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Ancient Egypt - Highlights of 4th Dynasty Art


In 1871, French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette discovered some of the great masterpieces of Egyptian art. Near the pyramid of Huni, in the tomb of Prince Nefermaat, known as Mastaba 16, three pairs of realistic and beautifully painted geese on a frieze were found. Prince Nefermaat was one of the several relatives of Pharaoh Sneferu who were buried in Meydum.

Along with him was Prince Rahotep and his wife, Nofret, who were buried with two companion statues. These works of art may be the most extraordinary ever found and are in an excellent state of preservation. This was due to the fact that the chapels in the mastaba were sealed off in ancient times, and apparently never known until modern discovery. The colors appear almost freshly painted. They are each just over 120cm high.

Great detail was taken in constructing these statues. For example, Nofret is seen wearing a wig. Wealthy Egyptian women often wore wigs, which were large and made of real hair. If you look close enough at her statue you can see her natural hair peaking out from under it. Again, great details.

The most outstanding feature is that both of these statues retain their lifelike inlaid eyes of crystal that originally stunned the Egyptian workmen who first opened the tomb. In the torch light of the dark tomb they looked alive and the workmen fled in terror. The craftsmanship involved in creating these works of art still remain a mystery to scholars.


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