Egyptian. Cast of the original in the British Museum, London. 18th Dynasty (ca. 1570 - 1320 BCE).

Historical Context:

This figure in this sculpture represents Banofre, an 18th Dynasty figure who is alternately described as a Military Chief or a Scribe. In Egypt, scribes were scholars who acted as private secretaries to the Pharaoah, recording the events of his life and reign. The Egyptians regarded the office of scribe as one of great importance and honor, and it was generally an inherited position. The meaning of the hieroglyphs that appear on this sculpture is unknown.


This sculpture was dedicated at Thebes to Osiris, a god of the earth and vegetation who symbolized his death with the yearly drought and his miraculous rebirth with the periodic flooding of the Nile and the growth of grain. He was believed to have created the Egypt civilization. Osiris was a merciful judge of the dead in the afterlife, and from the underworld also granted all life. The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death - as Osiris rose from the dead they would, in union with him, inherit eternal life. By the New Kingdom all people, not just pharaohs, were believed to be associated with Osiris at death if they paid the fees for the special rituals.

Osiris is one of the oldest Egyptian gods for whom records exist. The oldest known attestation of his name is on the Palermo Stone, a large fragment dating to around 2500 BCE.

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