Relief block from a building of Amenemhat I

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 108

Amenemhat I, known to have been by birth from the south of Egypt, may have served as vizier to King Mentuhotep IV and as such may have been responsible for expeditions to the quarries of Wadi Hammamat before he ascended the throne. Early in his reign, he moved the capital from Thebes to a new city, Itj-tawy, just south of Memphis. He also appears to have established a coregency with his son, Senwosret I, ten years before his demise in order to ensure the stability of his new dynasty. This block was found in the foundations of his mortuary temple at Lisht, the royal cemetery for the new capital. It was reused from an earlier building that stood either at the same site or somewhere else in the area of Itj-tawy (Lisht).

The block once formed the upper part of a huge lintel of unknown dimensions which at the time of its discovery still preserved large areas of the original paint. The scene was bordered on top by a blue painted stylized depiction of the sky with stars in white or yellow. To the right, the upper part of a was (dominion) scepter supports the sky. From the top of this scepter, a uraeus with the shen (universe) sign around its neck extends toward the head of the Horus falcon on top of the king’s Horus name (only the first two signs are preserved inside the usual rectangular representation of a palace). The falcon-headed god Horus of Behdet presents an ankh sign to the falcon on the Horus name. To the left, the rear part of a left-facing ram-headed deity, distinguishable by its horn, is preserved. Because of the horn and the text between the two gods, the latter can be identified as Khnum. The text above and behind the god reads [Khnum], he who is before the house of protection; Recitation: I establish for [you] a shelter (?)"

Relief block from a building of Amenemhat I, Limestone, paint

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