Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Head Attributed to Arsinoe II

Ptolemaic Period
reign of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II
278–270 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Abu Rawash, IFAO excavations 1922-1923
Limestone (Indurated)
H. 12 cm (4 3/4 in); W. 9 cm (3 9/16 in); D. 9 cm (3 9/16 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1938
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
This small head was created in the early part of the reign of the Macedonian Greek Ptolemies and is believed to depict Arsinoe II (278–270 B.C.), sister/wife of Ptolemy II, one of a line of religiously and politically important Ptolemaic queens.
The delicate arc created by her brow bone over narrow slightly slanted eyes with long thin extensions is a style very closely related to that of Dynasty 30, the last of the traditional Egyptian pharaonic dynasties. The early Ptolemies made great efforts to show themselves as the inheritors of the pharaohs who had preceded them, continuing their building projects and closely adopting their style.
At the same time, Ptolemaic queens served a much more prominent role in the monarchy than did the queens of Dynasty 30, who are virtually unknown. Images of Arsinoe were created for a variety of contexts and depict her also in strongly Hellenistic style (2002.66; 26.7.1017) and. in her posthumous cult, in a mixed style that developed over the course of the dynasty (20.2.21).

Link to a blog about Ptolemaic Art at The Met
Nile and Newcomers: A Fresh Installation of Egyptian Ptolemaic Art
Donated to the Museum by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1938. Acquired by her in 1929 from Dikran Kelekian. Excavated by the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale at Abu Roash, 1922-23.

Metropolitan Museum of Art 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p. 59.

Related Objects

Block Statue of Ankhwennefer

Date: ca. 690–650 B.C. Medium: Limestone Accession: 1993.161 On view in:Gallery 127

God's Wife Tagerem

Date: 300–250 B.C. Medium: Limestone Accession: 2010.18 On view in:Gallery 131

Block Statue of a Prophet of Montu and Scribe Djedkhonsuefankh, son of Khonsumes and Taat

Date: 690–610 B.C. Medium: Gabbro Accession: 07.228.27 On view in:Gallery 125

Striding Thoth

Date: 332–30 B.C. Medium: Faience Accession: 26.7.860 On view in:Gallery 134

God Horus Protecting King Nectanebo II

Date: 360–343 B.C. Medium: Meta-Greywacke Accession: 34.2.1 On view in:Gallery 128