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Sceptre

Sceptre

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1425 BC (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Turquoise-glazed crushed quartz composition known as faience. This same term is used for much later French tin-glazed earthenware but it is not at all the same material. The quartz composition is best-suited to modelling and moulding, and was invented in Egypt or Mesopotamia. It was probably a by-product of stone-working rather than potting. First used to make beads from about 4000 B.C., it was later used for amulets, figures of various sizes, vessels, tiles and other object types. Faience was glazed long before glaze was used on pottery - the latter only developed about 1600BC. Faience glaze is transparent and formed of alkali silicates (silica, soda, potash lime). It was first coloured only with copper oxide to form blues and greens emulating semi-precious stones such as turquoise, lapis lazuli and azurite but under the New Kingdom, other mineral oxides such as antimony, lead and cobalt were sometimes added to give other colours.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by H.M. Kennard, Esq. (through Prof. Flinders Petrie, University College, London)

  • Museum number:

    437-1895

  • Gallery location:

    World Ceramics, room 145, case 45

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Physical description

Uas (ritual sceptre or staff) of turquoise-glazed composition or faience. Decoration consists of vertical bands, pear-shaped dots and diaper ornament on the arms, all in manganese, and a central vertical inscription in hieroglyphics which is the full titulary of Amenhotep II (Greek: Amenophis II, reigned 1427-1400 B.C.). Two cartouches also bear his name. The animal head probably represents the god Seth as the uas was found in a temple dedicated to him. The arms are broken off at the elbows but their acute angle suggests that they might originally have held a standard or have been raised in adoration. The stem terminates in vestigial legs.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)

Date

ca. 1425 BC (made)

Materials and Techniques

Turquoise-glazed crushed quartz composition known as faience. This same term is used for much later French tin-glazed earthenware but it is not at all the same material. The quartz composition is best-suited to modelling and moulding, and was invented in Egypt or Mesopotamia. It was probably a by-product of stone-working rather than potting. First used to make beads from about 4000 B.C., it was later used for amulets, figures of various sizes, vessels, tiles and other object types. Faience was glazed long before glaze was used on pottery - the latter only developed about 1600BC. Faience glaze is transparent and formed of alkali silicates (silica, soda, potash lime). It was first coloured only with copper oxide to form blues and greens emulating semi-precious stones such as turquoise, lapis lazuli and azurite but under the New Kingdom, other mineral oxides such as antimony, lead and cobalt were sometimes added to give other colours.

Marks and inscriptions

Aa.kheperu.ra, Amenhetep (Cartouche I). Neter.heq.uast (Cartouche II). Horus, Strong Bull, Possessor of Might, Heir of the Two Ladies i.e. the patron goddesses of the north and south, crowned in Thebes???King of the North and South, Ankheperura Son of the Sun, Amenhotep, Divine Ruler of Thebes, May he live like Ra for ever! (central vertical inscription, translated).

Dimensions

Weight: 65.0 kg, Height: 215.9 cm, Width: 25.0 cm, Depth: 48.2 cm

Object history note

Prof. W.M. Flinders Petrie DCL found the Uas in fragments in 1894 in a chamber of the temple of the god Seth, Lord of Nubt, Naqada region (Greek: Ombos; modern name: Tukh) opposite Koptos (Quft), Upper Egypt. This temple was built by Thutmose I (Greek:Tuthmosis I). H. Martyn Kennard, who presented the Uas to the Museum, was Petrie's financial backer.

Amenhotep II was renowned as a good horseman and fast rower. The first nine years of his reign were spent in military campaigns asserting Egyptian power over revolts in vassal states. Peace and prosperity attended the remainder of his reign in which he occupied himself with temple building.

Historical context note

The Uas was an item of temple equipment. It was a kind of sceptre usually shown placed in the hands of gods as a symbol of their might. The hieroglyphic sign which looks like this sceptre equates to the Egyptian word w3s meaning 'power'. The object and sign also occur as an iconographic emblem and as an amulet of power that could be worn. In certain contexts, usually in relief, but also here, the staff itself has hands and arms.

Descriptive line

Uas (ritual sceptre or staff) of turquoise-glazed composition or faience, Egypt, New Kingdom: 18th Dynasty, about 1425 BC

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'Masterpieces of World Ceramics', ed. Reino Liefkes and Hilary Young, V&A Publishing, London, 2008
p.22-23 (Judith Crouch)
Cairo, Mus??e des Antiquit??s egyptiennes, Catalogue g??n??ral
no.24396, p.126, pl.XXIX. A similar sceptre with cartouche of Amenhotep II in The Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
W.M.F. Petrie and J.E. Quibell, 'Naqada and Ballas', London, 1896
68, pl.78
W.M.F. Petrie, Koptos, 1896
Lexikon der Aegyptologie, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 1972
Koptos entry
W.M.F. Petrie, 'Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt', 1909
p.111
W.M.F. Petrie, 'History of Egypt', 1896
vol.II, p.152
Henry Wallis, 'Egyptian Ceramic Art: the MacGregor Collection', London, 1898
pl.II
W.C. Hayes, 'The sceptre of Egypt', New York, 1953
p.285
Graham Parlett in Friends of the Petrie Museum Newsletter, 1997
Richard Parkinson, 'Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment', British Museum, London, 1999
Exhibition catalogue, pl.24a&b and p.138
Barbara Adams, 'Petrie's Manuscript Notes on the Koptos Foundation Deposits of Tuthmosis III' in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 61, 1975
pp.102-111
Barbara Adams, 'Egyptian Objects in the V&A Museum', in Egyptology Today, no.3, 1977
Barbara Adams, 'Egyptian Objects in the V&A Museum', 1978
L. McNaught, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology review, 69, 1983
190-192
Barbara Adams, 'Sculptured pottery from Koptos in the Petrie Collection', 1986

Labels and date

Monumental sceptre, Egypt,1427???1400 BC

The huge sceptre is the largest known example of ancient Egyptian faience.
Composed of powdered quartz rather than clay, faience was moulded or modelled by hand.
It was the first material to have a glaze, here coloured turquoise by the addition of copper.
The sceptre, a symbol of divine power, was found in fragments in a temple.
Its animal head probably represents the god Seth.
Composition with alkaline glaze (faience).
Inscription naming pharaoh Amenhotep II (ruled 1427???1400 BC)

Museum no. 437-1895
Given by H.M. Kennard, Esq. through Prof. Flinders Petrie, University College, London
[11/09/2009]

Production Note

Made in the New Kingdom: 18th Dynasty.

Categories

Ceramics

Collection code

CER

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Qr_O131268
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