Fragment of painted limestone relief from the tomb of Kemsit
From the Temple of Mentuhotep II, Deir
11th Dynasty, around 2050 BC
A queen or concubine of King Mentuhotep II
Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II succeeded in reunifying Egypt after the instability of the First Intermediate Period (2160-2040 BC). He was also a major architectural innovator, as is demonstrated by his temple at Deir el-Bahari in Thebes. The colonnaded temple was apparently a new design for ancient Egypt, and inspired the neighbouring Temple of Hatshepsut in the Eighteenth Dynasty (about 1550-1295 BC).
Many fragments of
scenes that decorated Mentuhotep II's temple came to The
British Museum from excavations conducted by the Egyptologist Henri
Naville for the
This fragment of painted limestone shows Kemsit holding a jar of scented ointment to her nose, while an attendant (mostly destroyed) presents her with gifts and offerings. The modelling of this relief is very high and very detailed, though the paint has been applied thickly, sometimes obscuring details. The light pink hue of Kemsit's skin is very unusual.
Kemsit's precise relationship to Mentuhotep II is uncertain, though it is clear that she was not one of his principal wives. It has even been suggested that the burials were of women of the harem, buried near their king to be his concubines in the next world.
E. Naville, The XIth dynasty temple at Dei (London, Egypt Exploration fund, 1907)
N. and H. Strudwick, Thebes in Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)
G. Robins, The art of ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
J. Bourriau, Pharaohs and mortals: Egyptian (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1988)
Height: 41.000 cm
Height: 41.000 cm
Excavated by Henri Édouard
Gift of the