Limestone relief slab from the tomb of Rehotep

Limestone relief slab from the

Length: 114.300 cm
Width: 83.800 cm

EA 1242

In order to gain power the priests of different cities developed individual theologies, each one aiming to place their own god as the centre of the creation of the universe. Iunu (Greek: Heliopolis), situated near modern Cairo, emerged as an important spiritual and political centre, centred on the cult of Atum, who became equated with the sun-god Re. The city's cosmogony (creation myth) and Great Ennead (grouping of nine gods) - Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and Seth - remained influential for many centuries.

This slab comes from the tomb of Rehotep, a son of the Fourth-Dynasty king Sneferu, who served as a high priest at Heliopolis. Rehotep married Princess Nefret, and their twin mastabas were built near the Meydum pyramid. Stunning limestone statues of the pair are now in the Cairo Museum. The British Museum contains this fragment of an offering niche or false door from the tomb.

Rehotep is seated in front of a table of bread, above which are inscribed the names of some important offerings, such as incense, eye-paint, wine and dates. To the right of that is a list of linen, surmounted by three hawks. Other offerings are named at the bottom.

On display: Room 64: Early Egypt