Statue of King Ramesses II

Statue of King Ramesses II

This sculpture is world renowned as the Turin masterpiece portrait of Egypt’s longest reigning and most famous pharaoh. King Ramesses II appears in the Blue Crown or war helmet, grasping the heqa-sceptre.

Breaking with traditional royal portraits, the great general wears a long full robe that is asymmetrically draped to create an enormous bell sleeve and his feet are shod in sandals. Had the Amarna Period not intervened, we would expect the king to be barefoot and wearing a kilt that allowed free movement, as on the battlefield.

It is also the Amarna artistic innovation that made it possible for the face to be more realistically modeled, with real sockets and lids for the eyes. The nose is extremely large, the mouth is proportionally small and the chin is even recessive, all which are unusual until this point.

A concession to tradition is the incision of the eyebrows and cosmetic stripes. The nine bows, representing the enemy foreign tribes, are symbolically incised under the king’s feet and two prisoners, an Asiatic and a Nubian are also depicted on the base, underscoring the king’s absolute supremacy over Egypt and its possessions.

Left and right of the king’s legs, on a smaller scale and according to their relative importance, are the figures of Queen Nefertari, identified in the inscription as beloved by the Theban goddess Mut, and Ramesses’ son Amun-her-khepeshef, identified as the right hand plume bearer and beloved son.

New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II, ca. 1279-1213 BC. From Karnak. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 1380

A Game of Senet, from Tanis The board gam…

A Game of Senet, from Tanis

The board game most favored by the ancient Egyptians was Senet, the game of “passing.” Boards and other equipment for the game were found in tombs of commoners, nobles and kings from the earliest dynasties, and remains of elaborate boards, as well as crude grids or sketches, reflect its popularity among all classes of society.

Two people played Senet on a board marked with thirty squares arranged in three parallel rows of ten. The number of playing pieces varied from five to ten, and each opponent advanced by throws of marked sticks, used in the same manner as dice. The object of the game was to advance along the board, passing an opponent by blocking or eliminating the latter’s pieces.

During the New Kingdom, tomb walls bore representations of Senet players, for the game had acquired a religious-magical meaning, symbolizing the passage of the deceased through the netherworld, his resurrection dependent upon his winning a Senet game. 

The last five squares were given new markings, reflecting the desired arrival in the divine domain of eternity. This board is an example of such a funerary Senet. Faience was the most common material for Senet boards, but examples made of wood also exist, some including drawers for the pieces.

New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, ca. 1292-1189 BC. Now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. 91.71.247

A Game of Senet, from Tanis The board gam…

A Game of Senet, from Tanis

The board game most favored by the ancient Egyptians was Senet, the game of “passing.” Boards and other equipment for the game were found in tombs of commoners, nobles and kings from the earliest dynasties, and remains of elaborate boards, as well as crude grids or sketches, reflect its popularity among all classes of society.

Two people played Senet on a board marked with thirty squares arranged in three parallel rows of ten. The number of playing pieces varied from five to ten, and each opponent advanced by throws of marked sticks, used in the same manner as dice. The object of the game was to advance along the board, passing an opponent by blocking or eliminating the latter’s pieces.

During the New Kingdom, tomb walls bore representations of Senet players, for the game had acquired a religious-magical meaning, symbolizing the passage of the deceased through the netherworld, his resurrection dependent upon his winning a Senet game. 

The last five squares were given new markings, reflecting the desired arrival in the divine domain of eternity. This board is an example of such a funerary Senet. Faience was the most common material for Senet boards, but examples made of wood also exist, some including drawers for the pieces.

New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, ca. 1292-1189 BC. Now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. 91.71.247

Bust of King Ramesses II

Bust of King Ramesses II

This bust comes from a seated statue of Ramesses II. He is portrayed with a short wig held in place by a band with a uraeus, the royal cobra.

The king is depicted as a young man with a full face, jutting eyebrows, rather narrow eyes, and a calm smile. The corners of the lips are slightly raised. The king wears a wide necklace made of many strings of pearls. He is wearing a pleated garment with long, wide sleeves.

What remains of his left arm lies by his body while his right arm is folded across his chest gripping the scepter Heka, the symbol of sovereignty. The pharaoh’s wrist is adorned with a bracelet decorated with the Eye of Horus, the wadjet, symbol of good health and divine perfection. Some details of the statue, such as the pleated garment and the short wig, were fashionable at that time.

New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II, ca. 1279-1213 BC. Black granite, from Tanis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 37485

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