Relief of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 104

King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II was revered by the Egyptians as the ruler who reunited Egypt after the era of disunity (the First Intermediate Period) that followed the end of the Old Kingdom. Descended from a family of Theban rulers, the king built his tomb and mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri in western Thebes. This relief was originally part of the decoration of the temple's main sanctuary that was added to the building at the end of the king's reign. The fine balance between figures and inscriptions on this block, as well as the clear outline and regular proportions of the king's image with its individualized facial features, exemplify the peak of a relief art that had developed over the decades while the vast temple complex was built and decorated. The figure of the goddess Hathor on the right of the block was chiselled away during the Amarna period, when King Akhenaten propagated the sole worship of the god Aten. Hathor was repaired in plaster in early Dynasty 19 and some of the paint on the whole block may also have been renewed at the time.

Relief of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor, Limestone, paint

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