Votive sculpture of Amenhotep, son of Hapu

A free-standing sculpture representing a noble with an upright body, legs bent and kneeling on the floor. He is wearing a wig typical of the New Kingdom with locks of wavy hair both in front and back of the wig. He is wearing a collar with an engraved “ib” (heart) on the left side, a royal cartouche, probably a cartouche of the pharaoh Seti I, father of Ramses II. Due to the small size of the hieroglyphs this cannot be known for certain. He is holding a table for offerings in the form of the hieroglyph “htp” (to designate offerings). A round loaf of bread and a container for liquids can be seen. The entire figure is resting on a rectangular vertical pillar on which remains of some hieroglyphic writing can be made out only with difficulty. One of the odd characteristics of this figure is the presence of some folds across the stomach of the individual, perhaps indicating a rich diet and therefore high social status. All these characteristics lead us to identify the figure as that of Amenhotep, son of Hapu.

Amenhotep, son of Hapu was an ancient Egyptian architect, a priest, a scribe, and a public official, who held a number of offices under Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty.

He is said to have been born at the end of Thutmose III's reign, in the town of Athribis (modern Banha in the north of Cairo). His father was Hapu, and his mother Itu. Though little about Amenhotep's early life is known prior to his entering civil service, it is believed that he learned to read and write at the local library and scriptorium. He was a priest and a Scribe of Recruits (organizing the labour and supplying the manpower for the Pharaoh's projects, both civilian and military). He was also an architect and supervised several building projects, among them Amenhotep III's mortuary temple at western Thebes, of which only two statues remain nowadays, known as the Colossi of Memnon, and the creation of the quarry of El-Gabal el-Ahmar, nearby Heliopolis, from which the blocks used to create the Colossi were probably taken. Other plans, such as the portico of the Temple of Karnak, completed under Ramesses II, and those for the Luxor Temple are also attributed to Amenhotep. He may also have been the architect of the Temple of Soleb in Nubia. Amenhotep is noted to have participated in Amenhotep III's first Sed festival, in the 30th year of the king's rule. After this, he is believed to have retired from civil service and become the steward of Princess Sitamun's properties (similar to an asset manager today), and received honours such as the designation of Fan-bearer on the Right Side of the King, among other things. According to some reliefs in the tomb of Ramose, he may have died in the 31st year of Amenhotep III, which would correspond to either 1360 BC or 1357 BC, depending on the chronology used. His death has also been dated to the 35th year of the king.

Amenhotep was allowed to build his mortuary temple adjacent to that of the pharaoh. This honour is quite rare and indicates that Amenhotep was highly respected by the time of his death, despite the fact that he was a commoner and had only entered civil service at an advanced age, in his late forties. Excavated in 1934 or 1935, it measures 45 × 110 metres and is surrounded by three shrines. His first courtyard contained a 25 x 26 m water basin of considerable depth, fed by groundwater from the Nile. Twenty trees were planted in pits around the basin. The temple at the end of the courtyard was adorned with a pillared portico, and the temple was slightly elevated on a terrace.

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