Ritual Scene with Senwosret I

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 110

In a number of chambers within the pyramid temple, the king was depicted as the recipient of a variety of ritual actions designed to renew and strengthen his reign both in this world and in the afterlife. Here, the king is shown receiving a wish for a reign of millions of years, represented by the notched palm frond behind him. One or more deities, who have not been preserved, would have stood in front of and behind the king. The elongated head, which narrows at the top, the short thick lips, the small simplified eye, and the high placement of the compact ear are all stylistic characteristics found in relief decoration of the time of Senwosret I. They are combined here to create a strikingly personalized image of the king.

The eye and the uraeus cobra were chiseled out by workmen who removed this block from its setting in antiquity, when the entire temple was demolished to obtain stone for later buildings. The demolition crew clearly feared the power of the image of the long dead Senwosret.

Ritual Scene with Senwosret I, Limestone, paint

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