Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Mansoor Amarna Collection


Above we have a famous and charming Amarna royal couple from the collection of Berlin's Neues Museum. A second look reveals all the charm belongs to the man as she appears to be experiencing rigor mortis. I myself believe the piece to be a clumsy fake .

Here we have the website of the hotly disputed collection of Amarna period sculptures collected by antiques dealer M. A. Mansoor. Today some scholars consider the collection to be fakes others however are comfortable as feeling the sculptures are genuine.

The video is interesting but it is the museum gallery of images that is for me disturbing as I find all of the trial pieces to be too similar and fresh looking yet without soul and lacking any depth of detail. Not to mention the lack of subjects within these vacant heads and how alike they are to pieces both in Cairo's and Berlin's Egyptian museums.

These heads found in the house of sculptor Thutmosis at Tell el Amarna except with faces reminiscent of the hideous colossal figures of Akhenaten from the Gem Pa Aten at Karnak. That would make most of these pieces from an early period of the kings reign while presumably the works found in the Thutmosis house possess great spirit and are from the later part of Akhenaten's reign?

Picture #1 of a sculpture of Akhenaten has the same face as #24 and #26. Then there are the busts of the Amarna princess' with the faces being crudely worked and details left unfinished on all pieces. This could be explained by the works being found in a lesser sculptors studio at Tell el Amarna. The nemes headdress on sculpture #1 also appears to be just the wrong shape for my tastes.

In the collection shown only one nose is missing with two more slightly damaged this is unusual for a collection of sculptures from ancient Egypt. Images #37-38 seem to be copied directly from a painted scene of the royal couple pictured above. While #39, the two seated princess' come directly from the famous mural found by Flinders Petrie at Amarna inside the remains of a palace where they would not have been seen until after Mr.Petrie's discovery in modern times.

Though I am not a believer in the authenticity of the art pieces in the M.A. Mansoor Amarna collection. I do feel that Mr. M.A. Mansoor was a well respected antiques dealer who may have held them back because he knew they were fakes?

On the home page is an article about the Amarna princess which the family gave to the Louvre. The museum a number of years ago removed the statuette from display when after a scientific review it was agreed the princess was a fake. This does not please the family and it has been requested to be returned to them, unfortunately even if it is a fake the Louvre is not obliged to display or return the statuette.

This is not new but worth another look at so you can be the judge!

Photo from Neues Museum
The Irrelevant King

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The First Wonder

435. The relief shows the king offering wine before Min of Coptos; behind the king are the words: "First occurrence of Sed jubilee; at the top the date: Year 2 second month of the first season (second month), day 3"

436. Then the following:
This wonder which happened to his majesty : that the beasts of the highlands came down to him; there came a gazelle great with young, going with the face of the people before her, while her eyes looked backward; she did not turn back until she arrived at this august mountain, at this block, it still being in place, for this lid of this sarcophagus. She dropped her young upon it while the army of the king was looking. Then they cut off her neck before it and brought fire. It descended in safety.

437. Now, it was the majesty of this august god, lord of the highlands, who gave the offering to his son, Nibtowere, Mentuhotep IV, living forever, in order that his heart might be joyful, that he might live upon his throne forever and ever, that he might celebrate millions of Sed Jubilees.

438. The hereditary prince, count, governor of the city and vizier, chief of all nobles of judicial office, supervisor of everything in this whole land, the vizier Amenemhet.


Ancient Records of Egypt: James Breasted 

Pages: 238-239

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Second Wonder

Eight days after the First Wonder occurred a Second Wonder was added to the king's stela recorded on the rocks of the Hammamat quarry.

450. King of Upper and Lower Egypt Nibtowere, (Mentuhotep IV) who liveth forever, born of the king's mother, Imi, second month of the first season, day 23.

451. One set to work on this day on the block of the sarcophagus. The wonder was repeated, rain was made, the forms of this god appeared, his fame was shown to men and the highland was made a lake, the water went to the margin of the stone. A well was found in the midst of the valley being 10 cubits by 10 cubits on its every side filled with fresh water to its edge, undefiled, kept pure and cleansed from gazelles, concealed from the troglodyte barbarians. Soldiers of old and kings who had lived in the aforetime went out and returned by its side, no eye had seen it, the face of man had not fallen upon it but to his majesty himself it was revealed............... Those who were in Egypt heard it, the people who were in Egypt, South to the Northland (Delta),  they bowed their heads to the ground, they praised the goodness of his majesty forever and ever.

                                                         Completion of the work

452. On the twenty-eighth of the month work was completed, and the following appendix was added to the king's stela:

453. Day 28. The lid of this sarcophagus descended, being a block of 4 cubits, by 8 cubits, by 2 cubits, on coming forth from the work. Cattle were slaughtered, goats were slain, incense put on the fire. Behold, an army of 3,000 sailors of the nomes of the Northland (Delta) followed it in safety to Egypt.


Ancient Records of Egypt: James Breasted 

Pages 242-243

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday's Egyptian: Tutankhamun's Diadem

I recently wondered how unreasonable is it to reunite King Tutankhamun with the gold diadem found on his head and removed by Howard Carter, it is after all his. Why should not Tutankhamun be reunited with his magical serpent protectors, his royal symbols of power and authority? I really don't think anything else of his jewelry needs to be on the mummy particularly because of the especially fragile different pieces that make up the mummy likely could not support any other of his jewels.

He alone has come down to us as a bedecked mummy, he alone has come down wearing his crown and should again. Tutankhamun is the worlds most famous Egyptian king and probably the worlds most well known cadaver. His grandfather Amenhotp III was one of the richest men in history(1), at the height of the greatest empire of ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun took to his grave the left over fortunes of one of the richest families in history, though much had been squandered by his father Akhenaten.

Only Tutankhamun can wear his crown again, he stands alone among the pharaoh's. Harry Burton's photo above demonstrates a problem in this seemingly fragile cap under the diadem. This bead cap which probably matched the diadem might be impossible to restore as I imagine the resins used on his mummy have probably destroyed at least parts of the cap.

Can it be recreated with modern materials, and should a replica of the gold diadem be mounted as part of any new display of Tutankhamun's mummy at the future Grand Egyptian Museum?

This mount could be built into the display which would have the added benefit of holding the kings head in place, protecting it. In this way the real one could still be displayed with the other objects belonging to the king. The mummy of King Tutankhamun is the only pharaoh who has come down to the present wearing his protective and precious diadem. It is not unreasonable to suggest the he can be reunited with this part of his regalia and be safer for having it back.


Photo of diadem: Tour Egypt
Harry Burton's photo,(P0813), of the top of Tutankhamun's head  'Copyright; The Griffith Institute, University of Oxford'  The Griffith Institute, Anatomy of an excavation