Sarcophagus of the Vizier Gemenefherbak
The chest of the sarcophagus of the vizier Gemenefherbak is protected by a winged scarab, a personification of the reborn morning sun. On the back of the box, the deceased is shown twice worshiping the djed pillar, a symbol of Osiris, lord of the netherworld.
In spite of the size of the object and the hardness of the stone, the sculptors express all their virtuosity in the polish of surfaces and in a sophistication of detail that is typical for the 26th Dynasty.
Gemenefherbak was a vizier (a modern word derived from the Arabic wasir, “minister,” which we use to translate the Egyptian tjaty). As such, he was responsible for justice, a function symbolized by the pendant picturing the goddess Maat on his collar.
It is graywacke and, although it appears black, it is in fact a dark green stone with a very fine and homogenous grain, the quarries of which are located in the Wadi Hammamat, in the eastern desert, about 80 km from the ancient city of Coptos.
In order to extract this rock and bring it to the Nile Valley, it was therefore necessary to organise imposing expeditions, but this did not prevent the Egyptians from using graywacke almost without interruption from the Predynastic to the Roman Period for statues (also of great dimensions), cosmetic objects, architectural elements, but also large sarcophagi.
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, ca. 664-525 BC. Dimensions: lid 239 x 75 x 45 cm, box 239 x 75 x 53 cm. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 2201