Fragment of a basalt Egyptian-style statue of Ptolemy I

Ptolemaic, 305-283 BC

Founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty

The founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt as Ptolemy I Soter ('Saviour') with his sister-wife, Berenike I, until his death in 283 BC. At his death he left a very prosperous kingdom. He also founded the Museum (Mouseion), a cultural centre for scholars and artists, and established the famous library at Alexandria.

The nemes headdress and the uraeus identify the subject of the statue as a ruler. The mouth has drill holes in the corners, forcing the lips into a wide smile, an expression characteristic of portraits of the Thirtieth Dynasty (380-343 BC) and the early Ptolemaic period. Other characteristics of sculpture of this period are the wide, fleshy nose, cheeks and chin, and the large, fleshy ears.

It is said that this sculpture was found in the lining of a well in the Nile Delta. It was acquired by the British Museum with a number of other objects, but unfortunately the site was not named and it has been suggested that the story of its discovery was fabricated to increase interest in the piece.

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More information


S. Walker and P. Higgs, Cleopatra of Egypt: from histo (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)

E.A.W. Budge, Egyptian sculpture in the Brit (London, 1914)


Height: 64.000 cm
Width: 66.000 cm

Museum number

EA 1641



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