New Kingdom Stone Head of a Man - X.0431
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 1550 BC to 1070 BC
Collection: Egyptian
Style: New Kingdom
Medium: Stone


Late in the Second Intermediate Period, the Theban rulers of the 17th Dynasty began to drive the Hyksos kings of the 15th Dynasty from the Delta. This expulsion was completed by the reign of Pharaoh Ahmose I, who reunited Egypt, ushering in a period that would be known as the New Kingdom, the third great era of Egyptian culture. Ahmose's successors in the 18th Dynasty conducted military campaigns that extended Egypt's influence in the Near East and established Egyptian control of Nubia to the fourth cataract. As a result, the New Kingdom pharaohs commanded unimaginable wealth, much of which they lavished on their gods, especially Amun-Re of Thebes, whose cult temple at Karnak was augmented by succeeding generations of rulers and filled with votive statues commissioned by kings and courtiers alike. Although the rulers of the 19th Dynasty established an administrative capital near their home in the Delta, Thebes remained a cultural and religious center. The pharaohs built their mortuary temples here and were buried in huge rock-cut tombs decorated with finely executed paintings or painted relief sculptures illustrating religious texts concerned with the afterlife. A town was established in western Thebes for the artists who created these tombs. At this site (Deir el-Medina), they left a wealth of information about life in an ancient Egyptian community of artisans and craftsmen. Known especially for monumental architecture and statuary honoring the gods and pharaohs, the New Kingdom, a period of nearly five hundred years of political stability and economic prosperity, also produced an abundance of artistic masterpieces created for use by nonroyal individuals.

This diminutive stone head of a man is a masterpiece of Ancient Egyptian art, revealing the intricate detail and stylized idealization that Egyptian art is famed for. Fractured at the bottom of the chin, this head would have surely once been attached to a larger, ful-bodied sculpture. However, even in its fragmented state, it seems complete. We are able to appreciate the idealized youth of the man and the beauty of the carving. Strong cosmetic lines mark the eyes and brow. He has a full, fleshy face with a mouth that arches slightly towards the corners in a sweet smile. The texture of his thick head of hair has been indicated by a brick pattern radiating outwards from the top center. This pattern is typical of Egyptian art and may represent layers of short, tightly braided locks. - (X.0431)



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