Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Folded Piece of Linen with Hieratic Inscription

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12
Possibly Senwosret I
ca. 1961–1917 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb MMA 507 (The Slain Soldiers), MMA excavations, 1926–27
Folded: 25.5 x 17.5 cm (10 1/16 x 6 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1927
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 106
This folded piece of linen was found in a mass grave of at least fifty-nine soldiers. The bodies showed evidence of violence, and from their wounds it was apparent that they died on the battlefield. Buried with the individuals were small pieces of military equipment such as bows and arrows. The excavator believed that these "slain soldiers" were connected with a specific historic event that lead to the reunification of Egypt under Mentuhotep II, but a reevaluation of the evidence does not support this theory. On the corners of the linen sheets were inscriptions, some with the names that were popular only later, in early Dynasty 12. The paleography of the inscriptions and the type of wrist guard found with the soldiers also point to a date early in the 12th dynasty, which can perhaps be narrowed down to the reign of Senwosret I (the second king of Dynasty 12). The hieratic inscription on this piece reads "Sobekhotep, son of Imeny, son of Sobekhotep" and is written in red ink.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1926–1927. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1927.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 60.

"Fallen heroes? Winlock's 'slain soldiers' reconsidered." In Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 89, pp. 239–45.

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