ing funerary prayers before the body. The figure seated at the stern was responsible for navigating by means of the pair of steering oars attached to stanchions. In the forward section, a crew of sailors had to maneuver the sail, now missing on the model, and a lookout was to watch for sandbars and other hazards.

    Multimedia

  • Model of a procession of offering...

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Model of a procession of offering bearers ("The Bersha Procession")

    2010–1961 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length x width x height (tallest figure): 66.4 x 8.6 x 42.5 cm (26 1/8 x 3 3/8 x 16 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Wood

    Classification

    Models

    Accession Number

    21.326

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Calderwood Middle Kingdom Funerary Arts - 119 More Info

    Description

    Among the more than one hundred wooden models found scattered throughout the tomb of Djehutynakht, the quality of this procession of offering bearers stands out from the others. The skill and delicacy with which it was carved and painted rank it among the finest wooden models ever found in Egypt. It shows a man and three women bringing offerings to sustain the ka of Djehutynakht in the afterlife. Each figure advances with the left leg forward, following the convention of larger scale Egyptian sculpture and relief. A priest leads the way, carrying a ceremonial wine jar and incense burner for use in the burial rites. Two women follow with offerings of food and drink - the first carries a basket of bread and a duck, while the second brings another duck and a basket filled with beer jars. The third woman furnishes items for Djehutynakht's personal care, a small wooden cosmetic chest and a mirror, the latter slung over her shoulder in a case made of animal hide. This brief procession symbolically provides all that was essential to sustain Djehutynakht in eternity: food, drink, items of personal adornment, and the incense used to attract and appease divinities and the blessed dead. The procession was found overturned between Djehutynakht's coffin and the eastern wall of his burial chamber, in a pile of broken models that robbers had thrown aside. Although the four figures remained attached when the model was discovered, the two central offering bearers had lost their raised arms, and nearly all the offerings had come loose. Some pieces were found a considerable distance away. Since its discovery, the scene has been reconstructed twice. The first attempt, carried out in 1941 before all the elements had been identified, was incorrect. The current configuration was established in 1987.

    Multimedia

  • Model of men herding cattle

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Model of men herding cattle

    2010–1961 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length x width x height: 63 x 18 x 26 cm (24 13/16 x 7 1/16 x 10 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Wood

    Classification

    Models

    Accession Number

    21.831

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Calderwood Middle Kingdom Funerary Arts - 119 More Info

    Description

    While late Old Kingdom tombs had included limestone statuettes of people engaged in chores such as food preparation, a new development occurred during the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom. Now, models made of wood, a less costly material, were manufactured in large numbers and placed in the burial chamber to furnish provisions for the deceased in the afterlife. In symbolically providing for the tomb owner's needs, the models functioned in much the same way as painted scenes of these activities did on the walls of tomb chapels. The tomb of Djehutynakht contained what may be the largest collection of wooden models ever discovered in Egypt. At least thirty-nine of them, including these four, represent scenes of food production and crafts. Upon opening the tomb, however, archaeologists discovered that robbers had ransacked it in antiquity, possibly on more than one occasion, throwing the models haphazardly around the small burial chamber. Only through years of research and restoration are they being returned to their original configuration. The models vary greatly in quality, and many of them were mounted on pieces of wood recycled by the artists from old boxes or chests. The colorfully painted figures nevertheless convey a liveliness and energy that give us a sense of the bustling activities of Egyptian daily life. They also demonstrate innovative poses and subjects that would never have been attempted in the more formal sculptures that represented the tomb owner and his family. Food production is the dominant theme among the model scenes, and a variety of activities are represented. A number of models feature scenes of cattle rearing. The recently restored model shown here depicts plump steers being driven - reluctantly it seems - to a cattle count or perhaps to slaughter. The artist has taken pains to include lifelike details so that the robust animals contrast dramatically with their slouched, weary, and balding keepers. Toward the end of Dynasty 12 a change occurred in Egyptian burial customs for reasons that remain unclear. Although model boats continued to be placed in tombs, the scenes of crafts and food production disappeared permanently from the repertoire of funerary offerings. At approximately the same time, early versions of shawabtys, mummiform figurines intended to serve on behalf of the deceased in the afterlife, began to become more common in burials.

    Multimedia

  • One of a pair of sandals

    Slide Notes

    Details

    One of a pair of sandals

    1550–1186 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length x width: 21.5 x 8 cm (8 7/16 x 3 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Straw

    Classification

    Costumes

    Accession Number

    03.1720

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian New Kingdom Gallery - 210 More Info

    Description

    Plaited reed sole, with a finely woven edge; twisted thongs. See also 03.1721.

    Multimedia

  • Game box

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Game box

    1539–1425 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Height x width x length: 7.6 x 11.1 x 35.2 cm (3 x 4 3/8 x 13 7/8 in.)

    Classification

    Tools & equipment, Recreational

    Accession Number

    11.3095

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian New Kingdom Gallery - 210 More Info

    Description

    Faience squares and long strips which had been inlaid in sides and edges of a wooden box; several squares with numerals I, II, III.

    Multimedia

  • Dummy canopic jar

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Dummy canopic jar

    1075–656 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Height x diameter: 24.1 x 13.6 cm (9 1/2 x 5 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Limestone

    Classification

    Tomb equipment, Canopics and Canopic Boxes

    Accession Number

    72.590

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) - 109 More Info

    Description

    During mummification, the lungs, liver, stomach and intestines were removed, mummified separately, and placed in containers known today as "canopic jars." Following dynasty 20, this practice stopped, but dumy jars continued to be placed in tombs.This fine-grained dummy canopic jar has the human head of the god Imsety. An incised line indicates the division between the head and the body. The eyes and brows are painted black. A band of black hieroglyphs, naming the god, runs down the center of the body, and reads: Wsir ImsT. Translation: Osiris Imseth

    Multimedia

  • Lion hunt scarab of Amenhotep III

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Lion hunt scarab of Amenhotep III

    1390–1353 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Height x width x depth: 7.1 x 5 x 2.6 cm (2 13/16 x 1 15/16 x 1 in. )

    Medium

    Glazed steatite

    Classification

    Jewelry / Adornment, Scarabs and Scaraboids

    Accession Number

    04.1810

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian New Kingdom Gallery - 210 More Info

    Description

    Blue glaze; struck by Amenhotep III to announce his feat of having hunted and slain 102 lions in the first ten years of his reign.

    Multimedia

  • Headrest of Queen Hetepheres I (...

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Headrest of Queen Hetepheres I (reproduction)

    2575–2528 B.C.

    Joseph Gerte

    Dimensions

    Height x width x depth: 20.5 x 17.2 x 7.8 cm (8 1/16 x 6 3/4 x 3 1/16 in.)

    Medium

    Wood, silver, gold

    Classification

    Reproductions

    Accession Number

    29.1859

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Those who could afford it equipped their tombs with all the necessities and comforts of life on earth, so that they could continue to enjoy them in the afterlife. For Queen Hetepheres, wife of King Sneferu and mother of King Khufu, these necessities included her entire bedroom suite: her portable canopy, bed with headrest, armchair, and curtain box, all designed of wood overlaid with gold. On her bed, which was a mere 177 centimeters (5 feet 9 inches) long, the queen would have slept on her side with her cheek resting on the headrest. All of the furniture is noteworthy for its austerity of line and selective use of detail. The seeming simplicity masks sophisticated joinery. The beauty and technical achievement of these objects are matched only by the amazing story of their accidental discovery in 1925 and subsequent excavation and restoration. Because it was an unplundered royal tomb, the original contents remained in Cairo, as stipulated in the Expedition contract. The set in the Museum is an exact duplicate.

    Multimedia

  • Front side panel of outer coffin...

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Front side panel of outer coffin of Djehutynakht

    2010–1961 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Height x width: 115 x 263 cm (45 1/4 x 103 9/16 in.)

    Medium

    Cedar

    Classification

    Tomb equipment, Coffins, Sarcophagi

    Accession Number

    20.1822

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Calderwood Middle Kingdom Funerary Arts - 119 More Info

    Description

    The outer coffin of the local governor Djehutynakht of Deir el-Bersha is perhaps the finest Middle Kingdom coffin in existence. Like the second coffin that once nested inside it, the rectangular outer coffin was made of massive planks of imported cedar, pegged together and decorated on both its inner and outer faces. The paintings and inscribed funerary texts were intended to facilitate Djehutynakht's passage to the afterlife and to sustain his ka in eternity. While coffins of later periods would feature elaborate exterior decoration, those of the early Middle Kingdom were relatively plain on the outside, but beautifully embellished inside, where the offering scenes often parallel those seen in painted tombs. The paintings on the interior of Djehutynakht's coffin are masterpieces, exquisitely detailed in thick, vividly colored paint. The artist's painstaking brush strokes and eloquent use of shading produced a level of realism rarely surpassed in Egyptian art. The primary scene is on the left side of the coffin at the location where Djehutynakht's head once faced. The focal point is an intricately decorated false door through which the ka could pass between the afterlife and the world of the living. Djehutynakht sits in front of the false door and receives an offering of incense. Before and beneath him is a vast wealth of neatly piled offerings, including an oversized ceremonial wine jar, sacred oils, the legs and heads of spotted cattle, tables laden with fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, and magnificently detailed geese. The two rows of large painted hieroglyphs above the scene contain a funerary prayer requesting offerings from the king and the funerary god Osiris on festival days. At the far right is the beginning of a menu giving a full list of desired offerings. Inscribed below in neat columns of tiny, cursive hieroglyphs are the Coffin Texts, a collection of funerary rituals and spells intended to protect and guide the dead on their way to the afterlife. These texts continue around the coffin's interior.

    Multimedia

  • Mummy of Nesmutaatneru

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Mummy of Nesmutaatneru

    760–660 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 151 cm (59 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Human remains, linen, faience

    Classification

    Tomb equipment, Mummy Trappings

    Accession Number

    95.1407a

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) - 109 More Info

    Description

    Mummy of Nesmutaatneru, daughter of Tjaenwaset and Neskhonspakhered, mother of Djeddjehutyiuefankh. Outer wrappings of pink linen, with bead network of blue faience beads, with winged scarab and four sons of Osiris. [Alternate Text:] Nes-Mut-aat-neru was an elderly woman who suffered from extensive dental disease, including a molar abscess extending into the jaw. Her advanced age is indicated by arthritic changes in the neck.

    Multimedia

  • Statue of Lady Sennuwy

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Statue of Lady Sennuwy

    1971–1926 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Framed (The object sits on epoxy bed /structural steel pallet tubing): 21.6 x 62.2 x 116.2 cm (8 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.) Mount (Steel channel base with cross bracing 3" x 3/16"): 30.5 x 62.2 x 116.2 cm (12 x 24 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.) Overall (steel pallet and object, weighed): 170.2 x 116.2 x 47 cm, 1224.71 kg (67 x 45 3/4 x 18 1/2 in., 2700 lb.) Weight (Object and steel pallet with attaching steel base, estimate): 1319.97 kg (2910 lb.) Weight (Object (calculated by subtracting estimate of pallet weight)): 1079.56 kg (2380 lb.)

    Medium

    Granodiorite

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    14.720

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Colossal Gallery (Sculpture) - 209 More Info

    Description

    Egyptian officials of the Middle Kingdom continued the practice of equipping their tombs with statues to house the ka of the tomb owner and to provide a focal point for the offering cult. Highly ranked officials also dedicated statues of themselves at sanctuaries of gods and deified ancestors. Following the experimental and idiosyncratic interlude of the First Intermediate Period, sculptors once again produced large-scale stone statues, returning to the basic forms and poses established in the Old Kingdom. This elegant seated statue of Lady Sennuwy of Asyut is one of the most superbly carved and beautifully proportioned sculptures from the Middle Kingdom. The unknown artist shaped and polished the hard, gray granodiorite with extraordinary skill, suggesting that he was trained in a royal workshop. He has portrayed Sennuwy as a slender, graceful young woman, dressed in the tightly fitting sheath dress that was fashionable at the time. The carefully modeled planes of the face, framed by a long, thick, striated wig, convey a serene confidence and timeless beauty. Such idealized, youthful, and placid images characterize the first half of Dynasty 12 and hark back to the art of the Old Kingdom. Sennuwy sits poised and attentive on a solid, blocklike chair, with her left hand resting flat on her lap and her right hand holding a lotus blossom, a symbol of rebirth. Inscribed on the sides and base of the chair are hieroglyphic texts declaring that she is venerated in the presence of Osiris and other deities associated with the afterlife. Sennuwy was the wife of a powerful provincial governor, Djefaihapi of Asyut, whose rock-cut tomb is the largest nonroyal tomb of the Middle Kingdom. Clearly, the couple had access to the finest artists and materials available. It is likely that this statue, along with a similar sculpture of Djefaihapi, was originally set up in the tomb chapel, although they may also have stood in a sanctuary. Both statues were discovered, however, far to the south at Kerma in Nubia, where they had been buried in the royal tumulus of a Nubian king who lived generations after Sennuwy's death. They must have been removed from their original location and exported to Nubia some three hundred years after they were made. Exactly how, why, and when these pieces of sculpture, along with numerous other Egyptian statues, found their way to Kerma, however, is still unknown.

    Multimedia

  • Inner coffin of Nesmutaatneru

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Inner coffin of Nesmutaatneru

    760–660 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 169 cm (66 9/16 in.)

    Medium

    Plastered linen over wood

    Classification

    Tomb equipment, Coffins, Sarcophagi

    Accession Number

    95.1407b

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) - 109 More Info

    Description

    Beautifully preserved coffin of the mummy of Nesmutaatneru (see 95.1407a). The coffin, of a type that replaced cartonnage cases, takes the form of a mummified body standing on a pedestal and supported in back by a djed-pillar, the hieroglyph for stability and emblem of Osiris. The decoration is brightly painted on a layer of plastered linen. Nesmutaatneru wears a vulture headdress over a long wig, an elaborate broad collar, and a ram-headed pectoral. The body is divided by bands of hieroglyphic text into compartments containing images of deities associated with the afterlife. In the central scene, the deceased lies on a bier surrounded by Isis and Nephthys and surmounted by a winged scarab representing Khepri.

    Multimedia

  • Outer coffin of Nesmutaatneru

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Outer coffin of Nesmutaatneru

    760–660 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Width x length: 72 x 204 cm (28 3/8 x 80 5/16 in.)

    Medium

    Wood (sycamore)

    Classification

    Tomb equipment, Coffins, Sarcophagi

    Accession Number

    95.1407d

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) - 109 More Info

    Description

    Outer coffin, belonging to Nesmutaatneru (see 95.1407a-c). The coffin is rectangular with a vaulted lid and four corner posts. The lid and sides are made of sycamore and are undecorated, while the corner posts and framing are made of a reddish wood, with bands of inscription in white. A figure of a jackal, painted black, is affixed to the lid at the foot end of the coffin. [Alternate Text:] This outer box coffin is inscribed with standard offering formulae, addressed to Osiris, Ptah-Sokar, Re-Horakhty, and Atum. A figure of the god Anubis as a jackal sits on the lid.

    Multimedia

  • Sarcophagus of Queen Hatshepsut,...

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Sarcophagus of Queen Hatshepsut, recut for her father, Thutmose I (box)

    1473–1458 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 82 x 87 cm, 2721.6 kg, 225 cm (32 5/16 x 34 1/4 in., 6000 lb., 88 9/16 in.) Framed (Steel lid frame secured to wall with angle plate): 225.4 x 86 x 14.6 cm (88 3/4 x 33 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.) Case (Rolling steel base with removable wooden skirts): 30.8 x 225.4 x 116.8 cm (12 1/8 x 88 3/4 x 46 in.)

    Medium

    Painted quartzite

    Classification

    Tomb equipment, Coffins, Sarcophagi

    Accession Number

    04.278.1

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian New Kingdom Gallery - 210 More Info

    Description

    The word "sarcophagus," from the Greek sarkophagos, "flesh-eater," refers to a stone coffin that devoured its occupant. (Such a coffin was presumably made of limestone, because of the material's corrosive action on flesh.) Although the very notion of a container that would devour the body inside it would have horrified the ancient Egyptians, we use the term "sarcophagus" today to refer to coffins of stone as opposed to wood. The Egyptians used a happier name, "lord of life," because it was meant to protect and preserve the body forever. The kings of Dynasty 18 were buried in magnificent hard stone sarcophagi of quartzite or red granite. Because of their ruddy hues, these stones were associated with the sun, ultimate symbol of rebirth, and were thus particularly well suited for the rulers' journey to the next world. To intensify the color, a coat of red paint was often applied to the surface of the stone, filling in the hieroglyphs and outlines of the figures. This Eighteenth-Dynasty royal sarcophagus is the only one outside of Egypt. It was the second of three quartzite sarcophagi made for the queen turned pharaoh, Hatshepsut. After she assumed control of the throne, she commissioned a tomb in the Valley of the Kings and ordered this sarcophagus to be made for it. Later, however, Hatshepsut decided to transfer her father's mummy from his tomb to hers, and ordered her coffin to be retrofitted for him. The original inscriptions were altered to reflect the new recipient, Thutmose I. His name was substituted for hers, feminine pronouns changed to masculine, and new inscriptions added. This pious act of filial devotion is commemorated in an inscription on the outer right side of the sarcophagus: "She [Hatshepsut] made it as her monument for her beloved father, the good god, lord of the Two Lands, king of Upper and Lower Egypt Aakheperkara, the son of Re, Thutmose, vindicated." At the last minute, it was discovered that the sarcophagus was too small for Thutmose I's mummy, still in its original wooden coffin. Therefore, the insides of the box had to be cut back to receive it.

    Multimedia

  • Colossal statue of King Aspelta

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Colossal statue of King Aspelta

    593–568 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Height: 332.1 cm (130 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Granite gneiss

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    23.730

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian Colossal Gallery (Sculpture) - 209 More Info

    Description

    Inscribed down column at back.

    Multimedia

  • Vessel in the form of a hare

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Vessel in the form of a hare

    about 6400–5900 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 18.41 cm (7 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Gypsum

    Classification

    Vessels

    Accession Number

    1995.739

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Ancient Near East Gallery - 110 More Info

    Description

    This may be the oldest work of art in the Museum's collections. Although its function and place of origin are unknown, a nearly identical vessel was excavated in 1978 at the Neolithic village site of Bouqras, on the Euphrates River in Syria, which was radio-carbon dated to about 6400 BC.

    Multimedia

  • Pseudo-group statue of Penmeru

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Pseudo-group statue of Penmeru

    2465–2323 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 155 x 105 cm, 532.98 kg (61 x 41 5/16 in., 1175 lb.) Mount: 830.99 kg (1832 lb.)

    Medium

    Painted limestone

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    12.1484

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    105B More Info

    Description

    Throughout Egyptian civilization, artists developed new types of statuary to address the constantly changing needs of tomb and temple. Some types found wholesale acceptance and entered the general repertoire; others flourished briefly but were subsequently abandoned. The latter is the case with the statue type shown here; it is known only from Dynasties 5 and 6. Three adults and two children emerge from inside a rectangular frame. The two on the viewer's left are clearly male and differ from each other only in their garments. They do not interact in any way. The rest of the figures form a unit, apparently a family group. A woman on the viewer's right, slightly shorter than the two men, rests her hand on the shoulder of the man in the center, while two diminutive children, a boy on the left and girl on the right, touch his leg. One would expect the figure on the far left to be unrelated to the others. The inscription, however, tells a different story. Both male figures are identified as Penmeru. A Belgian Egyptologist in the 1920s coined the term "pseudo-group" to describe such sculptures in which the same person was depicted two or more times. Different interpretations have been advanced since then to explain the meaning of pseudo-group statues. Do they reflect the dual nature of Upper and Lower Egypt? Are they representations of a man and his ka? Do they show the same man at different stages of his life? It is clear that by Dynasty 5, ever-increasing numbers of statues were included in tombs. (One tomb owner had up to fifty representations of himself.) Pseudo-group sculptures may reflect that trend. Penmeru's tomb contained three pseudo-group statues, bringing the total of his depictions to seven. The present example is the only one in which additional family members are shown. The figures are placed inside a frame that mimics the architecture of a door. It is speckled in imitation of granite, a costlier stone than the limestone from which it is actually made.

    Multimedia

  • Colossal statue of King Menkaura (...

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Colossal statue of King Menkaura (Mycerinus)

    2490–2472 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 243.8 x 115.6 x 83.8 cm (96 x 45 1/2 x 33 in.) Other (head): 37.5 x 47cm (14 3/4 x 18 1/2in.)

    Medium

    Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    09.204

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Ancient Egyptian Large Sculpture (Mycerinus) - 108 More Info

    Description

    This colossal statue is one of the largest sculptures of the Pyramid Age. With a height of nearly 2.35 meters (8 feet), as restored, it features King Menkaura, who built the smallest of the three pyramids at Giza. His clothing and headgear clearly identify him as the ruler. He wears a wraparound kilt with a central projection, a garment worn only by kings until the end of the Old Kingdom. On his head is a royal kerchief, called a nemes. A cobra, known as a ureaus, is at his brow. This serpent was considered a deity and charged with protecting the king by wrapping itself around the royal brow and spitting its poisonous venom at the king's enemies. Menkaura's long straight beard, another symbol of royalty, was attached by means of a strap that was once painted on the statue's head. His right hand is clasped around a folded cloth, the ends of which extend onto his thigh. The king's expression is one of regal composure and supreme control. With its slightly bulging eyes, bulbous nose, painted moustache (now barely visible), set mouth with pouting lower lip and firm chin, the face is distinctive, but whether or not it represents a true portrait of Menkaura can never be known. This is the face of a mature adult, although neither face nor body displays any signs of aging. It has often been remarked that the head is unusually small for the king's body. Whatever the artist's reason for doing this, it certainly emphasizes the breadth of the figure's torso and enhances its image as omnipotent king. This statue sat in the deep niche at the back of Menkaura's Pyramid Temple located at the base of the eastern face of his pyramid until, for reasons unknown, it was deliberately destroyed. In January 1907, George Reisner found fragments from the shoulder and torso in a pit in that room and the large fragment comprising the hands, legs, and throne base in an adjacent corridor. Two months later, while excavating what proved to be a robber's trench nearby, Reisner found the head in nearly perfect condition. The different installations of Menkaura atthe MFA reflect the changing aesthetics of the Museum audience. When the fragments first arrived in the Museum, only the head and leg were exhibited. Two years later, additional torso pieces were added, and an abstract restoration of the missing torso elements was attempted. In 1925, at Reisner's request, the well-known watercolorist and artist for the expedition, Joseph Lindon Smith, sculpted the torso and buttocks in a more naturalistic manner. The restoration that visitors see today was accomplished in 1935 by Smith, assisted by Museum School student Charles Muskavitch.

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  • Head of King Tutankhamen

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Head of King Tutankhamen

    1336–1327 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Height x width: 29.6 x 26.5 cm (11 5/8 x 10 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Sandstone

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    11.1533

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Egyptian New Kingdom Gallery - 210 More Info

    Description

    In 1922, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. The smallest of the royal tombs, it was the only one that preserved its fabulous treasures virtually intact, the king's mummy resting undisturbed in its four coffins and four shrines nested one inside the other. Despite the unprecedented media coverage lavished on this sensational discovery, Tutankhamen remains a mysterious figure. He was probably born at el-Amarna, the new capital city built by Akhenaten. Succeeding to the throne as a boy of nine or ten years of age, Tutankhamen was taken in hand by the traditionalist clergy and made to repudiate Akhenaten's religious reforms. He abandoned el-Amarna, reopened the other temples, and showered attention on the old gods. He received little thanks for his piety, however, for later rulers continued to associate him with the heretic Akhenaten. His memory was suppressed, and his statues were appropriated by other rulers, notably Horemheb. When he was remembered at all, it was as a minor ruler. No wonder his tomb treasures caused such a sensation. So familiar are the "boy king's" gentle features now, that one immediately recognizes a sculpture as his even if it had been usurped by a later ruler or, as here, lacks an inscription. Traces of paint show that the nemes headdress was striped alternately blue and yellow as on the famous gold mask from his tomb.

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  • King Menkaura (Mycerinus) and queen

    Slide Notes

    Details

    King Menkaura (Mycerinus) and queen

    2490–2472 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 142.2 x 57.1 x 55.2 cm, 676.8 kg (56 x 22 1/2 x 21 3/4 in., 1492.1 lb.) Block (Wooden skirts and two top): 53.3 x 180 x 179.7 cm (21 x 70 7/8 x 70 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Greywacke

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    11.1738

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    G.M. Lane Gallery (Egyptian Old Kingdom) - 207 More Info

    Description

    At twilight on January 10, 1910, a young boy beckoned George Reisner to the Menkaura Valley Temple. There, emerging from a robbers' pit into which they had been discarded were the tops of two heads, perfectly preserved and nearly life-size. This was the modern world's first glimpse of one of humankind's artistic masterworks, the statue of Menkaura and queen. The two figures stand side-by-side, gazing into eternity. He represents the epitome of kingship and the ideal human male form. She is the ideal female. He wears the nemes on his head, a long artificial beard, and a wraparound kilt with central tab, all of which identify him as king. In his hand he clasps what may be abbreviated forms of the symbols of his office. His high cheekbones, bulbous nose, slight furrows running diagonally from his nose to the corners of his mouth, and lower lip thrust out in a slight pout, may be seen on her as well, although her face has a feminine fleshiness, which his lacks. Traces of red paint remain on his face and black paint on her wig. His broad shoulders, taut torso, and muscular arms and legs, all modeled with subtlety and restraint, convey a latent strength. In contrast, her narrow shoulders and slim body, whose contours are apparent under her tight-fitting sheath dress, represent the Egyptian ideal of femininity. As is standard for sculptures of Egyptian men, his left foot is advanced, although all his weight remains on the right foot. Typically, Egyptian females are shown with both feet together, but here, the left foot is shown slightly forward. Although they stand together sharing a common base and back slab, and she embraces him, they remain aloof and share no emotion, either with the viewer or each other. Who is represented here? The base of the statue which is usually inscribed with the names and titles of the subject represented, was left unfinished and never received the final polish of most of the rest of the statue. Because it was found in Menkaura's Valley Temple and because it resembles other statues from the same findspot bearing his name, there is no doubt that the male figure is King Menkaura. Reisner suggested that the woman was Queen Kamerernebty II, the only of Menkaura's queens known by name. She, however, had only a mastaba tomb, while two unidentified queens of Menkaura had small pyramids. Others have suggested that she represents the goddess Hathor, although she exhibits no divine attributes. Because later kings are often shown with their mothers, still other scholars have suggested that the woman by Menkaura's side may be his mother. However, in private sculptures when a man and woman are shown together and their relationship is indicated, they are most often husband and wife. Because private sculpture is modeled after royal examples, this suggests that she is indeed one of Menkaura's queens, but ultimately, the name of the woman represented in this splendid sculpture may never be known.

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