Head of a Phoenician



Head of a Phoenician


sculpture, visual works component


1292-525 BC


New Kingdom, Dynasty 19 - Late Period, Dynasty 26
Eastern Mediterranean


1 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 1 in. (3.8 x 3.2 x 2.5 cm)

Object Number



This small faience head has the high cheekbones and wears the conical cap that is often used in Egyptian iconography to identify Phoenicians. Egyptians often took great care to represent detailed national costume on images of foreigners to make the images readable and it is likely that this small figure once wore the traditional costume associated with Phoenicians. The word "Phoenician" comes from the Egyptian word "fenkhw" which referred to Syrian foreigners. Egyptian official ideology saw foreign people and nations as elements of chaos in contrast and threatening to the ordered world of Egypt. Images of foreigners were placed in debased positions such as on floors or were represented as prisoners or subjects of the Egyptian king. Small figures of foreigners were broken or burned to ritually ensure the dominance of Egypt over the foreign lands and therefore the kings' efficacy. While official ideology dictated that foreigners be represented in a debased position in Egyptian material culture, the reality was quite different. This small head is dated between the 19th and 26th Dynasties, a period beginning with strong economic and political ties between Egypt and many contemporary nations and ending with the Saiite domination of Egypt in the 26th Dynasty. Increased contact with foreign nations during the New Kingdom created a climate in which some of the most striking images of foreigners were made, the elaborate costumes and distinct physiognomy of foreign people are represented in faience tiles for floors, on the battlefield in relief on temples and palaces, and as supplicants before the king on footstools and throne daises. The original context of this small faience head is not known but it can be related to the larger corpus of aforementioned foreigner figures.

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. Jerome Eisenberg


From Pharaohs to Emperors: New Egyptian and Classical Antiquities, Michael C. Carlos Museum, January 14 - April 2, 2006


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2005.
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On View



“Head of a Phoenician,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 20, 2019, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7807.

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