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Statue of a Ptolemaic queen

Statue of a Ptolemaic queen
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk

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Statue of a Ptolemaic queen

Category:
Sculpture in the round, statues, human / gods and goddesses statues, headless statues
Date:
Ancient Egyptian period, New Kingdom, 3rd cent. BCE
Provenance:
Lower Egypt (Excavations of the year 2000)
Material(s):
Rock, granite, black granite
Height:
150 cm;
Width:
55 cm;
Depth:
28 cm
This artifact is not currently displayed in the museum. It is among the collection chosen for the exhibition “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities” which is hosted by Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond - Virginia, USA) from 4 July 2020 to 18 January 2021.


Description

A statue of a Ptolemaic queen which must have been slightly larger than life size. On the right breast, as on numerous other statues of Ptolemaic rulers, is a knot that joins the ends of the shawl that the woman wears. Since the wives and mothers of the heir to power tended to be compared with Isis, sister-wife of Osiris and mother of Horus, scholars frequently referred to that knot as the "Isis knot". Thus the statue is most probably one of the queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty. 

The dress provides more clues about the identity of the subject: the handling of fabric recalls the marble work of Hellenistic artists showing Aphrodite in "wet drapery". The folds actually undress the figure more than they dress it. According to the legend, Aphrodite was born from the foaming seas on the south coast of Cypress. One is immediately reminded of the queen who was considered as the earthly manifestation of Aphrodite – Arsinoë II, wife of Ptolemy II.

Arsinoë II

Arsinoë II was the Daughter of Ptolemy I from Berenice I, and the sister and wife of Ptolemy II. She was a mature woman of experience and intelligence and had great power as sister, queen, and co-regent. After the First Syrian War, won largely through her diplomatic skills, she was granted extraordinary honors and was deified as Arsinoë "Philadelphus" (She who loves her brother). She also formed around her a notable coterie of statesmen and men of letters. She was worshipped as a goddess before or after her death, and her ideas on foreign policy strongly influenced Ptolemy II.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

References
  • Jürgen Bischoff, 2000 ans sous les mers: Les découvertes de Franck Goddio en Egypte, photographs by Christoph Gerigk (Gottingen: Steidl, 2016): 184-185.
  • Ägyptens versunkene Schätze: 5. April 2007-27. Januar 2008, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn (Heidelberg: Vernissage, 2007): 144-146, 151, 358.
  • Franck Goddio and Hélène Constanty, Trésors engloutis: Journal de bord d'un archéologue (Paris: Ed. du Chêne, 2003): 156-157.
  • Franck Goddio and Manfred Clauss, eds., Egypt’s Sunken Treasures, photographs by Christoph Gerigk (London: Prestel, 2006): 170-174, 177, 407.
  • Franck Goddio and David Fabre, Trésors engloutis d’Égypte, photographs by Christoph Gerigk (Milan: 5 Continents, 2006): 106-107, 283.
  • Franck Goddio, The Topography and Excavation of Heracleion-Thonis and East Canopus, 1996-2006, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 1 (Oxford: Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology. Institute of Archaeology, 2007): 53.
  • Franck Goddio and Aurélia Masson-Berghoff, eds., The BP Exhibition: Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds (London: Thames and Hudson, 2016): 93.
  • Zahi Hawass, ed., Bibliotheca Alexandrina: The Archaeology Museum (Cairo: The Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2002): 100-101.
  • Zahi Hawass and Franck Goddio, Cleopatra: The Search of the Last Queen of Egypt (Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2010): 178-179.
  • Damian Robinson and Andrew Wilson, eds., Alexandria and the North-Western Delta: Joint Conference Proceedings of Alexandria: City and Harbour (Oxford 2004) and the Trade and Topography of Egypt's North-West Delta, 8th Century BC to 8th Century AD (Berlin 2006), Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 5 (Oxford: Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology. Institute of Archaeology, 2010): 196-197.
  • Mona Serry, ed., Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Antiquities Museum, introduction by Ismail Serageldin (Alexandria: Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Antiquities Museum, 2015): 294-295, 339.
  • Jeffrey Spier, Timothy Potts and Sara E. Cole, eds., Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World (Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018): 144.

 

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