The Seated Scribe from Saqqara is a half meter height statue, carved from limestone and painted, eyes made of the rock crystal. It was created about 4,5 thousand years ago in the Ancient Egypt. In the collection of the Ancient Egyptian art of the Louvre, the sculpture of the Seated Scribe is considered one of the masterpieces.
In the middle of 19th century, the archaeologist A. Mariette found it during excavations of the necropolis in Saqqara. Since then, the look of the Seated Scribe, like the smile of Mona Lisa, attracted many admirers. Scientists unraveled the secret of the master who created this image only recently. It is difficult to find a school textbook on the history of the Ancient World, in which there was no illustration depicting this famous statue. First of all, the viewer is struck by the unusually lively and spiritualized face of the scribe. The devotion and readiness to immediately begin to perform his duties are in his eyes. The compressed lips convey the readiness to record what he heard. Especially the eyes of the scribe’s statue are interesting and they became the object of the scientific research. Such eyes were not usually created, being a kind of exclusivity in certain dynasties of the pharaohs. The scribe seems to be a little astigmatic because of the curvature of the lens, which is different from the real eye. The quality of the surface treatment of this lens was much higher than the lens of the later statues. Good abrasives and special machines were clearly used. The top of lens processing was reached that time in the history of Ancient Egypt and it was no longer achieved.
The sculpture as a sample of the ancient realism represents a man sitting on the ground with his legs crossed. On his lap is an unfolded papyrus roll. Papyrus scrolls usually had a length up to 2 m and about 20 cm wide. They were made from the purified core of a papyrus stalk of a certain thickness, cut into strips, folded in a certain order, and then placed under a press. Most often the Egyptians wrote signs with columns, from right to left.
Several statues of this type came to our days. The bodies of the scribes are more or less similarly transmitted, while the heads are portraits, individual and often very expressive. Only noble Egyptians sat in armchairs, and employees were generally sitting directly on the floor. However, the fact that the sculpture of this scribe was designed indicates his official status and shows how significant and respected this scribe was. The ability to write was the basis for an official career, and officials were the axis of the administrative system. The necessary knowledge was taught in schools, but only a few boys could study there. They studied hieroglyphic letters and fast handwriting, the regions and cities of Egypt, the names of plants and animals, the names of the gods and holidays. Instructions were used to teach them how to behave properly, to be attentive to their bosses, fair to their subordinates. Most of the time was devoted to teaching them self-discipline.
The value of sculpture lies in the fact that the master who made it, managed to create a symbol of the human wisdom, accumulating and preserving the experience and knowledge of our common civilization. The scribe’s wide-open eyes peer upward. It is an impression as if he takes his knowledge from the upper vault, where the higher forces dwell. His big ears, like radars, are ready to catch orders. Narrow lips are like imprisoned reeds, serving for writing. In the right hand, between the thumb and forefinger, there is a hole where the reed was probably once inserted, by means of which the acquired knowledge was transferred on the papyrus. This knowledge fills his sitting figure and crossed legs resemble hands that capture the accumulated information, protecting it from the influence of hostile forces.
The face expression of this character is impressive with its mysterious smile and gaze. Intended to ensure the immortality of the deceased, this statue is in a quiet pose without the tension of muscles, and this characteristic, however, does not deprive it of some liveliness.