Horemheb the Renep Priest in The Bay Area

Renep Priest Horemheb Inscription

Shabti of the Renep Priest Horemheb

At a local antique store, amidst the mouldering old books and the vases that seem to wait for Marie Antoinette herself to walk in the door and fork over exorbitant prices for their kitschy beauty is a rare object: a Late Period  Egyptian funerary figure, or Shabti. The owner was a priest named Horemheb.

The shabti is about 5 inches tall and made of robin’s egg blue faience.  It has some white discolourations on the right shins and on the right side. The faience was not glossy but instead had a matte texture, and the figure was very heavy.  It is a mumiform statue on a plinth like the coffins with which it is contemporary. It has a back column which is the same width as the back lappet of the wig which is separated from the wig by an incised line.  The face is elongated and has a rather knobby and protruding chin which makes it slightly grotesque looking.  The arms of the figure are crossed and the hands both grasp a hoe, with the right hand grasping a sort of rope as well. Unlike other shabtis of this person, this one has a plaited beard. The glyphs are very delicately and skillfully rendered–they’re incised vertically on the front and on the back pillar in the direction shown. Something that struck me was how the Khered child almost seems to sit on the “pa” block. On the back, the Sheryt child is “sitting” on a stylized “n” glyph. I’ve tried to express this in the reproduction above. The glyphs say, roughly, “Cause to be illuminated the Osiris, The Renep Priest Horemheb, son of Ankh-pa-khered, born of Ta-shery(t)-in-(ta)-ih(et).”

Collectors’ sites can sometimes be a little short on facts, and dealers’ sites are even worse. Unfortunately, these were pretty much the entirety of Google’s  yield. The published “dead tree” literature was nearly silent regarding Horemheb. Glenn Janes’ Shabti: a Private View lists a Shabti of this person, but no provenance. Apparently, the Louvre purchased a set of  beautifully made faience plaques with a “http di nsw” formula belonging to Renep Priest Horemheb from a Drouot auction in September 1999 (30/9/99, Lot 197).   (Tariant, 1999) . They also acquired a shabti of Horemheb from a source unknown to myself in April 2005. The shabti and the plaques are now ascension numbers E32787, and E32591 respectively.  The 1999 date given by Tariant for the plaques is the earliest date I can verify  for funerary equipment of Horemheb. I must say, however, that I have very limited access to old auction catalogues. A much older date, which I’ve been unable to verify comes from the 14th of April 2011 Christies sale in London (Sale 6060, lot 145) , which it claims came from Gallery Pytheas in Paris in 1975. (Christies, 2011)

Janes lists several other auctions where shabtis of this owner were sold. The earliest date he has for the shabtis is the above Drouot auction and an auction at the Dorotheum, Vienna on 13/12/1999, Lot 142.  (Janes, pp201) As for our particular Shabti, it came from an Arte Primitivo Gallery auction in the early 2000’s. I first saw it in the antique store in 2005.

So, what do we know about Horemheb? Very little, actually.  He lived during the twilight of Pharaonic Egyptian Civilization, the Late Period. He was a Renep priest. The word “Renep” seems to translate to “rejuvenation”and the title of Renep Priest is associated with the cults of Hathor and Sekhmet in Third Nome of lower Egypt, hence the Louvre’s attribution of the statue to Kom el Hisn (Johnson, pp28), It’s possible that the burial was elsewhere in the area, for example, at Kom el Firin or Sais. (Spencer, 2008) Horemheb’s father’s name was Ankhpakhered and his mother’s name, though it’s written in a highly abbreviated fashion on this particular Shabti was probably Ta-sherit-en-ta-ihet. The Ihet, or “the Cow” here is probably a reference to the goddess Hathor, which would be perfectly appropriate for the mother of a man functioning in the cult of Hathor. Horemheb’s family was wealthy enough to furnish him with what seems to have been a lavish burial. The plaques in the Louvre have holes on the sides indicating that they would have been sewn down the front of the shroud of his mummy. His shabtis are of excellent quality.

I went through a bit of an ethical dilemma about whether I should write about this topic. There is a school which believes that items of no provenance on the art market should not be published lest publishing them lends legitimacy the collecting of looted objects. To me, this seems like severing one’s nose to spite one’s face.  Like it or not, the item is on the art market now, and there is very little  reliable information on it available. I believe that there is some value in tracking the movement of these items as they surface and disappear again into various private collections. It’s worth recording that the item from the Louvre is part of a set amongst which there are stylistic variations and orthographic variations. These deserve to be recorded though we’ve lost so much of the context of the object.

I hope that new information comes to light about Horemheb and his family, but we can’t ever get the original archaeological context of these Shabtis back, so we’ll have to rely on objects for which we do have context to tell us more about them.

Citations

“AN EGYPTIAN BLUE GLAZED COMPOSITION SHABTI FOR HOREMHEB.”Christie’s Sale 6060 Lot 145. Christie’s, 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 28 July 2012. <http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary>.
Janes, Glenn, and Tom Bangbala. Shabtis, a Private View: Ancient Egyptian Funerary Statuettes in European Private Collections. Paris: Cybèle, 2002. pp 202
Johnson, Janet H. “The Chicago Demotic Dictionary: R.” Oriental Institute. Oriental Institute of Chicago, 16 July 2012. Web. 28 July 2012. <http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/pubs/catalog/cdd/>.
Pièce de l’équipement funéraire du prêtre renep Horemheb, fils de Ankhpakhered Serviteur funéraire. “Musée du Louvre” Web. 28 July 2012.  <http://cartelfr.louvre.fr/cartelfr/visite?srv=car_not_frame&idNotice=29657>
Pièce de l’équipement funéraire du prêtre renep Horemheb, fils de Ankhpakhered: Parure de sa momie . “Musée du Louvre” Web. 28 July 2012.  <http://cartelfr.louvre.fr/cartelfr/visite?srv=car_not_frame&idNotice=29656>
Spencer, Neal. “Kom Firin I: the Rammeside Temple and the Site Survey” London: The British Museum Press. Print. 2008. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/0%20Prelims-10%20Bibliog.pdf>
Tariant, Eric. “Un Rendez-vous D’automne.” Le Journal Des Arts. N.p., 10 Sept. 1999. Web. 28 July 2012. <http://www.lejournaldesarts.fr/jda/archives/docs_article/56109/un-rendez-vous-d-automne.php>.
Posted in Antiquities Market, California, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Smoleński’s Excavations at Gamhoud

About a month ago, I went to Poland as a tourist. Poland is a beautiful, friendly country with a fascinating and sometimes tragic history, but since this is an Egyptology blog and since Egyptian stuff is never far from my mind, I’d spent some time scouting the Egyptian Collection scene before we departed.  Needless to say, my Egyptian agenda was not on the tour’s itinerary, so on a miserably rainy “free afternoon” in Krakow, while others were shopping for souvenirs and revisiting Wawel castle, I slipped into a quiet garden behind a mossy stone wall. The lady at the ticket booth took my money grudgingly and gesticulated impatiently at me. I do not understand much Polish beyond “Nie rozumiem“, which is usually evident by the time you say it,  but I do understand it when someone points at their watch with a deliberate stab. This means “We’re closing in twenty minutes, so make it fast.” Thus, like the original excavation of the Gamhoud coffins, my introduction to the Krakow collection was quite breif.

Krakow is in the possession of four coffins from the area of Gamhoud in Lower Egypt. How these got to Krakow is the subject of this post.

Continue reading

Posted in Excavations of the Past, Ptolemaic Coffins | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Sarcophagi for Teos

A few weeks ago, I found this antique albumen print while perusing the images of an antiquarian book dealer. It seems to have been pasted in a book at one point, judging from the circular thinning of the paper on the back of the image where I suspect dabs of glue might have been. The photograph is by an Armenian photographer by the name of Gabriel (?) Lekegian who owned a studio in Cairo in the last two decades of the 19th Century. He seems to have been quite prolific–flickr and google yield no shortage of images bearing his name.

The image is of a Late Period or early Ptolemaic stone sarcophagus lid propped up on wooden blocks.  The photograph has the inscription “Couvercle de Sarcophage du General Taher” No 235, with the subtext: “Voir 234” : See 234.  The immediate question that came to mind was, “Who was this Taher, how was his sarcophagus found, and why was Lekegian photographing it?”

Sarcophagus lid of Teos

Continue reading

Posted in 30th Dynasty Coffins, Vintage Images | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Egyptological Puzzles

I’ve added this blog to Amduatwiki in order to document small things I’ve discovered and found interesting that are perhaps too small for the scope of Amduatwiki. I’ve intended Amduatwiki to be a collection of burial ensembles with inscriptions and picture of each object in the ensemble and information on where the object has ended up.

Researching these often divided ensembles, which have more often than not been inadequately published takes a lot of time, and Amduatwiki updates are therefore infrequent.  In the course of my research there are smaller discoveries which are just as interesting, yet do not fit into the scheme of the material on Amduatwiki.

What I aim to do here is to make available images and inscriptions on lesser known objects which are located in small museums and not published elsewhere, to highlight aspects of past Egyptological research which I feel has gotten limited attention, and to provide some context for the research showcased on Amduatwiki.

I hope, with this blog, to make a small contribution to the body of Egyptological research.

Posted in General | Leave a comment