MacGregor Man Statuette

This polished black basalt figure of a man wearing a hood and penis sheath was once in the collection of the Rev William MacGregor, and is said to have been found in the region of Naqada. Standing man, arms by sides with hands open, palms in, legs together. 

Details of eyes, eyebrows, and mouth clearly shown, nose and ears damaged, ears originally prominent with bored ear-holes. Long, pointed beard on chest, outline of beard shown, and hair.

MacGregor Man Statuette. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. AN1922.70
MacGregor Man Statuette. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. AN1922.70

The authenticity of this unique sculpture has been questioned, but several aspects of its dress and pose find parallels in early figurative art, such as the Hierakonpolis ivories and the Min colossi from Koptos.

It is possible that stone and ivory tags and tusks decorated with bearded heads are precursors of ‘MacGregor Man’.

Although the statuette may have come from a late Predynastic burial, it is perhaps more likely that, like the Hierakonpolis ivories, he was set up in a temple, possibly at Naqada or Hierakonpolis.

The statuette is known as MacGregor Man, after the Rev. William MacGregor in whose collection it was until 1922. The makers of early Predynastic sculptures knew as yet none of the conventions of later Egyptian art. This results in the curiously un-Egyptian impression their creations exert.

Predynastic Period, ca. 5000-3100 BC. Basalt, dimensions: 39.5 cm (height). Now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. AN1922.70