Raised relief fragment from architrave - 958.49.9_1


Raised relief fragment from architrave

Geography: Excavated from the Pyramid of Amenemhat I at Lisht, Egypt
Date: c. 2680-2500 BC
Period: 3rd or early 4th Dynasty, Old Kingdom
40 x 39 cm
Object number: 958.49.9
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Amenemhat I is the first king of the 12th Dynasty, who moved the capital from Thebes to the region of Lisht, south of Memphis, where he built his pyramid tomb. No doubt the royal architects from Thebes examined previous royal tombs in the Memphite area to gain ideas for the plan, decorative program and perhaps even building techniques for the new structure. After a period of abandonment in the First Intermediate Period, it is likely that many of these structures were in disrepair, perhaps having been damaged by an earthquake.  In any case, the builders of the Lisht Pyramid of Amenemhat were clearly able to collect blocks from older buildings which they incorporated into the structure of Amenemhat I’s tomb. It may just have been a practical matter of reused material, although modern scholars have suggested that the re-used blocks could have served to connect Amenemhat I with previous kings in an attempt to legitimize his reign.

This block fragment preserves part of a door lintel from a private tomb of the Third or early Fourth Dynasty. The hieroglyphic signs carved in high raised relief are somewhat crudely carved and irregularly spaced without the type of vertical and horizontal alignment seen in later Old Kingdom inscriptions.  The name of the tomb owner and the precise location of the tomb to which this fragment belonged are unknown, although the piece is likely from Saqqara where there are many early Old Kingdom tombs.  The inscription gives three titles of the tomb owner, namely “Royal administrator,” “Holder of the staff,” and “Overseer of all Acacia trees of the southern lake (i.e. the Fayyum region).”

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