Friday, March 16, 2012

Object biography #3: A female figurine from the ‘Magician’s tomb’

Egypt at the Manchester Museum (Campbell Price)

With photos.  An extraordinary object.

This wooden figurine (20.2 cm high) is among Manchester Museum’s most discussed Egyptian objects. It represents a naked female, with the face of a lion and two movable arms, attached with pegs. In each hand she holds serpents made of metal. The figurine is just one piece from an intriguing group found amidst debris at the bottom of a late Middle Kingdom (c. 1773-1650 BC) shaft burial known as the ‘Ramesseum tomb.’ This name derived from the location of the shaft at the rear of what later became the mortuary temple of Ramesses II. Many of the other objects from the tomb are also in the Manchester collection.

Between 1885 and 1886, W. M. Flinders Petrie and James Quibell discovered and cleared the shaft. The tomb’s contents included ivory protective ‘wands’, ivory clappers, model food offerings, and female fertility figurines. In association – but not connected for sure – with these was found a box containing 118 reed pens (Acc. No. 1882) and a large number of texts written on papyrus.

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