Reserve heads are distinctive sculptures made primarily of fine limestone that have been found in a number of non-royal tombs of the Fourth dynasty of Egypt; primarily from the reigns of pyramid-building pharaohs Khufu to Khafre, circa 2551-2496 B.C. While each of the heads share characteristics in common with each other (and some examples may be more caricature than reflecting a true-life appearance), the striking individuality of the pieces makes them some of the earliest examples of portrait sculpture in existence. Their purpose is not entirely clear; the name comes from the prevalent theory first put forward, in 1903, by the German Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt that the head was to serve as an alternate home for the spirit of the dead owner should anything happen to its body.
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