Tile from the palace of Ramesses II: Part of Step from Dais
New Kingdom, Ramesside
reign of Ramesses II
ca. 1279–1213 B.C.
From Egypt, Eastern Delta, Qantir (Piramesse), Palace of Ramesses II
L. 19 cm (7 1/2 in.), W. 9 cm (3 9/16 in.), D. 7.5 cm (2 15/16 in.)
Purchase, Rogers Fund, Edward S. Harkness Gift and by exchange, 1922, 1929, 1935
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 124
This tile once decorated the palace of Ramesses II in Piramesse, which he made into one of the greatest royal cities of ancient Egypt. Thanks to the royal favor and its strategic location, Piramesse soon became an important international trade center and a cosmopolitan metropolis, boasting a harbor, a military base, and temples dedicated to various gods like Amun-Re-Horakhti-Atum, Seth, Astarte, etc. Poems were written in the city's praise, and its name, which translates as "The House of Ramesses, Beloved of Amun, Great of Victories " when fully written, came to us through the Old Testament as 'Raamses.' The tiles bear the names of Seti I, Ramesses II and later Ramesside kings, who renovated the palace and changed its decoration through the reigns. New tiles were made, and the old tiles may be have been dismantled and buried together. Based on the tiles, we can still reconstruct quite a number of the features of the palace that are now completely lost, including throne podiums, steps, windows of appearance, and faience sculptures. This tile belongs to the steps leading up to the throne platform. These steps were adorned with depictions of prostrate foreign captives alternating with representations of the Nine Bows that stood for the traditional enemies of Egypt. This tile shows the feet of a Syrian, while two fragments of other steps bear the head of a Nubian (35.1.3) and the feet of a Libyan (35.1.2), recognizable by his spotted cloak.
Many of the tile fragments from Qantir were purchased in Cairo, 1922 and 1929; others were excavated for the Egyptian Antiquities Service by Mahmud Hamza in 1928 and were acquired from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo by exchange in 1934.