- Museum number
Terracotta figure of Hathor: showing her naked with her legs close together and her arms extended down her sides, her hands flat against the thighs. She has Isis-locks in a double layer back and front and falling on to the shoulders, and wears tightly woven wreaths bound with narrow ribbons. The jewellery consists of a plain necklace, a bracelet on the right wrist, an armlet and bracelet on the left arm and wrist, and an anklet on the right leg; a single breast-chain crossing from the right shoulder to the left waist has an oval fastening above the right breast, with two pendants. All the jewellery is modelled in relief, but a painted ribbon crosses the breast-chain from the left shoulder to the right waist. Details at the rear are well modelled. She of Nile silt and coated in a layer of white gypsum with painted decoration is on the front only. She has painted black hair, but the brows are brown, as are the breast-chain and other jewellery; the pubic triangle is also painted brown. The eyelids and pupils are a dull pink, the eyes and pupils are outlined in brown, and the irises are brown. The lips and nipples are painted bright pink and the bracelet on the right wrist has a pink ribbon tied above it, the loose ends hanging down the right thigh. There is pink paint between the feet and on some of the toes; some pink paint survives on the wreath. Hollow; two-piece mould. The figure is open at the crown of the head and under the feet: whether she wore a 'kalathos' now lost is uncertain. The legs are broken at the knees and repaired, with some restoration in plaster; there are other areas of repair.
- Production date
- 2ndC BC-1stC BC
Height: 64.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Pair with 1895,0511.49. Both figures are products of the same two-piece moulds or mould-series.
S. Walker & P. Higgs [eds.], 'Cleopatra of Egypt' (London, 2001), p. 108 ;
N. Reeves and J.H. Taylor, 'Howard Carter before Tutankhamun' (London, 1992), p. 101; E.A.W. Budge, 'By Nile and Tigris' II (London, 1920), pp. 349, 350, said to be from Panopolis;
D.M. Bailey, 'Terracotta Revetments, Figurines and Lamps', in M. Henig (ed.), 'A Handbook of Roman Art' (Oxford, 1983), pp. 191-204, pl. 17 (dated too late);
M. Smith, 'Budge at Akhmim, January 1896', in C. Eyre et al. (eds), 'The Unbroken Reed, Studies in the Culture and Heritage of Ancient Egypt' (London, 1994), pp. 295-6,299, where it is shown that Budge once claimed the figures came from Meir;
M. Smith, 'Dating Anthropoid Mummy Cases from Akhmim: the Evidence of the Demotic Inscriptions', in M.L. Bierbrier (ed.), 'Portraits and Masks, Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt' (London, 1997), pp. 66-71;
J. Rowlandson (ed.), 'Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt' (Cambridge, 1998), pl. 28; probably from Tuna el-Gebel.
BM Terracottas IV
Purchased: Revd. Chauncy Murch.
The circumstances of the acquisition of this and of registration no. 1895,0511.49 have been obscured. Budge (Budge 1920, 348–9) states that on a visit to Sohag in January 1896, he purchased some of a series of anthropoid coffins which were found. ‘In one tomb which had just been opened were the mummies and coffins and funerary equipment of a whole family of ten or twelve persons’ (including EA 29584-9). From the same source: ‘near one of the walls of the tomb were two narrow boxes, about 2 feet long, and each of these contained a gaudily-painted plaster (sic) figure of a large well-developed nude woman, who, judging by the colour and shape of the figures, could not have been a native of Egypt’(!). Budge reported both to the Principal Librarian of the Museum on 4 February 1896 and to the Trustees on 8 March 1896 that he had purchased material from this find, but does not mention the terracottas. The mummies from this tomb are discussed by Grimm (1974: 28, 30, 96–9 and 147–8) and are further comprehensively examined by Smith (1994: 293–303), who (p. 299) shows that Budge reported to the Trustees of the British Museum on the 3rd of May 1895 (before he went to Egypt) that our two figures came from Meir. Their Registration Numbers confirm the 1895 date of acquisition and their purchase from the Revd. Chauncey Murch, but the Register gives no provenance. Tuna el-Gebel, a necropolis of Hermopolis Magna, was once suggested on the objects’ gallery label, and this is certainly the site whence came some plaster coffin fragments acquired by the British Museum in May 1893 (ea 24779-83; Grimm 1974: 28 and 30), but which Budge (1920: 348–9) describes as coming from his Sohag/ Akhmim tomb in 1896 (Smith 1994: 299). It would seem that Budge in 1920 regarded the Meir terracottas, obtained from Murch in May 1895, as coming from the Sohag tomb he saw in January 1896 and material from which reached the Museum in March 1896. Our terracotta figures may be two or three centuries earlier than Budge’s Sohag mummies.
Ptolemaic, third to second century bc.
Comparanda: A figure in Stockholm is of similar size and almost certainly from the same mould or mould-series (Blennow, M.-L. (ed.), 1982, ‘Medelhavsmuseet, en Introduktion’, Stockholm: 102–3; George, B. and Kaneberg, O., 1999, ‘Kärlek till Egypten’, Stockholm: 102–3). There are slight differences: blooms in plaster are attached to the wreath on the left side of the head, and the painted body-ribbon is continuous and extends to slant across the right thigh. This figure once belonged to one M. Alexander, who sent a photograph of it to the British Museum in 1964, and it was in the London Sotheby’s ‘Sale Catalogue’, 6 December 1971: lot 14, pl. ii. Similar and almost as large: Philipp, H., 1972, ‘Terrakotten aus Ägypten’, Berlin: figs v [colour plate] and 17 [black and white plate], purchased in Abydos and dated first century bc. Similar but smaller (sometimes much smaller): Adriani, A., 1952, ‘Municipalité d’Alexandrie, Annuaire du Musée Gréco-Romain’, vol. iii: (1940–1950), Alexandria: pl. xiv:3, from a favissa at Ras el-Soda, Alexandria, dated Ptolemaic period, perhaps third to second century bc; Besques, S., 1992, ‘Musée du Louvre, Catalogue raisonné des figurines et reliefs en terre-cuite grecs, étrusques et romains’, vol. iv, part 2, Paris, no. D 4489, from Mellawi in Middle Egypt, dated third century bc (=Perdrizet, P., 1921, ‘Les Terres cuites grecques d’Égypte de la collection Fouquet’, Nancy: no. 4 = Ballet, P., 1998, in Empereur, J.-Y. (ed.), 1998a, ‘Commerce et artisanat dans l’Alexandrie hellénistique et romaine’, Athens: 238, fig. 27); Breccia, E., 1930, ‘Terrecotte figurate greche e greco-egizie del Museo di Alessandria’, vol. i, Bergamo: no. 172, from the Hadra cemetery at Alexandria, found, for what it is worth, near a tomb not certainly of the earliest Ptolemaic date; Breccia, E, 1934, ‘Terrecotte figurate greche e greco-egizie del Museo di Alessandria’, vol. ii, Bergamo: no. 12; Fischer, J., 1994, ‘Griechisch-römische Terrakotten aus Ägypten: die Sammlungen Sieglin und Schreiber’, Tübingen: no. 809, dated late first century bc to early first century ad = Vogt, J., 1924, ‘Die griechische-ägyptische Sammlung Ernst von Sieglin’, part ii: Terrakotten , Leipzig: pl. xxx:3; Fjeldhagen, M. ,1995, 'Catalogue, Graeco-Roman Terracottas from Egypt, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek', Copenhagen: no. 51, dated second century ad; Hill, D.K., 1991, in 'Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin', Fall, New York: 7, dated second to third century ad; uclia, Gayer Anderson Bequest, ucl 1288.
Orange-brown Nile silt, with mica. Overall white dressing, thicker at the front than the back: a detached fragment was examined and scientific analysis shows it to be gypsum (‘British Museum Department of Scientific Research Report’ 7048, 10 May 1999).
Bibliog. E.A.W. Budge, 'Report to the Trustees', 3 May 1895, no. 25: ‘Two large painted terracotta figures of a female. From Meir’; , E.A.W., 1920, ‘By Nile and Tigris’, London: 349 and 350; Grimm, G., 1974, 'Die römischen Mummienmasken aus Ägypten', Wiesbaden: 97; Bailey, D.M., 1983, in M. Henig, ‘A Handbook of Roman Art’, Oxford: 17 (dated too late); Smith, M., 1994, in C. Eyre, A. Leahy and L.M. Leahy (eds), ‘The Unbroken Reed: Studies in the Culture and Heritage of Ancient Egypt in Honour of A.F. Shore’, London: 295–6 and 299; Rowlandson, J. (ed.), 1998, ‘Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt’, Cambridge: 258, pl. 28, where a probable Tuna el-Gebel find-spot is given, taken from a British Museum label once exhibited with the two figures; Walker and Higgs 2001: 108–9, no. 133, dated second or first century bc; Riggs, C., 2005, ‘The Beautiful Burial in Roman Egypt’, Oxford: 79, fig. 30, from Middle Egypt, dated second to first century bc.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number