Ancestor Busts

Limestone Ancestor Bust
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, c. 1200 B.C.
British Museum. EA73988

During early excavations of the worker’s village of Deir el-Medina, numerous anthropoid busts of limestone and clay, referred to as “ancestor busts” were found. French Egyptologist Bernard Bruyère (10 November 1879 – 4 December 1971), proposed the idea that these “ancestor busts”, rather than being funerary items or temple tributes, would have actually been a part of domestic life and possibly would have been placed within Ancient Egyptian households. Unfortunately, most of the busts lack any inscriptions, thus it is difficult to know who or what exactly these busts represent. it is however generally believed they would represent deceased loved ones, family members or friends. It is thought that the busts would essentially represent the deceased and therefore receive tributes from the living in the usual Ancient Egyptian form; incense, oils, floral tribute, and possibly food and drink.