• Egypt, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty (c. 1500–1300 BC)
  • Black granite
  • Inv. 218

Head of a Nubian (?)

This head probably shows a man who came from the Nubian (rather than the Egyptian) ethnic group. The inhabitants of Nubia, a vast area south of Aswan, had Negroid features, including darker skin than the Egyptians. Consequently, the sculptor used black granite so as to make the portrait more realistic.

The subject may have been an important official who (as was customary during the expansionist and cosmopolitan period under the New Kingdom) was made a leadership position within the military. Rather than his own hair, he seems to be wearing the sort of wig that soldiers had at that time, which starts in the middle of his forehead and extends towards his partially lost ears. His face, which was not carved in great detail, is given a certain naturalist feel by the two clear lines that run away from his nose and by his firm protruding chin.

Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from Howard Carter, June 1929.

Araújo 2006

Luís Manuel de Araújo, Egyptian Art. Calouste Gulbenkian Collection. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2006, pp. 72–3, cat. 6.

Updated on 22 april 2022

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