|Tiles from Medinet Habu (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: 03.1573, 03.1571, 03.1572, 03.1569)|
The first fragment is EC397a, which is the most obvious of the three (fig. 2). When rotated correctly, it is possible to identify the rear of a head, including the strands of the hair. Most importantly, directly above this are the remains of a horizontal feather. This feature was commonly worn by the Libyans, as shown in the tomb of Seti I (fig. 3). Egyptian sources describe Libyan men with long braided and beaded hair, neatly parted from different sides and decorated with feathers attached to leather bands around the crown of the head. Aside from their headdress, the Libyans were described as wearing thin robes of antelope hide, dyed and printed, crossing the shoulder and coming down until mid-calf length to make a robe.
|Fig. 2: Head of a Libyan (EC397a)|
|Fig. 3: Four Libyans from the tomb of Seti I (KV 17)|
The identification of the second fragment (EC398b) is much more difficult (Fig. 4). However, looking at parallels, it appears to depict the dress of a Nubian. At the top is a small rosette next to a small circle, which is similar to the decoration of the dress worn by the Nubian on British Museum EA 12293 (Fig. 5). Further similarity is also seen in the wavy line below this, while the small dots in a slight curve on the left side seem to correspond nicely to what looks like a sash in the British Museum fragment. Finally, the slightly ribbed section on the right can be interpreted as the folds of the dress.
|Fig. 4: Dress of a Nubian (EC398b)|
|Fig. 5: Nubian (British Museum EA 12293)|
The identification of the third fragment (EC397d) is much less certain, but it is possible that it represents part of the dress of a Shasu Bedouin (fig. 6). In particular, the fragment seems to be the section of the right shoulder with a blackish-brown dress containing a yellow diamond-shaped pattern. This is similar to one of the complete tiles in the Cairo Museum (JdE 36457g), which was excavated at Medinet Habu (fig. 7). While the irregular shape of this fragment might suggest that is broken, this is not the case. These faience tiles were composed of many small pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle to produce beautifully coloured figures.
|Fig. 6: Possible dress section of a Shasu Bedouin (EC397d)|
|Fig. 7: Shasu Bedouin (JdE 36457g)|
Just like the lapwing tiles presented in the previous blog post, the decorated faience tiles of foreigners originate from palaces, particularly the sites of Medinet Habu, Memphis, Tell el-Yahudia (Leontopolis), and Qantir. Since most seem to have been uncovered by the sebbakhin over a century ago, their exact context is not so clear. Despite this, some of these tiles have been found associated with the dais of the pharaoh.
Anthes, R. (1955) ‘Catalogue of Tiles and Other Inlays’. In The Excavations of Medinet Habu, IV: The Mortuary Temple of Ramses III, pt. II, ed. U. Hölscher. Oriental Institute Publications 55. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 42–47.
Anthony, F. B. (2017) Foreigners in Ancient Egypt: Theban Tomb Paintings from the Early Eighteenth Dynasty (1550–1372 BC). Bloomsbury Egyptology. London: Bloomsbury.
Daressy, G. (1911) ‘Plaquettes émaillées de Médinet-Habou’. Annales du service des antiquités de l’Égypte 11: 49–63.
Friedman, F., G. B. Dunn, and M. Leveque. eds (1998) Gifts of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Faience. London: Thames and Hudson.
Hayes, W. C. (1937) Glazed Tiles From a Palace of Ramesses II at Kantīr. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Papers 3. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.Lewis, T. H. (1882) ‘Tel-el-Yahoudeh (the mound of the Jew)’. Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 7: 177–192.