Guardian Figure

Period: Middle Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 12

Reign: reign of Amenemhat II

Date: ca. 1919–1885 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Mastaba of Imhotep, chamber inside the south enclosure wall, MMA excavations, 1913–14

Medium: Cedar wood, plaster, paint

Dimensions: H. 57.6 cm (22 11/16 in.); W. 11 cm (4 5/16 in.); D. 26 cm (10 1/4 in.)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1914

Accession Number: 14.3.17


This figure wears the red crown of Lower Egypt and the face appears to reflect the features of the reigning king, most probably Amenemhat II or Senwosret II. However, the divine kilt suggests that the statuette was not merely a representation of the living ruler. Together with its counterpart wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt, now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, the figure was discovered standing behind a shrine that contained an object sacred to the god Anubis, the so-called Imiut (14.3.18 and .19), and the two figures could be understood to have functioned as guardians of the Imiut. The ensemble was discovered in 1914 in the area surrounding the pyramid of Senwosret I at Lisht South during the Museum's excavation of a mud-brick enclosure surrounding the mastaba of Imhotep, a Twelfth Dynasty official. A chamber had been built into the south part of the enclosure wall and in it the statuettes and shrine were hidden, doubtlessly after having played a part in a dramatic funerary ceremony.

Link to a blog post
My Early Life with the Middle Kingdom