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Pharaoh Offering an Image of Ma`at

This sunk relief depicts a pharaoh in totally traditional attire, inclucing the double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, and in an equally standard pose of offering. The offering itself is a conventional generic image of a goddess, identified as Ma'at by her feathers. The ritual performed symbolizes that pharaoh has discharged his traditional responsibility to preserve the Egyptians' universal order, personified as Ma'at.

Yet the style of the relief's carving dates it to the first century B.C. when the actual ruler would have been a traditional pharaoh only to a limited degree. He was either one of the later kings of the Macedonian Greek family of Ptolemy or the Roman emperor Augustus, who conquered Ptolemic Egypt but never lived there. The fact that he is portrayed in pure Egyptian form is just one example of how much Egyptian art represents enduring religious truths and symbolic reality.

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