Sometime in the early fourth century bc, an unknown Egyptian master carved an exquisite portrait in dark-green stone. The statue that included this remarkably lifelike head of a priest, who was likely a citizen of ancient Memphis, may have been damaged when the Persians conquered Egypt in 343 bc before it was ritually buried in a temple complex dedicated to the worship of the sacred Apis bull. Its adventures were not over, though: after almost two millennia, the head was excavated by August Mariette, a founding figure in French Egyptology, under a permit from the Ottoman Pasha. Returned to France as part of a collection of antiquities assembled for the inimitable Bonaparte prince known as Plon-Plon, it found a home in his faux Pompeian palace. After disappearing again, it resurfaced in the personal collection of Edward Perry Warren, a turn-of-the-twentieth-century American aesthete, who sold it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Along the way, this compelling and mysterious sculpture, known worldwide as the Boston Green Head, has reflected the West’s evolving understanding of Egyptian art – from initial assertions that it was too refined to be the product of a lesser civilization, to recognition of the sophistication of the culture that produced it.