The Famous Dragging of the Colossal Statue on the West Wall of the Rock-cut Chapel of Djehutihotep

May 14, 2021

Continued from PART TWO...

The scene to the right of the famous dragging of the colossal statue (depicted in this photo) was traced anew as a test in Adobe Illustrator. Most of the offering bearers depicted here, and all of the inscriptions accompanying them were never published by Newberry. Still, this scene turned out to divulge important information about the supply chain of the ka-chapel of Djehutihotep.

While the vector-based drawing is clean and clear, it is perhaps too clean for the wall that it is supposed to represent. Often, only paint spots are preserved without a clear outline, and these kinds of traces are notoriously difficult to record with vectors. Moreover, rendering the damage realistically is also hard to do in Illustrator. In this case, the patterned fill chosen does not convey anything about the type of damage on the wall.

While creating the vector drawing, it became clear that a raster-based version would allow for a more natural, "artisanal" style of copying a painting or relief that was in itself also not the result of a mathematically correct line, but the work of a talented free-hand artist.

The “grace of line” in Egyptian art, as T.G.H. James so aptly phrased it when he described what mattered most to Howard Carter as a draughtsman, is done better justice with a recording method that gives the epigraphist a kind of freedom that is not found in mathematical vectors. If Carter were alive today, I like to think that he would also choose raster over vector, as indicated by this entry in his notebook: “I could never understand the axiom: “Mechanical exactitude of facsimile copying is required rather than freehand or purely artistic work”…but why purely artistic work should necessarily be inaccurate I fail to fathom.”

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