This booklet is a useful handbook on the Egyptian collections in the Museum of Fine Arts. Its preparation was entrusted to Dr. Smith, a scholar of distinction, a recognized authority, and, for some years, Dr. Reisner’s first Assistant in the excavations at Giza. Inevitably, the book became more than a handbook and is a really short history of the development of Egyptian culture and art, well illustrated with pieces in the Museum collections. Each historical period is discussed in general before the section which describes the pertinent material in the Museum. It will be useful to visitors to be sure, but equally useful to the students and teachers of Egyptian history and art.
1. Egypt of Fine Arts Boston
2. ANCIENT EGYPT as O F FINE ARTS,BOSTON represented in fhe MUSEUM
3. ANCIENT EGYPT as represenfed in the MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON By WILLIAM STEVENSON SMITH, Ph.D. Curafor of Egyptian Art
5. Preface to the First Edition THEP R E S E N T V O L U M E grew out of a scheme to produce an authoritative as well as a useful handbook on the Egyptian collections in the Museum of Fine Arts. Its preparation was entrusted to Dr. Smith, a scholar of distinction, a recognized authority, and, for some years, Dr. Reisner’s first Assistant in the excavations at Giza. Inevitably, the book became more than a handbook, and is really a short history of the development of Egyptian culture and art, well illustrated with pieces in the Museum collections. Each historical period is discussed in general before the section which describes the pertinent material in the Museum. It will be useful to visitors to be sure, but equally useful to the students and teachers of Egyptian history and art. Its appearance at this time is extremely apposite. Coming as it does so soon after the death of Dr. George Andrew Reisner, Curator of Egyptian Art at the Museum, and one of the world’s greatest Egyptologists, its author likes to regard it as a tribute to this great scholar whose indefatigable labors and brilliant re- search have been the major factor in creating the collection which the Museum houses. Although Dr. Smith will publish shortly a much more exhaustive book on Egyptian sculpture, this one calls especial attention to the collection the Mu- seum owes to Dr. Reisner, and which many regard as not the most extensive but perhaps the most distinguished outside of Cairo. As Director of the Museum, I should like to express my gratitude to certain friends of the Museum who bore the cost of publication. Thanks are due first to Mrs. Charles Gaston Smith and her Group who donated roughly half the re- quired sum. Similar help was received also from Mr. Dows Dunham, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Jackson Holmes, Dr. Francis T. Hunter, Mrs. Gardiner M. Lane, Miss Katharine W. Lane, and Mr. Arthur S. Musgrave. The Museum is deeply appreciative of this assistance at a time when so many demands are made upon every purse. G. H. EDGELL,Director September 23,1942
6. Contents INTRODUCTION, 11 CHAPTER I EGYPT BEFORE THE OLD KINGDOM THE P R E D Y N A S T I C P E R I O D , 15 OBJECTS O F T H E P R E D Y N A S T I C PERIOD, 18 T H E A R C H A I C P E R I O D , 22 OBJECTS O F T H E A R C H A I C P E R I O D , 22 CHAPTER II THE OLD KINGDOM THE HISTORICAL B A C K G R O U N D O F DYNASTIES IV T O VI, 25 R E L I G I O U S BELIEFS A N D T H E I R EFFECT U P O N E G Y P T I A N ART, 29 T H E SCULPTURE A N D M I N O R A R T S OF T H E O L D K I N G D O M , 33 DYNASTY V T O DYNASTY V I , 51 CHAPTER III THE MIDDLE KINGDOM THE HISTORICAL B A C K G R O U N D , 71 THE A R T S A N D CRAFTS O F THE MIDDLE KINGDOM, 78 CHAPTER IV THE NEW KINGDOM THE HISTORICAL B A C K G R O U N D : D Y N A S T Y XVIII, 103 T H E A R T O F D Y N A S T Y XVIII AS ILLUSTRATED BY THIS COLLECTION, 114 THE HISTORICAL B A C K G R O U N D : DYNASTY XIX, 138 DYNASTY xx, 140 RAMESSIDE A R T IN THIS COLLECTION, 142 CHAPTER V EGYPT I N THE LATE PERIOD THE H I S T O R I C A L BACKGROUND : D Y N A S T I E S XXI-XXV, 149 T H E S A I T E A N D P T O L E M A I C P E R I O D S : D Y N A S T I E S XXVI-XXXI, 154 OBJECTS OF THE LATE PERIOD, 162 CHRONOLOGY, 193 INDEX, 203
8. Introduction and Bibliography IN P R E P A R I N G a fifth edition of Ancient Egypt the illustrations have been thor- oughly revised. Worn-out cuts have been replaced by fresh views of familiar ob- jects while occasionally the emphasis has been shifted to other important pieces. A number of objects placed on exhibition since 1952 seemed to demand illustra- tion. Some of these have been selected from new acquisitions coming to the Mu- seum through gift or purchase but others are the result of the study of material long in storage which has now been restored to a sound condition by our technical services. We have by no means completed the lengthy task of dealing adequately with the objects in fragile condition from the excavations carried on by the Mu- seum for some forty years in Egypt. Over the years we have had reason to be grateful to Mr. William J. Young’s laboratory for the expert collaboration upon which so much depends. It is a pity that there is no space for pictures of the con- dition before treatment of such things as the electrum sheaths (Fig. 109) or the toilet spoon (Fig. 88). The recently acquired painting of a lady on linen (Fig. 127) presents a vastly improved appearance after it had been cleaned and mounted by Mr. John A. Finlayson of the Department of Paintings. Miss Suzanne Chap- man has also succeeded in flattening out and mounting another large painting on linen (No. 72.4723) which had remained rolled up since 1872 when it came to us with the gift of the Way Collection. The panel of Ramesses III with a court lady, an early example of the elaborate use of glass inlay (Fig. 98) is again the result of studying what at first appeared to be rather unpromising pieces that had been held in reserve. Except for the addition of new material and revisions made necessary by re- cent discoveries which have affected the historical background, the text remains substantially the same as in earlier editions. The study of our expedition records in connection with the publication of the Museum’s excavations continues to in- crease our information about this collection. The reader will find a number of alterations in the text which have resulted from this, for example in regard to the chronology of the Sudan in the Meroitic Period. It is hoped that the map of Egypt and Nubia will prove a helpful addition. The following more compact and up-to-date bibliography has been substituted for that in the introduction to previous editions. O p p o s i t e : The Judge Mehu. End of Dyn. V
9. BIBLIOGRAPHY ALDRED, C. T h e Development of Egyptian A r t , London, 1952. Original Edition in 3 vols.: Old Kingdom A r t in Ancient Egypt, London, 1949. Middle Kingdom A r t in Ancient Egypt, London, 1950.N e w Kingdom A r t in Ancient Egypt in the Eighteenth Dynasty, London, 1952. BEVAN,E. A History of Egypt Under t h e Ptolemaic Dynasty, London, 1927. J. H. BREASTED, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vols. I-V, Chicago, 1906-7. CAPART, J. L'Artégyptien. 2 vols. Brussels, 1909,1911. Deuxiéme Partie: I, L'Archi- tecture, 1922.11,La Statuaire, 1948.111, Les A r t s Graphiques, 1942. IV, Les A r t s min- eurs, 1947. DAVIES,NINAM. and GARDINER, A. H. Ancient Egyptian Paintings, 3 vols. Chi- cago, 1936. DRIOTON,É. and VANDIER, J. Les Peuples de l’orient méditerranéen, II. L’Egypte (‘Clio’). 3rd ed. Paris, 1952. D. DUNHAM, T h e Royal Cemeteries of Kush, Vols. I-IV. Cambridge and Boston, 1950-58. T h e Egyptian Department and its excavations, Boston, 1958. Second Cataract Forts; Vol. I, Semna-Kumma, Boston, 1960. EHRICH, R. W. (ed.). Relative Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, Chicago, 1954. ERMAN,A. T h e Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, Translated by A. M. Blackman. London, 1927. FRANKFORT,H. Kingship and t h e Gods, Chicago, 1948. FRANKFORT, H., FRANKFORT, H. A., WILSON,J. A. and JACOBSEN, T. Before Phi- losophy, Harmondsworth, 1949. Original Edition: T h e Intellectual Adventure o f An- cient Man. Chicago, 1946. A. H. GARDINER, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed. London, 1957. W. C. T h e Scepter of Egypt, Vols. 1-11, New York and Cambridge, 1953-1959. LUCAS, E. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries. 3rd ed. London, 1948. MILNE,J. G . A History of Egypt under R o m a n Rule. 3rd ed. London, 1924. PORTER,B. and Moss, R. Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings. Vols. I-VII, Oxford, 1927-51. PRITCHARD, J. B. (ed.). Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating t o t h e Old Testament. Princeton, 1950. T h e Ancient East in Pictures relating to the Old Testament. Princeton, 1954. G. A. A History of t h e Giza Necropolis, Vols. 1-11, Cambridge, 1946-55. Kerma, I-IV,Harvard African Studies, Vols. V-VI, Cambridge, 1923. Mycerinus, Cambridge, 1931. SCHÄFER, H. and ANDRAE, W. Die Kunst des Alten Orients. (Propylaeon-kunst- geschichte, Vol. 11), Berlin, 1925. 3rd ed., 1942.
10. SMITH,W. S. The Art and Arrhitecture of Ancient Egypt. Baltimore, 1958. -- A History of Egyptian Sculpture and Painting in the O l d Kingdom, 2nd ed. Boston, 1949. G. and SEELE, K. W h e n Egypt Ruled The East. 2nd ed. Chicago, 1957. J . Manuel d’Archéologieégyptienne, Vols. I-III, Paris, 1952-58. La Religion égyptienne. 2nd ed. Paris, 1949. WILSON,J. A. The Culture of Ancient Egypt. Chicago, 1956.Original Edition: The Burden of Egypt, Chicago, 1951. H. E. WINLOCK, Excavations at Deir el Bahri. New York, 1942. The reader should also find it useful to consult the following articles in the Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, listed by volume number, year and page, which deal with the Museum’s excavations in Egypt and important individual objects: GIZA: Old Kingdom. Sculpture from Mycerinus Pyramid: 9 (1911),p. 13;33 (1935), p. 21;48 (1950),p. 10.Western Cemetery: 5 (1907),p. 20 (Nofer, etc.); 11 (1913),p. 19 (Pen-meru), p. 53 (Senezem-ib Family); 13 (1915), p. 29 (Reserve Heads); 20 (1922),p. 25;33 (1935),p. 69;34 (1936),p. 96;36 (1938),p. 26;37 (1939),p. 29;56 (1958),p. 56 (Mehu and Senezem-ib Family). Eastern Cemetery: 25,Special Supple- ment, May, 1927,p. 1;26 (1928),p. 76;27 (1929),p. 83;30 (1932),p. 56;51 (1953),p. 23 (all for Queen Hetep-heres I); 23 (1925),pp. 12,28;25 (1927),p. 64 (Chapel of Queen Meresankh 111), p. 96 (Coffin of Queen Meresankh II); 32 (1934), p. 2 (Khufu-khaf, etc.); 34 (1936),p. 3 (Pair statuette of Meresankh III); 37 (1939),p. 42 (Bust of Prince Ankh-haf); 44 (1946),p. 23 (Gilded copper diadem). SUDAN: Kerma (Middle Kingdom t o Hyksos): 12 (1914), p. 9; 13 (1915), p. 71; 39 (1941),p. 7.Cataract Forts (Middle-New Kingdom): 23 (1925),p. 20; 27 (1959),p. 64;28 (1930),p. 47;29 (1931),p. 66.Royal Shawabtis: 49 (1951),p. 40.Gebel Barkaf Temples (Kushite): 15 (1917),p. 25;23 (1925),p. 17 (Atlanersa Altar). Nuri (Kush- ite): 16 (1918),p. 67;43 (1945),p. 53 (Aspelta Sarcophagus). El Kurru (Kushite): 19 (1921)p. 21;46 (1948),p. 98.Meroë (Meroitic): 21 (1923),p. 12;23 (1925),p. 18;46 (1948),p. 100. OBJECTS:46 (1948),p. 64 (Hippopotamus). OLDKINGDOMS C U L P T U R ESaqqarah : Chapels: 8 (1910), p. 19; 27 (1929), p. 36. Khnum-baf (Ba-baf) statuette: 37 (1939), 117.O l d Kingdom Portraits: 41 (1943). p. 68.Wooden statue of Methethy: 46 (1948),p. 30. MIDDLE KINGDOM OBJECTS:Assiut Sculpture: 3 (1905),p. 13.El Bersheh objects: 19 (1921), p. 43; 39 (1941), p. 10. Royal Sculpture: 26 (1928), p. 61.Jewelry: 39 (1941),p. 94. N E WKINGDOM OBJECTS: Medinet Habu Faience Tiles: 6 (1908),p. 47;Amarna Re- liefs: 34 (1936),p. 22;35 (1937),p. 11.Merenptah Statue: 37 (1939),p. 6 Horemheb Relief, Hatshepsut Obelisk: 40 (1942),p. 42.Dwarf Statuette: 47 (1949),p. 9.Amen- hotep, Son o f Hapu: 47 (1949),p. 42.Toilet Box: 50 (1952),p. 74.Head of Amenhotep II,52 (1954),pp. 11,41.Theban Tomb Relief: 52 (1954),p. 84.Painter’s Sketch: 56 (1958),p. 102. LATEPERIOD: Amulets: 28 (1930),p. 117.Sculpture: 29 (1931),p. 104;35 (1937),p. 70;47 (1949),p. 21;49 (1951),p. 69;50 (1952),pp. 19,49;51 (1953), pp. 2,80; 53 (1955),p. 80;Bronzes: 57 (1959),p. 48. 13
11. 1. King Khasekhem(?). Dyn. II
12. Chapter I Egypt Before the Old Kingdom THE PREDYNASTIC P E R I O D THEE A R L I E S T A P P E A R A N C E of man in the Nile Valley can be traced through the worked flints which hunters and herdsmen left on the upper terraces of the des- ert edge. The succeeding types of these weapons and tools correspond roughly to those of the Palaeolithic Period in Europe. In Neolithic times, in the period before 4000 B.C., early settlements began to appear on the lower gravel banks both in Upper and Lower Egypt. The inhabitants of these villages were a mixed race as far back as can be discovered, combining elements from the west and east as well as some mixture from the south. With their advent into the Nile Valley commenced the transition from the wandering life of hunter and herdsman to that of settled agricultural communities. The very earliest settlements provide evidence for the cultivation of grain. The inhabitants of Merimde and the Fayum villages were already growing wheat, while fragments of woven linen show that the latter were also cultivating flax. The first settlers found the valley very different in appearance from what it is today. The annual inundation flooded a great portion of the land on each side of the river and after the water had receded swampy pools were left along the edge of the desert. Endless thickets of papyrus and reeds covered these marshy regions, and grew even more widely amongst the lagoons of the Delta. Land for cultivation had to be cleared little by little and the wild beasts that inhabited the swamps destroyed. Not only were there snakes and crocodiles to be feared, but the hippopotamus and elephant were still commonly met with. It is not surprising that formidable natural obstructions as well as diversity of origin should at first have isolated the tribes which settled in differ- ent places along the valley. We can see in these tribal units the origin of the various Nomes or Provinces which formed the underlying basis for the political structure of Egypt in historical times. However, the great river soon provided easy means of access between various localities along its banks and facilitated the striking uniformity of race, language, and culture which was to overshadow these individual peculiarities. The great achievement of the prehistoric period was the control which was gained over the land. In order to do this it was necessary to curb in some way, and make use of, the inundation. Settling at first on stony outcrops above the
13. EGYPT B E F O R E THE OLD KINGDOM alluvial plain, or on higher ground along the edge of the desert, the early Egyp- tians managed to clear the ground in their immediate neighborhood for cultiva- tion, to fill in the swamps, a n d to build dikes against the incursions of the flood water. Gradually the use of canals for irrigation was learned. All this work re- quired organized effort on a large scale, impossible for the individual alone, and led to the growth of a local political structure within each district. Our knowledge of Predynastic Egypt at first depended upon the evidence sup- plied by a series of cemeteries in Upper Egypt. From the objects found in these graves the gradual development of the country could be traced through the Am- ratian and Gerzean Periods to the beginning of dynastic times. More recent exca- vations have produced traces of still earlier stages of primitive culture, not only in Upper Egypt at Tasa and Badari, but also in the north. The village of Merimde on the western edge of the Delta represents one of these early stages in man’s development in the Nile Valley. To this are related the settlements in the Fayum and that of El Omari not far south of modern Cairo. They correspond roughly in time to those of Tasa and Badari in the south which preceded the Amratian cul- ture. The very large settlement at Maadi is recognized as being later than the nearby site of El Omari and a few other sources of Predynastic objects are begin- ning to be known in the Eastern Delta. While much emphasis has been laid upon the differences between the cultures of Upper and Lower Egypt, assuming that greater progress was being made in the Delta, it must be remembered that at present a very small number of sites have been explored in the north. In general our knowledge of anything which preceded the Amratian culture of Upper Egypt rests upon a less secure basis than our familiarity with the latter, and must be amplified by further investigation. The religious myths and writings concerned with kingly ritual which were ga- thered together in the Pyramid Texts seem frequently to hint at actual historical events. Although this material was not collected until late in Dynasty V when it is first found inscribed on the walls of the burial chamber of King Unas, portions of it are thought to be very much older. These fragments of early literary evi- dence reveal the growing political unity of Egypt, while emphasizing the distinc- tion between Upper and Lower Egypt, which is apparent throughout historical times when at any weakening of the central authority the country tended to separate into two halves. At an early time the Nomes of the Delta seem to have formed themselves into coalitions. The western Nomes were traditionally united under the god Horus, while the eastern part of the Delta was joined under the god Anedjty, Lord of Djedu, who was later assimilated with the great god Osiris. Eventually the worship of Horus as the chief god prevailed throughout the Delta, and this has been taken to mean that the western Nomes conquered those of the east and formed a united northern kingdom. Nevertheless, Horus also main- tained an early predominance in Upper Egypt where it has been supposed that he supplanted Seth who had his principal seat at Ombos. There has long been reason to doubt the theory that the Horus cult spread through conquest of the
14. EGYPT BEFORE THE OLD K I N G D O M South by the North and that this resulted in a Predynastic union of the whole country. We find that in late Gerzean times there were two separate kingdoms worshipping Horus, with Hierakonpolis as the capital of the South and Buto that of the Delta. The unification of Egypt was traditionally assigned to Menes, the first king of Dynasty I. This great figure, although he was later recognized as the first truly historical personage, perhaps really unites the attributes of several kings, notably Narmer and Aha. Certainly it is the Southern Kingdom which now gains domi- nance over the whole country. Again, in Dynasty II, when there seems to have been a rebellion in the North, this was put down by the kings of Upper Egypt who revived the prestige of their old local god Seth, perhaps in order to strengthen their sectional unity. It would seem to have been the political organizing power of the strong, hardy people of the South which came forward throughout Egyp- tian history to solidify the country again after periods of disruption. Thus we see the Theban Kingdom reuniting Egypt in Dynasty XI after the chaos of the First Intermediate Period, and later driving out the Hyksos invaders in Dynasty XVII. It is with skepticism, therefore, that one views the suggestion of a Predynastic union of Egypt resulting from the military conquest of the south by the people of the Delta. The culture of Predynastic Egypt shows us the transition from the use of stone implements to that of copper and the gradual development of the latter. Throughout Badarian and Amratian times the making of flint implements reached a stage of marvelous precision and skill, while copper, although known, appears only in small quantities which the craftsman was learning to utilize for practicable weapons and tools. With the Gerzean Period we begin to find the practical use of metal with all the possibilities of development in every craft which it implies, as well as the consequent decline of the flint industry. The in- fluence of invention can be clearly seen in the rise and decline of other crafts. Thus the development of handmade pottery continues side by side with a some- what limited working of stone vessels until toward the end of the Predynastic Period when the invention of the stone borer made the manufacture of splendid stone vessels much more rapid and cheap. There is then a gradual deterioration in the forms and decoration of pottery until the invention of the potter’s wheel toward the end of Dynasty II caused the potter’s craft to regain its ascendancy. The first villages seem to have been formed mainly of reed shelters with an oval-shaped ground plan. These were open at one end and must have resembled the light constructions set up in the fields at the present day to protect the peasant from the hot noon sun and from the wind at night when he is camping out away from his village at harvesting time. In addition to these, the villager at Merimde sought additional protection for his sleeping place by hollowing out oval holes in the ground and banking them up with a rim of clods of patted mud. A pot sunk in the floor drained off any rain water that seeped in, while a hippo- potamus bone served as a step down into the depression. Some kind of a matting 17
15. E G Y P T B E F O R E THE OLD K I N G D O M roof must have covered this and in one case there was a cross pole to help sup- port the layers of matting. Although the earliest huts of reed and wattle had a round or oval shape, by the Gerzean Period the ground plan became rectangular. In the settlement at Maadi small huts were built with a sheltering wall which projected out in front of the entrance to serve as a windbreak. Although very little is left of these early buildings they give us a hint of what lay behind the quite elaborate system of architecture in mud brick and light ma- terials which appears in Dynasty I. Of this little has survived except for the enormous brick tombs with their panelled outer walls which awaken our respect for the large scale of the work which the architect was prepared to undertake. Pictures of some of these early buildings appear in contemporary carvings, while the Dynasty III temples at the Saqqarah Step Pyramid show us this light con- struction quite literally translated into stone. The stone mason has imitated col- umns formed of mud-plastered bundles of reeds, palm-log ceilings, and mud- brick walls. Picket fences and projecting wooden elements were carved in relief in the small stone masonry. Even the wooden doors are shown, as though thrown back against the wall. Naive as is this adaptation into stone, the result is beauti- fully proportioned, light, and very pleasing. It represents a sophisticated archi- tectural development in the handling of brick, wood, and light materials. The proficiency of the stonecutter which enabled Zoser’s architect to execute this daring conception entirely in stone was apparently a Memphite development. Even as early as Dynasty I the workmen had learned how to cut chambers in the rock for the large tombs at Saqqarah, while across the river at Helwan large slabs of masonry were used to line the burial chambers. Perhaps more remark- able is the flooring of granite blocks in the central chamber of the tomb of Wedy- mu at Abydos. The Palermo Stone records a temple built of stone by King Kha- sekhemuwy at the end of Dynasty 11, while that king’s tomb has the burial cham- ber built of small limestone blocks, although the rest of the construction is of brick. A large door-jamb of granite executed for this king at Hierakonpolis is even decorated with reliefs. Such work in hard stone is an achievement more to be expected in Dynasty IV or V than in the archaic period. It makes one realize how much we have still to learn about the architecture of Dynasties I and 11. OBJECTS O F THE PREDYNASTIC PERIOD T H EL I F E of the early settlers of Lower Egypt is reflected in the Museum of Fine Arts collection by objects of daily use found in the prehistoric settlement of Me- rimde on the western edge of the Delta. The stone weapons and tools look clumsy and primitive compared to the beautifully chipped flint implements of the Am- ratian Period. Rough pottery vessels made in a few simple shapes were used for cooking and for carrying and storing water. A broken piece shows that some of the bowls had supporting feet, a practical contrivance which seems to have been used only by the people of the Delta. The two flat stones for grinding grain, as
16. E G Y P T BEFORE T H E O L D K I N G D O M 2. Pottery of the Amratian Period 3. Predynastic Slate Palettes 19
17. E G Y P T B E F O R E THE OLD K I N G D O M well as a handful of wheat blackened by age, tell us that even these earliest vil- lagers were already an agricultural people. In early Predynastic times the potter had learned how to make well-shaped vessels with a red polished surface and burned to a shiny black inside and around the top. Ordinarily this black-topped ware was not decorated, but the figure of a mountain sheep has been scratched on the side of a tall beaker from Abadiyeh in Fig. 2 . Geometric patterns are found on black polished pottery like the bowl in Fig. 2. The zigzag lines, crosshatchings, and dots are incised into the surface and filled with white paint. The designs imitate basket-work patterns. A wider range of patterns including plants, animals and, more rarely, human figures, was painted in creamy white on the red polished surface of another class of vessels. Occasionally plastic ornament was added as in the clumsy animals which are modelled as though standing on the rim of the tall jar (Fig. 2). Although the black-topped vases continued to be made, these decorated wares disappear at the end of the Amratian Period. Their place is taken by a finer buff-colored pottery with somewhat similar designs in red paint. Such is the tall jar in Fig. 7 with its many-oared boats. On other vases flamingoes, desert animals, and human fig- ures are grouped around the boats while the empty spaces are filled with zigzag lines and plant forms. The angular, geometric forms are indicated by strokes and blobs of paint and are in style like the earliest of the Egyptian wall paintings found in a tomb of the late Gerzean Period at Hierakonpolis and now in the Cairo Museum. The emblems on the standards in the boats resemble those which later belonged to the different Nomes or provinces of Egypt. Although writing did not yet exist, the use of these tribal emblems probably represents one of the first steps toward its invention. The craftsman was not only learning how to fashion vessels from stone, but he was able to carve from hard slate quite passable imitations of various animals for the paint palettes which were much in demand. O n the vigorously worked little lions, elephants, turtles, hippopotami, or fish the Egyptians ground the green malachite for their eye-paint (Fig. 3). It was perhaps through this use of malachite that they became familiar with the copper that it contained. The attrac- tion of gold as an ornament probably led to the working of metals which resulted in the practical use of this copper for weapons and tools. Sculpture in the round began with small, crude human figures of mud, clay, and ivory (Fig. 4). The faces are pinched out of the clay until they have a form like the beak of a bird. Arms and legs are long rolls attached to the slender bodies of men, while the hips of the women’s figures are enormously exaggerated. A greater variety of attitudes and better workmanship are found in the ivory figur- ines which sometimes have the eye indicated by the insertion of a bead (Fig. 4). It is the carving of animals, however, such as the ivory hippopotamus from Mesaeed in Fig. 4, or the pottery figure (Fig. 6) which points the way toward the rapid ad- vance which was to be made in the Hierakonpolis ivories and in the small carv- ings of Dynasty I.
18. EGYPT B E F O R E THE O L D K I N G D O M 4. Predynastic Figures 5. Archaic ivory carvings and faience from Abydos and Hierakonpolis 21
19. E G Y P T B E F O R E THE OLD K I N G D O M THE ARCHAIC P E R I O D T H EK I N G S of the first three dynasties still remain to us rather nebulous figures, nor can we learn much concerning the events of individual reigns. The badly smashed equipment from the Abydos tombs of Dynasties I and II gives evidence of a brilliant and luxurious court. The little British Museum plaque with the pic- ture of Wedymu striking down an 'Easterner' dramatically represents a domi- nance over the nomadic tribes which was to lead to the control of the Sinai Pen- insula under the kings of Dynasty III. Narmer at the beginning of Dynasty I stands out as a personality in the scenes on the ceremonial palette in the Cairo Museum which evidently records a military triumph over the people of the Delta. Khasekhem we know, in Dynasty 11, from his two splendid portrait statues in the Cairo Museum and at Oxford which again suggest, by the pictures on their bases, conflict with the North. A royal head recently added to our collection strongly resembles those of Khasekhem and may be another portrait of him (Fig. 1). At the end of Dynasty II the monuments of Khasekhemuwy seem to represent a definite stride forward in culture which was to be realized more fully in Dynasty III by the marvelous architecture of the Step Pyramid and its sur- rounding complex of temples. The forceful face of the statue of Zoser in Cairo suggests the power of the man who was responsible for this achievement. The other kings of Dynasty III are as shadowy as those of the first two dynasties, al- though the newly discovered Step Pyramid at Saqqarah of Zoser's successor, Sekhem-khet, and the immense excavation of the unfinished tomb of another king at Zawiyet el Aryan are sufficient to prove that Zoser was not alone as a great builder. The monuments of Sekhem-khet and Sa-nekht in Sinai suggest that they as well as Zoser carried the fear of Egyptian arms amongst the wild eastern tribes. The last king, Huni, is no more than a name to us, but with the reign of Sneferu we begin to have a clearer picture of Egyptian civilization, which had now reached the first of its great periods of achievement. OBJECTS O F THE ARCHAIC P E R I O D THEP R O G R E S S of the sculptor of small objects in Early Dynastic times is bril- liantly illustrated by the objects from the royal tombs at Abydos. If one compares the delicate hand from a statuette, the bull’s legs from a box, or the headless figure of the lioness in Fig. 5 with the Predynastic figurines in Fig. 4, the greatly improved modelling and the skill in handling the material are immediately ap- parent. The wider variety of forms is suggested by the bearded man, the woman with her hands on her breast, and the well carved but badly preserved squatting figure in Fig. 5. Similarly, the green-glazed faience objects in Fig. 5 , while lacking the delicate detail of the ivory carvings, show the increasing ability of the sculp- tors who made the small human and animal figures which were placed as votive offerings in the temples at Abydos and Hierakonpolis.
20. EGYPT BEFORE THE OLD KINGDOM 6. Amratian pottery hippopotamus 7. Gerzean painted jar 8. Stone vase of King Khasekhemuwy with gold cover, Abydos 23
21. EGYPT BEFORE T H E OLD K I N G D O M The furniture placed in the royal tombs of Dynasties I and II was of the richest materials and most sophisticated workmanship. The making of stone vessels had reached a point where highly fantastic shapes were attempted. Fragmentary ex- amples of these are the pieces of a marble dish imitating woven basketwork (No. 01.7286) or another fragment with delicately carved designs like embossed metal (No. 01.7299). The small faience cup in Fig. 5 is a cheaper imitation of a compos- ite version known elsewhere with slate sepals and alabaster petals. For ordinary use were the two plain bowls excavated by the Museum’s Expedition in the ceme- tery beside the peculiar layer pyramid of Zawiyet el Aryan. They are unusual, however, in having scratched inside them the name of the little-known King Kha-ba of Dynasty 111. The stone vase of Khasekhemuwy, the last king of Dy- nasty 11, has a gold cover imitating a cloth laid over the top of the jar and tied with a string (Fig.8). It was one of several similar vases overlooked in the pillage and suggests how great the wealth of these tombs must have been before they were robbed. So also does the sceptre of the same king, made of lengths of sard fitted on a copper tube and separated by bands of gold (No. 01.7285). This is only one section of the sceptre, another piece of which is in the Cairo Museum. The small faience element with a hawk standing on a frame representing the palace-façade came from the tomb of a Dynasty I queen near Giza. It is part of a bracelet like that of the wife of King Zer in the Cairo Museum. The cutting of reliefs in hard stone had gained even greater dexterity than sculpture in the round at the beginning of Dynasty I. The Cairo Museum posses- ses the finest of these early reliefs in the slate palette of King Narmer. The royal stelae set up at the king’s tombs at Abydos, although simpler in design, show equally fine workmanship. The same cannot be said of the small grave stela of a court lady buried in one of the little tombs surrounding that of King Zer (No. 01.7294). The craftsmen available to the private person had not been able to keep pace with the rapid strides being made in the royal workshops. There is some- thing pathetically appealing about the laborious chiselling and uneven surfaces of this simple figure. Her name is haltingly written above her head in the new hieroglyphic language which the king’s sculptors were already employing with superb decorative effect. Unpromising as this small stela seems, it has an honor- able position as one of the first of a long line of private monuments among which were to be found the splendid chapel reliefs of the Old Kingdom.
22. Chapter 11 The Old Kingdom T H E H I S T O R I C A L B A C K G R O U N D O F DYNASTIES IV TO VI THEG R E A T K I N G S of Dynasty IV are known to us chiefly through their building activities. Although the architecture, sculpture, and painting of the period are fa- miliar to us, scarcely any record of historical events has survived from the reigns of Sneferu and his successors. We know the names and faces of the important people of the time, even a little about their private lives, but although we can guess from their titles something about the parts that they played in public life, we have only tantalizing glimpses of the events in which they found themselves We know that Sneferu sent an expedition to Sinai where a rock carving shows him striking down one of the local Bedouin chiefs. In this he was following in the footsteps of his predecessors of Dynasty III who left records there. Sneferu’s son Cheops also had a bas-relief carved at the Wady Maghara, but there are no fur- ther memorials of expeditions until that of Sahura early in Dynasty V. The Sinai reliefs probably represent military expeditions sent out to put down the lawless tribes of the eastern desert and to protect the important mining operations for turquoise. Cheops also made use of the diorite quarries in a waterless place far out in the Nubian desert about fifty miles west of Abu Simbel. From there came the beautiful stone which Chephren used for his statues. Radedef and Sahura, as well as Cheops, left stelae recording expeditions to these quarries. A military raid against the Nubians is recorded in Sneferu’s Annals on the Pa- lermo Stone. This may have been sufficient to ensure the peaceful working of the diorite quarries in the following reigns, or there may have had to be a continued show of military force in the south. We do not know. Mention is also made in the Annals of the building of 100-ell ships of mer-wood and cedar, which sug- gests regular traffic with the Syrian coast to bring back cedar of Lebanon. Prob- ably the port of call was Byblos, as in later times, for a fragment of a stone vessel bearing the name of Khasekhemuwy was found there, showing that the trade was already in existence at the end of Dynasty 11. A heavy copper axe-head with the name of a boat crew, probably of Cheops, was found at the mouth of the river Adonis not far from Byblos, while excavations at the port have produced other objects inscribed with the names of Chephren and Mycerinus.
23. THE OLD KINGDOM Sneferu reigned for 24 years according to the Turin Papyrus, while a docu- ment of the Middle Kingdom, the Admonitions to an otherwise unknown Vizier of Dynasty 111, Kagemni, states that Sneferu succeeded to the throne at the death of Huni. It is very probable that the new king was the son of a secondary queen and that he legitimized his position by marrying Hetep-heres I, who, if sh e were the eldest daughter of Huni, as is probable, would have carried the blood royal over to the new dynasty. This lady outlived Sneferu and was buried by her son Cheops, probably beside her husband’s pyramid at Dahshur. The tomb did not remain long undisturbed and the queen’s body was destroyed by the robbers who broke into the chamber. A clever prime minister seems to have been able to con- vince Cheops that little damage had been done. He ordered the lid of the alabas- ter coffin replaced to hide the absence of the queen‘s body, and the greater part of the unharmed burial equipment was moved to a secret burial shaft in front of the Great Pyramid in the new cemetery at Giza. Cheops apparently never dis- covered the ruse practised upon him by his minister, for he made an offering to his mother’s spirit before the shaft was finally closed. The secret was not dis- closed until the intact chamber was opened by the Harvard-Boston Expedition in 1925, revealing its amazing treasure of gold-covered furniture and personal equipment that had been presented to the queen by her husband and son. The long and prosperous reign of Cheops seems to have ended in a palace in- trigue of which we have the barest hint in the inscriptions of the beautiful painted chapel of his granddaughter, Queen Meresankh III. Her mother, Hetep-heres II, was married to the Crown Prince Ka-wab who was very probably murdered by Radedef, a son of one of the lesser wives of Cheops. Radedef married Hetep- heres, evidently in an effort to compensate her for the loss of her husband and throne. The marriage can hardly have been a successful one, for another wife had already borne Radedef a son, thus relegating the new queen to a minor posi- tion. Radedef disappears from the scene after a short reign of eight years, leav- ing unfinished the pyramid which he had started at Abu Roash. Hetep-heres her- self joined the party which brought a brother of her first husband to the throne, and married the daughter whom she had borne to Ka-wab to the new king Chephren. Hints of this fraternal strife between the children of the various queens of Cheops are evident in the Giza cemetery in the unfinished tombs and in the malicious erasure of the inscriptions of certain members of the family. This trouble was probably not completely resolved upon the accession of Chephren ren, and it is very likely that the descendants of Radedef made several attempts to regain the throne. They may in fact have been the final cause of the downfall of the dynasty. According to one of the reconstructions of the Turin Papyrus, which is fragmentary at this point, one of them may have been able to seize the throne for a brief time at the close of the reign of Chephren, before his son My- cerinus had succeeded in establishing himself in control of the country. Another may possibly have followed the last real king of the dynasty, Shepseskaf. The legend of later times in the Westcar Papyrus, which relates that the first
24. THE O L D KINGDOM three kings of Dynasty V were the offspring of the god Ra and a lady named Radedet, wife of a priest at Heliopolis, seems to suggest that the new dynasty came into being as the result of the growing strength of the priesthood of Heliopolis opolis. Although the title of ‘Son of Ra’ had already been adopted by Chephren in the preceding dynasty, the constant use of this title, the records of temple building and endowment inscribed on the Palermo Stone, and above all the in- troduction of the Sun Temple into the funerary cult, seem to support this idea. Just what position the Queen Mother, Khent-kawes, assumed in the transition from one dynasty to another is by no means clear. Her titles indicate great im- portance, while the building of a large tomb of unusual form at Giza shows close association with the older royal family. It is possible that Weserkaf married her in order to strengthen his position on the throne, just as Sneferu had married Hetep-heres I. The Westcar Papyrus makes Weserkaf the brother of Sahura, and Neferirkara, but the last two may be sons of Weserkaf and Khent-kawes. Weser- kaf built his pyramid beside Zoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqarah. The plan of the temple is more like those of Dynasty IV than the elaborate structures which his successors erected at Abusir. It was decorated with magnificent reliefs, of which unfortunately only fragments remain. His building activities extended as far as Tod in the Theban Nome, where a column has been found inscribed with his Sahura is chiefly known for the splendid reliefs which decorated his funerary temple at Abusir. These show the booty which was brought back from raids against the Libyans of the western desert and the Asiatics in the east. Large ships filled with bearded foreigners indicate that one of these expeditions was carried out by sea, as do similar representations in the temple of Unas, at the end of the dynasty, and the raid on southern Palestine mentioned in the biography of Weni in the reign of Pepy I of Dynasty VI. The reliefs of Unas actually show a battle between Egyptians and men who look like Bedouins of the eastern desert, while two private tombs of Dynasty VI picture Egyptians besieging small walled towns, one apparently defended by Libyans and the other by Asiatics. The Palermo Stone mentions offerings from Mafket Land (Sinai) and Punt (the Somali Coast) brought for the temple of Hathor in the reign of Sahura. Expeditions to Punt for the incense so necessary in temple ritual are mentioned frequently in Dynasty VI inscriptions, but one of these refers back to an earlier expedition in Dynasty V. The boy king Pepy II writing to Harkhuf concerning the care of the dancing dwarf which he is bringing back from Wawat mentions that the like has not occurred since the Vizier Ba-wer-djed, on an expedition to the land of Punt, pro- cured for Isesy a similar dwarf from the ’Land of Spirits.’ Most of the kings of Dynasty V have recorded their expeditions to Sinai in rock carvings on the cliffs of the Wady Maghara. Thus we find the rulers of the later Old Kingdom able to penetrate farther into the surrounding countries, although probably only for the purpose of furthering trade and protecting their borders. Nubia must have been well under the control 27
25. THE OLD KINGDOM of the kings of Dynasty IV, however, to permit the working of the diorite quar- ries which were reached from some point in the Nile Valley near Abu Simbel. Just what the relations with Byblos were is not certain. An Egyptian temple seems to have been established there as early as Dynasty IV, and the port was apparently open to Egyptian shipping throughout the Old Kingdom for the export of the much-desired cedar wood. Whether Egypt exerted some political control over this town or simply kept up friendly trade connections is quite Toward the end of Dynasty IV brief biographical inscriptions began to appear in the tombs. While these are more specific than the early account which Methen left of his administrative career in the Delta, they still give us little in the way of historical record. Most of them recount the special favor of the king, such as his inspection of the writer’s tomb, the presentation of tomb equipment, or the ad- vancement in office of the recipient. Many of the inscriptions refer to building works executed for the king, particularly those of the Senezem-ib family which held the office of royal architect and overseer of the king’s works from the reign of Isesy to that of Pepy 11. In Dynasty VI the biography of Weni and those of the caravan leaders of Aswan give a more complete picture of the conduct of trade with the south and operations against the Bedouin tribes in the east during the reigns of Pepy I, Mernera, and Pepy II. We gain an impression of the growing power of the Nomarchs of Upper Egypt in Dynasty VI from the inscriptions in their tombs, which are now made in their own districts and not at the capital. A rapidly increasing process of decentralization was taking place. The king was losing direct control, while more and more power passed into the hands of the powerful provincial leaders, who set up smaller local units of government imi- tating the Memphite court and more and more loosely controlled by it. Thus the energetic Nomarchs of Elephantine were largely responsible for the exploration and colonization of Nubia which was developed to a great extent in Dynasty VI. The enormous building projects of the Old Kingdom and the gradual dissipa- tion of the property of the crown through the gifts of funerary endowments to favorites of the king had decreased the royal wealth to an alarming degree. The gradual equalization of wealth had increased to such a point by the end of the dynasty that the king’s power was dangerously weakened. The very long reign of Pepy II,one of the longest in history, came to an end in political confusion. The complete impoverishment of the royal house is plain from the absence of monuments after those of Pepy 11. As disintegration rapidly set in, this impover- ishment spread throughout all classes of society. An ephemeral Dynasty VII, of which there is no evidence except in Manetho’s King List, gave way to Dynasty VIII, of which we have little record except for the names of certain kings whose order is disputed. That Memphite traditions were carried on is shown by the continuation of some tombs at Saqqarah and the small pyramid of Aba with texts in its burial chamber like those of Dynasty VI. Soon a new royal house managed to set itself up at Heracleopolis and made some
26. T H E OLD K I N G D O M attempt to carry on Memphite culture. These kings were evidently able to con- trol the Delta, which had been a prey to marauding desert tribes, as we learn from the instructions of a king, whose name has been lost, to his son King Merikara kara. Upper Egypt had split up into its old tribal units, each Nome under the control of its local ruler. Conditions in every district seem to have been bad, judging from the poverty of the tombs which these Nomarchs prepared for themselves in the neighborhood of their local capitals. Certain decrees set up at Coptos indicate the dependence of the Memphite kings of Dynasty VIII upon the loyalty of the rulers of this Nome which was soon to join forces with the rising power of the Theban Nome. The subsequent history of Egypt is concerned with the growth of this Theban power which in Dynasty XI was destined to gain control first of Upper Egypt, and not very long afterwards of the whole country. R E L I G I O U S B E L I E F S A N D T H E I R EFFECT U P O N EGYPTIAN A R T T H EBELIEFS of the Egyptian people concerning a life after death were respon- sible for the principal characteristics of Egyptian art. Representation in sculpture and painting was employed as a magical means by which life could be re-created for the dead man. The early Egyptians imagined that life would continue after death much as it had in this world, and at first it seemed to them only necessary to provide a secure burial for the protection of the body and to place in the grave a supply of food and drink with perhaps a few items of personal equipment. The recitation of prayers addressed especially to the god of the dead, Anubis, was thought to provide magically for the transformation of these objects into sup- plies for the spirit and to ensure their continuance. Gradually an elaborate cult of the dead was built up around these simple beginnings. The effort to protect the dead resulted in such vast architectural projects as the pyramid of the Old Kingdom surrounded by its accompanying field of lesser tombs, or the laborious- ly tunnelled tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the mortuary temples of the New Kingdom. Paintings and reliefs were employed upon the chapel walls first to represent supplies of food with the appropriate prayers to make them avail- able to the dead, and later to show the preparation of this food, the agricultural processes, the capture of game, and the raising of cattle and domestic fowl. Here also were represented pleasant scenes from life, feasting, dancing, and singing, the inspection of the wealth of a great estate, that these might be transformed in- to reality in the Afterworld. Statues were made and placed in the tomb in order to provide permanent residing places for the soul of the dead man, substitutes in case the body itself should be destroyed. In the early Old Kingdom this cult of the dead was associated only with the god Anubis, the Lord of the Dead, and with the 'Great God' of the universe, a heavenly or world deity who had been merged with the state god Horus after the uniting of Egypt at the beginning of Dynasty I. Since the king was the personifi- 29
27. THE O L D KINGDOM cation of the 'Living Horus,' the mention of the 'Great God' in the tomb-pray- ers may refer both to the king and to the universal god. The dead man was not associated with any other gods in the tomb pictures, nor in the texts concerned with providing for his sustenance after death. The feasts of Thoth, Sokar, and Min mentioned in these texts were not primarily concerned with the cult of the dead but were festivals of the living at which offerings were also presented to the dead. It is not until the middle of Dynasty V that the Osiris legends, which ex- pressed so well the idea of resurrection and after life, came to be associated with the funerary beliefs of the individual. Then this god began to take his place be- side Anubis in the prayers and soon was thought of as the principal deity of the In his daily life the Egyptian believed that his actions were vitally affected by the gods. These were friendly or hostile spirits which had to be propitiated, but there were also the great impersonal powers of nature which did not concern themselves with man. The local village gods in the original tribal divisions of the country had been largely personifications of the various aspects of nature whose power became more general as their districts grew politically. Thus Horus, by the military prowess of the clan that worshipped him, became a national god, displacing his powerful rival Seth, while Wazet and Nekhbet, the goddesses of Buto and Nekheb, the old capitals of the Kingdoms of the North and the South, came to be tutelary deities of the royal house of the United Kingdom. The em- blems of the different Nomes indicate how gods, originally all-powerful in their own locality, have been replaced by other gods who absorbed certain of their at- tributes, or have themselves been transferred to other districts. We can see how Min, the god of fertility, was brought early from Akhmim to Coptos where he replaced the local god, or how the ibis-headed Thoth, god of wisdom and of writ- ing, came from the Delta to Hermopolis which became the chief seat of his wor- ship. The ram-headed Khnum, patron god of the potters, is associated both with Antinoe and the cataract region, and perhaps also under the name of Her-shef with Heracleopolis. In the Old Kingdom, Hathor, the goddess of love, had two principal seats of worship, at Denderah and at Cusae, but Neith, the protectress of warriors and hunters, always made her home at Sais. At Heliopolis, Ra, the sun god, absorbed an older deity, Atum. Ptah, under whose special care were the artists and craftsmen, was always associated with Memphis. These were the most important gods of the Old Kingdom and it is interesting to see how, as their power extended beyond their original sphere of influence, they assumed various aspects of the great cosmic spirits of nature. Thus while Nut borrowed the cow form from Hathor, the latter assumed from her (Nut) the properties of a sky goddess. Thoth absorbed the powers of the Moon God Yoh, while Horus, Ra, Osiris, and Ptah tended to be merged with the all-pervading spirit of the universe, the 'Great God.' Learned priests early attempted to relate their city gods in an orderly scheme, arranging them according to rank. They sought, whenever possible, to place at the head of the system a family group
28. THE OLD KINGDOM consisting of the chief god, his consort goddess, and their son. The theologians of Heliopolis also worked out a system for the spirits of the powers of nature through which they explained the creation of the world. In this, the self-created Ra, author of the Universe, produced a divine pair Shu, the god of the air and his wife Tefnut, the spirit of moisture. From these were born Geb, the god of the earth, and Nut, the goddess of the sky, who in turn produced Osiris and his wife Isis, as well as Seth and his wife Nephthys. A rival theory of the creation which was maintained at Hermopolis, the home of Thoth the god of wisdom, saw in Nun, the god of the primaeval waters, the creator of a similar system of cosmic gods to which belonged Amon. These were the eight gods of Hermopolis as op- posed to the nine of Heliopolis. The priests of Memphis later contributed a third and far more spiritual creed by which Atum originated as thought in the heart of Ptah and found his way through Ptah‘s tongue into all human beings and ani- mals. Nevertheless, the more primitive doctrine of Heliopolis managed to hold its own throughout Egyptian history. The problem which confronted the king after death was different from that of the ordinary man. It was complicated by the fact that as a personification of Hor- us, and certainly from the time of Chephren as the ‘Son of Ra,’ he must take his place among the gods after death. Not only that, but he was to be their chief for he was thought to become one with the sun god Ra. From the middle of Dynasty V on it was thought that he also became Osiris. In order to assist the king in achieving this end the priests composed a long series of magical texts and spells which were inscribed upon the walls of the burial chamber of his pyramid. Al- though these were compiled only toward the end of Dynasty V, they represent the long-accumulated lore of the Heliopolitan priesthood. With the texts con- cerning the sun god Ra are inextricably mixed the newer myths of the god Osiris, his destruction by his brother Seth and his resurrection brought about through the faithful services of his wife Isis and their son Horus. In the troubled period after the Old Kingdom, the Pyramid Texts, which had been composed solely for the service of the king, were usurped by the great pro- vincial chieftains who were like petty kings in their own districts. In this way the texts came to be engraved upon the coffin of any wealthy person of the Middle Kingdom who could afford proper burial equipment. Great confusion of ideas resulted from this, for the texts were altered only slightly as new material was added to them. Not only did they contain the mixture of Sun cult and Osiris belief, but their royal terminology was hardly suitable for a private person. It is doubt- ful whether the nobleman of the Middle Kingdom thought that he would become one of the gods after death, as the king of the Old Kingdom may be supposed to have believed. These texts were simply to ensure the man a safe place in the Afterworld. It is significant of the growing skepticism and doubt, that men should grasp at such possible means of protection as the coffin texts. The de- pendence upon magical spells and amuletic charms was to grow more pro- nounced in the New Kingdom. Then we find the coffin texts transformed and 31
29. THE O L D K I N G D O M amplified into the Book of the Dead with its terrible Underworld peopled by fantastic demons against which a very complicated magic had to be employed. From the beginning, then, representational art was employed largely in the service of the cult of the dead and for religious purposes. It was necessary to build enduring temples for the gods as well as tombs for the dead, while statues of the deities, large and small, served as residing places for their spirits just as a man’s statue provided a place for his ka or spirit. The statues of the gods were clothed and fed and plied with incense just as were the statues of the dead. Therefore, in representing both gods and men, we find naturalism and enduring qualities as the chief aims of the artist. The Egyptian was also influenced by an attitude toward the world about him which was common to all peoples before the development of Greek culture. The artist sought to show things as he knew them to be, not in their transitory aspects. Because of this and because of the purpose for which his work was intended, we need not expect the impulse toward naturalism to lead the Egyptian further than a certain point. For example he did not attempt to imitate movement in statues or to represent complicated group- ings of figures. The ideal for which he was striving was achieved by the sculp- tors of Dynasty IV. Later craftsmen might, and did, improve upon the details of such sculpture, but the compact, static mass of the figures, the elimination of unnecessary accessories, and above all the lifelike quality of the portraiture, enhanced by painted surfaces and inlaid eyes, provided admirably what was demanded of the sculptor by his patron. The draughtsman, on the other hand, produced a kind of diagrammatic ren- dering of a mental picture which served his purpose well as a re-creation of this world for the soul after death. Thus we can expect no development in Egyptian reliefs and painting toward the representation of a complete visual effect such as we have come to look for in Western painting, but rather the technical perfection of a craft within certain boundaries established as an early developed means of expressing ideas. These diagrams must be interpreted by our knowledge of what the artist is trying to represent, but the Egyptian’s inherent sense of balance and proportion and his fine feeling for line make his work pleasing to the eye even before we understand his meaning. Finally, it should be observed that within the general boundaries of convention there was considerable room for variety result- ing from the Egyptian’s natural powers of observation. We must not think of Egyptian art as endlessly repeating and imitating the same forms. The individual artist in ancient Egypt was of little importance. His standing resulted from his proficiency as a craftsman. However, although there was small opportunity for the artist to stamp his own personal qualities upon his work, he did not remain entirely anonymous. It is really surprising to consider how many names of artists we do know, but when we attempt to identify their contribu- tions to the work with which their names are associated, it becomes evident that we can recognize only certain schools of craftsmen in which they are merged. The differences between these schools is by no means easy to distinguish, but
30. THE OLD K I N G D O M once the general style of the time has been established, it is possible to observe individual variations that occur within each period and in a few rare instances to note the influence which has been exerted by some artist of special ability. THE SCULPTURE AND MINOR ARTS O F THE OLD KINGDOM THES C U L P T U R E of Dynasty IV forms a splendid culmination to that long period of development which began with the small carvings of the Predynastic Period. Although the rare examples of statues and reliefs which illustrate the transition- al steps in this development can only be seen to advantage in Egypt itself or in a few European collections, the Museum of Fine Arts is unusually fortunate in be- ing able to exhibit a large number of masterpieces of the great period of Memphite phite art from its excavations at Giza. These are fully supplemented by sculpture of Dynasties V and VI and by a wealth of material illustrating the minor arts of the Old Kingdom. Not long after construction had started on his great pyramid at Giza, Cheops ordered work begun on two large cemeteries for his family and courtiers. The size of this undertaking is evident from the fact that the cemetery west of the pyramid (Fig. 9) contained 64 large tombs, the stone corework of which was 9. The excavated cemetery west of Cheops’ pyramid at Giza 33
31. 10. Reserve Head of Prince buried in 11. Head of Prince’s wife, G 4440 Giza Tomb 4440 probably all completed during the king’s lifetime. The Eastern Field contained a smaller number of tombs, but the eight mastabas that formed the nucleus of this cemetery were truly enormous. These were constructed toward the close of the king’s reign and were intended for his favorite children. Other large tombs were added to these in subsequent reigns. The earliest stone mastabas in the Western Cemetery were equipped with comparative simplicity. The walls of the brick chapel which was built against the east face of the mastaba were covered with whitewash. Apparently the only decoration was an inscribed tablet set in the stepped face of the mastaba core and framed by a brick niche in the west wall of the chapel. These so-called slab-stelae were gifts presented as a mark of owner- ship of the tomb by the king himself. They are executed in fine low relief and beautifully painted. That of the Princess Merytyetes (No. 12.1510), although it has lost its color, illustrates very well the delicate modelling of the low relief. The princess is shown seated at a table of bread with a list of food, drink, and personal equipment arranged in separate compartments. With a few modifica- tions this was to become the traditional scene that was placed on the tablet of the offering niche when this was in the form of a stone false-door. Although, with one exception, the statues which must have been placed in these early Cheops chapels have not been preserved, a series of wonderful por- trait heads has escaped destruction. These did not form part of a statue, but were complete in themselves and were placed in the burial chamber with the mummy, probably to serve as a substitute for the head in case the mummy should be de- stroyed. Since the statues of Cheops himself have disappeared except for a few fragments and a tiny ivory statuette in Cairo, these heads, undoubtedly executed by a master sculptor of the king, are unusually precious. With the Hildesheim seated statue of Prince Hemiunu, the one complete early statue recovered at
32. 12. Portrait of Princess, G 4540 13. Prince from Giza 4140 Giza, and the famous pair of Rahotep and Nofret from Medum in Cairo, they give us an unusually vivid impression of the aristocratic members of the court. The makers of these white limestone heads have seized expertly the salient fea- tures of the person portrayed. The planes of the face are simplified but a strong feeling of individuality is maintained in the calm, dignified features. Unlike most Egyptian sculpture, these heads do not appear to have been painted. The aquiline type of face so characteristic of some of the members of the Cheops ops family appears in the head of the prince from G 4440 (Fig.10). A petulant expression about the mouth and an irregularity of feature which suggests weak- ness differentiate this face from the other male heads, such as that of the Treas- urer Nofer (Fig. 14).Nofer, who in spite of the facial resemblance did not belong to the royal family, represents quite a different type from the handsome man shown in Fig. 13. The more regular features of the latter give him a conventional appearance that is probably misleading. Although we do not know his name, he was married to the Princess Merytyetes whose slab-stela was described above. The wife of the other unknown Prince (G 4440) is of negroid type with thick lips, wide nostrils, and full cheeks (Fig. 11). The sculptor has adopted a broad, impressionistic treatment, particularly in the area around the eyes. Altogether different is the piquant head of a princess (Fig. 12) with her delicate features and sharp upturned nose. In spite of their individuality, however, these heads belong to a school of sculp- ture which, prompted by restrained idealism, shows a tendency to summarize and to work in broad-surfaced planes. This can be seen more clearly after exam- ining the work of another school that appeared in the following reign. These younger sculptors employed a more plastic treatment of the surfaces which finds its most striking expression in the bust of Ankh-haf (Fig. 17). 35
33. T H E OLD KINGDOM 14. Reserve head of Nofer 15. Door-jamb of Nofer’s chapel
34. T H E OLD K I N G D O M 16. Bowmen of King’s bodyguard, Old Kingdom royal temple relief That the best artists of the Old Kingdom were really trying to capture a recog- nizable likeness of their patrons is emphasized by the resemblance between the reserve head of Nofer (Fig. 14) and a portrait in relief from his chapel. The prominent nose and peculiar shape of the lips and chin have been imitated well in the face of the figure on the entrance jamb (Fig. 15). The likeness fades into conventionality in the head from another wall. A further striking resemblance is that between the head of Hemiunu (Fig. 20) on a fragment of relief from his chapel and that of the seated statue of the prince in Hildesheim. The reliefs of Hemiunu and Nofer are from the stone chapels which towards the end of the reign of Cheops began to replace the mud-brick offering rooms of the earliest mastabas. The very finest low relief was employed in the chapel of Hemiunu. It is similar in quality to that of the slab-stelae and to the rarely pre- served temple reliefs of the reign of Cheops, of which we have some fragments from the chapel of one of the queens’ pyramids. Until recently no reliefs were known from the pyramid temples of Dynasty IV. Their use was questioned be- cause it was thought that the walls were cased with granite as was the interior of the Valley Temple of the Second Pyramid. Fragments of fine relief carved in white limestone and bearing the name of the king and that of his pyramid have now been found in the Cheops temple. Others were discovered, reused, in a Middle Kingdom pyramid at Lisht, while still another block probably comes from the Chephren Pyramid Temple. The limestone walls under the colonnade 37
35. T H E O L D KINGDOM surrounding the court of the Cheops Pyramid Temple were evidently decorated with reliefs. From here probably came our recently acquired block (Fig. 18) which was found by the Metropolitan Museum‘s Expedition at Lisht where it had been taken by Amenemhat I at the beginning of Dynasty XII, to be reused in construction at his pyramid. It bears the Golden Horus Name of Cheops, whose figure once appeared under the protecting wings of the Horus Falcon on the right. This adjoined a procession of personified royal estates, one of the groups which followed the emblem of each province of the country which brought offer- ings of its produce to the king. A second block from Lisht with running bowmen of the king’s bodyguard (Fig. 16) also came from an Old Kingdom royal temple but since similar archers appear in the Saqqarah Pyramid Temple of Weserkaf, the first king of Dynasty V, it is not certain that this came from Giza. The super- latively fine cutting of these low reliefs disappears after the reign of Sahura but it is now evident that the well-known examples of temple decoration in Dynasty V were anticipated at Giza in Dynasty IV. Such decoration is paralleled by the very fragmentary but beautiful wall scenes in this collection from the pyramid chapel of one of Cheops’ queens and provides a logical precedent for the use of reliefs in private tombs. The 1951-1952 excavations in the Valley Temple of Sneferu’s Southern Pyramid at Dahshur have also produced a wonderful series of reliefs of the beginning of Dynasty IV which had been anticipated by the fragments of Dynasties II-III at Hierakonpolis, Gebelein, and Heliopolis. While the exceptional delicacy of modelling of the Cheops low reliefs contin- ued into the reign of Chephren in the chapels of Merytyetes III (G 7650) and Ankh-haf (G 7510), the majority of the chapels were carved in relief of medium height that lacks superlatively smooth finish of surface. The reliefs of Nofer of the time of Chephren (Fig. 15) vary considerably in quality, while the door-jamb of Kanofer (No. 34.57), toward the end of the dynasty, is characteristic of the relief of medium height which is found in most of the chapels of the Eastern A high, bold type of relief is also found at Giza in Dynasty IV. A good example of this is the head of a man (No. 34.60) which may come from the chapel of the wife of Khufu-khaf. The reliefs of Khufu-khaf represent this style of carving at its best, while the chapel is the most completely preserved of the early simple of- fering rooms still in situ in the cemetery. Bold relief was imitated in the chapels of lesser persons, as in the wall from the offering room of Sennu-ka (No. 07.- 1000)and that from the mastaba G 2175 (No. 12.1512). Sennu-ka is probably the same man as the scribe shown on the door-jamb of Nofer, beside whose tomb he built his own toward the end of Dynasty IV. The reliefs are unfinished, with traces of the preliminary sketch lines and the first stages of the cutting. Another technique, in which the figures and hieroglyphs are sunk beneath the surface of the stone, began to be employed extensively about the time of Chephren. The big false-door of Khufu-ankh is decorated entirely in this sunk relief (No. 21.3081). This fine stela was presented to Khufu-ankh by the king, as we learn from the
36. THE OLD KINGDOM 17. Painted limestone bust of Prince Ankh-haf 39
37. THE OLD KINGDOM 18. Relief probably from temple of Great Pyramid at Giza (detail) inscriptions. Probably the royal donor was Weserkaf, the first king of Dynasty V, whose name appeared on a jar-sealing found in the burial chamber of the While the offering room of the Dynasty IV chapel was decorated with simple scenes showing the owner seated at his funerary meal and, often accompanied by his family, receiving the offerings of food and personal equipment for his tomb, the external stone rooms of the more elaborate chapels of the royal princes in the Eastern Cemetery provided space for a variety of wall scenes. These tombs have been thoroughly plundered for their fine stone, but enough fragments re- main to show that there were scenes from life such as had occurred already in the tombs at Medum. One of these, from a swamp scene in the chapel of the Crown Prince Ka-wab (Fig. 19),shows us a man, perhaps the prince himself, leaning on his staff in a boat. Behind him a tame heron, probably used as a decoy, stands on a crate filled with ducks. The rock-cut tombs prepared for the family of Chephren provided even greater wall space for the expansion of these scenes from life. The range of subject matter familiar from the Dynasty V chapels at Saqqarah is found almost complete in the wonderfully preserved painted reliefs of Meresankh III. This rock-cut tomb, found by the Museum’s Expedition, is probably to be dated to the reign of Shepseskaf at the end of Dynasty IV. Although the destruction of his pyramid temple and the disappearance of the valley temple under the modern village has deprived us of statues of Cheops, we 41
38. THE OLD KINGDOM are amply compensated by the sculpture from the temples of other kings of Dy- nasty IV. From the reign of Cheops’ successor, Radedef, a wonderful head of the king in the Louvre and some other fragmentary pieces in Cairo have survived. Chephren has not only left us his portrait in the great Sphinx of Giza, the most ambitious work of sculpture in the Old Kingdom, but also the famous diorite seated statue in Cairo, found by Mariette in the granite valley temple beside the Sphinx. In the plundering of Chephren’s pyramid temple many statues were dragged over into the Western Cemetery, where a workshop was set up to manu- facture small alabaster vessels for the tombs of the later Old Kingdom. Of sev- eral heads which have escaped this barbarously wasteful process, by far the finest is the delicately carved alabaster face of Chephren shown in Fig. 21. Ter- ribly battered, but even more beautiful in workmanship, is the head No. 34.52, while we possess several other incomplete fragments of royal statues. The red painted limestone bust of Prince Ankh-haf (Fig. 17) was found in a room in the exterior brick chapel of an enormous mastaba in the Eastern Ceme- tery which was probably built in the reign of Chephren. Ankh-haf was the eldest son of a king and as Vizier and Overseer of all the King’s Works he was one of the most important men of the time, a fact fully borne out by the size of his tomb. This is only exceeded by that of the great mastaba G 2000 in the Western Cemetery which probably belonged to a vizier of Cheops’ time. It would appear that Ankh-haf was a son of Sneferu, who used the title of ’Eldest Son‘ only after the death of Cheops. He would therefore have been Chephren’s uncle. Cer- tainly he was able to employ one of the greatest of the royal sculptors. The portrait of Ankh-haf is unusual in form, resembling a modern bust. The upper part of the torso is finished off at about the middle of the chest with a flat surface underneath upon which the piece can stand, while the arms are cut off a little below the shoulders. Nothing else quite like this is known, although in two other cases the upper part of a figure has been carved within the architectural frame of the false-door of a tomb. It is quite certain that the Ankh-haf bust was a free-standing piece. It was found overturned in front of a low brick bench in one of the chapel rooms and probably stood originally on this bench, even though this seems an inadequate support for such an important piece. Although it is difficult to detect under the painted surface, a coat of plaster, varying in depth, was laid down over the limestone and some of the finer details are carved in this plaster layer. The missing short beard was probably made entirely of plas- ter. The base where it was broken off is just visible. The missing ears were prob- ably carved in stone. Traces of the use of plaster to fill out mistakes in cutting and as a final surface are to be found in some of the reserve heads, but to what extent this was employed it is difficult to determine. The plastic treatment of the planes of the face has extended a great deal fur- ther here than in the reserve heads. The modelling of the eyes, with the sugges- tion of pouches beneath, and the realistic treatment of eyelids and brow, as well as the bunching of the muscles at the corner of the mouth, are remarkable. The
39. THE OLD K I N G D O M same subtlety of modelling is to be observed, however, both in the Louvre head of Radedef, which incidentally bears a remarkable facial resemblance to Ankh- haf, and in the head of our large alabaster seated figure of Mycerinus (Fig. 24). It is in the plastic use of minor surface planes in these three heads that we find the clearest means of recognizing a school of sculptors different from that which employed a simplified, broader modelling as in the reserve heads, the seated Chephren in Cairo, or the slate pair of Mycerinus and his queen (Fig. 2 2 ) . That this was not entirely a question of the realistic intent of the sculptor can be seen by comparing the knee structure of the alabaster Mycerinus with the modelling on the body of the Hildesheim statue of Hemiunu. No one could deny the natu- ralistic effect of the rolls of fat on the torso of Hemiunu, but the treatment is in broad simple masses without the subtlety of modelling and carefully worked de- tail of the Mycerinus statue. In the sculpture from the pyramid temples of Mycerinus we find both groups working with the same aims in view but each following its own technical tradi- tion. It is perhaps because a larger number of statues escaped destruction than from any preceding reign that the range in types is wider, giving us examples of the simple grouping of figures which were to form classic models throughout the history of Egyptian sculpture. Thus in the slate pair, Queen Kha-merer-nebty stands beside her husband, placing one arm around his waist while her other arm rests upon his arm (Fig. 22). One feels in this statue, as in the other great pieces of Dynasty IV, that the ideal of kingly majesty has been achieved. Everything superficial has been eliminated. Details of dress and decoration have been sub- ordinated to the imposing form of the royal figures. Although the modelling is superb and the statue had been painted, the final stages of carving had not been entirely completed, probably because of the king’s sudden death. The heads have received their final polish, but the lower part of the figures is still rough and the base was never inscribed. The various stages in the working of these hard stone statues can be seen in a series of diorite statuettes which were left incomplete at the king’s death. We can follow the work through the first steps of blocking out the figure with the aid of red guiding lines to the point where the master took over the cutting of the finer modelling and the polishing of the surfaces. The figure was shaped by abrasion with stone implements, while rubbing stones served for the polishing. Some sort of grinding paste, probably quartz sand, was needed to make the copper tools ef- fective. Marks can be found on hard stone statues to prove the use of a copper saw, a hollow boring tube, and drills of copper or stone. The slate triad from the Mycerinus valley temple (Fig. 23) was completely fin- ished. Except that it has lost most of its color, it is in an amazingly perfect state of preservation. The Goddess Hathor sits in the center, between a standing fig- ure of the king and a personification of the Hare Nome. The inscription on the base gives the speech of Hathor: “I have given to you all good offerings of the South forever,” which means that the Nome figure in this statue served the same 43
40. THE OLD KINGDOM 19. Prince Ka-wab in his boat after trapping birds
41. THE OLD KINGDOM 20. The Vizier Hemiunu 21. Alabaster face of King Chephren 45
42. THE OLD KINGDOM purpose as did the personifications of estates bearing food offerings on the walls of the private tombs. The Hare Nome lay in Upper Egypt. Its capital was the im- portant city of Hermopolis to which the Middle Kingdom tombs of Bersheh be- longed. It was in this district that Akhenaten later built his new capital at Tell el Amarna. Three other triads found with this also represented provinces of Upper Egypt, and it is not unlikely that there were originally statues representing all the Nomes of Upper and Lower Egypt. Through these the king would have been able to draw upon the whole country for nourishment after death. The alabaster seated figure of Mycerinus (Fig. 24) is one of the masterpieces of the new school, with its more plastic treatment of the surfaces. Considerably over life size, it is the best preserved of the colossal statues of the Old Kingdom. In spite of the fame of the Great Sphinx of Giza, there has been a curious tend- ency to overlook the fact that the sculptors of this period created large works to rival those of Dynasty XVIII. From Dynasty III a few fragments are preserved in Cairo of what must have been a very large statue of Zoser, while a battered lime- stone statue, also in Cairo, of Queen Kha-merer-nebty I is about the same size as our alabaster figure of her son Mycerinus. The granite head of Weserkaf in the Cairo Museum is all that is preserved of a statue that must have been at least twice the size of these. Affording a complete contrast to the alabaster colossus, the ivory statuette of Mycerinus is no less a great work of art. Belonging to a very rare class of objects represented only by the tiny ivory Cheops in Cairo and a few other pieces of early date, this figure is a precious possession of the Museum. Although it lacks head, arms, and one leg it still claims attention by its vitality and delicate model- ling (Fig. 25). The youthful-looking head of alabaster (Fig. 27) has been thought to be a por- trait of Shepseskaf, the son who succeeded Mycerinus on the throne and com- pleted, albeit with cheaper materials, the work on the pyramid temples left un- finished at his father’s death. It was found in the valley temple with the other sculpture of Mycerinus and there is the alternate possibility that it represents that king at an earlier age than in his other portraits. The facial characteristics are similar and the sensitive modelling akin to that of the large alabaster seated figure. Certainly representing one of the sons of the builder of the Third Pyramid is the small yellow limestone scribe (Fig. 26). This was found in the tomb of Khunera nera, the eldest son of the king, in the quarry cemetery southeast of the pyramid. O n one of the chapel walls Khunera is shown as a small naked boy standing be- side the throne of his mother Kha-merer-nebty 11, who appears in our slate pair. Since the prince never came to the throne, he must have died as a young man, be- fore his father. The broad, plump-cheeked face reminds one of the features of his mother in the slate pair. The pose is one of the early representations of the squatting scribe, known also from statues of Prince Ka-wab (No. 27.1127) and the sons of Radedef (in the Louvre and at Cairo). Although the face is polished the rest of the statue looks as though it lacked the finishing touches.
43. THE O L D KINGDOM 22. Slate group of King Mycerinus and his Queen 47
44. THE OLD KINGDOM 23. The seated Goddess Hathor, King Mycerinus, and the personified Hare Nome (a province in Upper Egypt)
45. THE OLD KINGDOM 24. Colossal alabaster statue of Mycerinus 49
46. THE OLD KINGDOM 25. Ivory figurine of Mycerinus 26. Khunera, the son of Mycerinus, as a scribe
47. THE OLD K I N G D O M 27. Alabaster royal head, probably King Shepseskaf One of the most interesting members of the royal family of Dynasty IV was Queen Hetep-heres 11, a daughter of Cheops. An unusual limestone statuette of this lady and her daughter, Meresankh 111, has been put together from fragments found in the rock-cut tomb of the daughter (No. 30.1456). Hetep-heres, who is shown with a yellow wig, a purposeful face, and a gown of unusual cut on a wall of her daughter’s tomb, had an extraordinary career. She was the wife of the Crown Prince Ka-wab who was supplanted and perhaps murdered by Radedef. The Iatter married the widowed Hetep-heres, but she survived his short reign and allied herself to the faction that returned to power by marrying her daughter to the new king Chephren. Behind these brief facts must lie a bitter tale of court intrigue and jealousies within the harîm. In the chapel of Meresankh were found the earliest known limestone statu- ettes of men and women cooking and slaughtering animals. These so-called ser- vant figures were to become common in the statue chambers of Dynasty V. The Meresankh statuettes had been badly smashed, but three fragmentary figures survived which are in this collection (No. 30.1458). D Y N A S T Y V TO D Y N A S T Y VI I N D Y N A S TVYthe large number of craftsmen trained in the vast undertakings of the kings of Dynasty IV made it possible for the average man of moderate wealth 51
48. THE OLD K I N G D O M to own a statue of tolerably good quality. At the same time the use of wall reliefs expanded greatly. In the large tombs the walls of room after room were covered with reliefs, while even the small chapels were decorated with wall scenes. The effects of this expanding activity extended beyond the cemeteries attached to the capital. Small statues were shipped to Upper Egypt and a few of the provincial nobles at such places as Tehneh, Hemamieh, and Sheikh Said were able to have their rock-cut tombs decorated with reliefs. Although this was to extend further in Dynasty VI, it was by no means the general practice in Dynasty V, as is shown by the miserably crude stelae with which the people buried in the cemetery at Naga-ed-Dêr had to be content. Technical proficiency now enabled the royal architects to replace heavy pillars and piers with granite supports fashioned into plant forms -palm and bundle- columns of papyrus and lotus flowers. At the same time plain granite walls were replaced by surfaces covered with painted reliefs. This lent a lighter and more pleasing effect to the temple halls and courts. However, the recovery of frag- ments of Dynasty IV reliefs from Lisht and Dahshur and from the pyramid temple of Cheops now makes it clear that we cannot judge the appearance of the earlier temples entirely from the severe granite surfaces of the Chephren valley temple. Hitherto unsuspected elements of decoration have disappeared in the destruction of the temples of Sneferu, Cheops, and Chephren. Moreover, the su- perb quality of these royal fragments makes it apparent that in Dynasty V it was only the sculptors of Weserkaf and Sahura who maintained the same high stan- dard, although it was regained briefly in the temple of Pepy II in Dynasty VI. We must not forget in the presence of the exuberant variety and quantity of the pri- vate reliefs of Dynasty V that they seldom approach in technical skill such mas- terpieces of the preceding period as the chapels of Khufu-khaf, Hemiunu, Mery- tyetes, and Ankh-haf. Like the royal reliefs, all of these, with the exception of the chapel of Khufu-khaf, are in such a fragmentary condition that it is not sur- prising that they have remained relatively unnoticed. Nevertheless they show us that Dynasty IV was the real period of achievement. The turn of Dynasty IV to Dynasty V is characterized at Saqqarah by the ap- pearance of a number of large statues of fine quality which are among the most famous of Egyptian works of art. These include such pieces as the Louvre scribe, the statues of Ranofer, and the well-known wooden 'Sheikh el Beled’ in Cairo. At Giza was found a series of statues rivalling these in quality. Although, from the time that Shepseskaf built his tomb at Saqqarah South, the kings of Egypt were no longer buried at Giza, a number of important people who were related to the old families, or who served as funerary priests of the royal house of Dy- nasty IV, continued to build their tombs in the old necropolis. From one of these tombs, dated by a jar sealing to the reign of Shepseskaf, comes the splendid head of red granite (Fig. 2 8 ) . This impressive portrait of Seshem-nofer was broken from a statue which formed part of a rich tomb equipment. A panelled statue chamber of unusual form was decorated with excellent reliefs, as was the inner
49. THE OLD KINGDOM 28. Redgranite head of Seshem- nofer offering room. A beautifully worked granite sarcophagus contained the burial. Seshem-nofer was head of the Department of Public Works, while his son, con- tinuing in this office, became the vizier of one of the first kings of Dynasty V. The elaborate provision made for the statues of Seshem-nofer is paralleled by the large serdabs of Ba-baf which formed separate architectural units attached to his tomb. From the smashed contents of these statue chambers it has been es- timated that they contained as many as fifty statues of various materials. One of the most attractive of these is an alabaster statuette pieced together from many small fragments (No. 24.603). The other hard stone statues were almost all irre- trievably smashed, but one small granite head was preserved (No. 21.950), and a black granite seated scribe is practically complete (No. 21.931). There were at least ten nearly life-size standing statues of white limestone. These have all lost their heads, but the modelling of the bodies is of the finest quality. To appreciate this one has only to look at the somewhat later statues of Pen-meru (No. 12.- 1504) where the modelling has become simple and schematized, particularly in the sharply marked line at the base of the breast muscles. The same simplifica- tion and broad, rather coarse treatment can be seen in the famous Cairo statue of Thiy from the close of the dynasty, if this is compared with the more detailed modelling of the Saqqarah statues of Ranofer in Cairo which are contemporary with those of Ba-baf. The statues of Pen-meru are probably to be dated to about the middle of Dy- nasty V. In his tiny chapel was inscribed a will referring to the Vizier Seshem- nofer mentioned above, which would probably make Pen-meru a somewhat younger contemporary of that great man. Both pieces of sculpture are what Pro- fessor Capart has called a pseudo-group, that is, several figures all representing the same man. It is hard to say whether this curious custom was thought of as 53
50. T H E OLD K I N G D O M 29. Detail of family group of Pen-meru showing the man in different aspects according to the offices that he held, or simply designed to provide another substitute in case any of the figures was in- jured. In both Pen-meru groups the man is dressed in the same short skirt, but in that showing the three male figures alone (No. 12.1504) the wigs have been dif- ferentiated. In the other statue (Fig. 29), two figures of Pen-meru are accompa- nied by his wife and two children. The statues have been carved inside a frame with a round moulding and architrave above, inscribed with an offering formula and the owner’s titles and name. The triad of Pen-meru has not only the sche- matic modelling of the breast muscles, but a harsher use of simplified planes in the face which anticipates similar features in the style of Dynasty VI. The facial modelling of the wooden statue of Senezem-ib Mehy (Fig. 30) and that of the seated limestone statue of Akh-merut-nesut (No. 12.1482) are closely related.
51. THE O L D K I N G D O M Although large statues of stone are rare after the first half of Dynasty V, they continued to be made in wood. The chances against the preservation of a wooden statue are so great that we are doubly fortunate in having two of such fine quali- ty as those of Mehy (Fig. 30) and Methethy (Fig. 31). The Methethy statue came from Saqqarah and follows the old Fourth Dynasty treatment of the rounded forms of the face. Other statues of this same man in Brooklyn and Kansas City depart even more markedly from this traditional treatment than does the new style of Mehy’s statue. A similar change is to be felt in the bolder cutting on a block of painted relief (Frontispiece) which also belongs to this time of transition at the turn of Dynasty V to Dynasty VI. Naked figures of large size were seldom made and the modelling of the body is exceptionally fine in the case of Mehy who belonged to the important Senezem-ib family whose members were architects and Overseers of all the King’s Works over a long period of time down to the end of Dynasty VI. They included Nekhebu, whose statuettes and reliefs will be discussed presently (Fig. 3 6 ) , and Impy, whose intact burial was one of the latest additions to the family tomb complex (Fig. 38). Mehy lived in the reign of Isesy, 30. Wooden statue of Mehy 55
52. THE OLD KINGDOM as we learn from a biographical inscription in the tomb of his father, Senezem-ib Yenty, which Mehy himself completed for him. Mehy became the vizier of Unas, the last king of Dynasty V. In his burial chamber were some curious little wood- en figures of bound prisoners (Nos. 13.3458, 9). They apparently imitate larger stone figures of captives that stood in the temples of kings, but what purpose they can have served here in a private tomb is obscure. The statues of the second half of Dynasty V are mostly small, ranging from tiny statuettes to figures about one-half life-size. They were moderately well worked and represent a surprisingly high level of skill, considering the quantities of them that were produced. They were really just the stock in trade of the un- dertakers, like the wooden coffins, offering tables, model vessels, and other tomb equipment. We possess a large number of these statues from the Expedition’s work at Giza, a few of which are outstanding in quality. Such is the attractive yellow limestone bust broken from a seated figure (No. 30.830), or the painted statue of Ptah-khenuwy and his wife, with the color almost as fresh as on the day when it was placed in the statue chamber (Fig. 32). The tombs from which these statues came were built in the streets between the royal mastabas and along the edges of the older cemetery at Giza, while at Saqqarah similarly crowded condi- tions existed, forcing a greater irregularity in the plans of the tombs. Each mas- taba contained at least one serdab, or closed statue chamber. Usually this was placed behind the offering niche of the chapel and frequently a small slit was cut through the niche so that the fumes of the funerary priest’s censer could reach the statue. In the serdab, the statues of the owner and his wife were frequently accompanied by figures of their children and by servant statuettes. We have a complete group of this sort from the tomb of a man named Wery (Nos. 21.2595- 2601). In addition to several statues of the man and his wife and a pair statue of their son and his wife, there was a kneeling woman grinding corn and another tending a fire. From another intact group (Fig. 33) comes the attractive little naked boy (No. 06.1881), and a triad of male figures (No. 06.1882). The wall decorations of Dynasty V are excellently illustrated by two chapels excavated by Mariette at Saqqarah. That of Ptah-sekhem-ankh (No. 04.1760) consisted of a long offering room set at right angles to an undecorated entrance corridor. The false-door occupied the west wall at the end of the room. It was in- tended to form the magical means of passage to and from the burial chamber. On the panels of this door are inscribed prayers to the god of the dead and the titles and name of the owner. In the tablet over the central niche, Ptah-sekhem-ankh is shown seated before a table of bread at his funerary meal. This scene is repre- sented on a larger scale on the adjoining wall, with the addition of a great offer- ing list, accompanied by men bringing food and slaughtering oxen for the meal (Fig. 34). These pictures were designed to provide Ptah-sekhem-ankh with an inexhaustible supply of food, as well as furnishing the texts to be recited by his funerary priests to make this food available to him in spirit form. In Dynasty V, scenes from life, which further amplified this food supply by
53. THE OLD KINGDOM 31. Wooden statue of Methethy 57