Stone object

Accession Number
Current Location
House of Life (first floor), Predynastic case
Object Type
Religious or cult object, Divine standard
Predynastic Period
Naqada I to Naqada II
Stone/minerals (Limestone)
Height: 290mm | Width: 69mm | Depth: 68mm
Number of Elements

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This rare stone figure dates to the Predynastic Period. The head of the statue is anatomical in shape with a smooth surface apart from the very top of the head, which is slightly drilled with a hole measuring 9mm in diameter and 225mm deep. The face is somewhat elongated. The eyes and pupils are incised and the nose is sculpted, but no mouth is indicated. The slightly elongated chin area could be suggestive of a beard, although there is no explicit lines or sculpting. The body of the statuette is cylindrical and the arms are not indicated, although the chest area exhibits some modelling. There is no indication of the legs. A lip or ridge runs around the lowermost portion of its exterior. The base was smoothed flat and then hollowed out through carving and/or drilling to create a hole 35–36mm in diameter and 105mm deep—wide enough to permit the statuette to be mounted on a pole or other support. Since similar figures are usually carved from hippopotamus ivory, it has been suggested this this object is a fake. However, a close parallel made in stone, which comes from Gebelein, can be found in the musée des Confluences, Lyon (90000171). It was purchased by Wellcome in 1919, although previously sold in 1913 by Robert de Rustafjaell. Given that many of Rustafjaell's objects were acquired from Gebelein, it is tempting to suggest that this was the provenance of the figure.


Anonymous. 1996. The face of Egypt: Swansea Festival exhibition: 5 October 1996–5 January 1997. Swansea: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. [Cat. 76] Bosse-Griffith, Kate 1975. A prehistoric stone figure from Egypt. In Anati, Emmanuel (ed.), Symposium international sur les religions de la préhistoire: Valcamonica, 18–23 septembre 1972 [actes du Valcomonica symposium '72: les religions de la préhistoire], 313–316. Capo di Ponte: Edizioni del Centro. Bosse-Griffiths, Kate 2001. A prehistoric stone figure from Egypt. In Bosse-Griffiths, Kate, Amarna studies and other selected papers. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 182. Freiburg (Schweiz); Göttingen: Universitätsverlag; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 142–145. {Reprint of Bosse-Griffiths 1975} Hendrickx, Stan, Kathryn E. Piquette, Merel Eyckerman, Karine Madrigal, and Carolyn Graves-Brown 2014-2015. The origin and early significance of the White Crown. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 70–71, 227–238. [pp. 230–232, fig. 4]

3D Model

Wellcome Number
Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge: 20–24 Jan 1913, Lot 219 | Glendining and Co.: 05 May 1919, Lot 812
Auction Details
Lot 812: A remarkable Penate figure or Magic Staff, in hard light coloured stone, 12 ins. high; the lower part of cylindrical form; on the top of a rudely worked head with prominent ears; a hole drilled in the crown, the eyes shown by incuse lines and drill markings; and a deep and wide receptacle drilled in the base, of very primitive style; the exact use and purpose of these very rare objects is unknown.
Previous Owners
Robert de Rustafjaell (1859–1943) | Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936)
Long-term loan, The Wellcome Trust (15 Feb 1971)
1996–1997, 05 Oct–05 Jan. Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Museum, 'The Face of Egypt'
Last modified: 23 Jan 2023

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