Putting Them Back Together Again: The Story of the Old Kingdom Prisoner Statues in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum

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Every month, ARCE offers an online lecture featuring research and experts in the fields of Egyptology and Archaeology to its membership. If you are a member of ARCE and would like to attend, please register using the form available below.

Check out what we have in store for this month!


October 25, 2020 at 3:00 PM ET/ 9:00 PM EET

Tara Prakash 

"Putting Them Back Together Again: The Story of the Old Kingdom Prisoner Statues in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum "

During the late Old Kingdom, pharaohs had nearly life-size statues of kneeling, bound foreign captives erected within their pyramid complexes.  Today two unprovenanced examples of these unique statues, which are known as prisoner statues, are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art while a third one is in the British Museum. All three arrived at these museums fully reconstructed and restored.  In this lecture, I will discuss both the ancient and recent history of these statues.  Archival documents and ultraviolet-induced luminescence imaging of the Met statues demonstrates the extent of the statues’ restoration and enables new conclusions on their original context and purpose.  In the late Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had intentionally broken these prisoner statues into pieces.  This talk will retrace the journey of the pieces around the world and consider when, how, and why they were put back together.

About Tara Prakash:

Dr. Tara Prakash is Assistant Professor of Ancient Art at the College of Charleston.  She received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University with a specialty in the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt.  Dr. Prakash has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Johns Hopkins University, and she previously was the W. Benson Harer Egyptology Scholar in Residence at California State University, San Bernardino.  Her research focuses on issues of ethnicity and identity, foreign interactions, artistic agency, and the visualization of pain and emotion in ancient Egypt.  Her current book project is the first comprehensive study on the prisoner statues, a unique series of Egyptian statues that depict kneeling bound foreigners. 

Photo: Gregory Maka

Registration will close 48 hours before the lecture start. Registration does not include any future lectures in this series.