Monday, April 6, 2015

Museum Pieces - Statue of Khaemwaset

This statue fragment portrays Khaemwaset, son of Ramesses II and Isetnofret, who was the high priest of Ptah at Memphis. He is often called the 'first archaeologist', and he restored a number of ancient tombs at Memphis and also constructed the Serapeum. He became especially important in the Graeco-Roman Period, and two demotic stories depict him as a master magician. The Brussels statue shows the prince standing, wearing an archaising wig and a false beard. He holds in his hands an indeterminate cult object. Two identical vertical columns of text on the back pillar tell us that the prince was here shown as the god Horus Iunmutef.

Inventory number: E.6721
Archaeological Site: SAQQARA NECROPOLIS ?
Material: BASALT ?
Height: 25.4 cm
Width: 15.5 cm
Depth: 19.3 cm

The god Horus Iunmutef, the sem priest, the prince, Khaemwaset, that he might give...

F. Lefebvre et B. Van Rinsveld, L'Égypte. Des Pharaons aux Coptes, Bruxelles 1990, 127-128
W. Seipel, Gott. Mensch. Pharao. Viertausend Jahre Menschenbild in der Skulptur des Alten Ägypten (Exposition), Vienne 1992, 293-295 n° 110
Le Roman de la momie. Les amours d'une princesse égyptienne (Exposition Saint-Gérard de Brogne), Namur 1997, 112 n° 43



  1. Hi Dennis
    I always look forward to your Museum Pieces!

    The sky god Iunmutef is certainly somewhat an obscure sky god I had to look him up? I must say that if this sculpture were mine he would find himself facing the wall so my guests could see his more attractive side with the pretty inscription. The crudeness of the prince's features including his squarish clumsy fingers, the sharp edged beard, the half hazard striations of the wig and worst of all for me is the strangely carved chest of the prince.

    As the prince is the high preist of Ptah I might suspect he holds either a djed pillar or an image of Ptah, I would suspect the djed as I do not see any sign of Ptah's staff. As Ptah was the god of craftsmen his temple workshops at Memphis would have employed the finest artist in Egypt and I would suspect that an important and powerful high preist of Ptah like Khaemwaset would have employed the finest of artists for his sculptures,of which this is not.

    One other thing bothers me is I do not see any provenance and a bibliography with a starting date of 1990? I would step out on a limb at this point and suggest the statue is Fake!

    Just an old mans ramblings!

    Timothy Reid

    1. Hi Timothy,

      as always I love your ramblings :) I've been trying to find more information about the statue, but haven't found anything so far. Did find an interesting article about Iunmutef though, If your interested.

      Don't know if the statue is a fake. It could be though, reading your comments. Could it be that the statue is from a later date? Maybe from the Ptolemaic period? That could explain why the statue is not a Memphis masterpiece.

      Anyway, I have no regrets choosing this statue for my Museum Pieces hahaha.

      Thanks Timothy!