Limestone stela of Nefer

From a subsidiary tomb at Abydos, Egypt
1st Dynasty, around 2900 BC

Servant of King Semerkhet

The stone stelae placed before the tombs of the kings at Abydos are some of the most impressive artistic products of the Early Dynastic Period (about 3100-2613 BC). The stela of Nefer is one of the slightly more humble objects destined for the tombs of the servants buried around the royal tombs. Nefer was a servant of King Semerkhet of the First Dynasty (about 3100-2890 BC). The image at the top of the stela seems to suggest that Nefer may have been a dwarf.

Examinations have been made of human remains from the subsidiary burials of the earlier First Dynasty tomb of Aha at Abydos, which seems to indicate that people buried there did not die naturally, as they were all about the same age (25 years) at death. It is possible that servants were killed and buried with their king to accompany him into the next world. This practice does not seem to have lasted beyond the formative years of Egyptian culture, as human sacrifice had no place in mainstream ancient Egyptian beliefs.

Compare this with the stela of the Second Dynasty king, Peribsen, also in The British Museum.

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More information


A.J. Spencer, Catalogue of Egyptian antiqu-4 (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)

A.J. Spencer, Early Egypt, The rise of civil (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)


Height: 45.000 cm
Width: 24.000 cm

Museum number

EA 35018


Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society


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