Height: 134.000 cm
Room 4: Egyptian sculpture
Painted limestone statue of Nenkheftka
From Deshasha, Egypt
5th Dynasty, around 2400 BC
A provincial official at the height of the Old Kingdom
This statue comes from Nenkheftka's tomb at Deshasha. Free-standing statues such as this were a characteristic feature of the tombs of the Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC). The tombs often had a dedicated statue-chamber, usually known by the arabic term serdab. Statues such as the one shown here were intended to keep the memory and the personality of the deceased person alive, so that even if his body were destroyed his spirit would still be able to reside in the statue.
It is rare to find statues dating to the Fifth Dynasty (about 2494-2345 BC) that, like this one, come from outside the cemeteries associated with Memphis, the capital city. This example is of a far higher quality than any others known from the provinces, and has much in common stylistically with those from Memphis. The superb rendering of the facial features and detailing of the wig make this a masterpiece of Egyptian sculpture.
Only the statue chamber of Nenkheftka's tomb has survived. It also contained sculptures now in other museums, including the Cairo Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
W.M.F. Petrie, Deshasheh (London, 1898)
S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)