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Relief Depicting Personified Estates from the Tomb of Akhtihotep

Period:
Old Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 4
Reign:
reign of Snefru
Date:
ca. 2575–2551 B.C.
Geography:
Probably from Mastaba of Akhtihotep (FS 3076); From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara
Medium:
Limestone, paint
Dimensions:
H. 109 cm (42 15/16 in); w. 84 cm (33 1/16 in); th. 2.5 cm (1 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Funds from Various Donors, 1958 (58.44.2a); Rogers Fund, 1958 (58.44.2b)
Accession Number:
58.44.2a
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
Like the corner blocks from the same tomb (58.123), these reliefs are from the tomb of Akhtihotep. Here, figures carrying baskets of offerings on top of their heads personify the agricultural estates or farms that were to provision the ongoing funerary rites of the deceased.

Very high relief contoured by deep straight edges is found in the late Third and early Fourth Dynasties. The lack of modeling and the serene, nonindividualized faces especially accord with the taste of the early Fourth Dynasty. Shadows created by the high relief combine with the absence of modeling to magnify the size of Akhtihotep's figures.
The inscription above the figures identifies the domains and the offerings they bring.

n'.wt tA-mH.w

Domains of Lower Egypt

Above the first figure:

bDd.t

t' srf

Bededjet

Warm bread

Above the second figure:

grg.t-wntj

[s]xp.t

Wenti-foundation

[a kind of beverage]

Above the third figure, only the classifiers remain.

Notes:

A list of names of domains and their accompanying offerings could be found in Jacquet-Gordon, Helen. Les Noms Des Domaines Funéraires Sous L’ancien Empire égyptien. IFAO, Bd’E 34. Le Caire: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 1962.

Niv Allon 2016
Relief appears to have been removed from Akhtihotep's tomb before Mariette's publication, 1889. 58.44.2a: purchased from Maguid Sameda by Ernst E. Kofler, 1958; purchased from Kofler by the Museum, 1958. 58.44.2b: purchased from Maguid Sameda by the Museum, 1958.

Mariette, Auguste 1889. Les Mastabas de l'Ancien Empire: Fragment [de son] Dernier Ouvrage. Paris: F. Vieweg, pp. 68–70, with sketch-plan.

Scott, Nora E. 1961. "Two Reliefs of the Early Old Kingdom." In Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, new series, vol. 19 (March), pp. 195–6, fig. 2.

Jacquet-Gordon, Helen K. 1962. Les noms des domains funeraires sous l'Ancien Empire, Bibliothèque d'étude, 34. Cairo: Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale du Caire, pp. 324–27 [2S4].

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