The power of convention: reinterpreting social groups through a Middle Kingdom statuette

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Group statuettes, which are a relatively common type of Middle Kingdom artefact, have traditionally been interpreted as family groups. This article uses statuette AN1913.411 in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford) to explore this object type and question the extent to which modern preconceptions about family groups permeate interpretations of Egyptian monuments. This statuette features a woman and two men, whose relationships to one another are difficult to clarify. After a detailed presentation of the object, this article examines how far conventions of production and conventions of consumption have played a role in the interpretation of this object. The relationships between the people depicted in this statuette are impossible to establish with certainty, but the object can be inserted within the monumental vocabulary of celebration of relatedness that was prevalent in the late Middle Kingdom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-157
JournalJournal of Egyptian Archaeology
Issue number1-2
Early online date20 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Abydos
  • group statuettes
  • kinship
  • Middle Kingdom
  • display
  • commemoration
  • convention
  • Ashmolean
  • AN1913.411


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