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Work Bas-reliefs from the Temple of Satet at Elephantine

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs

Le roi suivi d'une déesse

© 2004 RMN / Franck Raux

Egyptian Antiquities
Religious and funerary beliefs

Author(s):
Delange Élisabeth

This element belongs to a group of eleven blocks acquired by the Louvre after the division of excavation finds. The "raised relief" technique was used to portray the pharaoh, wearing the blue crown, and framed by two deities, each with a hand on his shoulder. This was probably a portrait of Queen Hatshepsut - a rarity at the Louvre. This beautiful and well preserved relief still bears traces of the original polychrome.

A certain classicism

In this classical representation, the pharaoh is turned to the left, protected by two goddesses who each place a hand on the king's shoulder. Only one of the deities is still visible; she has a vulture headdress and a dress with shoulder straps. The king is portrayed with athletic shoulders, a small face with a pointed hook nose, and an almond-shaped eye outlined in kohl. The pure lines of the "raised relief" reflect the care taken with the very sophisticated headdresses - especially the vulture's wings and the discs on the khepresh helmet. A large uraeus cobra, standing out over the frontal band of the headdress, still bears traces of its original golden color.

Which goddesses, and which king?

The hieroglyphs complete the formula on the upper block, which granted the king "strength and vigor, health and joy like Ra". The goddess is qualified as "Mistress of Elephantine, Lady of Heaven, and sovereign of all the gods." A team of German archaeologists was able to reconstruct the Temple of Satet on the island of Elephantine; they situate this block on a wall in the hypostyle hall built by Queen Hatshepsut. The queen was flanked by the goddesses Satet and Anuket, who were particularly worshipped in this place. This is therefore important evidence of the portrait of the queen, otherwise ill represented in the Louvre's collection.

Elephantine

The rocky outcrop of Elephantine Island, near the First Cataract, forms a natural boundary to the south. Occupied since prehistory, the island was an important center of worship. Vestiges piled up, and were sometimes re-used. Thus the blocks of the splendid temple of Hatshepsut and her successor Tuthmosis III (a temple later restored by Sethos I of the 19th Dynasty) were carefully dismantled and re-used as foundation blocks for a Ptolemaic construction. French archaeologist Clermont-Ganneau (the first to undertake excavations on the island in 1906) unearthed the elements of this historic gem, which still bears significant traces of the original polychrome.

Bibliography

- ANDREU G., RUTSCHOWSCAYA M. H., ZIEGLER C., L’Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, p. 112-113, notice n° 47.

Technical description

  • Le roi suivi d'une déesse

  • grès peint

    H. : 1,39 m. ; l. : 1,13 m. ; Pr. : 0,19 m.

  • The king followed by a goddess

    B 64

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    The temple
    Room 12
    Vitrine 02 : Reliefs de Ramsès II à Abydos

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