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Dark stone sculpture of the head of a man.

This dark stone sculpture is of the bald head of a man resting on two square support blocks of the same stone type. There is surface loss over much of the head, and the stone revealed is lighter in color. The man’s head is oval, with a bulbous top and no hair. Facial feature detail is created through linear carving, and he has wide almond eyes, thin eyebrows, a long nose, and thin lips quirked in a slight smile.

Gallery Text

Sculptures carved from colorful hard stones quarried in Upper Egypt—quartzite, granodiorite, granite, and basalt—are among the most distinctive monuments of Egyptian art. They show the pharaoh and wealthy officials in a standing, seated, or kneeling pose with frontal orientation. Placed in a temple or tomb, they allowed their owners to participate in the cult and to receive offerings for all eternity. The head of this clean-shaven priest or vizier may have some individual features, but portraits of this time were not physical likenesses so much as images appropriate for the role and standing of the persons depicted. Nonroyal statuary often resembled the pharaoh’s portrait, and individual identities were given in the inscription. The polish and hatched eyebrows of this head suggest that it was only partly painted. It made use of the symbolism of its intrinsic color: black was associated with the fertile Nile mud and, hence, rebirth.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Head of a Priest or Vizier
Work Type
head, sculpture
1390-1352 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Egypt (Ancient)
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3740, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Ancient Egypt: Art for Eternity
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

23.5 cm h x 17 cm w x 22 cm d (9 1/4 x 6 11/16 x 8 11/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Dikran Kelekian, New York, NY, (by 1920s-1951), by inheritance; to Charles Dikran Kelekian, New York, NY, (1951-1982), by inheritance; to Nanette Rodney Kelekian, New York, NY, (1982-1993), gift; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1993.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Nanette Rodney Kelekian in memory of her parents, Charles Dikran and Beatrice Kelekian
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Publication History

  • James Cuno, ed., A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass., Spring 2000), p. 22-23

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3740 Egyptian, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at