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The 'crossword' stela of Paser


Height: 112.000 cm
Width: 84.500 cm
Depth: 11.500 cm

Excavated by Giovanni Battista Belzoni

EA 194

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    The 'crossword' stela of Paser

    From the precinct of Mut at Karnak, Thebes, Egypt
    20th Dynasty, around 1150 BC

    A hymn to Mut, 'three times'

    The frieze at the top of this limestone stela shows a line of gods worshipping a figure of the goddess Mut which is now lost. The main area of the stela is covered with a grid, each square of which contains a group of hieroglyphic signs. They were originally filled with blue pigment, which would have made it easier to read.

    The grid is sixty-seven squares across and eighty squares down, but may have originally been eighty by eighty. The stela's name is slightly misleading: it is not like a modern 'crossword' puzzle; the horizontal line of text above the grid indicates that the grid contains a hymn to Mut, and that it should be read 'three times'. The point of the puzzle was to decipher and read the different hymns. The Egyptians were very fond of playing with words and images. The text can be read horizontally and vertically; presumably the third way is to read around the outer edge, but the stela is too broken to try this.

    H. M. Stewart, 'A crossword hymn to Mut', Journal of Egyptian Archaeol-3, 57 (1971)

    R. Parkinson, Cracking codes: the Rosetta St (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


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