Head from a Large Statue of a Priest or Dignitary

Middle Kingdom–Second Intermediate Period
Dynasty 13, late
ca. 1700–1600 B.C.
From Egypt, Northern Upper Egypt, Abydos, Osiris Temple, EEF excavations
h. 30 cm (11 13/16 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1902
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This head was at some point in the past considered to be of Late Period (Dynasty 25) date but subsequent reevaluation of the art of the late Middle Kingdom has enabled scholars to understand it as a primary work of Dynasty 13. The partial baldness of the official is an indication of maturity. He still retains tufts of hair, once probably emphasized by paint, above the ears. The hooded eyes and the furrow between the brows are reminiscent of royal images of Dynasty 12. Maturity and features characteristic of a wise ruler identify the man as an experienced and caring holder of high office, while the elegant bone structure of the head and the sensitive pursed lips express a noble and refined mind.

    The head once belonged to a statue that was larger than life size and showed the official either standing or seated. It was excavated in the temple of Osiris at Abydos which makes it an example of the new type of statuary introduced during the Middle Kingdom: a temple statue. Through this placement of his statue, the official hoped to participate eternally in the rituals performed for the god.

  • Provenance

    Egypt Exploration Fund excavations. Acquired by the EEF in the division of finds. Acquired by the Museum through subscription to the EEF, 1902.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History