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A Ka Statue of Iteti Ankhiris

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A Ka Statue of Iteti Ankhiris
  10 A NCIENT E GYPT August/September 2012 T his fine example ofanOld Kingdom ka  stat-ue ofa man namedIteti Ankhiris was found in hismastaba tomb at Saqqara.During the Old Kingdomsuch ka  statues were primarilydesigned as a host for a per-son’s ka  , which is a concepthard to define exactly, but wasessentially similar to the spiri-tual entity or life force ofaperson. Each person’s ka  wasconnected to them through-out their life and beyond.Unlike modern concepts of spirits or souls going to heav-en or ascending to anotherplace after death, the ka  didnot leave either the person orthe physical world. Rather itremained in existence, and soneeded a body, a home, foodand drink and even entertain-ment.This fundamental tenet of the ancient Egyptian’s belief system led directly to the wayin which elite funerary archi-tecture developed. Tombsneeded simultaneously tohouse and protect theremains ofthe dead, and alsoto facilitate interactionbetween the ka  and the living world. These requirementsare evident in the develop-ment ofOld Kingdom tombs(named  pr-k3 or ‘house ofthe ka  ’), where we can see howdifferent ideas and ways of achieving this end wereresolved (royal tombs and ka  concepts developed in a dif-ferent way, as the king joinedwith other gods after death).The basic form ofa mastaba  tomb (after the Arabic wordfor a mudbrick bench as thetomb superstructure looksrather similar) included anunderground burial chamberto house the dead body, and asolid rectangular block super-structure to which the living brought offerings to the ka  ,first to false door stelae placedin niches on the outside wall,and later into stelae placed inchapels attached on or builtinto the body ofthe mastaba.The physical human bodywas the most appropriate hostfor the ka  , and it was this corebeliefthat drove the develop-ment ofpreserving tech-niques, with mummificationand removal ofinternalorgans, and also packaging whatever was left in a waythat left a recognisable figurefor the ka  to inhabit as a phys-ical host. However, a stronger,longer-lasting alternative wassoon adopted, one whichcould also replicate physicalappearance and act as a host,and that was a statue.Indeed almost all non-royalstatuary in the Old Kingdomwas srcinally created to actas ka  hosts. That these statuesmay often have been made informs that were younger, fitterand better looking than thesrcinal in life – or more suc-cessful, as a scribe in a mainlynon-literate society or withcopious rolls offat showing evidence ofa rich diet – wasan added bonus.It is impossible for us to tellifthese statues are in any wayportraiture. Many examplesare very fine works ofart, andsome look like real people, butthere are also a number of generic statues, which appearto have come from produc-tion lines at sculpture work-shops probably in Memphisand Saqqara. In order forboth the ka  and the living torecognise these statues theywere almost always labelledand so given the correct iden-tity. However, statues could bestolen from tomb chapels and A KA STATUE OF ITETI ANKHIRIS Dr. Susanna Thomas investigates a statue found at Saqqara. Iteti Ankhiris in the Egyptian Museum Cairo (CG 45)© Egyptology Picture Library.  A NCIENT E GYPT August/September 2012 re-carved with new identities, or paintedover with a new name. This was oftenaddressed by the creation ofa separateroom now known as the serdab (after the Arabic for cellar) within the tombchapel or chapel complex that had nodoor but rather a slit or a couple ofeyeholes through which the statue could seeand be seen.False door stelae (named r-pr  or‘mouth ofthe tomb’) along with offering tables or altars placed in front ofthemwere another essential part ofthe OldKingdom tomb. Their role was as amechanism to provide food and drink for the ka  . These stelae, which byDynasty 4 had actually developed theappearance ofdummy doors, depictedthe most vital elements for this, essen-tially the name and titles ofthe tombowner, an image ofhim or her in frontofa table covered in food and drink offerings, and the offering prayer. Largeand elaborate examples can also includeother family members or lists ofotherfood offerings which might be welcome.The text and images indicated whatofferings should be made onto theaccompanying offering table. Theprayer, when read out loud by priests (orfamily, friends or any other visitors whocould read) would cause the spiritualentity offood to appear for the ka  . Ifallelse failed the very fact that the tombowner was pictured along with offeringsand an offering prayer gave in itselfthemagical continuance ofsustenance.The tomb ofIteti Ankhiris, or Ankharis (see above and overleaf) was firstclassified as D63 by the great FrenchEgyptologist Auguste Mariette, whodescribed it in some detail in field notestaken during his study tours around theelite cemeteries at Saqqara in the 1850sand 1860s. The tomb is approximately300m. north-west ofthe Step PyramidofDjoser in a cluster with the wellknown tombs ofthe ChiefJustice andVizier Ptahhotep I (D62) and the jointmastaba ofhis son ChiefJustice andVizier Ankhtihetep and grandson Chief  Justice and Vizier Ptahhotep II (D64).Mariette believed that the tomb ofIteti Ankhiris was built later than that of Ptahhotep I, so towards the end of Dynasty 5 under the reign ofKing Unas or perhaps at the beginning of Dynasty 6 under the reign ofKing Teti.The large courtyard on the east side of the tomb contained no inscriptions, andthe position ofthe pillars was suggestedfrom fragmentary remains only. A smallroom facing the entrance ofthe tomb(Chamber A) had whitewashed walls,again with no other inscription or deco-ration. A large false door stela was set 11 LEFTA map of North Saqqarashowing the position of tombD63.  A NCIENT E GYPT August/September 2012 into the back west wall ofthe chamber.Leading south ofthe courtyard wasanother room (Chamber B). In this roomMariette found a number ofstone andwooden objects arranged on the ground.Unfortunately all the wooden objects,including statues, several boats equippedwith their crew and offering tables withlimestone food models were apparentlyso rotten that they could not be liftedfrom the sand around them. Mariettewas however able to save two large lime-stone statues and some models offoodofferings, and these were sent to the newEgyptian Museum at Bulaq in 1861.Both statues are ofthe tomb ownerIteti Ankhiris. The first (CG 47), whichis 93 cm high, shows him standing look-ing straight ahead with arms hanging parallel at his sides with clenched fistsand forward thumbs, and legs and feettogether (see opposite page, top centre) . Hehas a large flared wig styled as a shoul-der-length bob and halfconcealing hisears, with the strands parted in the mid-dle. There is faint evidence ofa widepainted collar around his neck. Hewears a short half-pleated white kilt witha knotted belt. His face and body arepainted dark red, while his hair, eye-brows, lashes and pupils are paintedblack, as is the stand and back pillarwhich reaches up to just under hisshoulders and the negative spacebetween his arms and body and alsobetween his legs. The inscription carvedinto the stand either side ofhis feet says“Eldest ofthe overseers ofthe palaceIteti” on one side and “Eldest oftheoverseers ofthe palace Ankhiris” on theother. Although Borchardt described thestatue as crude, clumsy work in the Catalogue Général  , it is a perfectly good,conventional ka  statue.The second, more interesting, statue(CG 45) shows Iteti Ankhiris seated on RIGHTA plan of Iteti Ankhiris’ tomb,D63.After Mariette, Les Mastabasde l’Ancien Empire  , p.357. 12  A NCIENT E GYPT August/September 2012 a cube shaped seat on a block base (see  page 10) . It is a similar height to the lastat just under 1 metre high, and againthe subject is staring straight ahead,with his arms parallel to the body andhis forearms flat against his kit. His legsand feet are parallel against the seat.His left hand is lying palm down on histhigh with outstretched fingers while hisright hand is clenched with closed palmdownwards and thumb to the side. Thisattitude ofthe hands became commonin Dynasty 5, replacing the earlierclenched fist with upward-facing thumb.He wears a long, parted wig  (see below left) , which leaves his ears free. It is divid-ed into three falling to his shoulderblades at the back and towards the cen-tre ofhis chest at the front. The ends of the strands have beads or ties on them.Some ofhis own hair is visible aroundhis ears. There are faint traces ofa widecollar around his neck. Once more he iswearing a short white half-pleated kiltwith a knotted belt. His skin colour is apale reddish brown, while his hair, eye-brows, lashes, pupils and nipples arepainted black, as is the upper side ofthebase and the negative space between hislegs and his arms and torso. His face is very plastic with moulded eyebrows,prominent rounded eyeballs, a compar-atively large nose and full lips with adeep philtrum. Stevenson Smith notedthat “the modelling ofthe torso is par-ticularly good and the face has moreindividual character than is usual in thesmall figures at this time”. This is a love-ly statue which exudes both poise and asense ofcalm alertness, ideally suited toreceiving offerings.One unusual feature is the tripartitelappet wig, usually worn by OldKingdom queens (see top right) and occa-sionally by other elite women, that isalmost unknown on male figures otherthan gods and deceased kings before theMiddle Kingdom. There are only acouple ofother examples ofthis wig onstatues and these also date from the endofDynasty 5/beginning ofDynasty 6from the tomb ofSeshemnefer IV atGiza (LG53) (see bottom right) . This was aperiod ofsocial, religious and politicalchanges and Tassie suggests that thisstyle may represent owners experiment-ing with religious innovation, and whoperhaps wished to imitate the appear-ance ofthe gods. ABOVEThe upper part of a seatedstatue of a Dynasty 6 queenwearing a tripartite lappetwig, from Abydos. (CG 255).© Egyptology Picture Library.TOPLEFTA standing statue of Iteti Ankhiris in the EgyptianMuseum Cairo (CG 47).© Egyptology Picture Library.BOTTOMLEFTHead and shoulders of Iteti Ankhiris (CG 45).© Egyptology Picture Library.BELOWOne of two seated statues of Seshemnefer IV in a lappetwig, from outside his tomb atGiza (LG53). 13  A NCIENT E GYPT August/September 2012 Tomb D63 was later visited in the winter of1903-1904by Margaret Murray, when she re-excavated Chamber Ain order to examine the false door stela which remained insitu . Murray noted “the most remarkable feature ofthetomb” was the figure ofIteti Ankhiris carved in high relief standing in the actual doorway ofthe stela. This is anearly example ofa three dimensional figure as part ofthefalse door, a feature which became more common during Dynasty 6.By the middle ofDynasty 5, large false doors hadbecome a significant feature ofthe tomb, often carved outofa single slab oflimestone. Magical provision ofoffer-ings was still ofparamount importance, but the extra ABOVELEFTThe false door stela of Iteti Ankhiris, seen by Mariette andMurray in situ  , later taken to the Egyptian Museum in 1907(CG 57190).ABOVEEngaged figure of Iteti Ankhiris on his false door stela(CG 57190).LEFTSeated statue of King Netjerikhet Djoser in a tripartite lappetwig from his Saqqara pyramid complex. Now in the EgyptianMuseum, Cairo. (JE 49158).© Egyptology Picture Library. 14
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