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.
TEMPLE OF AMENHOTEP III AT SOLEB Type: monument (jubilee temple) Civilisation: ancient Egypt Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III, circa 1386-1349 BCE ARCHAEO-Crush: The temple at Soleb, built in Sudan by the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III, is probably my favourite Nubian monument. (During the New Kingdom the Egyptians had colonised Sudanese Nubia.) I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for Amenhotep III, but the reason of my ARCHAEO-Crush is much more visceral than that. The temple at Soleb is in fact the first Egyptian temple I ever visited, even though I had visited Egypt 18 years prior. I have a very vivid souvenir of seeing this temple for the very first time, on the trip from Khartoum to Sedeinga. I was on the lorry that crossed the Bayuda Desert and travelled further north to remote towns and villages. It’s a long trip and a fun story that I hope one day to include in the Day in the Life of an Archaeologist chronicle. As I was saying, I was on the lorry, sharing the front seat with the driver and another gentleman, when I saw magnificent ruins in the distance. I knew immediately it was the temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb—its profile is unmistakable. The other passenger, with whom I had been chatting in horrible Arabic (me, at the time I knew about a dozen words!!!) and slightly better English (him), pointed to the ruins and asked me if that’s where I was going to work. No, not there. There are too many columns at this temple. The temple at Sedeinga has only one column still standing. This is Soleb. The temple of Amenhotep at Soleb…
During the dig season, when the Sedeinga dig director offered me to visit Soleb in the company of Hourig Sourouzian, visiting Egyptologist and expert Amenhotep III, I immediately said yes. I had a fabulous day exploring the site with Hourig and two other archaeologists. We also helped her search for fragments of statues of Amenhotep in the old storerooms of the Schiff-Giorgini mission. It was amazing to have the site entirely to ourselves… something you’ll not experience at Luxor or Karnak where you’ll be surrounded by tons of tourists.
The site of Soleb is amazing and one of the most impressive in Sudan: several columns are still standing and two of them actually still hold up an architrave! I could talk about this temple and many others until your ears fall off (I wrote my thesis on Amun temples in Nubia and this temple was included in my corpus). So, instead, I’m leaving you with a few pictures I took of this incredible temple during my one and only visit to Soleb. Bucket list status: Been there, done that… and would love to do it again! Additional info: The site of Soleb and its temple are not on the UNESCO World Heritage list.