Limestone statue and stelae from the offering chapel of Inyotef

Almost certainly from Abydos, Egypt
12th Dynasty, about 1920 BC

An 'Overseer of the audience chamber' in the reign of Senwosret I

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).

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 group of three stelae and a statue all come from the tomb of Inyotef, 'overseer of the audience chamber' in the reign of Senwosret I (1965-1920 BC). One of the stelae (572) in the group is dated to Senwosret's year 39. The texts on the stelae are mainly prayers and praises of the gods, but there is an interesting idealized autobiography on one stela (581), where Inyotef lists his virtues. The statue, shown here, would probably have been the focal point of the chapel, with the three stelae (or perhaps more) arranged on the adjacent walls. The statue's broad face and overall shape, and the rolls of fat on the body make it quite unusual. In the conventions of Egyptian art this is intended to indicate wealth and prosperity, but each figure of Inyotef on the stelae has the same rolls.

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More information


T.G.H. James and W.V. Davies, Egyptian sculpture (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)

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

M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian autobiographi, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 84 (Fribourg, Universitàtsverlag, 1988)

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

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


Height: 72.000 cm (statue: EA 461)
Width: 19.000 cm
Depth: 29.000 cm
Height: 72.000 cm (statue: EA 461)
Height: 72.000 cm (statue: EA 461)
Height: 72.000 cm (statue: EA 461)

Museum number

EA 461;EA 562;EA 572;EA 581


Anastasi Collection


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