- Museum number
Fragmentary quartzite-sandstone head of a male figure, the body and base now missing.
The figure is depicted with a broad shaven head and subtle modelling of the cranium. The ears are in proportion and project slightly forwards, and the eyes are almond shaped with a heavy upper eyelid. The nose is long and broad at the nostrils. The lower lip slopes downwards at the centre and is sharply incised along the ridge, and both outer corners of the mouth are turned slightly upwards to suggest a small smile. The cheekbones and jawline of the figure are particularly prominent, with a further ridge of flesh on either side of the lower lip.
There are small chips to the stone surface particularly at the tip of the nose, chin and mouth, and the outer edges of the ears. There is a slightly larger chip behind the ear on the left side.
Height: 10.50 centimetres (Figure)
Length: 3.60 centimetres (pole in bottom of figure)
Weight: 0.70 kilograms (Figure and pole)
Width: 8.50 centimetres (Figure)
Depth: 9.30 centimetres (Figure)
- Curator's comments
- The distinctive shape of the skull initially led to suggestions that the figure should be dated to the Late Period or later (Newberry and Hall 1922; Smith 1939 considers both the ‘Saite’ period and Roman period as possibilities). However, subsequent re-evaluations of this head and other similar representations, particularly a fragmentary head now in the Metropolitan Museum collection (02.4.191, New York: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/545108), have re-dated the works to the Thirteenth Dynasty within the Middle Kingdom (a further comparison of the two heads is discussed in Russmann 2001, as well as comparisons with distinguished features of other Middle Kingdom images). However, there remains some disagreement about the dating of the British Museum head, which others still prefer to assign to the Late Period (Seipel 1992; Josephson 2015).
The provenance for the head is uncertain (PM VIII).
J.A. Josephson, 2015. ‘Reevaluating the Date of the Abydos Head (MMA 02.4.191), in A. Oppenheim, O. Goelet (ed.) The Art and Culture of Ancient Egypt: Studies in Honor of Dorothea Arnold, Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar Vol. 19 (New York), p. 425, n. 18.
P.E. Newberry, H.R. Hall, 1922. Catalogue of an Exhibition of Ancient Egyptian Art (London), p. 77, no. 20, Pl. 8.
W. Seipel, 1992. Gott, Mensch, Pharao (Vienna), p. 426-427, no. 173.
S. Smith, 1939. ‘The Carmichael Head, from Egypt’, British Museum Quarterly Vol.13, No. 3, p. 99, Pl. XXXIX.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2006 7 Sept-26 Nov, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Temples & Tombs
2006 21 Dec-2007 18 Mar, Jackonsville, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Temples & Tombs
2007 15 Apr-8 Jul, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Temples & Tombs
2007 16 Nov-2008 10 Feb, New Mexico, Albuquerque Museum, Temples & Tombs
- fair (incomplete -head only)
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number