Monday, 8 July 2019

An Ancient Egyptian “Saint” in Swansea: Fragments of the Sarcophagus of Amenhotep Son of Hapu

Last Tuesday I went with some of the South Asasif Conservation Project team members to Mohamed Abdulla’s restaurant for some lunch. This was also an opportunity to say goodbye to Marion Brew, our main archaeologist at the site. Aside from the excellent food, the restaurant is located opposite the scant remains of the memorial temple (fig. 1) of Amenhotep son of Hapu (Robichon & Varille 1936). Amenhotep was the most famous official of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned c. 1386-1349 BC. He was an architect, priest, scribe, and public official who is known from his many statues (Galán 2003). After his death, his reputation grew and he was respected for his teachings and as a philosopher. He was also revered as a healer and eventually worshipped as a god of healing. Some Egyptologists refer to him as an ancient Egyptian “saint” (Wildung 1977; Murnane 1991).

Fig. 1: Examining the remains of the temple (photo by Sharon Davidson)

So what does Amenhotep son of Hapu have to do with Swansea? Well, one of the prized possessions of the Egypt Centre, and the one that most Egyptologists often get excited about, are two fragments of the sarcophagus of Amenhotep son of Hapu (W1367a & W1367b). These fragments (figs. 2–3), which are carved out of granodiorite, originally formed part of the inner sarcophagus of this official. They were acquired by “Llewellyn”, an agent of Sir Henry Wellcome, in 1906 as part of the collection of Robert de Rustafjaell (lot 99) for the sum of £2/10. This lot is described as a “head of a king in sandstone (modern colouring); and eight varied fragments, etc., some of Roman date”. The catalogue also notes that the lot consisted of nine objects. Small round stickers containing the lot details are attached to both objects. In fact, it seems that there were at least three fragments of the sarcophagus sold as part of this lot. W1967a actually consists of two fragments glued together at an unknown date, both of which contain auction labels.

Fig. 2: W1367a

Amenhotep is known to have had two sarcophagi, both in granodiorite (Varille 1968, 113–120). While the outer sarcophagus was carved in sunk relief, the inner one contained raised relief. As a result, the fragments in the Egypt Centre can be attributed to the inner sarcophagus. Both sarcophagi were reconstructed on paper by Alexandre Varille (1909–1951), although he was unaware of those in Swansea. Fragments are known in the Cairo Museum, British Museum, Petrie Museum, the Louvre, the Musée de Grenoble, the Musée du Cinquantenaire à Bruxelles, and Stockholm (private collection).

Fig. 3: W1367b

W1367a (fig. 2) contains the legs of a deity, with two columns of hieroglyphs in front and a thicker column of hieroglyphs behind. The latter has the hetep element of the owner’s name, which is followed by a seated determinative and the epithet mꜣꜥ-ḫrw, “true of voice”. The two lines in front would have listed some of the many titles of Amenhotep, although only that of i͗ry-pꜥt (“member of the elite”) can be firmly read. Most interesting is that W1367a clearly joins directly with the fragment housed in the Musée du Cinquantenaire à Bruxelles (E.03059), as can be seen in figure 4. This join provides the full height of the sarcophagus base and the thick column of hieroglyphs behind the deity: ṯꜣy-ḫw ḥr wnmy n nswt i͗ry-pꜥt I͗mn-ḥtp mꜣꜥ-ḫrw (fan-bearer on the right side of the king, member of the elite, Amenhotep, true of voice).

Fig. 4: W1367a (bottom) virtually joined with Brussels E.03059 (top)

W1367b (fig. 3) contains the upper half of a jackal divinity (either Anubis or Duamutef) who is surrounded by columns of hieroglyphs. Once again, they contain the titles of Amenhotep: i͗ry-pꜥt ḥꜣty-ꜥ (member of the elite, mayor); i͗my-r mšꜥ n nb tꜣwy (overseer of the army of the lord of the Two Lands); and ṯꜣy-ḫw ḥr wnmy n nswt (fan-bearer on the right side of the king). The remaining title behind the deity can be reconstructed as i͗my-r šnwty n(t) [I͗mn] (overseer of the double granaries of Amun, one that does not seem to have been otherwise attested for Amenhotep. A reconstruction of the sarcophagus incorporating of the Swansea fragments was made some years ago by the late Anthony Donohue (fig. 5).

Fig. 5: Reconstruction of the interior sarcophagus with Egypt Centre fragment in grey

Over lunch (fig. 6) we discussed the life and career of Amenhotep, contemplating where he may have been buried and whether his tomb remains to be (re-)discovered. The most likely location seems to be the slopes of Qurnet Murai, where a number of his funerary cones were unearthed (Bidoli 1970). This hillside also contains the tomb of Merymose (TT 383), the viceroy of Kush during the reign of Amenhotep III, whose inner sarcophagus of granodiorite (BM EA 1001) displays many parallels with that of Amenhotep son of Hapu.

Fig. 6: Drinks at Mohamed Abdulla’s

Bibliography:
Bidoli, D. (1970) ‘Zur Lage des Grabes des Amenophis, Sohn de s Hapu’. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 26: 11–14.
Galán, J. M. (2003) ‘Amenhotep Son of Hapu as Intermediary Between the People and God’. In Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists, Cairo, 2000 2, ed. Z. A. Hawass and L. P. Brock. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. 221–229.
Murnane, W. J. (1991) ‘Servant, Seer, Saint, Son of Hapu, Amenhotep, called Huy’. KMT 2, 2: 8–13, 56–59.
Peterson, B. (1978) ‘A Sarcophagus Puzzle’. Chronique d’Égypte 53, 106: 222–225.
Robichon, C. and A. Varille (1936) Le temple duscribe royal Amenhotep, fils de Hapou, I. Fouilles de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 11. Cairo: l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale.
Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge (1906) Catalogue of the Collection of Egyptian Antiquities Formed in Egypt, by R. de Rustafjaell, Esq. Queen’s Gate, S. W. London: Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge.
Taylor, J. A. (2001) An Index of Male Non-Royal Egyptian Titles, Epithets and Phrases of the 18th Dynasty. London: Museum Bookshop Publications.
Varille, A. (1968) Inscriptions concernant l’architecteAmenhotep fils de Hapou. Bibliothèque d’étude 44. Cairo: Institut français d’Archéologie orientale.
Wildung, D. (1977) Egyptian Saints: Deification in Pharaonic Egypt. New York, NY: New York University Press.

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