Wooden stela

Accession Number

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This wooden funerary stela is covered with plaster over which is painted an offering formula. It formed part of the MacGregor Collection which was bought by Henry Wellcome at auction in 1922. It calls upon various gods, in this case Horus of Edfu, Osiris, Isis, Hathor and Anubis, to ensure that the dead person received bread, beer, beef, geese, incense and ‘all things sweet pure and good on which a god lives’. Such stela only belonged to the wealthy. This example was made for Pashrinyemhotep, an army scribe and overseer of priests in the temple of Horus at Edfu. It is probably 1st century AD in date. Front: The upper section shows the winged sun-disc here associated with the falcon god Horus of Edfu. From the disc hang two snakes representing the deities Nekhbet and Wadjet, of Upper and Lower Egypt respectively. Between them is the inscription BHdt, ‘The Behdetite’ (Horus of Edfu). A legend tells how Nubians plotted against Re. Horus of Edfu flew up in the shape of a winged sun-disc and shone so fiercely that the rebels were blinded and killed each other in panic. In this shape Horus pursued and decapitated Seth. Below, the deceased lies on a lion bed and the dog/jackal-headed god Anubis, or a masked priest, performs revivification rites. Anubis is helped by the goddesses Isis and Nephthys and by the Four Sons of Horus, whose names are written above them. The latter are discussed in the next chapter. On the right, the deceased, dressed as a priest and restored to life, holds up his hands in worship. The inscription starts with the offering formula, addressed to Horus of Edfu and lists Pashrinyemhotep’s many priestly titles. These include a priest of Horus the Child, and of Amun, chief libation priest of Sekhmet, overseer of Selket, overseer of priests of Horus of Edfu, etc. The lowest section shows Osiris incorporated into a djed pillar which is flanked by two Anubis figures in jackal form seated on shrines. During the New Kingdom, the djed pillar came to represent the back bone of Osiris and stability. The deceased wished to be identified with Osiris who was brought back to life through mummification carried out by Anubis. Back: This stela was free-standing and therefore decorated on the reverse. The back shows Isis (right) and Nephthys (left) squatting, with hands raised in worship of Osiris (centre). Beneath is a djed pillar flanked by two representations of the Girdle of Isis. The Girdle of Isis perhaps represents the cloth worn by women during menstruation and was a protective amulet. The piece was researched and translated by Effland who attributed it to the 1st century: Andreas Effland, ‘Materialien zur Archäologie und Geschichte des Raumes von Edfu’ (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, 2004), pp. 227–30. The father of the owner of W1041 is mentioned in Cairo Museum stela CG2049: Ahmed Bey Kamal, Catalogue Général des Antiquités Égyptiennes du Musée du Caire No. 22001-22238. Stèles Ptolémaiques et Romaines (Cairo, 1905).


Anonymous. 1996. The face of Egypt: Swansea Festival exhibition: 5 October 1996–5 January 1997. Swansea: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. [Cat. 71]

3D Model

Last modified: 10 Jan 2023

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