Basalt statue of Sematawy offering a shrine

From Egypt
Ptolemaic Period, mid-2nd-1st century BC

A statue with a lined and careworn face

Egyptian statues that show a figure offering a shrine are called 'naophorous' after the Greek word naos, meaning shrine. These statues were placed within the courtyards of temples, showing the eternal devotion of the individual to a god. This figure stands in the traditional male stance, with one foot slightly forward. The shrine that he offers is also entirely Egyptian, of the type that stood in temple sanctuaries.

The narrow shoulders of the man are unlike those of male statues of Pharaonic Egypt. Men were usually shown in their prime, with broad shoulders and with muscles emphasized. They sometimes appeared portly, showing that they had wealth and position.

The realistic facial features on this statue are perhaps due to contact with the Mediterranean world. The man is shown in his middle or later years, with a lined and careworn face. A trend towards a greater degree of naturalism in the features of statues first becomes apparent at the beginning of the Late Period (661-332 BC). This was a time when Greek mercenaries and other immigrants started to settle in Egypt.

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More information


S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 56.000 cm

Museum number

EA 65443


Bequeathed by H Swainson-Cowper (1951)


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