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Block statue and stela of Sahathor

 

Height: 112.000 cm (stela)
Height: 112.000 cm (stela)

Acquired in 1839 from the sale of the Anastasi Collection

EA 569;EA 570

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    Block statue and stela of Sahathor

    From Abydos, Egypt
    12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhat II, about 1922-1878 BC

    Probably the centrepiece of a chapel

    Abydos was the principal cult centre of Osiris. From the Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC) onwards, it became the expressed desire of an Egyptian to visit Abydos and to be commemorated there. The practice reached its peak during the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC), when these were made.

    In the 1820s and 1830s stelae were extracted from Abydos in vast numbers by Giovanni d'Athanasi and Giovanni Anastasi. Recent research has shown that many of these stones were not simply erected haphazardly by pilgrims and visitors, but were arranged in chapels in various parts of the site, with concentrations around the area of the main Osiris temple (Kom es-Sultan in Arabic). The chapel would typically contain a table on which offerings could be made to the deceased in the presence of Osiris. Reconstructions have suggested that one chapel might contain several stelae of different styles, showing the owner of the chapel, his spouse, relatives and dependants.

    This stela, together with the statue, most likely formed the centrepiece of such a chapel. The stela has prayers at the top and autobiographical texts at the sides, and a niche to focus attention on the statue of Sahathor. The statue is a very early example of the block statue; examples from the Middle Kingdom have much less textual decoration than later ones. One text mentions that Sahathor was sent to supervise work on fifteen statues of the king. Other texts mention how he was sent on various expeditions to places including Nubia.

    T.G.H. James, Ancient Egypt: the land and it (London, 1988)

    R.B. Parkinson, Voices from ancient Egypt: an (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    R. Schulz, Die Entwicklung und Bedeutung (Hildesheim, 1992)

    P.D. Scott-Moncrieff, Hieroglyphic texts from Egyp-1, Part 2 (London, British Museum, 1912)

    W.K. Simpson, The terrace of the great God a (New Haven and Philadelphia, 1974)

    E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)

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