Thursday, 31 December 2015

Statue Found in Dealer's House

Was this photo (Al Ahram) taken 
in the dealer's house or the
antiquities storeroom?
An apparently ancient statue has been found in a raid on a house in the village of al-Nakhel near Edfu in Aswan Governorate in Egypt (Nevine El-Aref, 'King Amenhotep III statue accidently recovered in Edfu', Al-Ahram online Thursday 31 Dec 2015; 'Amenhotep III statue found in Aswan village', Aswat Masriya Thursday, December 31, 2015).
Minister of antiquities Mamdooh el-Damaty announced Thursday [...] that Public Prosecution has previously said that they had found the statue during a raid on a drug and weapons dealer’s house. [...]   the statue is made of black granite, and is in well-preserved condition. It stands at 150 cm long and represents the king, Amenhotep III, standing wearing a short kilt [... and is inscribed with] the names of the king and his titles. The minister stated that the statue has been transferred to the Edfo museum storage temporarily before the process of restoration and maintenance.
There are two things to note. Firstly, the news items do not state whether the dealer was offering the statue for sale alongside his other goods. It may have been in his possession as a trophy/status piece as one of the trappings of wealth and position, or may have been collateral on some loan or other financial transaction. Look at the surroundings in which the photos were taken.

Inscription on posterior pillar (Al Ahram)
Secondly, it seems to me from the awful photo that accompanies the article that the object is a modern replica or fake. Look at the face and eyes. The knees, calves and feet are rather awkward, the upper arms out of proportion for a royal statue, and what is the 'GP buckle' on the [surely anomalous] girdle of the shendyt kilt? (The article says this garment has an animal head, but none is visible in the photo of this object.). Or is the way this object was photographed misrepresenting its appearance? 

One wonders whether the phrase "an antiquities committee which was formed shortly afterwards to look into the status of the pharaonic piece, confirmed the statue’s antiquity " is not just a journalist's stock phrase to indicate the find is in some way important, or have Egyptian archaeologists really properly analysed this find, and only after due investigation and reflection, pronounced it authentic?
What is "black granite"? Should that not be gabbro or diorite? 

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