Egyptian / Head of a Priest / mid- to late 4th century B.C., probably reign of Nectanebo II (360?343 B.C.)Egyptian
Head of a Priest
mid- to late 4th century B.C., probably reign of Nectanebo II (360?343 B.C.)

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Creator Nationality: African; North African; Egyptian
Creator Name-CRT: Egyptian
Title: Head of a Priest
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 0
Creation End Date: 0
Creation Date: mid- to late 4th century B.C., probably reign of Nectanebo II (360?343 B.C.)
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Basalt
Dimensions: H. 8 3/8 in. (21.2 cm), W. 5 3/4 in. (14.5 cm)

This magnificent fragmentary head , previously in the Nadler collection, is about two-thirds lifesize. It depicts a man well advanced in years, as indicated by the furrowed brow, the very linear crow's feet, the pronounced nasolabial folds, and the sharply etched lines in the cheeks. The head also has a weak chin; the full throat almost completely obscures the jawline, perhaps another indication of the subject's old age. It has been pointed out that heads such as this show characteristics usually identified with later Roman portraiture.

The man's bagwig, now mostly destroyed, was inscribed with magical texts of a type recorded most completely on the Metternich stela (MMA 50 .85). These texts protect against scorpions, snakes, and other dangerous animals, and were inscribed on statuary only in the fourth century B.C. Both stylistically and textually, the head can be attributed to the middle or second half of that century . On two well-preserved statues of this type (in the Louvre and the Egyptian Museum, Cairo), only the skin of the faces, hands, and feet is uninscribed. This head probably came from a statue similarly covered with text. In contrast to other statues, the hieroglyphs across the man's brow are right side up.

It is thought that water was poured over these statues and then was used medicinally, having taken on the magical quality of the texts. With this in mind, and considering the large size of the head, it is unlikely that the original statue was in an upright, striding position. Lacking a beard, it was probably not a block statue, which at this time always had a beard. Possibly the figure was kneeling and held a small magical stela, or cippus.

AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 1989.281.102
Credit Line: Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art . All rights reserved.
Style or Period: Late Period
AMICA ID: MMA_.1989.281.102
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved

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