Magical Figure

Late Middle Kingdom–Second Intermediate Period
Dynasty 13–SIP
ca. 1802–1550 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, west of mastaba of Senwosretankh, surface deposit, MMA 1932–1933
Clay (unfired)
h. 7 cm (2 3/4 in); w. 3.8 cm (1 1/2 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1933
Accession Number:
  • Description

    These tablets of unfired clay with attached crude faces were found as a group by the Museum's excavators at Lisht South in loose surface sand west of the mastaba of Senwosretankh, a high official and possibly the architect of the pyramid complex of Senwosret I (ca. 1961–1917 B. C.), east of which he erected his own very elaborate mastaba tomb (see acc. nos. 33.1.2 and other pieces). The mud figures and little coffin (acc. no. 33.1.66) that had contained some of them must have been buried, however, considerably later than the early twelfth dynasty tomb close to which they were found. In fact, during the thirteenth and following dynasties people deposited a number of objects in the by then sacred area around a legendary ruler's pyramid and its dependant monuments, believing conceivably that potent magical powers could thus be released. These flat mud figures, for instance, are inscribed in now much-faded red paint with the names of men identified as enemies (most of them Egyptians but some with foreign names). Their deposition may have been thought to effect their destruction.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Hieratic

  • Provenance

    Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History