Photo courtesy of Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum
The statue of Hemiunu, enthroned
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, 2700 -2200 B.C.
Limestone, painted, from Giza
That this statue should occupy an entire gallery all be itself is intentional. When it was discovered in 1912 within its tomb in the shadow of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the academic community was caught by surprise. "It's an unheard of event," remarked a noted scholar of the day.
Today, almost every scholar concurs with the pronouncement of Dr. Adolf Erman, the then dominant personality of German Egyptology when he opined "This is the finest male statue that I know of from ancient Egypt!"
Such adulation from professionals for this statue is understandable when one realizes that Hemiunu was the nephew of Pharaoh Kufu, or Cheops as the Greeks called him, and served his uncle as vizier. It was Hemiunu, according to the inscriptions found in his tomb, who stood day after day on the Giza Plateau and directed the myriad numbers of workmen as they labored to erect the Great Pyramid, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as the final resting place of his uncle, Pharaoh Kufu.
To the chagrin of those who maintain that the great pyramids were erected by aliens from outer space or those symbolists who swear that the Great Sphinx was erected by citizens of some long-lost anti-deluvian culture, Hemiunu sits, solidly and serenely, as an eternal witness of his singular contribution to ancient Egyptian civilization.
His corpulence is symbolic, and is to be regarded as a sign of rank, indicative of the prosperity and advantaged position enjoyed by the privileged elite of ancient Egypt's Pyramid Age.
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