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Features of style, like treatment of the eyes, uraeus form and the soft outline of the nemes permit attribution to Ptolemaic times. Based on similarities with the head of a sphinx of 150 BC, it is possible to assume that our head had once belonged to a sphinx set up at Saqqara, if the place of discovery is anything to go by.

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Head of the Ptolemaic ruler in nemes headdress, revealing big ears and ornamented with a long double-looped uraeus. A band above the forehead constitutes the edge of the headdress. Small almond-shaped eyes with a fine line for the lids, above a triangularly formed nose. Bottom part of face indiscernible.
Features of style, like treatment of the eyes, uraeus form and the soft outline of the nemes permit attribution to Ptolemaic times. Based on similarities with the head of a sphinx of 150 BC, it is possible to assume that our head had once belonged to a sphinx set up at Saqqara, if the place of discovery is anything to go by. As the portrait is an example of the idealistic trend in Egyptian art, depicting an unrealistic image of the ruler, a specific attribution is extremely difficult, especially as recent research has indicated that statues of Ptolemaic rulers were frequently recarved each time a new member of the dynasty took the throne.

Elaborated by Krzysztof Babraj (Archaeological Museum of Kraków), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, translated by Iwona Zych, © all rights reserved

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Head of a ruler from Saqqara

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