Tag Archives: Egyptian statues

Texts in Translation #3: A statuette of Shesmu-hotep (Acc. no. 6135)

Statuette of Shesmu-hotep (Acc. no. 6135)

Statuette of Shesmu-hotep (Acc. no. 6135)

This small statuette of an official dates from the late Middle Kingdom (c. 1780-1700 BC). It was found amidst debris in a shaft tomb (no. 606) in Cemetery E at Haraga, close to Lahun. The statue would originally have been set into a brick-built structure belonging to one of the nearby tombs.

During the Middle Kingdom, greater surface areas of non-royal statues were covered with inscriptions than ever before. Here, the text extends from the front of the robe/cloak, across the lap and over the knees.


On cloak/robe

The text begins by associating Shesmu-hotep with Anubis – an important local god at Lahun in the Middle Kingdom – proclaiming the official to be: “Favoured by Anubis, Lord of Life.” It then goes on to give a standard list of provisions for the man’s spirit in the afterlife: “An offering which the King gives (and a) voice offering (consisting of) bread, beer, beef and fowl, alabaster, fine linen, and cool water for the Ka-spirit of the Overseer of […], Shesmu-hotep, justified.” Variants in the writing of this formulaic expression show the statue to belong to the late Middle Kingdom.

On lap (reading right to left)

Shesmu-hotep’s title is not clearly written, but has been read by others ‘overseer of the palace’. The god Shesmu was worshipped in the Faiyum area, and associated with the winepress, perfumed oils and slaughter in the underworld. The deity is rarely attested in names, with only one other example known of a ‘Shesmu-hotep’.


Filed under Texts in Translation

Liverpool Ancient Worlds Dayschool: How Did Ancient Egyptian Statues Work?

‘How Did Ancient Egyptian Statues Work?’


Presented by Dr Campbell Price

Statues were central to ancient Egyptian religion, but how did the Egyptians use and understand them? This day school will examine stylistic developments in sculptures of non-royal people, deities and kings, and address the meanings behind them through textual sources. We will also study the existence of portraiture, the role of sculptors and the rituals designed to bring statues to life. The collections of The Garstang Museum of Archaeology provide a valuable resource for this course.


This day school costs £30, and includes light refreshment. A booking form can be downloaded from the ‘Fees and Booking’Tab. If you would like more information,please feel free to contact Dr Glenn Godenho (ggodenho@liverpool.ac.uk,0151 794 2475).

More information at the Liverpool Ancient Worlds website: http://sace.liv.ac.uk/ancientworlds/day-events/statue/

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