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Fragment of a head of pharaoh Senusret I

Fragmentary head of a pharaoh in black granite. The right side of the face features an almond shaped eye supporting a thick make-up line; the cheek is well-rounded with a high cheekbone. A small preserved fraction of the nemes (royal headdress) close to the right temple indicates this is a pharaoh's portrait. The left side of the face, the nose and mouth are fragmentary.

The pharaoh can confidently be identified on stylistic grounds as Senusret I, perhaps better known as Sesostris I. Characteristics to allow this identification are plentiful: the prominent cheekbones, thick plastic cosmetic lines and eyebrows, the small eyes with a lot of skin between the inner canthi and the root of the nose, the broad and straight mouth with the pursed, 'archaic' lips, and the straight separation between the thick lips (although in the piece under discussion these are somewhat eroded).

Son of Amenemhat I, Senusret I is remembered for both his aggressive territorial conquests in Nubia and his extensive building activities. The White Chapel in Karnak, rebuilt from fragments after it was demolished during the New Kingdom period, is just one of many shrines and temples that were erected throughout Egypt during Senusret I's reign.


- OPPENHEIM E. e.a. (eds.), Ancient Egypt Transformed . The Middle Kingdom, New Haven and London 2015.

Object information

Black granite
Date and place:
Egypt, Middle Kingdom, XIIth dynasty, reign of Senusret I, 1971 - 1926 BC
Private collection M.C., Belgium, 2008; Collection Axel Vervoordt, 2007; Christie's London, 25 April 2007, lot 75 (incorrectly identified as Thutmosis III); Private collection Hans Goedicke (1926-2015), Maryland; Private collection George Michaelides (1900-1973); acquired in Egypt around 1956-58.

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