Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Broken Statue of Tutankhamun

During the recent Egyptian revolution a pack of robbers entered the Cairo museum stealing and smashing a number of the museums artifacts. The images of the following day included a broken gilded statuette of a feminine king walking on a plinth on the back of a black panther, the kings figure supposed to be Tutankhamun (JE 60715).

When discovered the statue was one of a pair found in a black wooden shrine, the statues wrapped in linen so that those forming the burial of Tutankhamun may not have been aware of their feminine attributes.

There is recognition among the objects in the burial of king Tutankhamun that a number were made for or are of a woman including the aforementioned statuette of a statue(?) Some have suggested that this statue and others representing a female king are actually of Tutankhamun but may also point to there having been a female Amarna king earlier.

To my knowledge in the large amounts of artifacts found in the earlier tombs of Amenhotep II, Kv 35(1), and Thutmosis IV, Kv 47(2), examples were found of similar statues of those kings without evidence of female attributes. Though I have to admit I myself can only find mostly the panther part of the statuettes no doubt the gilded kings were burned for their gold leaf..

Similar remains were also found in the later tomb of Horemheb(3) though these statues do appear there is no evidence they represent female kings including the paintings of the same statues on the walls of Seti II's tomb, Kv15(4).

The idea came to mind that perhaps this female king is not an immediate predecessor of Tutankhamun but an ancestor? With so many objects coming from the boy kings tomb that were property of his ancestors it is hard to identify which ancestor these statues may have come from?

 How many of us in modern times are in possession of antique objects from our grand parents or great grand parents or even further back? Can these statues actually represent king Hatshepsut and were possibly rediscovered by the ancients in the family funerary inventory about 140 years after their creation during the burial of Tutankhamun at the end of  the Thutmoside dynasty?

These statues created for the burial of king Hatshepsut and denied burial with her, placed into storage in one of the storerooms that lead to the tomb of Thutmosis III forgotten and stigmatized?

I doubt this and stylistically they appear to be from the Amarna period including the curl of the cobra's tail which is much more common to the Amarna kings and after, while during Hatshepsut's reign the tail of the cobra rises from behind the cobra's hood before curling and travelling to the crown of the kings head. Though there are variations this seem to be most common in the period?

More likely if these statues were not made for Tutankhamun but an ancestor than they may actually have been in (Kv55) at the time the mummy in that tomb was potentially robbed for the burial of the boy king? A point to perhaps Kiya since many believe the coffin and canopic jars in the tomb were originally hers, though I have never quite understood why, I think it is because of the wig on the coffin and canopics found there?

The problem with Kiya is there is no evidence to my knowledge of Kiya wearing a crown of a king of Egypt. This being said the surviving monuments mentioning Kiya  at all are few and some are identified only by style of wig and earrings. It would appear that Kiya is a lesser figure unlikely part of the hereditary line perhaps a grand daughter of Yuya and Thuyu and not likely given the right to portray herself as a king.

Of course one thinks of the king Ankhkepheperure Neferneferuaten (Nefertiti), with the same potential realignment of her position (as Hatshepsut potentially faced a century earlier)during burial with an immediate removal or denial of these statues from the burial of the over achieving kings wife?

There of course is a remote possibility that the woman shown may be Meryetaten but I do not hold out much faith in that rather Nefertiti is the best candidate.

With the end of the eighteenth dynasty royal family and the burial of Tutankhamun a gathering of the families assets, wanted or unwanted probably took place, dividing the remaining family assets into king Tut's burial and perhaps his sisters?

However as a final thought perhaps I am way off and instead of seeing a woman's body or a man's body I should view this statuette as a boy of about 10 with a form of a developing youth and perhaps one of the earliest of the statuettes created for the kings burial shortly after the coronation of the boy Tutankhamun?

(1) Valley of the Kings, Kent R. Weeks, VMB Publishers, pg. 141, ISBN 978-88-540-0976-9
(2) The Complete Valley of Kings, Nicholas Reeves, Richard H. Wilkinson, Thames & Hudson, pg.107, ISBN 978-0-500-28403-2
(3) The Complete Valley of Kings, Nicholas Reeves, Richard H. Wilkinson, Thames & Hudson. pg.132, ISBN 978-0-500-28403-2
(4) Theban Mapping Project

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