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Museum piece #11 – A94

A94 Statue of Nakhthorheb kneeling in prayer (Source: author’s own photograph).

A94 is a quartzite statue of the Late Period official, Nahkthorheb, dating to the 26th Dynasty reign of Psamtek II, which currently resides in the Louvre Museum, Paris.

Nakhthorheb was clearly an influential man, and held many titles including “the ‘Unique Friend,’ director of the palace, secretary of the House-of-the-Morning, director of the castles, chief lector-priest, officer to the crown, director of every divine function, head of magi in the House-of-Life”, as listed in the inscription on the back pillar of the statue. Monuments attested to him now reside in Rome, London, Cairo, and Copenhagen.

Nakhthorheb is depicted kneeling, with his palms flat on his thighs – this was seen as a gesture of reverence in ancient Egypt, emphasised by the prayer to the god, Thoth, that is inscribed upon the statue.

The statue of Nakhthorheb is an excellent example of archaism, the revival of styles and models from earlier times that have fallen out of use. The art of the Saite Period, in particular, is known for its archaising tendencies, and the statue of Nakhthorheb is no exception – the ‘larger than life’ size of the statue harks back to an Old and Middle Kingdom tradition, as does the lack of detail in the clothing which adds to the simplistic style that was used to express ‘masculine beauty’.

Statues in this style were often set up in temples to demonstrate their owner’s piety to the particular god(s) or goddess(es). The inscription around the base of Nahkthorheb’s statue indicates that it was originally set up in a temple of Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and writing, and the “lord of Hermopolis and Dendera.

Bibliography and further reading:

Kahl, J. 2010. ‘Archaism’. UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 1(1) – available from: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3tn7q1pf.

The British Museum. ‘BM EA1646 Quartzite statue of Nakhthorheb‘ – available from: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/q/quartzite_statue_of_nakhthorhe.aspx.

T. G. H. James and W. V. Davies. 1983. Egyptian sculpture. London: The British Museum Press.

S. B. Schubert. 1989. ‘Realistic currents in portrait sculpture of the Saite and Persian periods in Egypt’, Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 19, 24-47.

Andreu G., M. H. Rutschowscaya, and C. Ziegler. 1997. L’Egypte au Louvre, Hachette: Paris. 185-186, 255, notice n° 92.

Ziegler C. and Bovot, J. L. 2001. Art et archéologie: L’Egypte ancienne. Ecole du Louvre, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Documentation française: Paris. 264-265, fig. 159.

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