- Museum number
Fragmentary limestone head of a male figure, the body and base now missing.
The figure is depicted with a close-fitting cropped wig which is set low on the forehead and exposes the ears. The stone has been drilled deep to form two holes for the eyes, which would have originally contained inlays of another material. The mouth is broad with full and thick lips, sharply incised along the edges and with the outer corners flat. The face appears fleshy and rounded, particularly at the cheeks and jawline. On the reverse at the lower half of the head are the remains of the top and surviving outline of a slim back-pillar, though the majority of the stone surface has been damaged.
The statue head has suffered damage including the loss of the nose and visible breaks at the ears, upper lip, and chin. There are also several gouges to the stone around the eyes and eyebrow area, and to the top of the head.
Height: 28 centimetres (max)
Width: 16 centimetres
Depth: 19 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Deliberate damage to the head is clear from the marks around the eyes which were likely caused by attempts to remove of the inlaid eyes with a sharp implement. Further damage to the face at the nose, and the breaks around the ears and chin may also be intentional. Though it is unclear precisely where the head was discovered, Giovanni Battista Caviglia is known to have worked under Henry Salt on a number of excavations across the Giza plateau and in 1817 worked within passages and the subterranean chamber of the Khufu pyramid.
This head is at first glance comparable to the selection of ‘reserve heads’ found within the Giza necropolis, a unique form of sculpture known from the Old Kingdom which were often composed of limestone. The majority of these heads also originated from tomb contexts within Giza outside of the ordinary offering chapel where elite monuments were more typically established (Zeigler in MET volume 1999). While the British Museum figure shares some stylistic similarities to these reserve heads including the cropped wig style, the use of inlays for the eyes and the inclusion of a back-pillar suggests that this was more likely at one time a larger statue piece.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids (New York).
- Not on display
- incomplete - head only
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: BS.114 (Birch Slip Number)