Limestone statue of Katep and Hetepheres
Possibly from Giza,
5th or 6th Dynasty, around 2300 BC
Pair statue from a tomb
This pair-statue is an excellent example of the ancient Egyptian conventions in the depiction of men and women. Though very close in appearance, Katep and Hetepheres are clearly distinguished through skin colour and the broadness of Katep's shoulders.
Such a statue would have been placed in a statue-chamber, usually known by the arabic term serdab. These were a common feature of tombs, particularly those in the cemeteries of Memphis (Giza, Saqqara and Dahshur). They acted as an additional means of keeping the tomb-owner's memory and personality in existence; if his body were destroyed, his 'house of eternity' would still be easily recognized by his spirits.
There is no evidence to confirm where this statue came from. Katep was a relatively minor priest, but he did hold the title of 'priest of Khufu', the Fourth Dynasty king, and builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Thus Katep was a priest who served in, or benefited from Khufu's mortuary cult, in temples associated with the royal pyramid. A number of relief fragments from the tomb have also survived, some of which are in The British Museum, while others are in the Field Museum in Chicago.
D. Arnold, C. Ziegler and C.H. Roehrig, Egyptian art in the age of the (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999)
S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)