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Statue of Prince Shesonq

Date 874–850 B.C.
Object type sculpture
Medium, technique limestone

105 x 32 x 71 cm

Inventory number 51.2050
Collection Egyptian Art
On view This artwork isn't on view.

The discovery of the Serapeum, the tomb of Apis bulls in Saqqara, in 1851 was the first great sensation in Egyptian archaeology. The commissioner for the project, Auguste Mariette of France, found the statue of the hereditary prince Sheshonq, the son of pharaoh Osorkon II (Dynasty XXII, last quarter of 10th century B.C.) and the first royal spouse Karamama, in the so-called “small underground galleries” at the beginning of 1852. The kneeling prince is holding before him the falcon-headed god Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, revered in the Saqqara necropolis, placed in the niche of a small shrine (naos). The “juvenile side-lock” on the right side of the curly wig indicated the young age of the prince and expressed his royal origin. Because of his early death Sheshonq could not become a pharaoh. However, his father bestowed on him the office of high priest, which is written in the inscription and is indicated by the robe with stars covering his back. As the high priest of Ptah at Memphis he participated in the funerary rite of an Apis bull in the Serapeum in the 23rd year of the reign of his father, Osorkon II. The text inscribed on the back pillar begins with a request addressed to Osiris-Apis – the name of Apis who united with Osiris, the ruler of the next world, after his death – to provide offerings in the afterlife. The statue closest to this one can be seen at the Egyptian exhibition in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna: it most probably depicts the prince and also used to stand in the Serapeum.

Following István Nagy

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