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Ancient Egyptian Prisoner Statues: Fragments of the Late Old Kingdom

Tara Prakash


During the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians constructed elaborately decorated mortuary monuments for their pharaohs. By the late Old Kingdom (ca. 2435-2153 BCE), these pyramid complexes began to contain a new and unique type of statue, the so-called prisoner statues. Despite being known to Egyptologists for decades, these statues of kneeling, bound foreign captives have been only partially documented, and questions surrounding their use, treatment, and exact meaning have remained unanswered. Ancient Egyptian Prisoner Statues-the first comprehensive analysis of the prisoner statues-addresses this gap, demonstrating that the Egyptians conceived of and used the prisoner statues differently over time as a response to contemporary social, cultural, and historical changes. In the process, the author contributes new data and interpretations on topics as diverse as the purpose and function of the pyramid complex, the ways in which the Egyptians understood and depicted ethnicity, and the agency of artists in ancient Egypt. Ultimately, this volume provides a fuller understanding of not only the prisoner statues but also the Egyptian late Old Kingdom as a whole.

A catalogue of the statue fragments examined is available here (open access PDF).


Tara Prakash (PhD, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2017) is an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Architectural History at the College of Charleston, in South Carolina.

Ancient Egyptian Prisoner Statues: Fragments of the Late Old Kingdom

  • Purchase this title

    Print | Ebook

    PDFs of individual chapters available here

    A catalogue of the statue fragments examined is available here.

  • More info

    MVCAE 8

    8.5 x 11 inches

    xvi + 220 pages

    978-1-948488-87-7 (cloth)

    978-1-948488-88-4 (PDF)

    October 2022

  • Table of Contents

    Table of Contents
    List of Figures
    List of Tables
    Chapter 1. Introduction
    Chapter 2. The Evolution of the Prisoner Statues during the Late Old Kingdom
    Chapter 3. Expressiveness and Ethnicity
    The Prisoner Statue Heads
    Chapter 4. The Prisoner Statues and the Pyramid Complex
    Chapter 5. The Treatment of the Prisoner Statues and the Question of Ritualized Destruction
    Chapter 6. Conclusion
    Appendix. The Unprovenanced Prisoner Statues

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