Who is the man from Mitanni?
Does it matter? Can we tell where some one is from by looking at their face?
This is a cast taken from a sculpted relief on the north wall of the Great Hall of Karnak by Flinders Petrie in 1887. He wanted a facial profile of a man from western Asia as part of his collection of ‘racial types’ from Ancient Egyptian monuments. Petrie called this the man from Mitanni, an ancient kingdom located in modern day Syria.
Petrie used this cast in Tell el Amarna (1894) to illustrate the likeness between it and the pharaoh Akhenaten. Petrie argued that the matching of its facial features with those of Akhenaten and his mother Queen Tyi proved that they racially originated from western Asia. In fact, the cast is not of a man from Mitanni but of a Canaanite from the city of Yenoan, also in western Asia.
We have had this information and question on an iPad net to the cast in the entrance of the museum since February. There have been significant problems with the iPad connecting to the information and I think sometimes people are intimidated by writing in such a small space but we have still had some interesting feedback, particularly on our open evenings and weekend technie testing days.
As some one who puts museum events and exhibitions together I think QRator has potential but we need to think about how we encourage people to use it and make it more active.
Here is some of the feedback:
16 February 2011 – Can casts of facial profiles be used as accurate illustrations?
How is the cast made? What does that mean for archaeological illustrations?
What’s the piece of string round his head? Fashion or sthing important?
24 February – Great to say what I think . . .Not sure if you can tell where someone is from by looking at them, almost racist if you think about or ?
(3 min later) Not racist, you can often tell.
(3 hours later) Also not racist in my view.
Nature vrs nurture, sometimes nurture is more important, e.g. class system.
11 March – Are we sure it’s a man?
12 May – This person must have been important if they had a relief made of him/her