Haremhab was a royal scribe and general of the army under Tutankhamun. He continued to serve during the reign of Aya and eventually succeeded Aya as king. This statue was made before Haremhab ascended the throne. By having himself depicted as a scribe, Haremhab declares himself to be among the elite group of literate individuals, thus following a tradition more than a thousand years old of depicting great officials as men of wisdom and learning.
He sits erect, but relaxed, his gaze slightly down. Across his knees he unrolls a papyrus scroll on which he has composed a hymn to the god Thoth, patron of scribes. A shell containing ink lies on his left knee. Over his left shoulder is a strap with a miniature scribe's kit attached to each end. A figure of the god Amun is incised on his forearm, perhaps indicating a tattoo.
In this statue the unlined, youthful face is belied by the potbelly and the folds of flesh beneath the breasts. These artistic conventions indicate that the subject has reached the age of wisdom. Although the scribal pose exhibits the frontal orientation common to all formal Egyptian statue, it may be appreciated more fully as a piece of sculpture in the round since it has no back pillar. The youthful face reflects the features seen on many statues depicting Tutankhamun (50.6), and the style of this magnificent life-size sculpture retains some of the softness and naturalism of the earlier Amarna period while looking forward to later Ramesside art.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
front, dark background
3/4 right back
3/4 left front
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:Haremhab as a Scribe of the King
Reign:reign of Tutankhamun or Aya
Date:ca. 1336–1323 B.C.
Geography:From Egypt; Said to be from Memphite Region, Memphis (Mit Rahina), Ptah Temple, a hole among palm trees
Dimensions:h. 113 cm (44 1/2 in); w. 71 cm (27 15/16 in); d. 55.5 cm (21 7/8 in)
Credit Line:Gift of Mr. and Mrs. V. Everit Macy, 1923
Base, to the right
(1) An "offering that the King gives" of Thoth, the lord of hieroglyphs, lord of Hermopolis, weigher of truth, conveyor of Re in the night bark. May you grant response to a matter in its exactitude. I am an exact one of the court: every crime is reported to me — a perceptive tongue, putting it right. I am one who fixes laws for the King, who gives instruction to the court, wise in my speech. (2) There is nothing I do not know. I am a guide for everyone, who shows every person his way. I do not neglect what has been assigned me. I am one who informs the Lord of the Two Lands, a successful speaker of every neglected thing, who does not ignore anything the King says. I am the herald of the judgement council. I do not forget the plans of His Incarnation. For the ka of the hereditary noble, royal scribe Haremhab, justified.
Base, to the left
(1) An "offering that the King gives" of Ptah South of His Wall, of Sekhmet, beloved of Ptah, of Ptah-Sokar, lord of the secret chamber, and of Osiris, lord of Rosetau. May you (all) grant that my ba come forth by day to see the solar disk. May you hear (my) request for him every day, like the spirits you made spirits. May you (Re) command me to follow you day and night like all those you favor, because I have been proper to the god since (2) I was upon the earth, satisfying him with order every day: I have repudiated evil before him. Never have I [done evil] since I was born, for I am one who is steady of heart before the god, one conclusive of heart, one peaceful of heart when he hears the truth. May you (all) cause me to be in the crew of Osiris’s boat on the feast of the Region of Peqer. For the ka of the hereditary noble, sole companion, deputy of the king in front of the Two Lands, royal scribe Haremhab, justified.
(1) Adoration of Thoth — the son of Re, the moon beautiful in emergence, lord of appearances, who illuminates the gods — by the hereditary noble, high official, fanbearer on the King’s right, (2) chief general, royal scribe Haremhab, justified, saying: Hail to thee, Moon: Thoth, Bull in Hermopolis, dwelling in (3) the Hermopolitan necropolis, passer-by of the gods! Knower of secrets, establisher of their utterance; who distinguishes one report from (4) another, who judges everyone; wise one in the bark of millions, who waits for human beings; who knows a person by (5) his utterance, who denounces an affair against its doer. He who satisfies Re, who informs the Sole Lord, letting him know everything that has happened (during the night) (6) when he calls from the sky at dawn, not forgetting the report of yesterday(’s events). (7) Sprout of the night-bark, who makes the day-bark content; who stretches out his arm at the prow of the boat of Pure-Faced, who takes the stern-rope (8) of the day-bark for him, rejoicing as the night-bark rejoices on the feast of crossing the sky. Who overthrows the Rebel Serpent (9) and breaks open the western horizon, while the Ennead of gods in the night-bark give adoration to Thoth, saying (10) to him: "Hail, [ ... ] of Re, whom Re favors for what he does! The gods have become elated, (11) repeating (12) what your ka loves. "You (13) open the way for the place of the boat: You do (14) what is necessary against that Rebel Serpent, lopping off his head, shattering his ba, taking (15) his essence into the fire. You are the god who performs his slaughter. "Nothing can be done without you — the orderly one, son of Order, who came forth (16) from her flesh; savior of Harakhty, who enters Heliopolis wise; placemaker of the gods, who knows secrets and reveals (17) matters. "Let us praise Thoth, the accurate plummet in the balance; who rejects (18) disorder and accepts the one who is not inclined to transgression; the vizier who judges affairs, who resolves conflict (19) peacefully; the scribe of the mat, who fixes the scroll; who drives off falsehood but accepts the bearer of a healthy greeting; (20) who supports the oath-taker in the midst of the Ennead of gods, who raises up the one who has been ignored, who has a wise face for one who (21) has gone astray. He who remembers the fleeting moment, who reports the hours of the night, and whose words (22) remain forever; who enters the netherworld, finds out what is in it, and registers them in his list."
James P. Allen 2007
Purchased from Khawam Brothers, Cairo, and donated to the Museum by Mr. and Mrs. V. Everit Macy, New York, 1923.
Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 304–05, fig. 190.
Bothmer, Bernard V. 1966. "Private Sculpture of Dynasty XVIII in Brooklyn." In Brooklyn Museum Annual, 8, p. 84.
Russmann, Edna R. 1973. "The Statue of Amenemope-em-hat." In Metropolitan Museum Journal, 8, c.f. p. 39, n. 28.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 1977. Ancient Egypt in the Metropolitan Museum Journal, 1–11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 93, n. 2; p. 105, n. 28.
Lilyquist, Christine, Peter F. Dorman, and Edna R. Russmann 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 41, no. 3 (Winter), New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 41, fig. 41 (ERR).
Dorman, Peter F., Prudence Harper, and Holly Pittman 1987. Egypt and the Ancient Near East. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 66, n. 46.
Freed, Rita, Elena Pischikova, Yvonne J. Markowitz, and Sue D'Auria 1999. Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen. Boston, no. 251, p. 277 (Y. Markowitz).
Dodson, Aidan M. 2004. The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson, Pp. 155.
Allon, Niv 2019. Writing, Violence, and the Military: Images of Literacy in Eighteenth Dynasty Egypt (1550- 1295 BCE). throughout.
Jurman, Claus 2020. Memphis in der Dritten Zwischenzeit: Eine Studie zur (Selbst-)Repräsentation von Eliten in der 21. und 22. Dynastie, 2 vols.. Hamburg, p. 499 n2453.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.