- Museum number
- Series: The Greenfield Papyrus
Book of the Dead of Nestanebetisheru; frame 61.
Black line vignette of deceased adoring and offering to Re-Horakhty. Two hieroglyphic labels identify the deceased and the deity.
- Production date
- 950 BC - 930 BC (circa)
Length: 54.30 centimetres (frame)
Width: 34.70 centimetres (frame)
- Curator's comments
- This funerary papyrus roll, made for a woman named Nestanebetisheru, was almost 123 feet (about 37 meters) in length. The daughter of the High Priest of Amun, Panedjem II, Nestanebtasheru was of royal lineage and herself a priestess of high rank. Her mummy, in its nested coffins, was among the royal mummies reburied in the "royal cache," a secret tomb near Deir el Bahri, which first came to the attention of archaeologists in 1881. The royal cache contained other grave goods of Nestanebtasheru , and it is probable that this papyrus was found there as well.
Nestanebetisheru is shown adoring Ra-Horakhty, a falcon-headed manifestation of the sun god at his rising. The god, who is drawn in great detail, is enthroned on a high dais. He wears an 'atef' crown on a divine wig, a collar necklace, a feather-patterned vest and a traditional kilt with a pleated panel. Attached to the back of the belt is a royal bull's tail, the lower end of which emerges from under his knees. He holds an 'ankh' sign and a 'was' scepter, standard equipment for most male deities. Nestanebetisheru stands behind a table piled with the flowers, vegetables, meat, and bread that she is offering to the god, her hands raised in the conventional gesture of adoration. She wears a very long wig, on which is set a perfumed ointment cone and a lotus bud. Other than the wig and a large half-hidden earring, she appears to be wearing nothing. Presumably this is an error: after drawing the upper line of her necklace, the artist for some reason neglected to add the billowing outlines of the draped robe fashionable in Nestanebetisheru's day and worn by her in almost all the vignettes. The garment hides neither her navel nor the plump hips and thighs of the female figure type considered beautiful during the Third Intermediate Period.
Even more than most formal Egyptian drawings, the drawing here shows a wonderful control of line. This artist-scribe was a master of the iconic image, able to produce a perfect freehand drawing that appears, as the Egyptians would have wanted it, perfectly free of spontaneity. He did, however, have one idiosyncrasy: on almost all of the representations of Nestanebetisheru , her navel is drawn, as here, to look like a diagonal slit. This seems a curious detail to serve as an artistic "signature," but if other works by this master have survived, it might identify them as such.
Budge, E. A. Wallis, The Greenfield papyrus in the British Museum: the funerary papyrus of Princess Nesitanebtashru, daughter of Painetchem II and Nesi-Khensu, and priestess of Amen-Ra at Thebes, about B.C. 970. London, 1912.
Hughes, Richard Smith, The vignettes in the Greenfield Papyrus in the British Museum (BM EA 10554): the Book of the Dead of Nest-ta-nebt-ashru (950-930 BC) . Ridgecrest, 2013.
Mosher, Catalogue of the Books of the Dead in the BM: The Papyrus of Hor, (2001), p.80 n.25.
N. Billing, Nut the Goddess of Life, USE 5 (2002), p. 331, fig. A.3.
Nicholson and Shaw, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology (Cambridge 2000), p. 119, p.233 fig.9.3
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 7 July -17 September Mori museum, Tokyo & 6 October-25 November, Fukuoka Museum of Art, The Book of the Dead: Journey Through the Afterlife
- Papyrus Survey:
Backed: brown paper
Checked for loan to USA 1999 (AFA)
Checked for loan to USA 2006 (AFA)
Binding: Filmoplast T self adhesive linen tape
Object Priority: B
Mount Priority: A
Overall Condition: B
Curatorial condition comment:
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Book of the Dead
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Frame.61