Work Bowl of General Djehuty
Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)
Coupe au nom du général Djéhouty
© 2005 Musée du Louvre / Christian Décamps
The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)
This shallow, straight-edged bowl (a form which was also discovered at Ugarit) names Djehuty, a famous general in the service of Tuthmosis III. Various museums now own a number of precious objects which once belonged to him and were probably found in his tomb (whose whereabouts is unknown). After his death, General Djehuty entered Egyptian legend as the hero of a story, the text of which has come down to us.
Description and translation
Three concentric motifs adorn the bottom of the bowl : a central rosette is surrounded by fish, ringed in turn by a frieze of papyri. The text engraved around the rim of the bowl from right to left is worded as follows: "Granted by royal favor of Menkheperre (Tuthmosis III), King of Upper and Lower Egypt, to his excellency the noble, father of the god, beloved of the god, man of confidence of the king in all foreign lands and on the islands amid the sea, he who fills the stores with lapis lazuli, silver and gold, the general, the favorite of the perfect god, he who was created by the Lord of the Two Lands, the royal scribe Djehuty, acquitted."
Origin and nature of the object
Flat-bottomed bowls such as this have rarely been found in Egypt, perhaps due to the hazards of conservation (of precious metal objects in particular). Yet a gold bowl of identical shape, with concentric decoration featuring a hunting scene, was discovered at Ugarit, on the Syrian coast (Louvre, AO 17208, Room B, vitrine 8). In addition to the silver base of a bowl and the alabaster vase that are displayed in the same vitrine, several other important objects belonging to Djehuty have come down to us: a gold-inlaid scarab (Leiden), a dagger (Darmstadt), and a complete set of canopic vases (Turin). All these items probably came from the general's tomb ; the latter was no doubt discovered intact in the early 19th century, but its contents were immediately dispersed.
The life and posterity of General Djehuty
The inscription on the bowl informs us that it was presented to the general by Pharaoh Tuthmosis III. It is therefore a remarkable example of the "gold of reward", awarded to the brave for services rendered to the king. According to the inscription, Djehuty's role in the conquered territories was more that of proconsul than of simple general; this is confirmed by other sources. Perhaps because of this high rank, and the wealth he extorted from his "citizens", Djehuty's reputation was such that he became the hero of a little tale, whose text has come down to us via the Papyrus Harris 500 (which dates from the 19th Dynasty - almost two centuries after the general's death - and is now in the British Museum in London). The story tells how Djehuty took the city of Joppa (modern Jaffa) thanks to a ruse worthy of the wily Ulysses or of Ali Baba's forty thieves themselves.
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Coupe au nom du général Djéhouty
H. : 2,20 cm. ; D. : 17,90 cm. ; Pr. : 2,10 cm.
The New Kingdom
Vitrine 05 : Les contemporains de Hatchepsout et Thoutmosis III
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