My ARCHAEO-Crush of the month of May is the non-official mascot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
WILLLIAM THE HIPPO
Type: sculpture (faience statuette) Civilisation: Ancient Egypt Date: Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reigns of Senwosret I to Senwosret II, circa 1961–1878 B.C.E.
ARCHAEO-Crush: This little statuette is absolutely adorable! A small faience hippopotamus with aquatic plants drawn on its blue body. Little William from the Metropolitan Museum (the name was given him in 1931 by Captain H. M. Raleigh) was discovered at Meir in a shaft associated with the funerary chapel of the steward Senbi II’s tomb. The reason for its presence in the tomb is religious and magical, because, let’s not forget, that hippos are extremely dangerous. (One of the three most terrifying animals in ancient Egypt, the other two being the crocodile and the lion). The animal was a menace to any small craft on the Nile and could wreak havoc in the fields.
The small faience hippo represented the forces of nature that could be harmful to the deceased in the Afterlife, forces that could be controlled or appeased: William the hippo–by his form, colour and the aquatic plants on his body–represented the forces of water and the Nile. With William in his tomb, Senbi II could control the Nile in the Afterlife. However, in order to prevent the hippo from harming him, three of its legs were intentionally broken.
Bucket list status: I have seen William a few times and he’s not the only faience hippo at the Met. There are also other hippos in museums all over the world.
Additional information: William can be seen inGallery 111at the Met; he’s number 17.9.1 in the collection.
My ARCHAEO-Crush for September is an amazing statue of a female pharaoh at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.
The delicate and feminine features of the great New Kingdom female pharaoh. (Photo by yours truly taken during a trip to the Met in 2011)
STATUE OF HATSHEPSUT SEATED Type: artefact (sculpture) Civilisation: Ancient Egypt Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, joint reign Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III (circa 1479–1458 BC) ARCHAEO-Crush: Queen Hatshepsut is undoubtedly the most remarkable female pharaoh of Egyptian history. Daughter of Pharaoh Thutmosis I and wife of Thutmosis II, her half-brother, she found herself at the death of her husband the regent of a young boy king, Thutmosis III–who is both her nephew and her stepson. (Thutmosis III was the son of Thutmosis II and his second wife Isis.) At the beginning, she is not opposed to the reign of this five year old child because as the wife of the deceased king she is regent and has all the powers necessary to rule the country on the young king’s behalf. However, a few years later–with the support of powerful officials–she is crowned pharaoh, usurping her stepson/nephew’s throne. While she may appear to be the evil stepmother of fairy tales, her reign is nonetheless peaceful and prosperous. She dedicates her energies to artistic endeavours and architectural projects (her funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri is one of her remarkable constructions).
The statue presented here shows Hatshepsut in the royal accoutrement of a male pharaoh wearing a kilt and the nemes headdress. Yet her delicate features are utterly feminine and graceful. There is not doubt that this is the face of a woman. I find this particular statue incredibly beautiful and delicate, even if stone sculptures in ancient Egypt tend to be very heavy and blockish. Bucket list status: Every time I’m at the Met, I go see Hatshepsut… Additional information: There are a number of statues portraying Hatshepsut in that particular gallery at the Met. However, this one (object # MMA 29.3.2) is displayed at all by herself and softly illuminated the end of the room, seated majestically.
We cannot begin to know how many mud bricks were actually used to construct Amenhotep III’s palace at Malqata, but we can develop a rough estimate. To start with, the enclosure wall is 2.5 meters thick and was probably over 600 meters long. Each 1 meter of length of a wall 1 meter high requires 540 bricks – if the wall was only 2 meters high, over half a million bricks would be necessary. But a 2.5 meter thick wall would surely be at least 3 meters high, so I’m raising our estimate of the number of bricks in the enclosure walls to slightly more than 800,000.
The walls comprising the palace rooms generally are much thinner, the majority being 0.6 meters thick, although some are only 20 cm thick and some are 1.6 meters thick. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the average thickness of the palace walls is 0.6…
It is fabulous to be at Malqata—an ancient Egyptian settlement with areas that show social stratigraphy and organisation. Kings, nobles, and commoners all lived here and celebrated the sed festivals of King Amenhotep III. I first worked on animal bones that were excavated from Malqata in the 1970s for my Ph.D., and am thrilled that the Met is digging now in different parts of the site so that there is a fresh source of bones to examine. The animal bones that I am studying come from trash pits, and undisturbed fill that lay in the North Village. By examining these, we are learning about what people ate and how animals were butchered.
Part of the rib of a cow that has been chopped in half.. Many of the bones I am examining come from a pit just outside the enclosure wall of a ceremonial area known as the Audience Pavilion…
A couple of great posts on the iMalqata blog today. Here’s one about ancient Egyptian bathing rooms… I didn’t realise there were no fewer than 10 bathrooms in Amenhotep III’s palace! The pictures of the ‘shower stalls,’ then and now, are quite humbling. So much has disappeared in the last +100 years…
The ancient Egyptians seem to have placed great importance on personal cleanliness. For most people, bathing appears to have been done in pools, rivers and canals but shower stalls were a feature in the Royal Palaces and in the model palaces.
In these stalls, the bather would stand on a stone slab with a drain cut into it and water would be poured over them by a servant standing beside a half wall enclosing the shower. Soap was made from natron and was beneficial for the skin. It may have even been scented as were soaps made from animal fat or vegetable oil.
The Palace of the King at Malqata boasted at least ten bathrooms. Only scant traces of them remain today, but when the Palace was excavated by Robb de Peyster Tytus in 1901 to 1903, he discovered a very well preserved bath in room N11, in one of the…