Period: Third Intermediate Period–early Dynasty 26
Date: ca. 945–600 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt
Medium: Lapis lazuli
Dimensions: Height of figure 5.2 cm (2 1/16 in); w. 1.8 cm (11/16 in); d. 1.1 cm (7/16 in.)
Height of dais 0.4 cm (3/16 in); w 1.0 cm (3/8 in); d 1.6 cm (5/8 in)
Credit Line: Anne and John V. Hansen Egyptian Purchase Fund, 2007
Accession Number: 2007.24
This statuette depicts Ptah, the chief god of Egypt's capital city Memphis, who is easy to identify by his tight-fitting cap and enveloping shroud. Other iconographic details, such as the royal beard, the large and detailed broad collar, the scepter of merged "was" and "djed" signs, and a platform representing the hieroglyph for universal order, as well as the brilliant blue stone, communicate four important epithets: Lord of Lower Egypt, Master Craftsman, Lord of Truth, and Lord of the Sky.
The superior carving of the god's face, scepter, and jewelry is astonishing for a piece of such diminutive size and hard stone. Its style and quality suggests the sculpture was made in a royal workshop and most likely intended for use as a votive piece in Ptah's large temple at Memphis or in a small shrine dedicated to the god elsewhere in Egypt.