The Statue of Hemiunu (pronounced Hemi-you-knew)
Variously spelled: (Hemiun) (Hemyuwn) (Hem-Iwn) (Hemiunuw) (Heminunu) (Hem-on) (Hemon) (Hemin)
Not much is known of Hemiunu, sadly his mastaba was heavily damaged and looted in ancient times. What we do know is that Hemiunu (2570 BC) was a son of Prince Nefermaat and his wife Itet (Atet), a grandson of Pharaoh Sneferu (4th dynasty). While we do not know of his wives or children we do know he was one of 15 siblings. He was also a relative of Khufu and is considered to be the architect of the Great Pyramid.
We do not have much of him, but what we do have is spectacular. The statue of Hemiunu was found in a walled-up serdab of his mastaba (G4000) on March 12, 1912 by Herman Junker. A serdab is a chamber inside a mastaba containing a statue of the deceased.
The life size limestone statue is located in the Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim and measures out at: height at 155.5 cm (61 1/4 in), width of 61.5 cm (24 1/4 in), and a depth of 104.7 cm (41 1/4 in).
Ancient looters had devastated the mastaba looking for precious items. In the wall to the serbad they cut a hole for a small person or child to fit through. Once inside the petite robber could pass objects of worth including the eyes and gold casings around them through the opening. In gouging out, using forceful blows, the precious eyes and gold castings, one arm was broken and the head was severed at the neck.
“Man hatte sich damit begnügt, ein Loch in die Verschluß wand zu bohren, durch das dann etwa ein Junge (für einen erwachsenen Menschen war es zu klein) hineinkroch und da er weiter nichts außer der Statue fand, so zerschlug er wenigstens den Kopf, um das Kupfer und die feinen Steine, aus denen die Augen gebildet waren, mitzunehmen.” Junker, Hermann. Vorbericht über die zweite Grabung bei den Pyramiden von Gizeh vom 16. Dezember 1912 bis 24. März 1913. Vienna: Akademie der Wissenschaft, 1913. (page 155)
Google translation: “They had thus content, a hole in the closure wall to drill through the then about a boy (for an adult human, it was too small) crept and he’s all out of the statue found, so he smashed at least head to the copper and the fine stones from which the eyes were formed to take.”
The 1912 excavators could still see the head through the hole when the rubble and sand was removed, a ghastly sight with the gouged out eyes sitting there.
They removed the wall and rumble, carefully taking the broken head and the many fragments found laying them in a basket.
Once cleaned out the fairly intact statue was photograph leaning headless, his head now in a basket. We can see how the head remain on the body leaning against the corner preventing further damage if it had fallen onto the floor.
The head, arm, and body were then prepared for shipment to the Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim. Once at the museum the decision was made to restore the face, not unusual decision to restore broken statues, reliefs, etc. The art of conservation and restoration is a highly skilled field and goes on today at all museums.
In 1925 a relief fragment (Accession Number 27.296) was excavated by the Harvard University (Boston Museum of Fine Arts). This fragment showed the profile of the Hemiunu’s face. On the statue’s head nose was intact at the nostrils as evident in the picture of the head in the basket, however the profile of the nose was damaged. With this discovery the profile of the nose was determined. The relief was lent to Hildesheim in 1982, as a comparison piece to the statue but has since been return to the Boston Museum.
“So ist die auffallende Nasenlinie durch die Bruchstücke gesichert, der obere Teil der rechten Wange entsprechend der ganz erhaltenen linken modelliert, ebenso war durch den kleinen erhaltenen Mittelteil die Stirnlinie gegeben; nur eine Frag e muß wohl offen bleiben, ob die Augenbrauen, wie bei der Ergänzung angenommen wurde, einfach durch eine Erhöhung am Stirnbein angegeben oder durch einen Streifen oder Wulst eigens bezeichnet wurden; denn wie oben S. 63 gezeigt wurde, sind bei den Porträtköpfen beide Verfahren belegt.” Junker, Hermann. Gîza 1. Die Mastabas der IV. Dynastie auf dem Westfriedhof. Bericht über die von der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien auf gemeinsame Kosten mit Dr. Wilhelm Pelizaeus unternommenen Grabungen auf dem Friedhof des Alten Reiches bei den Pyramiden von Giza. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien Philosophisch-historische Klasse Denkschriften 69, Abhandlung 1. Vienna & Leipzig: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1929, (page 156)
Google Translation: “Thus, the striking nose line is through the fragments secured, the upper part of the right cheek modeled according to the left completely preserved, well was received by the small Midsection, where the brow line; just one question should probably remain open whether the eyebrows, was adopted as the supplement, just indicated by an increase in the frontal bone or referred by a strip or bead specially were; because as shown above p.63 was, at the portrait heads, both methods are occupied.”
The only question that was more of a guess by the restorers was the shape of the brow line as that part was obliterated in the gouging out of the eyes. In the end the restorers decided on a natural ridge than a protruding raised strip.
The restoration was never intended to look like a piece not restored thus why you can see in a picture the defining lines marking the statue and the filled in parts. The eyes were never replaced with crystals but just filled in with same material as the restorative arts.
“When the statue of Hemiunu was found by Hermann Junker in a serdab of mastaba G 4000 (figs. 109, 110), it was largely intact except for the face, which had been badly damaged around the eyes and nose, apparently by thieves digging out the inlays (particularly the casings of gold) from the eyes. Fortunately, a reasonable restoration could be made from a number of fragments found in the sand filling the serdab chamber. While the animation of the original eyes (probably rock crystal) could hardly be duplicated, their general shape was deemed recoverable; the line of the brow ridge seems to have been unambiguous, but the treatment of the eyebrow as a natural ridge rather than a plastically raised strip was a decision of the restorers. The shape of the nose was re-created from traces of its original contours on the face and from the relief depiction of Hemiunu (cat. no. 45) and is perhaps less satisfactory. Traces of color noted by Junker indicate that the statue had been fully painted. Sitting unusually far forward on a wide, block-shaped seat, Hemiunu wears a kilt that is tied with a rare type of knot. His hands rest on his knees, the right hand formed into a fist and the left with open and downward-facing palm.” Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids by the MET Museum of Art 1999 page 230 and page 232 for (cat. no. 45) referral
Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids by the MET Museum of Art 1999 page 230 and page 232 for (cat. no. 45) referral
Junker, Hermann. Vorbericht über die zweite Grabung bei den Pyramiden von Gizeh vom 16. Dezember 1912 bis 24. März 1913. Vienna: Akademie der Wissenschaft, 1913. Plat IV
Die Grabung auf dem Mastabafeld von Gizeh. Vienna: Akademie der Wissenschaft, 1912
Manuelian, Peter Der. “Hemiunu, Pehenptah, and German/American Collaboration at the Giza Necropolis (Giza Archives Project Gleanings: II).” In Antje Spiekermann, ed. Zur Zierde gereicht. . . Festschrift Bettina Schmitz zum 60. Geburtstag am 24. Juli 2008, HIldesheimer Ägyptologische Beiträge 50.
Junker, Hermann. Gîza 1. Die Mastabas der IV. Dynastie auf dem Westfriedhof. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien Philosophisch-historische Klasse Denkschriften 69. Vienna & Leipzig: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1929 PAGE 153 TO 156
The Great Pyramid: Ancient Egypt Revisited by John Romer page 88
Figures 37, 38, 39