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To Live Forever - Egyptian Artifacts at the Brooklyn Museum

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Old Kingdom Head of a Nobleman
Head of a Nobleman

Head of a Nobleman, part of the Brooklyn Museum's exhibition of Egyptian artifacts called To Live Forever, February 12-May 2, 2010.

©Brooklyn Museum
Head of a Nobleman Old Kingdom
ca. 2650-2600 B.C.E.
Granite 6 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 6 in. (17.1 x 21.6 x 15.2 cm)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Brooklyn Museum

In 2010, the Brooklyn Museum presented an exhibition of Egyptian artifacts, called To Live Forever. The exhibition featured part of the Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund collection, which were taken from tombs dated between the Old Kingdom through the Roman period. This photo essay is built from photos provided by Brooklyn Museum.

Granite and the Old Kingdom

Granite, in particular the coarse pink and black granite used in making this Egyptian sculpture of a nobleman's head, was a building material used in many of the Old Kingdom monuments, many of which combined granite, sandstone, gypsum and limestone to awe-inspiring effect. The earliest burial structures built during the Early Dynastic period, were mastabas--simple rectangular structures built to house the dead and considered the precursors of the Old Kingdom pyramids--and they were often made of granite. The temple near the Sphinx on the Giza Plateau is made of granite, as is the Oseirion at Abydos.

Several stone quarries used by the Old Kingdom have been found throughout the Eastern Desert such as Gebel Manzal el-Seyl, where tuffaceous limestone was quarried. The coarse-grained, porphyritic pink and black granite used for this sculpture was likely from one of several quarries located in the Nile Valley south of Aswan.

Sources and Further Information

Klemm, Dietrich D. and Rosemarie Klemm. 2001. The building stones of ancient Egypt--a gift of its geology. Journal of African Earth Sciences 33(3-4):631-642

Liritzis, I., C. Sideris, A. Vafiadou, and J. Mitsis. 2008. Mineralogical, petrological and radioactivity aspects of some building material from Egyptian Old Kingdom monuments. Journal of Cultural Heritage 9(1):1-13

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