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Work Fragment of a votive monument in the names of two women named Ta-di-Imhotep

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)

Fragment of a votive monument in the names of two women named Ta-di-Imhotep

© 2001 Musée du Louvre / Georges Poncet

Egyptian Antiquities
The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)

Author(s):
Lisa Davidson

Despite the austere and fragmentary appearance of this monument, it is an exceptional example of female images from the final Egyptian dynasties. In addition, it is one of three objects in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities that was reproduced in the famous Description de l’Egypte.

A work illustrated in the Description of Egypt

Contrary to popular belief, the Department of Egyptian Antiquities was not created in the wake of Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous expedition to Egypt. Certain members of this expedition did, however, purchase objects for their private collections and brought them back to France. A few were acquired years later by the Louvre Museum when these collections were dispersed. This fragmentary group belonged to Jean-Joseph Marcel (1776–1854), an Arabic scholar and Orientalist who was part of the expedition. Back in France, he became director of the Imprimerie Imperiale (Imperial Printing Works) and supervised the publication of the Description in which this work was reproduced.

A rare example of female figures

This piece is an extremely rare example of a group of female figures dating from the Late Period. The fragment consists of three standing female figures with their arms hanging straight at their sides. The tight-fitting dresses reveal their breasts. The central figure is holding an ankh sign in her right hand, which is highly unusual, as this symbol was reserved almost exclusively to deities. Their names appear in the text columns running along their legs; two of them have the same name (Ta-di-Imhotep), while the third is named Her-Neith. The text of the inscriptions suggests that this monument may have come from the region of Memphis.

A style inspired from the past

This type of monument, with several figures standing side by side, reappeared during the 26th and 27th dynasties. All of the known works of this type seem to come from the region of Memphis. They illustrate a return to forms inspired from the monuments of the Old and Middle Kingdoms that existed on the site. It appears that these monuments were designed for tombs, although we cannot fully exclude the possibility that they were ex-votoes placed within the temple. Indeed, the inscription states that the monument was dedicated to the memory of the figures portrayed.
The willowy silhouettes of the women, with long slender arms and extremely slim waists, along with their hairstyles and the type of hieroglyphs used, reveal that this is a late work. It probably dates from the 4th century BC and was contemporaneous with the last Egyptian kings of the 30th Dynasty.

Bibliography

Ziegler Chr., Rutschowscaya M.-H., Le Louvre, les antiquités égyptiennes, éd. Scala-RMN, 1990.

Technical description

  • Fragment of a votive monument in the names of two women named Ta-di-Imhotep

    Late Period, 30th Dynasty, 4th century BC

    Serapeum (Egypt)

  • Graywacke, Sculpture

    H.: 28.5 cm; W.: 20 cm; D.: 8.2 cm

  • Gift from the Friends of the Louvre, 2001

    E 32648

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    From the last Egyptian pharaohs to Cleopatra, 404–30 BC
    Room 30

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