NGV TEMPORARY CLOSURE

From our team here at NGV, we’d like to express our very best wishes to our community at this time.

Due to the evolving nature of COVID-19 and after following closely the State and Federal Government’s advice, we have extended the NGV’s temporary closure until 30 June.

If you have pre-purchased tickets for current exhibitions or upcoming programs, our team will be in contact with you shortly to arrange full refunds.

We encourage you to visit our website and follow #NGVEveryDay on social media for updates and daily inspiration.

We are very grateful for the loyalty and understanding of the NGV community and wish everyone well during this time.

A head of Nefertiti and a figure of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris in the National Gallery of Victoria


The collection of antiquities from Egypt in the National Gallery of Victoria offers the opportunity for Victorians interested in the culture of ancient Egypt to gain an introduction to many of its diverse aspects.1The collection is possibly second only to that of the Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney, in Australia. It was formed between 1862 and 1973 by a series of donations from private individuals, purchases and collections given to the Gallery from excavations carried out in Egypt, mainly by the Egypt Exploration Fund (1898) and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt (1915–21). The material acquired from these excavations, and others by John Garstang (1904) and Guy Brunton (1932), forms the most important part of the collection. Links between the Gallery and excavation work carried out in Egypt were apparently forged initially by two famous Egyptologists, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie and Norman de Garis Davies. Petrie was the grandson of Captain Matthew Flinders, who first circumnavigated Australia, while Davies served for several years as a Unitarian Minister in Melbourne before joining Petrie in 1898 to excavate in Egypt (Dawson and Uphill, 1972, pp. 78 & 228). Another Egyptologist associated with the collection was Alan Rowe who, while Honorary Curator of Antiquities at the South Australian Museum, prepared a catalogue of the collection as it then was. This was never published. He also assisted the Gallery in its purchase of forty-six objects in Egypt in 1939, amongst which was the figure of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris discussed here, see L. B. Cox, The National Gallery of Victoria 1861–1968, Melbourne, 1970, p. 437 note 70. The collection comprises mainly small objects derived from funerary contexts, from sites which are scattered the length of the Nile in Egypt (see fig. 1), and which range in date from the mid- to late-Predynastic Period (4500–3100 B.C.), the Pharaonic Period (3100–332 B.C.), and the Ptolemaic Period (332–30 B.C.) to the mid-Roman Period (mid 4th century A.D.). For publications of material in the Gallery’s Egyptian Collection see: P. Connor, Roman Art in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1978; H. G. Fischer, ‘Three stelae from Naga ed-Deir’, in Studies in Ancient Egypt, the Aegean, and the Sudan, pp. 58–67, Boston, 1981; C. A. Hope, Ancient Egyptian Pottery, Melbourne, 1982; W. M. F. Petrie, Denderah 1898 (passim), London, 1899; W. M. F. Petrie & G. Brunton, Sedment II, p. 30 & pl. LXXVI, London, 1924. As with all such collections, it is also of interest to Egyptologists the world over, whose knowledge and understanding of their field is based on the detailed study of all categories of object. A brief outline of the well provenanced Egyptian material in the collection will be found in Hope 1983.2The dates cited are taken from James, T. G. H., An Introduction to Ancient Egypt, London, 1979. Furthermore, several of the objects in the collection are of importance, and attention is drawn to two in this article.3The author would like to express his gratitude to Ms Margaret A. Legge, Curator of Ceramics and Antiquities in the National Gallery of Victoria, for allowing him access to this collection and assisting, in numerous ways, with his work upon it. The photographs of the two pieces in the National Gallery of Victoria included in this article are the work of Sue McNab, to whom I am grateful. For permission to include here figs 9–10 I am indebted to the Agyptisches Museum, Berlin; figs 11–12 are reproduced by courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society, and fig. 13 by permission of the British Library. The map of Egypt was kindly prepared by Johnothan C. Howell (Victoria College, Prahran Campus), and the original manuscript typed by Pat Johnson (Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Melbourne). Finally I wish to thank Judith Ryan of the National Gallery of Victoria for her editorial assistance. 

The Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figure of Hor 

This impressive wooden figure (figs 2–5)4NGV D96.a-c-1982, purchased in Egypt in 1939. I am indebted to Drs M. Raven and Dr M. A. Leahy for their comments on this figure and the inscriptions it bears. represents the syncretistic god Ptah-Sokar-Osiris,5Ptah was god of creation whose principal cult-centre was at Memphis, and head of its cosmogony; Sokar was the Memphite god of the necropolis, and Osiris the principal god of the dead and resurrection, whose cult-centre was at Abydos (see fig. 1). There are two other wooden figures of this deity in the collection, both of which are in a poor state of preservation. One of these, NGV 4.1, preserves traces of its original colouring, which together with stylistic features and the occurrence of a single line of inscription on both the front and back, enable it to be classified as an example of one category of such figures known to have been produced during the XXVIth dynasty (664–525 B.C.), see Raven 1978–79, pp. 264–6, type III. The second figure, NGV 5.1, is too badly presented to enable its dating. In addition to these there are several figures of squatting falcons and a model sarcophagus which were probably originally attached to the bases of such figures, and a very interesting, inscribed base from one (NGV 6.1). This latter was made for Djehutyirdis, and contains two cavities, one rectangular and the other anthropoid in shape. The rectangular cavity was filled with a piece of roughly folded linen, held in place by a covering of pink plaster, while the anthropoid cavity is empty, but was covered with a model sarcophagus. This, in turn, was possibly surmounted by a squatting falcon; the figure of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris would have been placed over the rectangular cavity. It may be dated to the Ptolemaic Period, see Raven 1978–79, p. 270 and note 147. god of resurrection, which was made for inclusion in the burial of Hor, son of Djedher. The figure is 89.5 cm high and comprises the mummiform figure of the god, standing on a plinth, set into a solid base by means of a mortice and tenon joint. It wears the šwty headdress, also held in place by a similar joint, on a large wig, an elaborate collar with falcon head and sun’s disc terminals, and a shrine-shaped pectoral which contains representations of Osiris, Anubis, Isis and Nephthys.6Osiris is the principal god of the dead and resurrection, Anubis is guardian of the necropolis and patron of embalming, Isis is the great magician and the sister-wife of Osiris, while Nephthys is Osiris’ sister. The figure itself has been made in two halves which are joined by means of small dowls; it is hollow, as in the form of an anthropoid sarcophagus, and it is empty. A low back-pillar is attached to the base of the wig and the plinth. There is a single column of inscription on the front and a double column on the back pillar. 

The figure of the god is extremely slender and its proportions are not anatomically correct. The face is characterised by rather full cheeks, rounded chin, and a simpering smile; the ears are placed high on the head and are quite large. The outer line of the legs is emphasised and this merges with that of the torso, but there is no indication of a waist. The upper arm and the buttocks are barely indicated. The entire figure and base are coated with a thin layer of gesso. The face and front of the figure are covered with a layer of fine gold foil, into which the details of the collar, pectoral and inscription are lightly inscribed, while the details of the eyes and eyebrows are picked out in black. The wig is coloured with blue frit, as is the pedestal, and the back is coloured black; the inscription on the back-pillar is executed in black on a yellow ground, possibly in imitation of papyrus. The crown is also covered with gold foil on the front with the details of the feathers incised, the back being painted with four bands of colour (yellow, red, green and turquoise-blue); the horns are black. 

The base of the figure is as elaborate as the figure itself. The top, front and sides are covered with a thin layer of silver foil and the back with gold foil. Into these a design comprising the common hieroglyphic motif of the sign of life, ankh ☥, flanked by the sign for dominion, was, all on the basket, neb, is lightly incised and repeated around the four sides.7Giving the wish for ‘all life and dominion’. On the top of the base the outline of a rectangular object which was once attached to it can be seen quite clearly. This possibly represents the base of a figure of a squatting falcon, a form in which the god Sokar was depicted, which would have faced the figure itself. There are bands of blue pigment at the junction of the top with the sides, and the sides with one another. 

The statuette has recently been cleaned, consolidated, and restored to a certain extent.8This work was carried out by Patricia Johnson, Conservator at the Nicholson Museum, Sydney University, and a report on this work will be published elsewhere. This was made possible through the generosity of Professor A. Cambitoglou, the Curator of the Nicholson Museum, and special thanks are due to both the Curator and Ms Johnson. In brief this consisted of the removal of a rectangular addition to the base, around the figure, which had once held a glass dome in place (see fig. 5), the removal of layers of black paint from the base and the consolidation of the gold foil and fragile areas of painting on the figure and crown. Areas where the colour was missing on the wig have been restored, as were sections on the base; the tip of the nose of the figure, which was damaged, has also been restored. During this work the layer of silver foil and gold foil on the base was identified, its presence not having been previously suspected due to the additional base element and the black over-painting. 

The single column of inscription down the front of the figure provides us with the name and titles of its owner,9I am particularly indebted to Dr M. A. Leahy of Birmingham University for his translation of, and comments on these titles, which are used in the translation offered here. and forms the beginning of the hymn given in the two dorsal columns (see fig. 2). It reads: 

Words spoken by the Osiris, the stolist (of Min), the imy-is priest, the hsk-priest (of Osiris), the [stolist of] Coptos, the fkty-priest, the oracle-scribe, Hor, son of the stolist (of Min) and scribe of the divine book, Djedher.10The title rendered here as ‘stolist’, smȝty, is one particularly associated with the cult of the fertility god Min; the imy-is was a priest of the cult of Shu and Tefnut, god of the air and goddess of moisture respectively; the hsk priest officiated in the cult of Osiris; the fkty priest (‘shaven-headed one’) was associated with the cult of Osiris, but also those of other deities such as Ptah and Thoth. The title ‘[stolist of] Coptos’ is here restored as the word for ‘stolist’, smȝty, is omitted; it is a common title, whereas the hsk priest of Coptos is apparently unknown. Finally, it may be noted that the title ‘oracle scribe’, is rare, while the reading of the title, ‘scribe of the divine book’, is uncertain. 

The hymn on the dorsal columns may be translated as follows (see fig. 5): 

Hail to thee, heir who proceeded from this god, spittle which proceeded from Atum, divine body that returned, great god, ruler of the Thinite nome, who appeared from the dew out of the left eye, ruler of the realm of the dead in the twilight. It is coming forth from the primaeval water that the great god has returned. It is (on) coming forth from it that he (already) ruled. He is shining in the sky as Orion; the unwearying stars follow him. He supports the heaven which rejoices …11This is based on that given by Raven 1978–79, p. 277 and on the comments of Dr Leahy. 

The end of the hymn is missing; the scribe who wrote the text probably misjudged the space available to him and was simply forced to omit the ending. This should have read: 

… under her master, the inhabitants are in jubilation for the ka of the Osiris (name of the owner of the statue). Every protection is his protection. 

A fuller understanding of the significance and function of this, and similar figures, has been made possible through the comprehensive study by Raven (Raven 1978–79). This dealt with the various aspects of these objects and the following comments are based on Raven’s conclusions. 

The titles held by the owner of the figure, Hor, and the order in which they are given, point strongly to Akhmim as the original provenance of the piece (see fig. 1). This is supported by the internal striations within some of the hieroglyphs used in the inscription on the front of the statue, which is a feature of inscriptions from that site in the Ptolemaic Period.12These comments are based upon observations made by Dr Leahy and Drs Raven. The dating of the statuette to the Ptolemaic Period is further indicated by its method of construction (Raven 1978–79, p. 270, note 148), and its general stylistic characteristics. It belongs to category IVF of Raven’s typology of these figures, described as, ‘Rich statues with black bodies and gilded or yellow faces’, (ibid., p. 268), which resemble his type IVC, having the same intricate decoration, with the elaborate collar and its falcon-head terminals (the falcon collar, wsḫ n bik), the shrine-shaped pectoral, protective symbols on the base and the full text of the hymn, (ibid., p. 267). The slender proportions of the figure and the rather full chin and smiling expression are also typical of that period. It is possible that the same person is to be recognised on two other inscriptions of Ptolemaic date from Akhmim. The first of these is a stela of Hor, son of Djedher and Resdet, who has similar titles, including the rare title of ‘oracle scribe’.13This is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, number Catalogue General 22059, see A. Kamal, Stèles ptolémaiques et romaines, pp. 57–8, pl. XIX. The second is an offering table, on which the owner is called Hor-resnet, but whose parents’ names are the same as those on the stela, and who also possesses the rare title of ‘oracle scribe’.14Also in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo; number Catalogue General 23168, see A. Kamal, Tables d’offrande, pp. 126–7, pl. XLIII. I am grateful to Dr Leahy & Drs Raven for drawing these pieces to my attention. It is possible that the name Hor is merely an abbreviation of Hor-resnet, or, the two may be members of the same family, some connection between them being likely because of the use of this rare title. 

The text on the front of the figure identifies the owner with Osiris, god of the dead and resurrection, while the hymn refers to Osiris in such terms as ‘great god, ruler of the Thinite nome’, (in which the cult centre of Osiris at Abydos was located), ‘ruler of the realm of the dead in the twilight’, and, ‘He is shining in the sky as Orion’, (which was identified with Osiris). The significance of this association is clear, for Osiris overcame death to rule over the afterlife:

Thus we may conclude that at least statues of type IV were considered as representations of an Osirian god who overcame death and thereby aroused hopes of resurrection in his worshippers. As a symbol of life after death these figures became an important element in the funerary furniture. Like the wooden stelae used in the same period they placed at the deceased’s disposal powerful textual material to be recited at will and ensuring his chances of afterlife and his protection by the gods of the beyond. (Raven, 1978–79, p. 281). 

In addition to this, an identification with Ptah-Sokar-Osiris is indicated by textual references to this god (e.g. Raven, op. cit., p. 275), the squatting falcon attached to the bases, the use of the falcon collar and the šwty crown on some of these figures (ibid., p. 284). 

The colour symbolism of this figure and its base enhances its funerary aspect. Black, as used on the back of the statuette, is associated with night, the soil, the notions of underworld and fertility, death and afterlife, and was used frequently on all kinds of funerary objects. The gold foil on the front of the figure recalls the colour of the skin of the gods. Although statuettes with gold foil on the faces, neck, hands and collars are not uncommon, those with more extensive gilding, as on this figure are rare.15Only five such statuettes are noted by Raven 1978–79, p. 252, note 6. Blue, as used on the wig, recalls the colour of lapis lazuli, of the sky and water, and is also associated with the gods.

The symbolism of the base is connected, to a certain degree, with what is known of the contents of this type of figure. Examples of Raven’s type IV, which he has examined, were found to contain objects representing mummies (ibid., p. 271),16This is possibly the best explanation for the presence of the folded linen in the rectangular cavity in the base of the NGV 6.1 referred to in note 12. or so-called corn mummies (ibid., p. 287). The latter consist, in some cases, of germinated corn wrapped to resemble a mummy, significant because they were symbolic of resurrection and associated with the mysteries of Osiris. Although the Gallery’s figure is apparently empty, it may have been intended to contain such an object.17It has not been opened, though it is possible to see inside the cavity in the body of the figure through the narrow gap between the two parts. In this case it would have been encased as though in a wooden, anthropoid coffin. The pedestal on which the figure stands is painted blue, probably symbolising water. In the decoration of the top of the base motifs of a lake, from which lotus flowers sometimes emerge, or from which a ba-bird (a form of the soul) may be shown drinking, are encountered. This association with water has been stylised in some instances to a blue rectangle or framing bands around the edge of the base (Raven 1978–79, pp. 288–9). Such framing bands can be seen on the base of the Gallery’s statuette. Hence, it is possible to interpret the figure of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, containing its ‘mummy’, as rising from the waters represented on the base, which coincides with the reference in the hymn to: ‘It is coming forth from the primaeval water that the great god has returned.’ The figure then provides a graphic image of this act and a hope for the resurrection of its owner, the primaeval waters being a fount of eternal creation. Other symbolic associations, not all represented here, include allusions to the tomb of Osiris at Abydos, or the original mound of creation which arose from these waters. In addition, the hieroglyphic signs on the base may be seen as a wish for eternal life (after death). 

Finally, the layer of silver and gold foil on the base of the Gallery’s statuette is unique amongst those discussed by Raven (1978–79). The silver foil is of particular interest, silver being valued more highly in ancient Egypt than gold and therefore less commonly used.18See A. Lucas & J. R. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, 4th edn, London, 1962, and Ν. H. Gale, & Z. A. Stos-Gale, ‘Ancient Egyptian Silver’, in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 67, 1981, pp. 103-15, for discussions of the use of silver and its relative value. The ample use of gold and silver foil on this figure, together with the list of priestly titles inscribed in the front column of inscription, show that its owner, Hor, was a man of some affluence. 

The head of Queen Nefertiti 

For a period of seventeen years, during the first half of the 14th century B.C. (1379–1362 B.C.), Egypt was ruled by Neferkheprure Amenophis IV, otherwise known as Akhenaten.19For the history of the reign see C. Aldred, ‘Egypt: the Amarna Period and the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty’, Cambridge Ancient History, vol. II, part 2A, ch. XIX, Cambridge, 1975, and Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt; A New Study, London, 1968. This king is undoubtedly one of the most famous and controversial of all of the rulers of ancient Egypt, and his wife, Nefertiti, is equalled in notoriety only by Cleopatra VII (the Great). Akhenaten is known mainly for his attempt to impose the worship of Aten (the solar disc) as the sole god upon the ancient Egyptians, and the new artistic style he introduced. 

During the period in which he lived, the XVIIIth dynasty (1567–1320 B.C.), there had been a tendency within the official state religion to emphasise the solar-cult centred at the city of Heliopolis, now a suburb of modern Cairo (Aldred 1975, pp. 86–7). This undoubtedly reached its peak during the reign of Akhenaten, with his emphasis on the ‘visible manifestation of godhead’ (ibid., p. 87), the solar disc, which even eclipsed in power that of Ra, the force behind the disc. While on its introduction the cult of the Aten was not unlike that of earlier sun-cults, during his reign it developed into a unique phenomenon in the history of ancient Egyptian religion. This is reflected in the intolerance shown to all other deities resulting in the closure of their temples, the alteration of the plural word gods to become simply god, the chiselling out of the name of the god Amun (whose cult was undoubtedly the most influential during the XVIIIth dynasty) and the ignoring of the old mortuary cults. A characteristic of the cult of the Aten was the important role played by the royal family. Scenes of the King, the physical embodiment of the sun-god on earth, and his family replaced others wherein the god himself was formerly depicted, and the daily activities of the royal family assumed a religious significance. 

Early in the king’s reign a new and unprecedented manner of representing the human form, particularly that of the royal family, was introduced, which has often been termed ‘realistic’ or ‘naturalistic’. This style, apparently produced by order of the king, is typified by reliefs from the temples erected in honour of the Aten both at Karnak, the cult-centre of Amun, (Smith & Redford, 1976), and Amarna (see fig. 1), the city Akhenaten built in Upper Egypt (see Roeder 1969, Cooney 1965 and Aldred 1973, passim).20For convenient descriptions of the site see: W. S. Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, W. K. Simpson (rev.), New York, 1981; C. Aldred, Akhenaten and Nefertiti, Brooklyn, 1973; D. Β. O’Connor, in Egypt’s Golden Age: The Art of Living in the New Kingdom 1558–1085 B.C., Boston, 1982. It is also exemplified by the statuary from both sites. The style is characterised by the distended heads, gaunt faces with fleshy mouths and protruding chins, long necks, thin torsos contrasting with the pendulous stomachs and wide buttocks and thighs, and the tapering of the legs to very slender ankles (see figs 11–13). An erotic element in such depictions of Nefertiti seems intentional: ‘She is shown in relief and in the round as a woman of great allure, according to an Oriental ideal of voluptuousness, … stressing the epithets that are often applied to her in the texts: “Fair of Face, Mistress of Joy, Endowed with Favours, Great of Love”.’ (Aldred 1980, p. 182; see also Aldred, 1973, no. 22). However, in general the style borders on caricature, and as Aldred has pointed out: ‘… it is wrong to speak of realism or naturalism in Amarna art: one kind of mannerism was replaced by another’ (Aldred 1973, pp. 55, 57). It is impossible to imagine a more extreme contradiction of the traditional manner of depicting royalty, without blemish or physical imperfection, than that of Akhenaten. 

 

This extreme manner of depicting the human form lasted until circa year 9 of the king’s reign, when gradually a softer style emerged, which prevailed from year 12 onwards (see Aldred 1973). It is to this ‘Late Style’ that the majority of the surviving sculptures of Nefertiti belong, including the famous bust now in Berlin (see figs 9–10). While there are numerous representations in relief of the queen in the extreme ‘Early Style’, sculptures of her in this style, apart from an exceptional torso in red quartzite now in the Louvre (see Aldred 1973, no. 22, with references), seem to be restricted to the statue groups which flank the boundary stelae at Amarna (figs 12–13). 

These boundary stelae were executed between years 4 and 8 of the king’s reign, and their texts describe the dedication of the site of the new city to the Aten, and the limits of this city (Davies 1908, pp. 19–34, Aldred 1973, pp. 34–5). Fourteen such stelae are known, and those of the later series (nos A, P, Q, R & S) are flanked by sculpture groups of the king, queen and the princesses, described by Davies as follows: 

The king and queen stand side by side in a combined group, the king being on the side nearer the stela; he is somewhat stouter in build than she, but the forms do not greatly differ. It is, however, only in A and S, where the stone is of good quality, that the statuary is sufficiently well preserved to inform us of points of detail, and here the moulding of the body is exquisitely soft and delicate, despite the exaggerated dimensions of the hips and thighs … The bodies seem usually to be nude, or nearly so. The king wears either the khepresh on the crown of Lower Egypt, the queen her flat head-dress or a cap; but the heads or faces have, in every case, been broken away. The figures always have their arms outstretched either from the shoulder or from the elbow (generally there is one group of each form), and each grasps the upper rim of a narrow vertical tablet inscribed with the names of the Aten and the royal pair. As these are joined together and to the statues in a solid mass (concealing the figures for rather more than half their breadth, and so obviating the need of drapery), they resemble altars, but really show the king and queen ‘upholding the name of Aten’ … the heads and figures are joined to the cliff by a stay of rock (Davies 1908, p. 23). 

In these sculpture groups the royal pair are accompanied by two of their daughters (see figs 12–13). 

 

The Gallery’s piece (figs 6–8) originates from one of these groups of statues, from Boundary Stela Q.21The piece, NGV 616.2, was donated to the Gallery in 1907 by its finder, Norman de Garis Davies, along with the following: NGV 617.2, a large cartouche containing one of the names of the Aten (Davies 1908, p. 27, note 1 pl. XLIV); NGV 618.2, a fragment from a small cartouche of the Aten and NGV 620.2, a fragment of a hand. These pieces are all from boundary stela S (see fig. 11); a fragment referring to ‘… the stela …’, from stela R, NGV 619.2, was also donated. It preserves, in a badly damaged and eroded condition, an almost life-size head and neck wearing a tall flat topped crown. When found, the piece was identified as representing Akhenaten (Davies 1908, p. 26, no. 3 & pl. XLIV, top right). However, three features of this piece make an identification with Nefertiti more probable. The elongated neck and pronounced cheek bone which characterise the famous bust of this queen (figs 9–10) can be seen here. In addition, a study of the crowns worn by Akhenaten in both the sculptures and the reliefs of the boundary stelae reveals the predominant use of a crown very different from that of this piece, namely the bulbous blue crown (khepresh) (see figs 11–12). On the other hand, Nefertiti is always depicted with a tall, flat-topped crown, which is her typical headgear. Only in one instance, stela P, does Akhenaten wear the crown of Lower Egypt (dšrt; Davies 1908, p. 26), which is similar to this tall crown but easily distinguishable from it. 

The bad state of preservation of the piece, partly resulting from the poor quality of the fossiliferous limestone from which it was carved, is mainly due to the deliberate destruction of the sculptures. This was not only the fate of these monuments, but of all of those erected during the reign of Akhenaten, which were either dismantled or destroyed. As Pendlebury noted (1951, p. 4) in relation to the city of Amarna: 

This is not the work of mere chance breakages by gangs of workmen quarrying the buildings for cut stone, nor of casual wanton damage done by a navvy with a sledge-hammer. It is the work of parties of skilled masons with orders to destroy every trace of ‘that criminal’, a task they carried out only too thoroughly. 

The wanton destruction was carried out not in modern times but in antiquity, probably during the reigns of Seti I and his successor Ramses II of the XlXth dynasty (1318–1237 B.C.). 

Following the death of Akhenaten, the throne of Egypt passed to the young Tutankhamun, during whose reign Amarna was abandoned, and the official religion of Egypt restored, marking the end of the supremacy of the Aten (see Aldred, 1975).22The fate of Nefertiti and that of her surviving daughters on the death of Akhenaten is unknown. It has been held traditionally that towards the end of the reign Nefertiti fell from favour, and lived in banishment in a separate palace at Amarna along with the young Tutankhamun, (see Aldred 1975, p. 61 and works cited in Aldred 1973 note 26). However, within the last decade, the suggestion that, far from falling from favour, she was elevated to the rank of co-regent by her husband, when she assumed the name of Smenkhkare, has been proposed (see J. Samson, Amarna, City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, Key pieces from the Petrie Collection – Nefertiti as Pharaoh, Warminster, 1979, with references). Smenkhkare has been held to have been a male member of the royal family, possibly brother of Tutankhamun (C. Aldred, ‘Egypt: The Amarna Period and the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty’, Cambridge Ancient History, vol. II, part 2A, ch. XIX, Cambridge, 1975, pp. 79–80) who acted as Akhenaten’s co-regent for a few years (ibid., pp. 63–5), and who was buried in Tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings (see now C. N. Reeves, ‘A Reappraisal of Tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings’, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 67, 1981, pp. 48–55). Nefertiti’s identification with Smenkhkare has not gone unopposed (ibid., note 2). Certainly, her influence at the court of Akhenaten was substantial. This possibility however, makes her fate even more intriguing though no less obscure. The ferocity which was unleashed against Akhenaten by later kings for his religious beliefs far exceeded Akhenaten’s efforts to establish the cult of the Aten as supreme in Egypt. It is ironical that, in their efforts to remove all trace of the ‘heretic’ Akhenaten, these later monarchs actually contributed to the preservation of some parts of his monuments. Large sections of the dismantled temples of Akhenaten at Thebes and Amarna were incorporated into the monuments of these rulers, encased within monumental temple gateways, and their colours now are nearly as crisp and bright as when they were executed (e.g. Smith & Redford, 1976, passim). 

Few fragments of sculpture from the boundary stelae have been recently recorded as now in existence outside Egypt. All that appear to be known are a figure of one of the princesses comprising probably the head from one statue and the body of another, a head of one of the princesses, a fragment of a head of Akhenaten and another similar in Essen.23For this information I am grateful to Dr I. E. S. Edwards, which is based on communications from Mr C. Aldred. Therefore the Gallery’s rare early portrayal of the queen is of great importance and its poor state of preservation is interesting in itself. It is a possession few museums or galleries can boast.24Sculptured portayals of Nefertiti can be seen in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, the Agyptisches Museum, Berlin, the Louvre, Paris, and the Petrie Museum, London, all coming from excavations in the city of Amarna itself. See Aldred 1973, passim. 

Colin A. Hope, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Melbourne (in 1983).

Notes

1          The collection is possibly second only to that of the Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney, in Australia. It was formed between 1862 and 1973 by a series of donations from private individuals, purchases and collections given to the Gallery from excavations carried out in Egypt, mainly by the Egypt Exploration Fund (1898) and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt (1915–21). The material acquired from these excavations, and others by John Garstang (1904) and Guy Brunton (1932), forms the most important part of the collection. Links between the Gallery and excavation work carried out in Egypt were apparently forged initially by two famous Egyptologists, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie and Norman de Garis Davies. Petrie was the grandson of Captain Matthew Flinders, who first circumnavigated Australia, while Davies served for several years as a Unitarian Minister in Melbourne before joining Petrie in 1898 to excavate in Egypt (Dawson and Uphill, 1972, pp. 78 & 228). Another Egyptologist associated with the collection was Alan Rowe who, while Honorary Curator of Antiquities at the South Australian Museum, prepared a catalogue of the collection as it then was. This was never published. He also assisted the Gallery in its purchase of forty-six objects in Egypt in 1939, amongst which was the figure of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris discussed here, see L. B. Cox, The National Gallery of Victoria 1861–1968, Melbourne, 1970, p. 437 note 70. The collection comprises mainly small objects derived from funerary contexts, from sites which are scattered the length of the Nile in Egypt (see fig. 1), and which range in date from the mid- to late-Predynastic Period (4500–3100 B.C.), the Pharaonic Period (3100–332 B.C.), and the Ptolemaic Period (332–30 B.C.) to the mid-Roman Period (mid 4th century A.D.). For publications of material in the Gallery’s Egyptian Collection see: P. Connor, Roman Art in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1978; H. G. Fischer, ‘Three stelae from Naga ed-Deir’, in Studies in Ancient Egypt, the Aegean, and the Sudan, pp. 58–67, Boston, 1981; C. A. Hope, Ancient Egyptian Pottery, Melbourne, 1982; W. M. F. Petrie, Denderah 1898 (passim), London, 1899; W. M. F. Petrie & G. Brunton, Sedment II, p. 30 & pl. LXXVI, London, 1924. 

2          The dates cited are taken from James, T. G. H., An Introduction to Ancient Egypt, London, 1979. 

3          The author would like to express his gratitude to Ms Margaret A. Legge, Curator of Ceramics and Antiquities in the National Gallery of Victoria, for allowing him access to this collection and assisting, in numerous ways, with his work upon it. The photographs of the two pieces in the National Gallery of Victoria included in this article are the work of Sue McNab, to whom I am grateful. For permission to include here figs 9–10 I am indebted to the Agyptisches Museum, Berlin; figs 11–12 are reproduced by courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society, and fig. 13 by permission of the British Library. The map of Egypt was kindly prepared by Johnothan C. Howell (Victoria College, Prahran Campus), and the original manuscript typed by Pat Johnson (Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Melbourne). Finally I wish to thank Judith Ryan of the National Gallery of Victoria for her editorial assistance. 

4          NGV D96.a-c-1982, purchased in Egypt in 1939. I am indebted to Drs M. Raven and Dr M. A. Leahy for their comments on this figure and the inscriptions it bears. 

5          Ptah was god of creation whose principal cult-centre was at Memphis, and head of its cosmogony; Sokar was the Memphite god of the necropolis, and Osiris the principal god of the dead and resurrection, whose cult-centre was at Abydos (see fig. 1). There are two other wooden figures of this deity in the collection, both of which are in a poor state of preservation. One of these, NGV 4.1, preserves traces of its original colouring, which together with stylistic features and the occurrence of a single line of inscription on both the front and back, enable it to be classified as an example of one category of such figures known to have been produced during the XXVIth dynasty (664–525 B.C.), see Raven 1978–79, pp. 264–6, type III. The second figure, NGV 5.1, is too badly presented to enable its dating. In addition to these there are several figures of squatting falcons and a model sarcophagus which were probably originally attached to the bases of such figures, and a very interesting, inscribed base from one (NGV 6.1). This latter was made for Djehutyirdis, and contains two cavities, one rectangular and the other anthropoid in shape. The rectangular cavity was filled with a piece of roughly folded linen, held in place by a covering of pink plaster, while the anthropoid cavity is empty, but was covered with a model sarcophagus. This, in turn, was possibly surmounted by a squatting falcon; the figure of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris would have been placed over the rectangular cavity. It may be dated to the Ptolemaic Period, see Raven 1978–79, p. 270 and note 147. 

6          Osiris is the principal god of the dead and resurrection, Anubis is guardian of the necropolis and patron of embalming, Isis is the great magician and the sister-wife of Osiris, while Nephthys is Osiris’ sister. 

7          Giving the wish for ‘all life and dominion’. 

8          This work was carried out by Patricia Johnson, Conservator at the Nicholson Museum, Sydney University, and a report on this work will be published elsewhere. This was made possible through the generosity of Professor A. Cambitoglou, the Curator of the Nicholson Museum, and special thanks are due to both the Curator and Ms Johnson. 

9          I am particularly indebted to Dr M. A. Leahy of Birmingham University for his translation of, and comments on these titles, which are used in the translation offered here. 

10         The title rendered here as ‘stolist’, smȝty, is one particularly associated with the cult of the fertility god Min; the imy-is was a priest of the cult of Shu and Tefnut, god of the air and goddess of moisture respectively; the hsk priest officiated in the cult of Osiris; the fkty priest (‘shaven-headed one’) was associated with the cult of Osiris, but also those of other deities such as Ptah and Thoth. The title ‘[stolist of] Coptos’ is here restored as the word for ‘stolist’, smȝty, is omitted; it is a common title, whereas the hsk priest of Coptos is apparently unknown. Finally, it may be noted that the title ‘oracle scribe’, is rare, while the reading of the title, ‘scribe of the divine book’, is uncertain. 

11         This is based on that given by Raven 1978–79, p. 277 and on the comments of Dr Leahy. 

12         These comments are based upon observations made by Dr Leahy and Drs Raven. 

13         This is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, number Catalogue General 22059, see A. Kamal, Stèles ptolémaiques et romaines, pp. 57–8, pl. XIX. 

14         Also in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo; number Catalogue General 23168, see A. Kamal, Tables d’offrande, pp. 126–7, pl. XLIII. I am grateful to Dr Leahy & Drs Raven for drawing these pieces to my attention. 

15         Only five such statuettes are noted by Raven 1978–79, p. 252, note 6. 

16         This is possibly the best explanation for the presence of the folded linen in the rectangular cavity in the base of the NGV 6.1 referred to in note 12. 

17         It has not been opened, though it is possible to see inside the cavity in the body of the figure through the narrow gap between the two parts. 

18         See A. Lucas & J. R. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, 4th edn, London, 1962, and Ν. H. Gale, & Z. A. Stos-Gale, ‘Ancient Egyptian Silver’, in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 67, 1981, pp. 103-15, for discussions of the use of silver and its relative value. 

19         For the history of the reign see C. Aldred, ‘Egypt: the Amarna Period and the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty’, Cambridge Ancient History, vol. II, part 2A, ch. XIX, Cambridge, 1975, and Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt; A New Study, London, 1968. 

20         For convenient descriptions of the site see: W. S. Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, W. K. Simpson (rev.), New York, 1981; C. Aldred, Akhenaten and Nefertiti, Brooklyn, 1973; D. Β. O’Connor, in Egypt’s Golden Age: The Art of Living in the New Kingdom 1558–1085 B.C., Boston, 1982. 

21         The piece, NGV 616.2, was donated to the Gallery in 1907 by its finder, Norman de Garis Davies, along with the following: NGV 617.2, a large cartouche containing one of the names of the Aten (Davies 1908, p. 27, note 1 pl. XLIV); NGV 618.2, a fragment from a small cartouche of the Aten and NGV 620.2, a fragment of a hand. These pieces are all from boundary stela S (see fig. 11); a fragment referring to ‘… the stela …’, from stela R, NGV 619.2, was also donated. 

22         The fate of Nefertiti and that of her surviving daughters on the death of Akhenaten is unknown. It has been held traditionally that towards the end of the reign Nefertiti fell from favour, and lived in banishment in a separate palace at Amarna along with the young Tutankhamun, (see Aldred 1975, p. 61 and works cited in Aldred 1973 note 26). However, within the last decade, the suggestion that, far from falling from favour, she was elevated to the rank of co-regent by her husband, when she assumed the name of Smenkhkare, has been proposed (see J. Samson, Amarna, City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, Key pieces from the Petrie Collection – Nefertiti as Pharaoh, Warminster, 1979, with references). Smenkhkare has been held to have been a male member of the royal family, possibly brother of Tutankhamun (C. Aldred, ‘Egypt: The Amarna Period and the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty’, Cambridge Ancient History, vol. II, part 2A, ch. XIX, Cambridge, 1975, pp. 79–80) who acted as Akhenaten’s co-regent for a few years (ibid., pp. 63–5), and who was buried in Tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings (see now C. N. Reeves, ‘A Reappraisal of Tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings’, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 67, 1981, pp. 48–55). Nefertiti’s identification with Smenkhkare has not gone unopposed (ibid., note 2). Certainly, her influence at the court of Akhenaten was substantial. This possibility however, makes her fate even more intriguing though no less obscure. 

23         For this information I am grateful to Dr I. E. S. Edwards, which is based on communications from Mr C. Aldred. 

24         Sculptured portayals of Nefertiti can be seen in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, the Agyptisches Museum, Berlin, the Louvre, Paris, and the Petrie Museum, London, all coming from excavations in the city of Amarna itself. See Aldred 1973, passim. 

 

Bibliography 

Aldred, C.,        1973                 Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Brooklyn. 

                         1975                 ‘Egypt: The Amarna Period and the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty’, Cambridge Ancient History, vol. II, part 2A, ch. XIX. Cambridge. 

                         1980                 Egyptian Art in the Days of the Pharaohs, 3100–320 B.C. London. 

Cooney, J. D.,  1965                 Amarna Reliefs from Hermopolis in American Collections. Brooklyn. 

Davies, Ν de G.,1908               The Rock Tombs of el Amarna. Part V: Smaller Tombs and Boundary Stelae. London. 

Dawson, W. & Uphill, E., 1972  Who was Who in Egyptology. London. 

Hope, C. Α.,       1983                ‘A Note on the Collection of Egyptian Antiquities in the National Gallery of Victoria’, Gottinger Miszellen, vol. 65. 

Pendlebury, J. D. S., 1951         The City of Akhenaten, vol. III. London. 

Raven, M.,         1978–79           ‘Papyrus-Sheaths and Ptah-Sokar-Osiris Statues’, Oudheidkundige Mededelingen uit het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden te Leiden, LIX–LX, pp. 251–96. 

Roeder, G.,        1969                 Amarna-Reliefs aus Hermopolis. Hildesheim. 

Smith, R & Redford, D. B., 1976. Akhenaton Temple Project. Volume I: Initial Discoveries. Warminster.