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Egyptian sandstone wall panel, Ptolemaic period, 100 B.C – 50 A.D

Conservation:  Good condition
Material:  Sandstone
Dimensions:  Height: 49.5 cm, Width: 58.4 cm
Provenance:  English private collection, 1950’s / D. Aaron, London / Archaeological Gallery, Spain, 2014


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The sunk relief sandstone relief depicts a pharaoh, so indicated by the bottom half of a cartouche preserved in the field in front of his head. This pharaoh is depicted bare-chested. He wears a kilt with a pointed apron, broad collar, false beard, and Crown of Action fronted by a uraeus. The pharaoh holds a hes-jar in each hand, one with a rounded top, the other with a T-shape top from which issue streams of water flowing onto a small offering table placed in front of the dais on which a god is enthroned. The two columns of hieroglyphs in front of this pharaoh may be rendered into English as, “Making a libation of cool water to his father, the individual who created him; may he be granted eternal life”

It is interesting to note that the hieroglyphs for “his father” are oriented with the seated deity rather than with the pharaoh, as are the other signs in these two columns. This is a subtle detail which reveals the consummate planning with which the relief was designed.

The enthroned god, facing the pharaoh, sits on a traditional throne. He is wearing a belted kilt to which is attached the tail of a bull which is visible as an incised line parallel to the contour of the leg. This tail imbues the god with the sexual potency and physical strength of that animal. His other accessories include a broad collar and false beard as well as an atef-crown. He holds as attributes an ankh-sign and was-scepter. This god is captioned by three fragmentary columns of hieroglyphs above his head which preserved snippets of his epithets “the Lord of the king of the god” and “the great [one]”

A goddess, her head now missing, stands behind this god. She wears a tight-fitting sheath and broad collar and raises one arm in adoration while the hand of the other, hanging alongside her body, holds an ankh sign. The single column of hieroglyphs, imperfectly preserved at the end, may nevertheless be rendered into English as, “I bestow upon thee all that which issues forth from the ocean of heaven”

The style of the relief decoration in which the proportions of the figures are slim and somewhat attenuated as well as the style of the face of the pharaoh and his beard, suggest a dating into the period between the first century BC and the first half of the first century AD. The style of the pharaoh depicted is remarkably similar to an image of the Roman Emperor Augustus in the guise of a pharaoh in a corresponding sandstone relief from the Temple of Kalabash. Such correspondences confirm our proposed dating for this relief.

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