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Still Waters

Mystery 'reserve heads' in Egyptian tombs

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Still Waters

IN 1894, THE FRENCH ARCHAEOLOGIST Jacques de Morgan made a perplexing discovery in the royal necropolis of Dashur. In a tomb dating around the reign of Snefru (beginning 2613 B.C.) during Egypt’s fourth dynasty, he found an odd sculpture of a human head. This object, known as a reserve head, has puzzled and inspired scholars for over a century.

In total, 31 reserve heads have been discovered. Of these, 27 were found in tombs at the royal necropolis of Giza, 15 miles southwest of Cairo. The sculpted heads, found in tombs of aristocrats and members of the royal family, including Princess Meretites III, share many common features. Sculpted during the Old Kingdom (2613-2181 B.C.), the heads are often made of limestone, with the bottom of the neck working as a sort of base to allow the object to stand.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/reserve-heads-ancient-egypt

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The Wistman
Posted (edited)

All were found in chambers below ground (not from funeral chapel, above ground) and were not in their original placement (disturbed by tomb robbers).  They seem like modern wig heads (which is probably unlikely) but they could have been used to support some kind of fancy headgear, perhaps of a sort that was made of precious materials and which the tomb robbers would immediately snatch.  JMWAG  ;)

Edited by The Wistman
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kmt_sesh

Hat racks. I like that. I've always liked the theory that the reserve heads represent some sort of ancestor worship. But to be honest, that might just be archaeology employing its trusted tactic of explaining the unexplainable with religion.

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kmt_sesh

The heads kind of remind me of the wooden mannequin found in Tut's tomb:

article-2227290-0168F3B7000004B0-768_306

We had this on display in the 2006 Tut exhibit.We spent awhile trying to figure out its purpose, and the majority view is that it was for holding and displaying some of the king's garments prior to his dressing in them.

But the deliberate and specific damage inflicted on so many of the reserve heads reminds me of the defacing of so many other statues down through dynastic history. This at least suggests that the bandits who had broken into the tomb, were viewing the stone heads as items with spiritual power and were trying to destroy the power by defacing them. Or they were just having fun. I would've painted unibrows on them.

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Nefer-Ankhe

They remind me of this mans head. 

Cap like hair, straight dead on stare, very fine facial features. 

 

Perhaps they were scribes? 

IMG_4784.PNG

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