Cult Statue of Amenhotep I
A fine painted limestone statue depicting King Amenhotep I. After his death, Amenhotep I was deified and became a source of law and order for centuries. This piece is likely a cult sculpture dating to the 19th Dynasty.
King Amenhotep I was celebrated as the founder of the village of Deir el-Medina and divinized by the inhabitants of the settlement. This is why he is depicted as a divine figure in this statue. The statue is carved in limestone so pure and clear that it seems painted. It is an extremely pure and homogeneous limestone that lends itself particularly to the art of sculpture and being painted, as can be seen from the headgear and hieroglyphs.
There were two ways people could seek justice in ancient Egypt. The first was through the use of divine oracles, including a statue of the deceased and deified Amenhotep I, and a statue of the god Amun-Re. Priests would carry an oracular statue out of the temple, and litigants would present their cases to the statue. The divine answers were interpreted by the statue’s swaying movements.
The second way of seeking justice was through secular courts. Two major courts were located in Thebes and Memphis, and functioned like a high court. Lesser courts sat in smaller towns; they would handle local cases. If a serious crime originated in a lower court, it would be moved up to a major court.
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, ca. 1292-1189 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 1372