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A Note on the Turkish Lot III/1891 From the Bab el-Gasus Cache (Egypt), Kept at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums / Ancient Orient Museum

Hülya Ataşcıoğlu Aykul, M. Baha Tanman et Miguel Ángel Escobar-Clarós
p. 145-151

Notes de l’auteur

Bab el-Gasus in Context. International Colloquium Lisbon, September 19-20, 2016: Tomb of the Priests and Priestesses of Amun, 1891-2016. Scientific Committee: Alessia Amenta, Kathlyn Cooney, Luc Delvaux, Helene Guichard, Christian Greco, Rene van Walsem, Lara Weiss; Organizing Committee: Rogério Sousa, Delfim Leao, Carmen Soares, Jose Augusto Ramos, Nuno Simoes Rodrigues, Antonio Matos Ferreira. https://babgasusconference.weebly.com/

Texte intégral

I would like to express my personal thanks to Prof. Dr. Baha Tanman, Dr. Eric Jean, Prof. Dr. Jean Yoyotte, Dr. Lilliane Aubert, Jean-Luc Bovot for their helps during the preparation of my thesis; to Ms. Şahika Turan, Mr. Turgay Tuna and his beloved wife Josie Tuna for their helps during my interviews in Paris; to Mr. Turan Birgili for performing the photo shoots at Ancient Orient Museum-Istanbul; to Mr. Selahattin Yenice, responsible of Photography Laboratories at the Faculty of Letters-Istanbul University, to the Republic of Turkey Ministry Culture and Tourism and the Istanbul Archaeology Museums for their authorizations and kind welcome. My thoughts in Memoriam to Aksel Tibet from the French Anatolian Studies Institute (IFEA), who always welcomed me at the Institute and who, lately, encourage me to publish this note and to carry on with my studies and also, I will never forget the strong support given to me by Dr. Martin Godon (IFEA).

  • 1 Bab el-Gasus in Context. International Colloquium Lisbon, September 19-20, 2016: Tomb of the Priest (...)
  • 2 I would like to express my personal thanks to Prof. Dr. Baha Tanman, Dr. Eric Jean, Prof. Dr. Jean (...)

1Some of the artefacts composing the corpus of the ancient Egyptian shabti figurines, presented here, are already well documented and studied while some of them are scattered in different places around the world following their discovery. The shabti figurines are still waiting to be analysed as a whole collection. The 21st Dynasty (1077-943 B.C.) tomb of the priests and priestesses of Amun, also known as the “Bab el-Gasus”, is a case study for a group of forgotten artefacts. In 2016, the conference “Bab el-Gasus in Context”1 was held by the Gate of the Priests Project in Lisbon to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the discovery of Bab el-Gasus. The following note is an attempt to briefly present the shabti figurines from the lot kept at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, which is part of this dispersed collection2.

2In 1891, an important discovery was made by French Egyptologists E. Grebaut and G. Daressy at an archaeological tomb site called Bab el-Gasus, located near the Deir el-Bahari Temple in the vicinity of the Theban Necropolis (Ouasit).

3The location of Bab el-Gasus (Fig. 1) on the flat area in front of the Hatshepsut Temple, just outside the precinct wall, made the tomb entrance easily accessible (Niwinski 1984: 73-80) (Fig. 2). During the excavations at Bab el-Gasus, more than 150 coffin pieces dating from the 21st Dynasty (1070-945 B.C.), with desecrated burials belonging to the secret priests of Amun-Ra and their family members (Fig. 3, 4) together with their funerary artefacts have been found and sent to Cairo. However, some shabti coffins found at Bab el-Gasus were eventually sent abroad by the Directorate of Antiquities, under the direction of Jacques de Morgan. In fact, in 1892, Abbas Hilmi Pasha was newly appointed by the Ottoman Empire as Khedive of Egypt at the age of 18. It was then deemed appropriate to send these artefacts to sixteen countries as gifts celebrating the Khedive’s accession to the throne. Thus, 153 coffins, 110 shabti boxes, 77 Osirian wooden statuettes, mostly hollow and containing a papyrus, 8 wooden steles, 2 large wooden statues (Isis and Nephthys), 16 canopic reed baskets, 5 round baskets made of woven reed, were arranged in sets (so-called “lots”) and shipped to different museums (Daressy 1900: 141-148).

Fig. 1: The location of Bab el-Gasus at Deir el-Bahari

Fig. 1: The location of Bab el-Gasus at Deir el-Bahari

N. Fletcher-Jones

Fig. 2: Gate of the Priests

Fig. 2: Gate of the Priests

A. Niwinski

Fig. 3: Bab el-Gasus

Fig. 3: Bab el-Gasus

A. Niwinski

Fig. 4: A photograph taken during the discovery of the second cache of Deir el-Bahari

Fig. 4: A photograph taken during the discovery of the second cache of Deir el-Bahari

©Archives Daressy, Collège de France

4Hence, according to Jean-Vincent Scheil’s list, the lot III, which consists of four coffins, three shabti boxes and six shabtis was sent to Turkey (Scheil 1898).

5This lot is not the only remain from the ancient city of Thebes to be found among the Egyptian Collection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, as some artefacts found by French archaeologist E. Grebout from the surroundings of Thebes were also sent under the Khedive Abbas Hilmi Pasha’s authority. Furthermore, the whole Egyptian collection of the museum consists of discoveries from archaeological digs, arrivals from private collections and accidental findings (Uzunoğlu 1982: 2-3).

The Shabtis

6The word “shabti” means slavery works, “works” or “duty” in the kingdom edicts. In the Old Kingdom transcripts, one identifies the term “fulfilling the duty”; while in shabti transcripts, the words “mission” and “duty” have been used (Bakir 1947: 15-22).

7According to J. Yoyotte, the meaning of these mummy shaped figurines are complicated. These figurines may be used as substitutes for servants in order to perform the duties of the deceased in the afterlife (Yoyotte 1972: 190-191).

8The statuettes date back from the Third Intermediate Period and the 21st Dynasty. These flat mummiform shabtis are well shaped and painted. The details, like the headband, the eyes, the two hoes on their chest, the bag on their backs and the inscriptions giving the owner’s names were painted in black colour. The glaze applied on shabtis from these dynastic periods catch the eye thanks to their beautiful blue colour.

9The most distinctive feature of the shabtis of the Deir el-Bahari Amun priests is the cobalt blue colour with black glazed details on the wigs, the eyes, and framing the colourful parts and the outer contours of the body, writing symbols and describing the utensils. Black is the colour of Osiris’ body. This god has been called as the “black god” since the Middle Kingdom and the deceased who is associated with Osiris has been assumed to leave Flame Island as the “great black”. Objects belonging to tomb inventories are generally black.

10However, the striking colour of the glaze applied on these figurines is a clear bright blue, also called the Deir el-Bahari blue.

11In Ancient Egypt, the meanings of the colour blue are manifold: Found in nature on the blue lotus flowers (Nelumbo nucifera), it became a part of Egyptian fashion. Blue is also the colour of the lapis lazuli stone, which is used on the hair of the god figurines and is also the colour of the bodies of Ra-Horakhte, Amun-Ra and Osiris. Often and for obvious economic reasons, instead of using lapis lazuli stones, a blue coloured glaze is applied on the ceramic. In the case of the shabtis, mastering the blue glazing process gave access to mass production.

12Blue is also supposed to bear magical and religious properties: it represents the colour of the sky and water just as green is the colour of vitality and the plants. Blue is also associated with birth and rebirth, fertility and the seasonal Nile flood, hence the birth cycle.

13Gaston Maspero says that those kinds of glaze layers have played a protective role against the damage caused by other people’s ill-usage (Maspero 1908: 285). But the transparent effect of the glaze on the surfaces of the shabti figurines, might be regarded as a polished look symbolizing the lightening and shining of the holy body of the deceased.

The Turkish Lot III: 6 Shabti figurines from the Bab el-Gasus Cache (Scheil 1898: 42-47)

14wsr-HA.t-ms (Aubert et al. 1998: 59). Inv.10182, Inv.10194 (Userhatmes) Osiris Truthful Userhatmes(Faience, blue, H. 12.2 cm)

15Imn-mr.t (Aubert et al. 1998: 68). Inv.10285 (Amenmerit) Osiris Meretimen” “Beloved of Amun(Faience, blue, H. 10.4 cm)

16tA-Sd-xnsw (Aubert et al. 1998: 98). Inv.10305 (Tashedkhonsu) Khonsu saved her(Faience, blue, H. 10.2 cm)

17pAy.f-aDr (Aubert et al. 1998: 62). Inv.10189 (Payefadjer) Pure-priest and the lector priest(Faience, blue, H. 9.5 cm)

18Ns-pA-qA-Sw.tj (Ranke 1977: 175). Inv.10199 (Nesipakashuty) “He who belongs to the one with the tall double feather crown” (Faience, blue, H. 12.7 cm).

  • 3 Hülya (Tekdal) Aykul 1999, "Istanbul Archeology Museum / Ancient Orient Museum and The Shabti Kept (...)

19The Istanbul Archeology Museums received six shabtis (Fig. 5) which were in perfect condition as the ones sent to other countries (Table 1). More information about the shabti figurines in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums can be found in H. Tekdal Aykul’s master’s thesis as not all of them are on display at the museum3. In Tekdal Aykul’s thesis, the origins of these figurines, their appearances, the shabti terminology, the ones that are lost, their iconographies, the techniques and raw materials used in the production as well as their trade are examined in detail and a typology had been formed according to the forms and techniques, and then compared to the identified shabti figurines accessible through different indexes and publications.

Fig. 5: The shabti collection from the Third Intermediate Period at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums

Fig. 5: The shabti collection from the Third Intermediate Period at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums

T. Bilgili, 1996

Table 1: Distribution list of the shabtis

Table 1: Distribution list of the shabtis

Shabtis presented by the Khedive –not included in the original list:
K 7 GERMANY: Imn-pr-Mwt 11943b [uncertain]; mHw-nDm 11961.
K 10 USA: Ast-m-Ax-bit A154910* [the second specimen of this group is given inv. no. A461104]
K 16 DENMARK:mHw-nDm 3982; tA-wDA.t-Ra 3983
K17 VATICAN: Lot 17 was presented to the Vatican at a later time. Hence, the statuettes included in the lot may differ considerably from lots 1-16

D. Miguel Ángel Escobar, 2016

  • 4 When we compared all the given inventory numbers in this catalogue, we noticed some errors: for ins (...)
  • 5 Information communicated by Jean-Luc Bovot (Louvre, Paris) 1996.

20In 1998, L. Aubert (Aubert 1998) published a detailed catalogue of the shabtis which were found in the second cache at Deir el-Bahari and scattered in different museum and collections all over the world. The above-mentioned shabtis are also listed in that catalogue4 and they have been compared to the similar artefacts at the Louvre Museum5.

The Shabti Boxes and the Coffins

21Our study makes up for the shabti catalogues already published in many countries. But there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered. Further research is needed in order to discover the complete story of the priests of Bab el-Gasus. For instance, more research can be made at the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, where according to Scheil’s work, there are three shabti boxes and also coffins from the Bab-el Gasus cache (Scheil 1898: 14, 15, 21). As is known, the main sources for the Bab el-Gasus cache are the articles written by Georges Daressy, the French Egyptologist who cleared the coffins and funerary artefacts from the tomb. Daressy gathered the below-mentioned information about the coffins that have been sent to Turkey. These coffins are recorded in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums index as: Daressy List (Daressy 1910: 5, 9-10). These coffins are not yet analysed in detail and might well be, together with the boxes, a forthcoming case study in order to fully present the Bab el-Gasus Turkish Lot III/1891 and open new ways to look at the tomb of the priests and priestesses of Amun as a whole, more than a century after its discovery.

Conclusion

22A shabti is a figurine representing a servant in Ancient Egypt, assigned to run the necessary tasks for the deceased person it was associated with. The grave goods could vary in quantity according to the financial status of the deceased. It had not been possible to fully answer all the research questions in this short examination. For example, the glazed ceramic figurines found at the site of Erythrae in Western Anatolia (Gültekin 1968: 7) do show strong relations with Egypt and are one of the testimonies shedding light on the very broad commercial and cultural networks between Egypt and Anatolia during that time. These artefacts should be studied separately and dated more definitely. We believe there are thousands of artefacts in museums and private collections in Turkey to be examined in terms of both Egyptian archaeology and Egyptian-Anatolian cultural relations. Thus, we wish this note would draw attention and interest towards the renewal of research on this matter.

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Bibliographie

Aubert, L., Bulte J., Yoyotte J., 1998: Les statuettes funéraires de la Deuxième Cachette à Deir el-Bahari, Paris, Librairie Cybèle.

Bakir, A. M., 1947: “Slavery in Pharaonic Egypt” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Égypte 45: 15-22.

Daressy, G., 1900: “Les sépultures des prêtres d’Ammon à Deir el-Bahari”, Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Égypte 1: 141-148.

Daressy, G., 1910: Turkey - Istanbul Archeology Museum. Daressy List A No: 42, 45 p: 5; No: 63 p: 9; No: 94 p: 10.

Gültekin, H., 1968: “Erythrae Kazısında Bulunan Fayans Figürinler”, Türk Arkeoloji Dergisi 17/2: 101-116.

Maspero, G., 1908: “Sur une variété des figurines funéraires inconnues jusqu’à présent”, Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Égypte 9: 285-286.

Niwinski, A., 1984: “The Bab el-Gusus Tomb and the Royal Cache in Deir El-Bahri”, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 70: 73-80.

Ranke, H., 1935: Die Ägyptischen Personennamen, Bd. 1: Verzeichnis der Namen, Glückstadt, J.J. Augustin.

Ranke, H., 1952: Die Ägyptischen Personennamen, Bd. 2: Einleitung. Form und Inhalt der Namen. Geshichte der Namen. Vergleiche mit andren Name. Nachträge und Zusätze zu Band I. Umschreibungslisten, Glückstadt, J.J. Augustin.

Ranke, H., 1977: Die Ägyptischen Personennamen, Bd. 3: Verzeichnis der Bestandteile, Glückstadt, J.J. Augustin.

Scheil, J.-V., 1898: Monuments égyptiens : notice sommaire / Musée impérial ottoman, Constantinople, F. Lœffer.

Uzunoğlu, F., Ersay, I., Muslubaş, F., Yıldız, V., Donbaz, M. Eren, E., 1982: Eski Şark Eserleri Müzesi Rehberi, Istanbul, Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu.

Yoyotte, J., 1972: École pratique des hautes études, 5e section, Section des sciences religieuses. Annuaire. Tome 79, Paris, École pratique des hautes études: 157-195.

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Notes

1 Bab el-Gasus in Context. International Colloquium Lisbon, September 19-20, 2016: Tomb of the Priests and Priestesses of Amun, 1891-2016. Scientific Committee: Alessia Amenta, Kathlyn Cooney, Luc Delvaux, Helene Guichard, Christian Greco, Rene van Walsem, Lara Weiss; Organizing Committee: Rogério Sousa, Delfim Leao, Carmen Soares, Jose Augusto Ramos, Nuno Simoes Rodrigues, Antonio Matos Ferreira. https://babgasusconference.weebly.com/

2 I would like to express my personal thanks to Prof. Dr. Baha Tanman, Dr. Eric Jean, Prof. Dr. Jean Yoyotte, Dr. Lilliane Aubert, Jean-Luc Bovot for their helps during the preparation of my thesis; to Ms. Şahika Turan, Mr. Turgay Tuna and his beloved wife Josie Tuna for their helps during my interviews in Paris; to Mr. Turan Birgili for performing the photo shoots at Ancient Orient Museum-Istanbul; to Mr. Selahattin Yenice, responsible of Photography Laboratories at the Faculty of Letters-Istanbul University, to the Republic of Turkey Ministry Culture and Tourism and the Istanbul Archaeology Museums for their authorizations and kind welcome. My thoughts in Memoriam to Aksel Tibet from the French Anatolian Studies Institute (IFEA), who always welcomed me at the Institute and who, lately, encourage me to publish this note and to carry on with my studies and also, I will never forget the strong support given to me by Dr. Martin Godon (IFEA).

3 Hülya (Tekdal) Aykul 1999, "Istanbul Archeology Museum / Ancient Orient Museum and The Shabti Kept in Some Private Collections", Head Office of Library and Documentation, Istanbul University, (unpublished MA thesis). The shabtis in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums were examined with the permission (number #4911) issued by the General Directory of Cultural Heritage and Museums (KVMGM). During our studies at the Museum, neither the list prepared by G. Daressy nor the delivery documents have been found.

4 When we compared all the given inventory numbers in this catalogue, we noticed some errors: for instance no. 10191 does not originate from Bab el-Gasus but originates from the Royal Cache of Deir el-Bahari.

5 Information communicated by Jean-Luc Bovot (Louvre, Paris) 1996.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1: The location of Bab el-Gasus at Deir el-Bahari
Crédits N. Fletcher-Jones
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1026/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 196k
Titre Fig. 2: Gate of the Priests
Crédits A. Niwinski
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1026/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 156k
Titre Fig. 3: Bab el-Gasus
Crédits A. Niwinski
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1026/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 24k
Titre Fig. 4: A photograph taken during the discovery of the second cache of Deir el-Bahari
Crédits ©Archives Daressy, Collège de France
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1026/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 516k
Titre Fig. 5: The shabti collection from the Third Intermediate Period at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums
Crédits T. Bilgili, 1996
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1026/img-5.png
Fichier image/png, 2,1M
Titre Table 1: Distribution list of the shabtis
Légende Shabtis presented by the Khedive –not included in the original list:K 7 GERMANY: Imn-pr-Mwt 11943b [uncertain]; mHw-nDm 11961.K 10 USA: Ast-m-Ax-bit A154910* [the second specimen of this group is given inv. no. A461104]K 16 DENMARK:mHw-nDm 3982; tA-wDA.t-Ra 3983K17 VATICAN: Lot 17 was presented to the Vatican at a later time. Hence, the statuettes included in the lot may differ considerably from lots 1-16
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1026/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 2,7M
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Hülya Ataşcıoğlu Aykul, M. Baha Tanman et Miguel Ángel Escobar-Clarós, « A Note on the Turkish Lot III/1891 From the Bab el-Gasus Cache (Egypt), Kept at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums / Ancient Orient Museum »Anatolia Antiqua, XXVII | 2019, 145-151.

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Hülya Ataşcıoğlu Aykul, M. Baha Tanman et Miguel Ángel Escobar-Clarós, « A Note on the Turkish Lot III/1891 From the Bab el-Gasus Cache (Egypt), Kept at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums / Ancient Orient Museum »Anatolia Antiqua [En ligne], XXVII | 2019, mis en ligne le 31 janvier 2022, consulté le 24 mai 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/1026 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/anatoliaantiqua.1026

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Auteurs

Hülya Ataşcıoğlu Aykul

art historian
info@hulyaatascioglu.com

M. Baha Tanman

Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
bahatanman@hotmail.com

Miguel Ángel Escobar-Clarós

Escuela de Arte Miguel Marmolejo, Melilla, Spain
melilla04@gmail.com

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