He was kind of a big deal, ca. 4,300 B.C.
Yet for all of the wealth and status Mitri achieved in life, what captivates most people today is those eyes.
If there was one thing better than being a scribe in ancient Egypt, it was being an overseer of scribes. Theirs was an elite profession - and they knew it.
You could forgive the scribes for being a little conceited; they knew that everybody needed them.
If you wanted to plan a tomb, temple or pyramid, you needed a scribe. If you wanted to conduct a spot of international diplomatic correspondence, you needed a scribe. To collect taxes and tribute and keep the bureaucracy turning, you needed a scribe. And if you wanted to woo a pretty young lady in the next village with a love poem, you needed a scribe.
The scribes were in demand, and so could command high fees for their services. It is no wonder then that they used their earthly position to commission grand tombs to meet their needs for eternity.
Mitri lived during Egypt's late 5th Dynasty and served his pharaoh – possibly king Unas – around 2,400 BC. He built a large tomb at the south-eastern corner of the enclosure of the Step Pyramid, near King Unas' causeway.
When Mitri's tomb was discovered in 1926, a number of wooden statues of varying condition were found inside. One was in such a poor state that it was actually thrown away. This statue however, is a different story. It often has a mesmerizing effect on the viewer. It's the eyes.
The sculptor has ringed the eyes with copper and used beautiful rock crystals to give Mitri a calm gaze of deep grey. The grey crystals often appear blue in photos. It's a striking effect.
The rest of the statue shows Mitri sitting in the traditional pose of scribes with his legs crossed. He spreads a roll of papyrus on his lap and holds a pen in his right hand.
Mitri was among the elite group of literate individuals, and wanted to make sure that he was recognised in the afterlife as a man of wisdom and learning.
This amazing statue of Mitri now resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (JE 93165)
Photo: Matthias Lensing-Rossbach