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Monday, July 1, 2019

Egypt Centre Collection Blog: The Ushabtis of the Divine Adoratrice Qedmerut


https://egyptcentrecollectionblog.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-ushabtis-of-divine-adoratrice.html

Monday, 1 July 2019

The Ushabtis of the Divine Adoratrice Qedmerut

In 2016 I was invited to Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) to participate in a conference relating to the excavations of the tomb of Karomama within the Ramesseum complex. Since the Ramesseum lies just across the road from the South Asasif necropolis, we are fortunate enough to see the temple of Ramesses II every day (fig. 1). As an undergraduate student at Swansea University, I undertook a life-cycle project on a rather special ushabti in the Egypt Centre collection (W1315), which had been misidentified several times over the years. Based on the rather scant traces of her name on the front, along with the iconography of the figures, it was possible to identify her as the Divine Adoratrice Qedmerut.

Fig. 1: Sunrise at the Ramesseum

Of all the women to have held the prominent title of Divine Adoratrice (dwꜣt nṯr), Qedmerut is perhaps the most obscure. Though her exact chronological position is uncertain, the typology of her ushabti figures makes her likely the direct successor of Karomama G Merytmut in the mid Twenty-second Dynasty (late ninth–early eighth century BC). Qedmerut is known exclusively from her ushabti figures, which were discovered by the Egyptian Research Account (ERA) within the Ramesseum in the late 1890s (Quibell 1898). These figures were subsequently dispersed to the various institutions and benefactors who subscribed to the ERA, especially within the United Kingdom. W1315 (fig. 2) arrived in Swansea from the British Museum in 1980.

Fig. 2: Front of W1315

The ushabtis of Qedmerut are moulded in faience and are noteworthy for their rather coarse and pitted surfaces. Aston (2009, 241 & 357) identifies them as his "Type F", which he describes as having crossed bands holding two opposed hoes, a solid unpainted wig bound by a headband, and the face modelled in a more "naturalistic" manner. A uraeus, a feature commonly found on the ushabtis of the Divine Adoratrice, is modelled on the forehead. All the details have been painted in black ink over the bluish-green glaze: a seshed-headband, large eyes, thick brows, small hoes, and a rectangular seed-bag at the rear suspended from long cords (fig. 3). Additionally, a single column of hieroglyphs, identifying the owner, is located on the front. The figures measure approximately 10 cm in height, 3 cm in width, and 2.5 cm in depth.

Fig. 3: Back of W1315

Due to the poor quality of many of the ushabtis, the inscriptions have often faded or are only partially visible as a result of the surface flaking. Yet, even without the inscription present, a number of key identifiers can be noted, besides the poor quality faience used in the production. The first is the uraeus, which is only found on royal ushabtis, including those of the Divine Adoratrice. However, amongst the Divine Adoratrices of the Third Intermediate Period, only those of Qedmerut and Karomama G appear to wear one. The main difference between the figures of these two women is the size (Moje 2017). At a maximum of 10 cm in height, Qedmerut's ushabtis are significantly smaller than those of Karomama G, which have a minimum height of 13–14 cm (fig. 4). Thus, combining these elements can often lead to the identification of Qedmerut's ushabtis that have either a missing or partially damaged inscription.

Fig. 4: Ushabti comparison of the Divine Adoratrices Maatkare, Henuttawy, Mekhetemweskhet, Karomama, Qedmerut

The ushabtis of Qedmerut all contain a single column of text identifying the owner. Two main variants are attested, which I have designated as Type A and B (fig. 5). In both cases, the title of dwꜣt nṯr is enclosed within the cartouche, an arrangement that only occurs for the ushabtis of Henettawy D and Qedmerut. ln many cases the inscription has faded, although it is still possible from surviving traces to determine the type for almost all figures: Type A occurs fifteen times, Type B is found on twenty-five figures, while for eight of them it is impossible to determine. 

Fig. 5: Type of inscriptions on the ushabtis of Qedmerut

In the 2017 proceedings of the conference, I published a catalogue of the forty ushabtis of Qedmerut known to me. Since then, a further eight have come to light, some of which were kindly brought to my attention by Glenn Janes, thus bringing their number to forty-eight. These new examples are: one in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge (2006.152), at least six in the Pennsylvania University Museum (E1898, E14598, E14599, E14600E14670, E14672), one sold by the Helios Gallery in 2017, and another to be sold by Bonhams auction house on Wednesday 3 July 2019. With the recent rediscovery of Karomama's tomb within the Ramesseum complex (fig. 6), it is hoped that the burial place of Qedmerut will follow suit, perhaps shedding additional light on the identity of this mysterious woman.

Fig. 6: Shaft tomb of Karomama

Bibliography:
Aston, D. A. (2009) Burial Assemblages of Dynasty 21–25: Chronology - Typology - Developments. Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean 21; Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie 54. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Ayad, M. F. (2009) God's Wife, God's Servant: The God's Wife of Amun (ca.740–525 BC). London: Routledge.
Griffin, K. (2017) 'The Ushabtis of the Divine Adoratrice Qedmerut'. In De la mère du roi à l'épouse du dieu. Première synthèse des résultats de la fouille du temple de Touy et de la tombe de Karomama – Von der Königsmutter zur Gottesgemahlin. Erste Synthese der Ausgrabungsergebnisse des Tempels von Tuja und des Grabes von Karomama, ed. B. Lurson. Connaissance de l'Egypte Ancienne 18. Brussels: Safran. 145–155.
Lurson, B. and F. Mourot (2018) 'From the Foundations to the Excavation: A Stratigraphy-based History of the Temple of Tuya'. In Thebes in the First Millennium BC: Art and Archaeology of the Kushite Period and Beyond, ed. E. Pischikova, J. Budka and K. Griffin. GHP Egyptology 27. London: Golden House Publications. 193–213.
Moje, J. (2017) 'Die Uschebtis von Karomama Meritmut G – ein Überblick'. In De la mère du roi à l'épouse du dieu. Première synthèse des résultats de la fouille du temple de Touy et de la tombe de Karomama – Von der Königsmutter zur Gottesgemahlin. Erste Synthese der Ausgrabungsergebnisse des Tempels von Tuja und des Grabes von Karomama, ed. B. Lurson. Connaissance de l'Egypte Ancienne 18. Brussels: Safran. 103–112.
Nelson, M. (2003) 'The Ramesseum Necropolis'. In The Theban Necropolis: Past, Present and Future, ed. N. C. Strudwick and J. H. Taylor. London: British Museum Press. 88–94.
Quibell, J. E. (1898) The Ramesseum. Egyptian Research Account 2. London: Bernard Quaritch.
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