Funerary Model of a Brewing and Baking Workshop, c. 2010 BC

This funerary model was one of a number discovered in the elaborately decorated tomb of Khety I, a nomarch of the Oryx nome during the early part of Dynasty 12, which was carved into the bedrock of the Eastern Desert cliffs in the regional necropolis at Beni Hasan. It depicts a team of men and women industriously working in a brewery and bakery and was intended to ensure that Khety would have access to the bread and beer they created in the afterlife.

The model itself is made of wood coated in plaster and painted using a palette of red-brown, black, white and pale yellow. The women are shown with paler skin in comparison to the men, a convention of Egyptian art that was well established at this time, and some of the figures still have linen garments attached. It features a number of men and women captured in the process of baking, including grinding and sifting flour, mixing dough and baking in ovens, as well as brewing activities such as mashing beer and carrying filled vessels. Grain was the staple produce of Egypt, and the base ingredient for both beer and bread production, so these two processes are often combined in one workshop complex.

Funerary models depicting food production and crafts such as this one began appearing in tombs during the First Intermediate Period and were used until the end of Dynasty 12. Along with brewing and baking, a whole host of other scenes were replicated in these models, including butchery, animal husbandry, agriculture, sailing, fishing and military scenes. They were manufactured in large numbers in specialist craft workshops and placed in the burial chamber to provide the deceased with the necessary provisions for the afterlife, replicating the magical animation of the painted scenes in offering chapels.

Khety’s tomb was one of nearly 500 examined in the Beni Hasan necropolis between 1902-1904 by a Liverpool Institute of Archaeology sponsored project under the direction of British archaeologist John Garstang. This funerary model, along with four others and a coffin from the tomb, were donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in 1903 by the Beni Hassan Excavation Committee. An excavator’s mark noting the original catalogue number 366 was applied to the model, but it is now referenced by its museum accession number E.71d.1903. Comparison of this model can be made with two others from the same period in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum from the Theban necropolis (accession number 20.3.12) and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston from Deir el-Bersha (accession number 21.886).

Paintings from the Tomb-chapel of Nebamun, British Museum

Painted tomb of Nebamun

These wall paintings are from an 18th Dynasty tomb chapel located in the Theban Necropolis located on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes. The tomb chapel belonged to Nebamun, a middle-ranking official scribe and grain counter at the temple complex in Thebes. The tomb’s plastered walls were richly and skilfully decorated with lively fresco paintings, depicting idealised views of Nebamun’s life and activities.

An entire wall of the tomb-chapel showed a feast in honour of Nebamun. Naked serving-girls and servants wait on his friends and relatives and all the guests wear elaborate linen clothes painted as if it were transparent, to show that it is very fine.

Nebamun’s cattle, Tomb-chapel of Nebamun

This fragment is part of a wall showing Nebamun inspecting flocks of geese and herds of cattle. Hieroglyphs describe the scene and record what the people say as they squabble in the queue, with the herdsman telling the farmer in front of him:

Come on! Get away! Don’t speak in the presence of the praised one! He detests people talking… Pass on in quiet and in order… He knows all affairs, does the scribe and counter of grain of Amun, Nebamun.

Details

Date: c. 1350 BCE
Period: 18th Dynasty
Materials: Paint on plaster
Findspot: Tomb Chapel of Nebamun, Thebes
Location: British Museum, Room 61
Museum number: EA37986 (feast)
Registration Number: .37986

The Gayer-Anderson Cat, British Museum

The Gayer-Anderson Cat, Late Period

The Gayer-Anderson cat is a Late Period hollow-cast bronze statue of the female cat deity Bastet shown with an inlaid silver sun-disc and wedjet (Eye of Horus) pectoral on the chest and golden earrings and nose-rings.

Bastet was believed to be the daughter of the sun-god Ra, due to the fierce nature of cats Bastet is often depicted as a protector of the Pharaoh. Her worship appears to be native to Bubastis in the Nile River delta but she also had an important cult at Memphis.

It was named after Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson who, together with Mary Stout Shaw, donated it to the British Museum in 1939.

Details

Period: Late Period
Dimensions: 42 cm high and 13 cm wide
Location: British Museum, G4/B10
Findspot: Saqqara, Memphis
Materials: silver, gold, bronze
Museum number: EA64391
Registration number: 1947,1011.1

The Young Memnon, British Museum

The Younger Memnon is one of a pair of colossal granite heads from the ancient Egyptian Ramesseum mortuary temple in Thebes. It depicts the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II wearing the Nemes head-dress and a circlet of uraei. The back pillar is inscribed with vertical registers of hieroglyphs giving the name and titles of the king and part of a dedication to Amun-Ra.

It was excavated in 1815 by Giovanni Belzoni under the direction of the British Consul General Henry Salt, who donated it to the British Museum in 1821. In London, it acquired its name ‘The Younger Memnon’ after the ‘Memnonianum’, the name in classical times for the Ramesseum and its association with the Colossi of Memnon.

In antiquity, Ozymandias was a Greek name for Ramesses II, and in 1817 the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley began writing ‘Ozymandius’ after the British Museum’s announcement that they had acquired the statue.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Details

Location: British Museum, G4/B9
Period: 19th Dynasty
Created: c. 1270 BCE
Findspot: Ramesseum, Thebes
Material: Red granite, granodiorite
Size: Height 267 cm, width 203 cm
Location: The British Museum
Museum number: EA19
Registration number:19

Sarcophagus of Sasobek, British Museum

Detail of the sarcophagus of Sasobek showing the winged sky goddess Nut

The finely carved lid of the sarcophagus of Sasobek, northern vizier of Egypt during the reign of Psamtek I (664-610 BCE), which depicts the winged sky goddess Nut.

Nut was the personification of the sky and the heavens and is often featured inside of coffin lids watching over the deceased soul in the afterlife. In this form, she was known as the goddess of death and was depicted as either having protective wings or as a ladder.

Nut is identifiable here by the hieroglyphics within the sun disk atop her head, which depicts a water pot.

Details

Period: 26th Dynasty
Date: c. 600 BCE
Materials: Siltstone
Dimensions: Length 225 centimetres
Findspot: Unknown, possibly Memphis
Location: British Museum G4/B5
Museum number: EA17
Registration number: 1839,0921.1190

Statue of Amun and King Taharqa, British Museum

Statue of Amun in the form of a ram protecting King Taharqa, 25th Dynasty

At least three Ancient Egyptian statues of Amun in the form of a ram protecting King Taharqa were displayed at the Temple of Amun at Kawa in Nubia. Construction of the stone temple was started in 683 BC by Taharqa, who was pharaoh of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt and qore (king) of the Kingdom of Kush in present-day Sudan.

The ram is one of the animals sacred to Amun, and several temples dedicated to Amun featured ram or ram-headed sphinx statues.

The British Museum statue depicts a ram is lying on its stomach with its forelegs folded under it, protecting a standing figure of King Taharqa. A hole in the top of the ram’s head indicates where a gilded disk would originally have fitted.

A hieroglyphic inscription runs around the sides of the plinth from front to back and proclaims Taharqa as:

the son of Amun and Mut, Lady of Heaven, who fully satisfies the heart of his father Amun

Other Examples

Details

Culture/period: Napatan, Kushite
Date: 690-664 BCE
Findspot: Kawa, Nubia
Materials: gneiss granite
Dimensions: Height 106 centimetres (max), length 163 centimetres (base), width: 63 centimetres (base)
Location: British Museum, G4/B9
Museum number: EA1779
Registration number: 1933,0610.1

Statue of Prince Khaemwaset, British Museum

Statue of Prince Khaemwaset, the high priest of Ptah, 19th dynasty

Khaemweset (also given as Khaemwaset, Khaemwise, Khaemuas, Setem Khaemwaset, c. 1281-c.1225 BCE) was the fourth son of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BCE) and his queen Isetnefret.

He was High Priest of Ptah at Memphis during his father’s reign, presided over the burial of the Apis Bull, oversaw the construction of the Serapeum at Saqqara, and was named Crown Prince by Ramesses II.

Details

Date created: 1260 BCE
Physical Dimensions: Height: 138.00cm (max); Width: 43.10cm (max); Depth: 55.00cm (max)
Location: British Museum
Technique: incised
Registration number: 1866,1113.1
Place: Asyut, Egypt
Period: 19th Dynasty
Material: quartzite; sandstone conglomerate

The Coffins of Nespawershefyt, Egyptian Official, 990-940 BC

The coffin and mummy board of Nespawershefyt (also known as Nes-Amun) dates from the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt, between 990-940 BC. It is decorated in the ‘yellow coffin’ style, with elaborate religious scenes and bands of text.

Nespawershefyt was Chief of Scribes, a high-ranking civil servant in the Temple of Amun Re at Karnak. He rose through the ranks during his lifetime, and his coffin was updated to reflect his changing responsibilities, with his titles as Supervisor of Craftsmen’s Workshops in Karnak and the Supervisor of Temple Scribes of Amun-Re being inscribed over the top of the old ones.

It was found in Thebes and donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in 1822 by Barnard Hanbury and George Waddington. It is now on display in the museum and forms the centrepiece for their Egyptian funerary displays.

Fitzwilliam Museum Object Number: E.1.1822

Treasures of Ancient Egypt from the Fitzwilliam Museum