Selected Works from the Egyptian Museum at Cairo--page 1: Old Kingdom works

Note: conditions for taking photographs were far from ideal. The lighting was usually dim and crowds often prevented careful photography or open views. In addition, I was sometimes shooting through glass. Color varies in some of the images because I was using two cameras, one with high-speed print film, the other with very high speed slide film.

This limestone statue is thought to be the oldest life-size sculpture surviving from Egypt. It had once been covered with plaster and painted; the eyes were inlaid as well. His appearance becomes traditional for royal portrait sculpture: he wears a simple kilt, a black wig and false ceremonial beard, and the royal headdress.

King Zoser

painted limestone, found in the small chapel (the "serdab") against the north face of his step pyramid at the funerary complex at Saqqara
Dynasty 3, about 2690-2660 BCE
Rahotep and Nofret
painted limestone, beginning of Dynasty 4, c. 2620 BCE

These two separate statues form a unit with the prince, probably a son of King Sneferu, and his wife. The convention was to paint a man's body darker than woman's skin. Both figures have inlaid eyes and Nofret wears a long sheath dress with a mantle, a wide necklace with concentric rings, and a wig with a headband of rosette designs.
This life-size "ka" statue was discovered at Khafre's valley temple. Like Zoser (above) he is dressed in the traditional costume: a simple kilt, the linen headdress (in this case with the "uraeus"), and the wig and false beard. He sits on a throne with lion's heads at the arms and with a relief representing the union of Upper and Lower Egypt (the intwined lotus and papyrus). Horus is perched at his back, his wings protecting the king, and his presence indicating the divine status of the pharaoh. The figure is dignified and calm, and the pose is compact, with arms close to the body. These features are characteristic of royal portraiture in Egypt for millenia.
Khafre (Chephren)
Dynasty 4, c. 2575-2525 BCE
Seated Scribe
painted limestone, beginning of Dynasty 5, c. 2475 BCE

Scribes occupied a privileged position in ancient Egypt. Still portrait sculptures of scribes are less formal than royal portraits, often seated figures with crossed legs and even sometimes with realistic rolls of fat on the figure's abdomen. Here the scribe sits with a partly unrolled papyrus scroll on his knees.
Left: statuette from the Workers' Tombs at Giza; center: statuette of servant; right: statuette of female brewer, all Dynasty 4

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© 2001 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

Page created by Mary Ann Sullivan