Scribe statue of Nespakashuti

Artefact Details

Gallery number: 24- Ground Floor

Period:  Late Period

Dynasty: 26th dynasty, reign of Psamtek I Wahibre

Size: H 80.00 cm W 47.00 cm D/L 47.50 cm

Place of discovery: Thebes East, Karnak Temple (Ipet-Isut) Precinct of Amun, Court of the Cachette, Karnak Cachette

Material: Greywacke

Image Gallery

This statue depicts Nes-pa-ka–shuti, the Theban Vizier of King Psamtek I, in the typical pose of the scribes with cross legs. Seated scribes such as this indicate an attempt to emulate the Old Kingdom sculptural ideals, a characteristic element of the 26th Dynasty. He is depicted wearing a striped wig with no centre hair-parting and pinned behind his ears. He is wearing a short un-pleated skirt secured by an unadorned belt and his hands grip the edge of his kilt and an inscribed papyrus. There is no attempt to suggest he is holding a writing implement. His left foot disappears under his right leg, while the big toe of his right foot is visible from the front and the four others lie flat on the base of the statue. His nose and his both fists are chipped. A line of hieroglyphic inscriptions goes around the base of the statue in addition to sixteen vertical lines incised on his kilt, four on each side and eight in the middle, bearing his name and titles.

Scribes held a high position in ancient Egypt, as they were closely related to the pharaoh. There are many statues of seated scribes with a papyrus roll placed on their laps, on which they recorded many important State and private documents. A scribe would record the tax collection process and harvest calculations; they accompanied soldiers in military campaigns; and providing their services, especially in editing letters and wills and reading correspondence.

High quality papyrus was not available to everyone, therefore other more readily available materials could be used. Written documents have been found on recycled papyrus, pieces of wood, pottery and limestone. They could write on both sides of an object and at other times they used an impermeable adhesive on wood panels, in order to reuse a surface. Scribes used black ink to write texts, while red ink was for dates, titles and headings to distinguish them from the rest of the text or even in corrections. They used reeds as writing implements, allowing them to vary the line thickness. Reeds were held in a palette, usually made of wood, which had depressions to hold the red and black inks.