Limestone stela of Penbuy

Almost certainly from Deir el-Medina, Egypt
19th Dynasty, around 1250 BC

A royal craftsman shown adoring the god Ptah

This colourful stela is one of two in the British Museum which belong to Penbuy, who was a workman and guardian of the royal tombs of Ramesses II in the Valley of the Kings. On both stelae he is shown worshipping Ptah, the god most commonly associated with craftsmen. Ptah sits in a shrine with offerings before him, and behind him are seven ears. These ears have been interpreted either as an expression of the willingness of the god to listen, or as a magical compulsion to ensure the god hears. The stela of Mehia, also in The British Museum, is decorated with 44 ears.

In the lower register, in addition to Penbuy, are a pair of upraised arms (the hieroglyph ka) combined with part of the hieroglyph for offerings (hetep). The hieroglyph ka is also used in another word for offerings, so clearly the mixture of two signs stresses Penbuy's request for sustenance from Ptah.

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More information


G. Pinch, Magic in Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

M.L. Bierbrier (ed.), Hieroglyphic texts from Egyp-6, Part 10 (London, The British Museum Press, 1982)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 38.500 cm
Width: 27.000 cm

Museum number

EA 1466



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