Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Relief of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 11
Reign:
late reign of Mentuhotep II
Date:
ca. 2010–2000 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Mentuhotep II, Egypt Exploration Fund excavations, 1907
Medium:
Limestone, paint
Dimensions:
H. 36 cm (14 3/16 in); W. 98 cm (38 9/16 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1907
Accession Number:
07.230.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 104
King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep (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.

Inscriptions from left to right:

Divine speech (of Amun):
…[nb tA.wj] Nswt-bj.tj nb-xpt-ra zA-raw MnT.w-[Htp.w]
pA(w.t) r j(t).w=k nb n-aA-[mr.wt]
"…Lord of the Two Lands, King of Upper and Lower Egypt Nebkhepetre, Son of Re Mentuhotep…
Provisions more than all your ancestors inasmuch as…"

Next, above the papyrus plant one could still the remains of a figure of a vulture. Below, the inscription reads:

HD.t-nxn Aw.t-a nb(.t)
The white one of Hierakonpolis with the outstretched arm, mistress of…(Nekhbet)

Above the king, the inscription reads:
smA-tA.wj
mnT.w-Htp.w anx(.w) D.t
Sematwai
Mentuhotep, may he live forever

Before him:
dwA nTr
Adoring Amun

Behind him:
wn=f Xnt.j [kA.w anx.w nb Di(.w) anx mj raw D.t]
May he be foremost [of the all the living spirits (ka), may he be given life forever like Re]

In front of Hathor:
...smA.n(=i) n=k tA.wi mi wD.t.n bA.w[jwnw mrr.w Tw anx.ti D.t]…Aw.t-jb nb
For you I united the two lands as the powers of [Heliopolis, who love you] commanded [may you live forever]…all joy

Niv Allon 2017
Naville excavations at Deir el-Bahri working for the Egypt Exploration Fund. Acquired by the EEF in the division of finds. Given by the EEF to the Museum for its contribution to the excavations, 1907.

Lythgoe, Albert M. 1907. "Recent Egyptian Acquisitions." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 12 (December), p. 196.

Naville, Édouard F. and Somers Clarke 1910. The XIth Dynasty Temple at Deir el-Bahari, vol. 2. Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Society, 30. London: Egypt Exploration Society, pp. 2, 21, pl. 5 (B, C).

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 157-158, fig. 94.

Arnold, Dorothea 1995. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, new ser., vol. 52, no. 4 (Spring), New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 23, no. 22.

Freed, Rita 2015. "Relief of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 47–49, no. 5.

Grajetzki, Wolfram 2015. "Middle Kingdom History: An Overview." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 307.

Arnold, Dieter 2015. "Architecture: Building for Eternity across Egypt." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 13.

Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Temples: Secluded Domains for Kings and Gods." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 271.

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