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Amenemhat I, 12 Dynasty

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Head of Amenemhat I, 12 Dynasty

The Prophecy of Neferti, a literary text from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt mention the mother of Amenemhat I, founder of the Twelfth Dynasty, being from the Elephantine Kemetic nome Ta-Seti. Many scholars have argued that Amenemhat I's mother was of Nubian origin.

The smiling mouth, wide open eyes, and rounded cheeks suggest a youthful king, and the proportions of the nemes, along with the depth of the break, indicate that the head was part of a comparatively small sphinx. The low forehead, high eyebrows and high position of the ears are reminiscent of the head in the Metropolitan Museum of Art attributed to Mentuhotep III (66.99.3), but the eyes of the present head are larger, the cheeks leaner and the mouth more modulated. These features are also seen in the head of a statue inscribed for Amenemhat I in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo (JE 60520) and are even more closely matched by the head of a non-royal statue, also in Cairo (CG 409), which was found in the mastaba tomb of the steward Nakht at Lisht North. That mastaba is undoubtedly contemporary with the pyramid of Amenemhat I, or only very slightly later. These - and other - parallels make the identification of the present head as Amenemhat I very likely.

Title: Head of a sphinx, possibly of Amenemhat I

Period: Middle Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 12

Reign: reign of Amenemhat I

Date: ca. 1981–1952 B.C.

Geography: From Levant; Possibly from Tyre

Medium: Dolomitic marble

Dimensions: H. 14.1 cm (5 9/16 in.)

Credit Line: Purchase, Fletcher Fund and The Guide Foundation Inc. Gift, 1966

Accession Number: 66.99.4

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