One of Egypt’s most famous faces is also one of her greatest mysteries.
The Seated Scribe is one of the masterworks of The Louvre’s Egyptian collection, his right hand eternally poised to write.
French Egyptologist, Auguste Mariette discovered the scribe in 1850 in a ruined mastaba bordering the avenue of sphinxes leading to the Serapeum at Saqqara.
What mesmerises most people are the Seated Scribe's extraordinarily life-like eyes. These are rimmed with copper which emulate the makeup that elite Egyptians wore, and inlaid with polished crystals. On the back of the eye is a layer of organic material which creates the colour of the iris.
Unfortunately the precise find spot has been lost and the statue bears no inscription to tell us who he is. The man's name and prestigious titles were likely carved on the statue’s missing base.
The amazing craftsmanship however, and the style of the work tells us he was probably a son or grandson of one of the kings of the Old Kingdom.
Mariette himself often referred to the statue as the 4th Dynasty vizier Pehernefer, whose inscribed statue was found near the Seated Scribe, and which bears a passing resemblance to the Seated Scribe. However until the tomb itself is rediscovered—hopefully with the missing base—the man who wished to be remembered as a person of sophistication will remain sadly anonymous.
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