Striding girl labelled with the name, “Tama”.

This wooden statuette of a young woman or girl called Tama, dates from the 18th Dynasty and was discovered at Medinet Gurob. Gurob, also known as Ghurab, Medinet Gurob or Kom Medinet Gurob is an archaeological site in Egypt, close to the Faiyum. In the New Kingdom it was the place of a palace and was called Merwer. This wooden statuette was found inside a tomb within the vicinity of the remnants of the palace

The remains of the palace were several times the target of excavations, the most important on by Guy Brunton and Reginald Engelbach from the 11th January – 6th April, 1920. The excavations found several cemeteries, some dating back to the Old Kingdom, but most of them belonging to the New Kingdom. Gurob is the provenance of many important finds, including a head of Queen Tiye, now in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin.

The tomb of which the statuette was found, held the two mummies and multiple grave goods. Among the grave goods were cosmetic vessels with the names of Queen Tiye and King Amenhotep III, and besides the head of one of the mummies was the wooden figurine with the name of “Tama” written upon the base.

Statuette of Tama. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 35057
Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 35057

This wooden figure stands 13.5cm tall, with paint of red upon the lips, and white and black for the eyes and hair. Most notably, she wears a beaded necklace, which is an additional piece of beaded jewellery, rather than just painted on. The necklace is made of colourful beads and has been wrapped around her neck and rests upon her chest.

The hairstyle of the figurine is how we can tell it shows so-called “Tama” at a youthful age. Egyptian children, or those still deemed youthful, were more often than not, depicted with a specific style of hair, which Egyptologists have coined as the, “side-lock of youth“.

The hairstyle usually consists of a bald head accompanied by a plait of hair growing from one side of the crown of the head. Sometimes, especially in the 18th Dynasty, specifically the Amarna age, the girls would also be seen with headpieces or wigs such as the one “Tama” is seen depicted in below; with the lengthy “side-lock” protruding out of a shorter headpiece and cascading down one shoulder.

Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 35057

This figure is in a striding pose, a pose which dates back to the Old Kingdom, and was popular within the age of the late 18th Dynasty. The figure is also depicted with the fleshy plump, curved feminine lines, reminiscent of other female figures of the Amarna age.

It would be rather peculiar to not mention the almost exact likeness this figurine has to a small limestone bust of an Amarna Princess, often referred to unofficially as Meritaten, and is now housed in the Louvre, Paris. However, this little wooden figure has been all but forgotten among the vast treasures at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and from what has been written about the piece tends to make no mention of the similarity.

All we say for now at Egypt-Museum, is that this wooden figure holds a strong resemblance to an Amarna Princess, but holds the mysterious name of “Tama”; a title that currently holds no known relevance to an Amarna princess, this is also despite the location of which it was discovered.

Musée du Louvre. E 14715

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, c. 1352–1334 B.C.
Found at Medinet Gurob
Now at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 35057

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