Limestone relief

Accession Number
Current Location
House of Life (first floor), Body adornment case
Object Type
Architecture, Architectural decoration, Relief
New Kingdom
Eighteenth Dynasty
Stone/minerals (Limestone)
Egypt, Thebes/Luxor, Deir el-Bahri
Height: 490mm | Width: 370mm | Depth: 45mm and 30mm
Number of Elements

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An irregularly shaped limestone fragment with carved decoration on both sides. At some point in its history, the object was cut into two pieces before being glued together again. The obverse of the object contains the head of a figure whose face is now missing, with the carving of the eye, particularly the long cosmetic line and low brow, being characteristic features dating to the reign of Hatshepsut. The figure wears an i͗bs-wig with echeloned curls that completely cover the ears. The carving of the curls is achieved through horizontal incised lines with vertical incisions. The head is adorned with a sšd diadem, knotted at the back in the shape of two lotus flowers with double ribbons. Traces of red paint are present on the headband, circle of the knot, and the two ribbons, while yellow was used for the lotus-shaped parts of the knot. An uraeus entwines the diadem on the forehead. Traces of an erased modius are still present on the head of the figure. Behind the head are the remains of a fan possibly held by a personified-ꜥnḫ, as is the case with other reliefs from the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri. Several hieroglyphs are present in two columns, with no dividing line, directly above the head of the figure. The tips of three feathers that are preserved belong to the wing of a vulture that would have hovered above the inscription. Traces of dark paint are present, originally likely blue to judge by other examples from the temple. Traces of the erased modius indicate that it originally represented a female figure, as confirmed by the hieroglyphs above, in which the feminine pronoun is used. While the inscription is only partly preserved, its formulaic nature means it can tentatively be reconstructed based on numerous parallels. While the obvious choice for the identity of the figure is Hatshepsut, the iconography does not fit with her images from Deir el-Bahri. Instead, her daughter, the God’s Wife of Amun Neferure, is a more suitable candidate. Depictions of Neferure on temple walls are exceedingly rare, but she is depicted no less than eight times on the walls of the Upper Courtyard and in the Main Sanctuary of Amun-Re at Deir el-Bahri. Neferure is commonly shown wearing the i͗bs-wig with a sšd diadem and a modius in the exact same manner as on W1376. These regalia, along with the ḥts-sceptre that she often wields, are associated with the office of the God’s Wife of Amun. Six of these scenes at Deir el-Bahari were carefully modified to represent instead Hatshepsut’s parents Iahmes or Thutmose I. In particular, the modius was erased, the i͗bs-wig modified into a vulture cap when representing Iahmes, and the ḥts-sceptre replaced. The change of headgear forced the ancient restorer to model—although not always as carefully as other elements—the ear that had not been visible before. The reverse of the upper fragment depicts the face of a nobleman with a short beard carved in raised relief (for a cast, see EC1288). While the lower fragment is 45mm deep, the upper fragment is only 30mm, confirming that the face was only carved after W1376 had been cut from a block. In fact, it seems that the object had been specifically cut into two pieces so that the reverse of the upper fragment could be used to carve a new face for the original figure, an action that also explains the unusually rounded shape of the upper fragment. When this adjustment took place and who was responsible is unknown, but it was likely done by a dealer, auctioneer, or previous owner in order to increase both the monetary and aesthetic value of the object. It was purchased by Wellcome at auction in 1906 from the collection of Robert de Rustafjaell.


Griffin, Kenneth 2018. Two relief fragments from the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari in the Egypt Centre, Swansea. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 27 (2: Special Studies, Deir el-Bahari Studies 2), 227–235.

3D Model


(1) [di͗ ꜥnḫ ḏd wꜣs nb] ꜣw<t>-i͗b.s “[Given all life, stability, and dominion], her heart being rejoiced, (2) [mi͗ rꜥ] ḏt [like Re], forever”

Last modified: 12 Jan 2023

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