Egyptian Limestone Round-Topped Stele for INKU and ISIS-EN-EM-HET

SKU: MS.0043

Origin: Egypt
Circa: Late Period, 26th - 27th Dynasty, c. 664 - 404 BC
Dimensions: 33.5" Height (85.1 cm)
Medium: Limestone

This magnificent and large Late Period round-topped stele is deftly carved in shallow sunk relief. Below the arching top we find a winged solar-disk flanked by two uraei, and two symmetrical columns of hieroglyphs, reading: "the Behdetite." The main scene below features an offering table heaped with bounty at the center, which is flanked on both sides by two figures facing inward.  Just to the left of the table we find Osiris,  with Isis standing behind him, each holding a was-scepter and wearing their characteristic crowns. Osiris is identified by a column of hieroglyphs above, while Isis can be seen standing with an ankh in her right hand.  To the right of the table we find a standing man and woman, identified as Inku and Isis-en-em-het by two columns of hieroglyphs above.  His hands are raised in supplication, while she holds a situla and a bowl. Below them we find four rows of hieroglyphic text which describe the offering formula to Osiris.  The full translation can be found in the literature section below.

with Geoffrey Turner, Amsterdam, mid to late 1960s. with Max Willborg (1933-2001), Stockholm and London, 20 December 1974. Antiquities, Sotheby's, London, 22 May 1989, lot 95. Private Collection, England. Antiquities, Bonhams, London, 5 October 2011, lot 22.

Repaired from large fragments with some fill and overpainting in the breaks; with one large break running vertically down the center with three breaks branching off to either side. Surface wear, abrasions and some incrustation throughout.

This stela was probably made for the necropolis (city of the dead) of Western Thebes, where it would have been placed in the tomb of the deceased. Most stelae from this period were created to ensure that the tomb owner would receive the offerings necessary to survive in the afterlife, which the ancient Egyptians conceived as an actual physical existence requiring sustenance. The deceased's ka, the aspect of a person that could be represented in artistic form, dwelt within the mummy or the tomb statue, and needed life-preserving goods such as food and drink, which the living provided through offerings.

The four rows of hieroglyphs below the main scene, read: "A Royal Offering Formula (to) Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, Great God, Lord of Rosetau, that he may give Invocation-Offerings of bread and beer, oxen and fowl, incense, alabaster vessels and clothing, wine and milk, and a goodly burial (for) the Venerated One, the Osiris Djed-Khonsu-Inku, son of P(a)-Khar born of the Lady of the House Ta-di-Khebit (or -Akh-bit), Justified, Regnal Year 19."

J. Malek, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, vol. VIII, Objects of Provenance not known, part IV, Stelae (Dynasty XVIII to the Roman Period), Oxford, 2012, p. 440, no. 803-076-255.


Late Dynastic

Egyptian Limestone Round-Topped Stele for INKU and ISIS-EN-EM-HET

Late Dynastic

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