Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Altar from the mortuary temple of Amenemhat I

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12
reign of Amenemhat I
ca. 1981–1952 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Pyramid Temple of Amenemhat I, west end of passage north of temple, MMA excavations, 1906–07
H. 161 cm (63 3/8 in.); W. 166 cm (65 3/8 in.); D. 47 cm (18 1/2 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1909
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 108
This imposing altar was found at the west end of a passage just outside the northern wall of the pyramid temple of King Amenemhat I at Lisht North. It must have been placed there by the quarrymen who - most probably in Ramesside times - dismantled the temple. Originally, the altar presumably stood in the open court of the temple, its roughly shaped lower part (now removed) sunken into the ground. A rectangular libation basin is carved into the top of the altar, as well as representations in flat relief of an offering mat with two libation (hes) vases and three loaves of bread, the middle one incised with the king's throne name and Horus name and the added wish: "may [he] be given life forever!" At the center of the altar's front side the incised birth name of the king (Amenemhat) forms the focus for rows of approaching fertility figures (fat men and women carrying offerings) who are designated by inscriptions as personifications of nomes (regional governorates) of northern Egypt (on the left) and southern Egypt (on the right).
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

Lythgoe, Albert M. 1907. "Recent Egyptian Acquisitions." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 12 (December), p. 194.

Lythgoe, Albert M. 1907. "The Egyptian Expedition." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 7 (July), p. 116, fig. 5.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 174-175, fig. 105.

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