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Critical Analysis of Artifacts from Ancient Egypt

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Section 1 (Single Artefact)

The Scorpion macehead, from the Horus temple at Hierakonpolis (Dynasty 0, Protodynastic period). Limestone.

You never noticed that interesting antique lamp in your relative’s house before… Thanks to your College studies, you are able to identify this object as the famous Scorpion macehead recently stolen from Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. Explain to her what the meaning and historical importance of the iconography is. Connect the iconography to the function of the object and its connection with Horus. Bonus: suggest a proper course of action.

Iconography means the description, classification, and explanation of the subject for the pieces of art, and the work originates from the Greek word “eikon,” which indicates the image or icon (Jan 72). The initial meaning of iconography is to comprehend and show the meaning behind the word. Simply put, iconography reflects the symbolism for the visual arts and the historical, cultural, as well as social meaning, need to be taken into consideration. In the beginning, iconography is considered as subjects that show the meaning and significance of history, but with time passing by, the primary significance has changed from symbolism to the use of being taken as evidence for the new research. Scorpion

Historically, iconography could be used to show the hidden meaning behind objects for a specific period. That is, the symbolic representations usually indicate a direct relationship with the objects (Jan 63). Take the historical subjects of Macehead as an example. It shows a king with the white crown to demonstrate in a full ritual, which means that the traditional ritual is crucial for Egyptians at that time. The bull’s tail, which is hung on the belt of the king, also indicates the power of the king. In addition, the multi-pedaled rosette indicates the social status of the king, for it was usually used by the ancient Egyptian kings at that time. As the front face has been shown, it is one of the reasons why the name Scorpion. High officers are accompanying King Scorpion, and the high officers also show his power and glamour. It could be seen that the iconography of King Scorpion has been used to show the power of the king, and it is crucial for historians to discover the meaning behind the object. This early Egyptian relic could be used as the iconic symbol of the mindset in ancient Egypt.

The iconography of the object from the perspective of symbolism indicates that it is used to be used as a peaceful ceremony based on an instrument of wars, for it the prehistorical times, maces were always used to indicate the symbols of authority. The piece of work could be used to record the power and authority of the king. Different objects for Macehead show that they could be used as evidence of research by historians in the Early Dynastic Period (David 14). For instance, the red and white crown means the double crown for the king, and it also indicated the supreme power of the king in ancient Egypt. The objects can be used by historians to conduct a study on how rituals and ceremonies are conducted in ancient Egypt, for the king was using a hoe to do a ceremony. Usually, the ancient Egyptian king gained their power by means of violence, and it shows that awe of common people towards the king.

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Based on the research, it is found that the Scorpion macehead was found in the temple of Horus during the 19th century (David 15). Some scholars might consider King Scorpion was interpreted as the predecessor of King Horus Namer that was considered as the first king in the 1st Dynasty in ancient Egypt, for the king Scorpion was found in the temple of Horus. Since there are some similarities between the Scorpion and the facts about Namer, lots of scholars might conclude that King Scorpion was the predecessor of the royal family or the rival king in Egypt. But it seems that as the tomb of Scorpion is a little far away from Namer, it is hard to judge whether they have a direct relationship. But it could be confirmed that the Horus family and King Scorpion are classified as the royal family in ancient Egypt.

Section 2 (Assemblage)

The Sennuwy statue, profile and frontal view (originally from Asyut, Middle Egypt; Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, 1971-1926 BCE). Diorite.

The recovery context of the Sennuwy statue: tumulus Tumulus K III, Kerma, Nubia; reconstruction view of the cemetery of Kerma (Classic Kerma period, 1750-1550 BCE)

You are an ancient Egyptian official making the case for the repatriation of this artifact from Nubia back to Asyut ca. 1400 BCE (ironic?). Explain why the statue ‘wants’ to be returned to its origin, focusing on its iconography, style, material/color, the identity and social status of the depicted and its originally intended function and context. Explain how the new location of the statue in the Kerma tumulus endows it with new meaning it did not previously have (be kind to the Kermans. After all they had a point).

The Sennuwy statue should be back from Nubia to Asyut, and the reason why the status wants to back to its origin could be explained from the perspectives of iconography, style, material/color, the identity and social status from the original text. The Sennuwy statue is considered as one of the most properly carved and beautifully proportioned. Sennuwy was the wife of a governor, and the statue reflected the beauty of women and the conditions of rebirth for ancient Egypt from the perspective of iconography (Maria 25). The statue was found in the south of Kerma in Nubia, but they were buried in the royal tombs of Nubia, which indicates that their statues must be removed. The statue shows the different roles such as the defensive roles, economic roles, as well as symbolic roles. It could be seen that the statue indicates that at that time, the military was reintroduced as the military system, and it is the reason why the statue attracts the attention of viewers. The idealized and the nice images reflect the images in the first half-century and the arts of the old Kingdom, which is the reason why it should be back to Asyut. It could be seen that Sennuwy was depicted as a graceful and elegant woman who attracts the attention of viewers. The woman was slender, and she sat nicely, which indicates the elegance and the courtesy of women from the upper class in ancient Egypt. Sennuwy sat on the solid, blocklike chair, and the woman put on her hand on the lap, and she was holding a blossom, which indicates rebirth. The statue was in the color of bronze, which reflects the advancement of Egyptian society. As it is mentioned above, as Sennuwy is the wife of a provincial governor who was placed in the non-royal tomb of the Middle Kingdom, it is suggested that she was from the upper class in ancient Egypt. The couple was buried in Asyut, which was the original place, and it is hoped the statue should be back to Asyut.

The new location has been endowed a significance meaning by Kerma tumulus that means the early civilization in the center of Kerma of Sudan, which indicates that the Sennuwy statue symbolized early civilization because of the beautiful carving. Kerma is also considered as the largest archaeological site where there are lots of graves and tombs that could be used as the research for contemporary historians (Maria 30). As the husband of Sennuwy was the nomarch in the 13th century in Egypt and the headquarter was in Asyut, it could be seen that the development of civilization in ancient times was already connected. Kerman played a significant role for historians to study the advanced civilization in ancient times, and it was known for the townsite and the metropolitan role. Besides, the cultural and historical significance for Kerma is also important. Later the new Kingdom of Egypt also controlled the city and Nubia, and lots of historical objects have moved from other places to Nubia. Except for the cultural status that the Sennuwy statue has represented, it also has the great significance of the continuity of civilization and culture. The moving of the statute indicates that one culture could be moved from one place to another place, and civilization could be spread. For example, the Sennuwy was moved from Asyut to Nubia; it also means the spread of civilization in ancient times. In ancient Kerma, there are lots of royal tombs, but as the Sennuwy statue was not from the royal family, it had the significance that the couple had lots of access to the fine arts, and the couple had power. Lots of kings were buried in Kerma, which means that Kerma had great symbolism for the royal family and people from the upper class.

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Critical Analysis of Artifacts from Ancient Egypt. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from
“Critical Analysis of Artifacts from Ancient Egypt.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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Critical Analysis of Artifacts from Ancient Egypt [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2023 Mar 27]. Available from:
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