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Fragment of a ca. 2600-year-old Egyptian polychrome funerary stele with a hieroglyphic inscription


[Fragment from the left side of a funerary stele].
[Egypt, 26th dynasty? ca. 650/600 BC?]. Fragment of a funerary stele, painted over plaster on a wooden plank (14 x 7 x 1.5 cm), with a small part of a pictorial scene above on a beige ground, and a hieroglyphic inscription in five (of six?) horizontal bands below (reading from right to left) on an alternating yellow and beige ground. The border begins immediately above the first line of the inscription, and next to it appears the reddish-brown bare foot of a standing figure facing the centre (that is, facing right), probably the deceased making offerings to Osiris. The back is also plastered and painted yellow.

€ 5,000

A fragment of an ancient Egyptian funerary stele (late period). The text, from the left half of the stele, records offerings for Osiris, so the lost right half probably recorded offerings for Horus, each with the relevant offer scene above. The text, as far as it survives, was translated by Andrew Baumann for the epigraphic survey of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute:

line 1: [May a royal offering be given to Osiris ... lord of] Abydos, so that he might (in turn) give a thousand of [bread ...]
line 2: ... wine, offerings, and provisions ...
line 3: [everything good and pure] on which a god lives ...
line 4: ... Nun in his cavern ...
line 5: [...], true of voice, son of Panehsi, [true of voice] ...

Abydos, about 90 km northwest of Luxor, was the site of the Great Osiris Temple. Nun, father of the sun-god Re, was the oldest Egyptian god, representing the primeval waters of chaos. The son of Panehsi may be the deceased, but we know nothing more of the father or son.
All images we have seen of similar stelae have been dated in or around the 26th dynasty (664-525 BC) and contain two scenes (above, side by side) showing the deceased presenting offerings, in one to Osiris and in the other to Horus, the latter with the sun disk on his head.
A private collector in Bad Harzburg, Germany acquired the present fragment in the 1920s. Although it is only about an eighth of the original stele, what survives is in good condition, with only a few small abrasions or pocks, slightly affecting a couple hieroglyphs but never obscuring one, and with the colours clear, without fading. The hole drilled in the right edge still contains the stump of a wooden peg that would have attached the present plank to the next one

A.J. Baumann, The suffix conjugation of early Egyptian as evidenced in the underworld books, U. Chicago PhD thesis (1998), not seen, but apparently translating the present inscription.
A.J. Baumann, The suffix conjugation of early Egyptian as evidenced in the underworld books, U. Chicago PhD thesis (1998).

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Related Subjects:

Africa  >  North Africa & Egypt
History, law & philosophy  >  Archaeology & Classical Antiquity
Middle east & islamic world  >  Africa