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AN EGYPTIAN SERPENTINE CYLINDER SEAL
AN EGYPTIAN SERPENTINE CYLINDER SEAL
AN EGYPTIAN SERPENTINE CYLINDER SEAL
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PROPERTY FROM A PRINCELY COLLECTION
AN EGYPTIAN SERPENTINE CYLINDER SEAL

OLD KINGDOM, 6TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF PEPY I, 2321-2287 B.C.

Details
AN EGYPTIAN SERPENTINE CYLINDER SEAL
OLD KINGDOM, 6TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF PEPY I, 2321-2287 B.C.
3 in. (7.6 cm.) high
Provenance
G. Michailidis, Zurich (no. 1021).
Antiquities, Sotheby's, London, 26 July 1976, lot 324.
Dr. Ulrich Müller, Zurich.
Private Collection, Switzerland.
A Swiss Private Collector; Antiquities, Christie's, New York, 3 June 2009, lot 2.
Literature
H. Goedicke, "Die Siegelzylinder von Pepi I," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 17, Wiesbaden, 1961, pp. 88-90.
P. Kaplony, "Die Rollsiegel des Alten Reiches I" in Monumenta Aegyptiaca 2, Brussels, 1977, pp. 91ff.
P. Kaplony, "Die Rollsiegel des Alten Reiches II" in Monumenta Aegyptiaca 3A, Brussels, 1981, p. 396, no. 37, pl. 109.

Lot Essay

This Old Kingdom seal is finely engraved with three columns of hieroglyphs, reading: “The King’s Noble, Companion of the House who does that which is commanded; the Royal Chamberlain of the Great House who does that which his Lord praises every day; the Horus Merytawy-Meryre.”

One of 47 cylinder seals known from the reign of Pepy I, this example is part of a smaller group of examples carved in serpentine with only a few vertical rows of inscription. Making use of the later form of Pepy’s Horus name (Merytawy-Meryre) which occurs after his first sed-festival, the seal features one longer vertical column of text, indicating that a new title was added later, perhaps representing a promotion to higher rank.

According to H. Goedicke (op. cit., pp. 69ff), this type of seal is an instrument that confirms the action of an official as a representative of the Pharaoh; this is why only the titles of the owner are mentioned and not his name. The seal becomes the visible attribute or symbol of an office and is therefore not personal property, which explains why such objects are not found in private burials.

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