This is a large stela from the end of Pharaonic Egypt (dating to the reign of Nectanebo II, sometime around 350 BCE). It was regarded as having magical powers, and was set up by a priest called Esatum specifically so that people could make use of its power to heal themselves.

The Ancient Egyptians of this time regarded written texts as having special properties, which could be activated by pouring water over them. The water would become imbued with the magic of the texts, and could then be drunk as medicine.

Objects like this are called Horus cippi, and most of the others I’ve seen have been small portable objects. This one is a giant in comparison, standing about 85cm (33inches) tall. The texts that cover it are 13 spells to cure or protect against poisonous bites and wounds.

The central niche has Horus standing on crocodiles and clutching snakes, scorpions, an antelope and a lion in his hands – demonstrating his power over these creatures. He’s flanked by Isis and Thoth who protect him in the texts, as well as the sun god Re-Horakhty.

The Metternich Stela. From Alexandria. Probably originally from Heliopolis. Late Period, Dynasty 30, c. 360-342 BCE. Acc. No.: 50.85

It’s now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 50.85), and was probably originally in the Temple of the Mnevis Bulls at Heliopolis.

See it on my photo site: and go to the right for a few close ups of the details.

Jigsaw Puzzles:

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