“Reserve” head, limestone
Giza, Nucleus Cemetery 1200, tomb of Kanofer, tomb 1203; Dynasty 4, reign of Khufu
The anthropology museum at the University of California
“In 1904 Reisner discovered this ‘reserve’ head in the burial chamber of the Overseer of Commissions and Director of Bowmen Kanofer. It has been various identified as depicting Kanofer himself or a female relative; the highly idealized facial features are not clearly indicative of the gender. The 34 known ‘reserve’ heads are (to us) one of the most enigmatic objects produced by ancient Egyptian artists. These heads are in fact self-contained sculptures; they have not been broken away from full-bodied statues. Various theories exist as to their function: the protection (or replacement) of the head of the deceased; an early state in the development of funerary masks and anthropoid coffins; forms for the molding of masks; or the association of the deceased with the reborn sun god.” (Cathleen Keller and Carol Redmount, curators of Egyptian archaeology).