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Funerary Figure of a Woman

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

This large figure of a woman was carved against a flat ground. Originally full-length, the figure may have been broken by the tomb robbers who left marks in the stone around the woman’s head while trying to remove her from the background. Her hairdo, clothing, and jewelry are entirely classical, as was then the fashion. The cup in her hand, meant to hold Nile River water, shows that she was a priestess of Isis, one of the few Egyptian deities whose cult lasted into this period.
CULTURE Coptic
MEDIUM Limestone, gesso, pigment
DATES 3rd-4th century C.E.
PERIOD Late Antique Period
DIMENSIONS 34 5/8 x 20 1/16 x 11 13/16 in. (88 x 51 x 30 cm)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 70.132
CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION One limestone figure executed half in the round. The figure is that of a woman, facing front, holding an object (pyxis?) in her left hand. Her right hand, which is now missing, appears to have been held at her side. The woman wears a robe which seems to rise up over the back of her head behind the ears. Across her chest, and slung over her left shoulder in the manner of a bandoleer, is a floral garland which still preserves traces of red and green paint. Traces of red paint are also preserved on parts of her garment. The figure is preserved from below the waist up. Condition: There is a large cut downwards at the rest of the head which seems to have been made by someone attempting to remove the piece from its ground. When this attempt was abandoned the piece was cut out along with part of the slab from which it was carved. The rear of the slab and its top edge have been smoothed. The stone is very friable nummulitic limestone, and the surface, as well as the gesso covering which remains, is peeling. Right hand and most of right arm missing; chips here and there. Plaster restorations in the following areas: 1) on the left side of the head at the level of the hairline just in front of the ear; 2) on the neck just under the left ear. There is a large piece of dirt adhering to the left cheek.
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