Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Relief of Offering Bearers

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 12
Reign:
reign of Senwosret I
Date:
ca. 1961–1917 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Pyramid Temple of Senwosret I, Sanctuary, south wall, MMA excavations, 1908–09
Medium:
Limestone, paint
Dimensions:
H. 146.2 cm (57 9/16 in.); W. 128.3 cm (50 1/2 in.); D. 14.6 cm (5 3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1909
Accession Number:
09.180.13a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 110
Senwosret I's pyramid temple at Lisht South culminated in an offering chamber that was dominated by depictions of offering bearers, piled offerings, the king seated before an offering table, and an offering list. Offering chambers appeared in royal monuments beginning in the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, but they are also found earlier in chapels dedicated to nonroyal individuals, indicating that the divine king was believed to have some of the same needs as ordinary deceased mortals. At the west end of the room, directly in front of the pyramid, was a large false door that magically allowed the king's spirit, housed beneath the pyramid, to enter the chamber so that he could partake of the offerings.

These heavily laden offering bearers are from the end of a procession of men bearing offerings to the king. They are both high officials; their titles are inscribed above them. The one at the right, who carries papyrus and lotus flowers and birds in a cage, is a "high official, district administrator of Dep [Buto]"; the one at the left, who brings a platter of fruit and cooked poultry, is an "acquaintance of the palace." Another "district administrator," now lost, was once at the very right. The figures come from the east end of the south wall of the chamber; the block border behind the second figure marks the edge of the door frame.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds.

Aldred, Cyril 1980. Egyptian Art in the Days of the Pharaohs, 3100-320 BC, World of Art, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 117, no. 75.

Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Relief of Offering Bearers." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 63–64, no. 13.

Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Introduction: What Was the Middle Kingdom?." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 1, fig. 1.

Grajetzki, Wolfram 2015. "Middle Kingdom History: An Overview." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 308.

Arnold, Dieter and Peter Jánosi 2015. "The Move to the North: Establishing a New Capital." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 57.

Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Temples: Secluded Domains for Kings and Gods." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 271–72, nn. 4, 17.

Arnold, Dieter and Adela Oppenheim 2015. "Excavations by The Metropolitan Museum of Art at Middle Kingdom Sites." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 311.

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Relief from the pyramid temple of Senwosret I, cage with ducks from a procession of offering bearers (see 09.180.13a, b)

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