Haremhab as a Scribe
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Haremhab, ca. 1323–1295 b.c.
Granodiorite; 44 1/2 x 27 15/16 x 21 7/8 in. (133 x 71 x 55.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. V. Everit Macy, 1923 (23.10.1)
Collection Area: Egyptian Art
Subject Areas: Civics, English Language Arts, Technology, Visual Arts, World History
Grades: Elementary School, Middle School
Topics/Themes: Art and Writing, Power and Leadership, Identity
Students will be able to:
- use pose, clothing, and attributes to analyze portraits;
- identify ways works of art reflect and convey cultural values; and
- recognize similarities and differences in ways communities around the world communicate through images and text.
National Learning Standards
NSS-C.K-12.4 Other Nations and World Affairs
NSS-C.K-12.5 Roles of the Citizen
English Language Arts
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.7 Evaluating Data
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NT.K-12.4 Technology Communications Tools
NA-VA.K-12.2 Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
NA-VA.K-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.K-12.6 Making Connections between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
NSS-WH.5-12.2 Era 2: Early Civilizations and the Emergence of Pastoral Peoples, 4000–1000 b.c.e.
Common Core State Standards
English Language Arts
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Questions for Viewing
- Walk around the sculpture. After taking a close look, use your body to recreate the figure's pose. What comes to mind as you move into position? Though the left hand is missing, scholars believe it once held a brush.
- Describe the clothing the figure is wearing. What might it convey?
- Haremhab, featured in this sculpture, was a royal scribe and army general under Tutankhamun. How might a scribe's ability to read and write support the work of a pharaoh or army?
- The symbol on the figure's chest and back refer to the tools of a scribe: a palette for handling ink, two inkwells, and a bag to hold reeds and brushes. Look closely at this form and identify each element. What does this add to your understanding of the item located next to Haremhab’s left hand?
- How might the figure's pose, clothing, and attributes change if the portrait emphasized the figure's role as a general?
- Haremhab commissioned this sculpture. Why do you think he chose to emphasize his talent as a scribe over his power as a general? What might this tell us about the importance of scribes in ancient Egypt?
Activity Setting: Classroom or Museum
Subject Areas: Visual Arts, English Language Arts, World History, Technology
Duration: 60 minutes
Explore the integration of text in works of art from communities around the world (see Objects in the Museum's Collection Related to this Lesson below). As you examine each object, consider the following questions: How is text integrated or isolated in the composition? What does the object's visual presentation convey? What do the words convey? How would you describe the relationship between the two? Compare and contrast your findings.
Cline, Eric H., and Jill Rubalcaba. The Ancient Egyptian World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
"Haremhab as a Scribe [Egyptian] (23.10.1)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)
Pre-Visit Guide for Teachers: Art of Ancient Egypt (PDF)
Robins, Gay. The Art of Ancient Egypt. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.
Walker, John. Portraits: 5,000 Years. New York: Abrams, 1983.
Watts, Edith. The Art of Ancient Egypt: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998. Download the resource.
Objects in the Museum's Collection Related to this Lesson
Human-headed winged lion (lamassu)
Neo-Assyrian period, reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883–859 b.c.
Excavated at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Mesopotamia
Gypsum alabaster; H. 10 ft. 3 1/2 in. (313.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1932 (32.143.2)
Ottoman; first quarter of 16th century
Composite body, opaque white glaze, underglaze painted; H. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm), W. 5 11/16 in. (14.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1959 (59.69.3)
Huang Tingjian (Chinese, 1045–1105)
Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru
Handscroll; ink on paper; 12 3/4 in. x 59 ft. 9 in. (32.5 x 1822.4 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.4)
Author: Claire Moore
Affiliation: The Metropolitan Museum of Art