How was the Joseph statue reconstructed?

The following artwork was produced using Kodak PhotoCD images which had previously been made from transparencies taken in the Cairo, British and Louvre Museums. The images were then manipulated using Adobe Photoshop.

  • All that remains of the cult statue found in the pyramid tomb at Avaris is the upper part of the head and the right shoulder. The lower part of the face has been smashed off and the inlayed eyes gouged out.
  • Across the right shoulder you can see the upper part of the official’s sceptre of office – in this case a ‘throw stick’ which was the symbol of an Asiatic (a foreigner from Palestine/Syria).
  • Remnants of the original paint survive on the forehead and the neatly sculpted hair. The man was depicted with pale yellow complexion – the colour Egyptian artists used to distinguish northern foreigners from native Egyptians who were illustrated with brown complexions. The hair colour of the statue was flame red.

The first thing I had to do was to reconstruct the face. This was not such an easy task as I found it difficult to find an appropriate statue head that was in a reasonable enough state of preservation. I finally chose the famous statue of Osorkon I which was found at Byblos and now resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris. I pasted that into the statue head and repaired the nose with the following results.

It was then necessary to find a typical seated statue from the late Middle Kingdom to serve as the body of the statue. I chose the small statue of an Egyptian high official, named Nemtinakht, from the 13th Dynasty on exhibition in the Genf Museum. He is shown wearing a full-length cloak with the dedication inscription running down the centre in a vertical column of hieroglyphs.

The final step was to paint the statue in the typical colours of the day for Asiatic visitors to Egypt. The source for both the pattern and the colours was the famous wall painting from the tomb of Khnumhotep at Beni Hassan depicting a group of Asiatics entering Egypt. This painting would have been made just a generation before the time of Joseph in the New Chronology.

Putting all this together we end up with the restored statue of a high official of Asiatic origin who once lived in the eastern delta in the late 12th Dynasty. He resided in a palace at Avaris which had been constructed right at the beginning of the city’s life. In all probability he was the founder of the settlement – a settlement of semitic people from Palestine. This high official was buried in a pyramid tomb which, when opened by the Austrian archaeologists, was found to be empty, apart from the shattered remains of the statue. The big question is, could these broken fragments represent the surviving remains of one of the most valuable relics from Old Testament times – the cult statue of the patriarch Joseph? Time may eventually tell.

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  1. Andrew C Taha
  2. Andrew C Taha

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