Reliefs from the Tomb of Nespekashuty

Period: Late Period, Saite

Dynasty: Dynasty 26

Reign: late reign of Psamtik I

Date: 656–610 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), bottom of west wall of outer hall, MMA excavations, 1922–23

Medium: Limestone, paint

Dimensions: as displayed: L. 303 × H. 127 × Th. 10 cm (9 ft. 11 5/16 in. × 50 in. × 3 15/16 in.)
main section of relief as displayed: L. 245 × H. 106.5 × Th. 10 cm (96 7/16 × 41 15/16 × 3 15/16 in.)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1923

Accession Number: 23.3.468


The vizier Nes-peka-shuty took over the terrace of an old Middle Kingdom tomb cut into the north cliff at Deir el-Bahri near the Dynasty 11 temple of Mentuhotep II and the Dynasty 18 temple of Hatshepsut. Work on his tomb was never finished, and many of the extant reliefs show varying degrees of completion, ranging from preliminary drawings in red paint to finely carved reliefs. Several of these intermediate stages are preserved in this relief fragment depicting an episode from Nes-peka-shuty's funeral, in which the barge bearing his coffin and the officiating mortuary priest clad in leopard skin is towed across the river to the necropolis on the west bank.

During the Late Period, there was a tendency to draw on earlier artistic styles and iconography. Theban tomb paintings of the New Kingdom were the models for this scene, while others were patterned after scenes on the walls of Hatshepsut's temple. In Egyptian art, there is a long tradition of looking back to earlier styles, but themes are not merely copied, they are subtly changed and imbued with a new liveliness.