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Inscribed Headrest

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
The standard Egyptian headrest—the equivalent of the modern pillow—consisted of a curved neck support atop a pillar on an oblong base. When a head rested on a support, the combination of round and curved forms resembled the morning sun rising between two peaks, which is also the hieroglyph for “horizon.” Thus the sleeper was connected to the sunrise, a potent symbol of resurrection. Some modern Africans, particularly in Mali and Kenya, still sleep on headrests identical in design to ancient Egyptian examples.
DATES ca. 1818–1700 B.C.E.
DYNASTY late Dynasty 12 to early Dynasty 13
PERIOD Middle Kingdom
DIMENSIONS 9 x 9 3/8 x 4 7/16 in. (22.8 x 23.8 x 11.2 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Egypt Exploration Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden headrest in three parts with octagonal pillar inscribed in two columns with name and titles of Ht (Khet). Condition: One side of base has large gap; pillar badly split, rest chipped at one end. The headrest seems to be a re-used piece as the surfaces now containing inscriptions have very obviously been cut down, presumably to efface an earlier inscription.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
CAPTION Inscribed Headrest, ca. 1818–1700 B.C.E. Wood, 9 x 9 3/8 x 4 7/16 in. (22.8 x 23.8 x 11.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 14.650. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.14.650_NegA_print_bw.jpg)
IMAGE overall, CUR.14.650_NegA_print_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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