Tomb Relief of Nykateti

Egypt. Dynasties 5–6, ca. 2300–2170 BC
Limestone
2005.5.1
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. Teasley

This commanding relief sculpture would have originally stood in the doorway to a tomb chapel. It depicts the tomb owner, identified by the hieroglyphic inscription above, as “Ny-ka-teti, overseer of the palace physicians and scribe of the magicians.” He is shown reborn, striding forth from the tomb, dressed in a kilt with a broad apron front, holding a handkerchief in one hand and a staff of office in the other. He has a beaded broad collar around his neck and wears the short beard and layered wig typical of the period.

The relief would have originally been brightly painted, and it would have greeted visitors coming to leave offerings at the chapel for the deceased. Even now the crisp carving has lost none of its dramatic impact, and it would have challenged all who came to the cemetery to pay their respects to the spirit of Ny-ka-teti.