1 – A Study in Alabaster and Granite

A few days ago, I visited the Egyptian Museum here in Cairo a second time, this time with the intention of seeing monuments with name erasure on display. While I had been guided through the puzzling maze of numbered rooms and halls a week earlier by a tour guide, she hadn’t thought the late period (specifically the 25th and 26th dynasties) important enough to mention, which I suppose is fair considering Tutankhamun’s funeral mask is on display in another wing. So I made my way through the cacophony of beautiful languages being shouted around me, trying to find the Late Period section in a badly labeled and very disorganized treasure trove of chaos. The museum leads you in a circle around the center hall, moving from the Old Kingdom to Ptolemaic times, but the rooms are numbered from left to right going back and forth across this hall. Which meant that my rooms, 25 and 30, ended up right next to each other. Luckily, I immediately found the two pieces I knew the museum kept on display, a statue of Amenirdis I (daughter of Kashta, one of the first of the 25th dynasty kings, and one of the Gods’ Wives of Amun), and The Triumphal Stela of Piye (commemorating the consolidation of his rule over Egypt as the first ruler in the 25th dynasty). Both had obvious name erasures: In the stela’s case, Piye’s imposing figure is erased, and the question remains if the damage to the cartouche on his right was intentionally erased or just a byproduct of the destruction of Piye’s figure. The figure whose cartouche was erased on this stela could potentially be a 23rd dynasty king of Egypt, one whose name seems to be erased from a statue of Osiris as well. If that’s the case, this whole story becomes a lot more involved than just 25th dynasty name erasures.

Amenirdis’s statue had weird erasures. On the granite base, her name was erased twice but then left intact all the way at the left, exactly like the pattern on the back of the alabster statue. And then in front of her right foot on the alabaster base, her cartouche is completely intact. In other statues, placement had a lot to do with which cartouches were erased and which ones weren’t – hopefully I’ll get to go back and see the pieces in storage to establish a pattern across all of these items.

None of my wonderful pictures are attaching, so I’ll see if I can figure that out later, but for now, another visit to this museum seems to be in order!