This stela was set up by a man called Pakeshi, who held the title God’s Father of Amun, as did his father Nespautitawi. Pakeshi stands before Osiris and the Four Sons of Horus, and the text below is a fairly standard offering formula. It’s not known where it was found.
It dates to the 25th or 26th Dynasties, somewhere around 750-525 BCE. It’s made of wood with gesso over it and painted in this pastel style that’s typical of the time period (so says the Met Museum, and I assume it’s on this basis that they date it to this period).
Despite looking nicely made it’s got one feature that looks like the artisans who made it dropped the ball – you can see in front of the face of each figure there’s a neatly outlined space where the name should go, but no-one’s come back and written the text in!
As part of my holiday in Egypt in 2016 we visited Beni Hasan (which has tombs set high in the cliffs) and the Speos Artemidos (where Hatshepsut built a temple claiming to’ve brought order from the chaos of the Second Intermediate Period).
These photos are from the outside areas of these sites, and one thing I was fascinated by here (as I so often am in Egypt) was the juxtaposition between the desert and the cultivation. The way you can stand up in the cliffs on dusty stone and see lush greenery so close to you.
4 years after this visit to Egypt I attended a talk by Dr José Ramón Pérez-Accino where he talked a bit about how the people of Egypt thought about their landscape. He noted the contrast of the order of the square-edged fields with the chaotic desert, which you still see today.
Thinking about it like that makes a lot of sense of the way that distinction of order vs. chaos is so fundamental to Egyptian thought. All around them are square-edged fields that bring them life and all good things, with the untamed and hostile desert always within sight.
Even though a lot of people who talk about Ancient Egypt draw a line either at Alexander or at Cleopatra obviously Egyptian culture didn’t just vanish overnight when the Greeks or the Romans took over. This mummy mask dates to c.60 CE and is clearly of Ancient Egyptian culture.
It’s probably from Meir (based on stylistic assessment), and is made mostly from painted cartonnage. I particularly like that they’ve made the wig from plant fibres, so it looks like the real thing. And the jewellery is modelled from plaster, again looking like it’s real.
The decoration round the headpiece is pretty cool as well. The lower register of the bit facing us in this photo has (from L to R) the goddesses Seshat, Hathor and Tefnut and the god Anubis. The upper register has djed pillars and tyet knots, representing Osiris and Isis.
I enjoy the way that Egyptian furniture often has feet that are modelled after the feet of animals. This example is shaped like a bull’s hoof and is particularly finely carved from elephant ivory.
It was found at Umm el-Qab, a royal cemetery at Abdyos with burials of 1st Dynasty kings as well as some pre-dynastic tombs and two 2nd Dynasty tombs. Bulls are a symbol of the king’s power, and the beauty of this carving suggests to me that it was a piece of royal furniture.
It’s a reminder that even 5000 years ago at the beginning of a unified Egyptian state they were already a highly sophisticated society. The elites lived in luxury, surrounded by beautiful objects.
This object is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 26.7.1282.
This is a close up of the innermost coffin of a man called Kharushere, who was the Doorkeeper of the House of Amun sometime in the 22nd Dynasty (c.800 BCE). His father Bes had the same title, and his mother Tanetheretib was a Chantress of Amun as well as Mistress of the House.
This vignette is on his chest, and shows the man himself being presented to Osiris (seated) by Thoth. Behind Osiris is Isis, and to the right is another goddess (she might be Sopdet but I’m not sure as I can’t find the hieroglyphs for her name in the text).
It’s rather nicely drawn – I particularly like the detail on Kharushere’s fine transparent linen clothing. It’s a shame tho that the person who has painted the blue colour seems to’ve gone for quantity over quality, and so has gone outside the lines in all the hieroglyphs!
It was found at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna by Maspero, and is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 86.1.33.
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.
It’s now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 50.85), and was probably originally in the Temple of the Mnevis Bulls at Heliopolis.
This fine fellow (nose-less though he is) is not the jackal god you’re almost certainly thinking of. Instead of Anubis, this is Wepwawet. Here he is present in his role as a patron deity of Asyut where this statue was made.
The cartouches next to his head are those of Ramesses II and I think they are probably part of the title of the man who commissioned the statue rather than naming the king himself. The statue owner was called Siese, and he was the “Overseer of the Two Granaries of Ramesses II”.
The museum refers to it as having a “rather provincial style” and perhaps the whole piece looks a little chunky in its proportions (see the photo one to the left on my site). But personally I think it’s quite fine and I like the details like the wig curving round his jackal ears.
This is an example of some ancient royal recycling! It was dug up at Lisht North, in the pyramid complex of Amenemhat I (of Dynasty 12), but was originally created for the pyramid complex of Khufu (of Dynasty 4) at Giza (i.e. to go with the Great Pyramid).
This happened a lot throughout Ancient Egyptian history and beyond – why go to the trouble of quarrying new blocks of stone and carefully shaping them when you could just nick some from a monument of a long dead king and flip them round to carve on what had been the back side.
The female figure on this is the personification of an estate which was endowed by Khufu to supply offerings to his funerary cult in perpetuity – the text and cartouche above her head give the name of this estate: Perfect is Khufu. Khufu was not modest! 😉
Coffins, particularly Third Intermediate Period coffins, are fascinating to look at and to photograph, which is why I always end up with lots of photos of details from coffins whenever I’ve been to a museum!
This is the outer coffin of a woman called Nany who was “Mistress of the House, Chantress of Amun, King’s Daughter of His Body”. She was probably the daughter of Pinedjem I (a High Priest of Amun who had kinglike status), and died during the 21st Dynasty (c. 3000 years ago).
This bit has such a lot going on it’s hard to pick out all the details. Top centre there’s a winged scarab, presumably Khepri, with a sun disk with uraei above and a djed pillar for Osiris below. To either side are Osiris himself, with Maat behind and Thoth in front.
Below is Nut, with her wing-arms outstretched holding ankhs. She’s got protective cobras, two with wings and two without hanging down from the dividing line between the registers which is also the hieroglyph for the sky. And jackals beneath her wings, with natty red scarves.
I think my favourite details (at least as I look at it this time) are the wadjet eyes with wings and little red upraised arms, worshipping the falcons beneath Khepri’s wings.
About 6 years ago now we visited New York primarily to see the Egyptian artifacts that are in the Met Museum – there are a lot! We spent around 3 days of our trip just in those galleries of the museum and this album has over 750 of my photos from that visit:
They’ve been online before, on flickr, but as part of putting them on my own site I’ve re-processed them using the software I use now, and re-captioned them (including accession numbers where I have them this time). Hope you enjoy them! 🙂