Seated Statue of King Menkaure

Period: Old Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 4

Reign: reign of Menkaure

Date: ca. 2490–2472 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Memphite Region, Giza, Pyramid Complex of Menkaure, Valley Temple: Sculptor's workshop, Harvard-Boston MFA excavations, 1911

Medium: Indurated limestone

Dimensions: H. 20 cm (7 7/8 in)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1937

Accession Number: 37.6.1


Menkaure, son of Khafre and grandson of Khufu, built the Third Pyramid at Giza. Unlike the First and Second Pyramids of his father and grandfather which were covered in white limestone, Menkaure planned to case his pyramid in granite. This remained unfinished at his death and was never completed. His pyramid complex was excavated by a joint expedition of Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1908.

This unfinished statuette of Menkaure was found in a sculptor's workshop associated with the valley temple of his pyramid. It was one of fourteen statuettes of the king found there, all unfinished and in various stages of the sculptural process. It depicts the king in the traditional pose, seated with his left hand flat, palm down on this thigh; his right hand, here broken off, would have been in a fist. The feet of the statuette and the front part of the base on which they rested were destroyed as well. The king is seated on a blocklike throne that, when complete, would have been carved with the sematawy symbol, which represents the unity of Upper and Lower Egypt. He wears the nemes headcloth and false beard, and traces of the uraeus can be seen on the brow.

The statuette is made of a good quality hard limestone and still shows traces of the preliminary blocking-out of the figure, which have been partly obscured by the initial polishing of the surface. The musculature of the torso has been indicated and the statuette shows the outlines of the square mature face of Menkaure displayed in the large statues of greywacke and alabaster found elsewhere in his valley temple.