Statue of Sobekneferu

The Statue of Sobekneferu was a sculpture of the ancient Egyptian queen Sobekneferu (about 1800 BC), who reigned during the 12th Dynasty.

Bust of a woman, now identified as Sobekneferu; Berlin Egyptian Museum 14475

The bust with the ruler's preserved face is the first known statue of the queen with a face. The sculpture was kept in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, but was lost in World War II. The bust was bought in 1899 (inventory no. 14475). The bust was about 14 cm high and made of greywacke. The identity of the woman shown was for a long time unknown,[1] as the piece is uninscribed. The face of the woman shows clearly signs of age and dates therefore stylistically to the late Middle Kingdom, when most sculptures show people no longer ageless young as in other periods of Egyptian history. Today, the bust is known from photographic images,[2] and also from preserved plaster casts.

The Egyptologist Biri Fay was able to locate the remaining part of the statue. It is now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA 24.742, 21.4 cm high[3]), but was once found in the temple of Taharqa in the Nubian fortress of Semna.[4] The lower part of the statue is also uninscribed but shows on the throne the hieroglyphic signs uniting the two lands (zm3-t3wy). This is a royal symbol and only attested for kings. Therefore, this (now photographically united) statue shows a woman that ruled as king and must belong to Sobekneferu, the only ruling queen of the late Middle Kingdom.[5] There are several statues known belonging to this ruling queen. However, each one is headless.


  1. ^ Biri Fay proposed already in 1988 Sobekneferu as the women depicted: B. Fay: Amenemhat V -Vienna/Aswan, in: Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Kairo 44 (1988), 74-75, note 64
  2. ^ see for example: Hedwig Fechheimer: Die Plastik der Ägypter. Cassirer, Berlin 1914, plates 57–58; B. Fay: Amenemhat V -Vienna/Aswan, in: Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Kairo 44 (1988), pl. 29c
  3. ^ Lower body fragment of a female statue seated on a throne. Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
  4. ^ Dows Dunham, Jozef M. A. Janssen: Second cataract forts. Band 1: Semna Kumma. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1960, 33, plate 40.
  5. ^ Biri Fay, R. E. Freed, T. Schelper, Friederike Seyfried: Neferusobek Project: Part I. In: G. Miniaci, W. Grajetzki (editors): The World of Middle Kingdom Egypt (2000–1550 BC) Contributrions on Archaeology, Art, Religion, and Written Sources. Band 1, Golden House Publications, London 2015, ISBN 9781906137434, 89-91. online