Statue of King Mentuhotep II

This statue of King Mentuhotep II is made out of painted sandstone, represents a stepping-stone in the renaissance of Egyptian art at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. King Mentuhotep II is shown here seated, wearing the red Deshret crown of Lower Egypt, a knee-length white Heb Sed, or jubilee robe, and a ceremonial beard.

King Mentuhotep II founded the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (ca. 2050-1710 BC) when he reunited the country after many years of disorder and hostility after King Narmer. The king is portrayed with black skin and arms crossed on his chest to identify him with Osiris. The artist modeled the statue showing a well-built body and massive legs and feet. This shape depicts the ruler in a powerful form and shows no sign of any physical deformity.

Statue of King Mentuhotep II
Statue of King Mentuhotep II
Statue of King Mentuhotep II
Statue of King Mentuhotep II
Cartouche of King Mentuhotep II at the entrance pillar of the Khnum temple, Elephantine Island, Aswan.
Cartouche of King Mentuhotep II at the entrance pillar of the Khnum temple, Elephantine Island, Aswan.

The statue was found by chance in 1900 by Howard Carter as he rode through the forecourt of Mentuhotep’s mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahari, when his horse tripped on something. Upon investigation, this turned out to be a stone slab covering a shaft. Carter excavated it, and discovered a small chamber containing the statue intricately wrapped in linen, along with other artifacts.

Middle Kingdom, 11th Dynasty, reign of Mentuhotep II, ca. 2061-2010 BC. From the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahari, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 36195