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The 'Crossword' Stela

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The 'Crossword' Stela
  • Description

    The 'Crossword' Stela of Peser: a square limestone stela, now badly damaged, with an incised frieze of deities along the top; these worship a figure of the goddess Mut, which is now lost. The area below is covered with a grid, each square of which contains a group of hieroglyphic signs originally filled with blue pigment. This 'crossword' is sixty-seven squares wide and eighty squares deep, but may originally have been eighty by eighty.

    The top horizontal line of text reads from right to left and provides the title for the rest of the inscription, which is a Middle Egyptian hymn to Mut, as well as indicating how the stela is to be read.


  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 112 centimetres
    • Width: 84.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 11.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Translation

        As for this writing, it is to be read three times. Its like has not been seen before, or heard since the time of the god. It is set up in the temple of Mut, Lady of Isheru, for eternity like the sun, for all time.
      • Inscription Comment

        Incised. One would, expect the instructions to say 'twice', since the text has only been successfully read in two directions (right to left): horizontally, and also vertically; a possible third way was perhaps to read the text around the outer edge of the inscribed grid areas, but the stela is too broken for this to be attempted.
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Translation

        Paser, true-of-voice
      • Inscription Comment

        Inscribed in the left margin.
  • Curator's comments

    A few squares of text show the principles (vertical lines nos 38—42; horizontal lines nos 1-4).

    Horizontally this reads:
    ... great of radiancy, who illumines ...
    .. . strength; (her) eye, it illumines ...
    ... as the illuminator of her(?); the Two Lands and the Otherworld ...
    ... in the presence of the sun-god who sees ...

    while vertically it reads:
    ... great of strength in the presence of...
    ... radiant; the eye which illumines the face . ..
    ... the sun-god illumines ...
    . . . the sun-god illumines for her ...
    .. . She has illumined the Two Lands early .. .

    The 'game' does not lie in filling in words left blank, as in a modern crossword, but in the skill needed to compose and then to read the hymn. Verbal wordplay was a common stylistic device in hymns, and this is a graphic extension of the same principle.

    B. Porter & R. Moss, 'Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings' II (Oxford, 1974), 270;
    H.M. Stewart, 'A crossword hymn to Mut', 'Journal of Egyptian Archaeology' 57 (1971), 87-104;
    L.Troy,'Mut enthroned', in J. van Dijk (ed.), 'Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honour of Herman te Velde' (Groningen, 1997), 301-15, esp. 301-6;
    K.A. Kitchen, 'Ramesside Inscriptions Translated and Annotated translations' 6 (Oxford, Blackwell Press), 288.


  • Bibliography

    • Parkinson 1999 10 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Condition

    fair - repaired and conserved

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • BS.194 (Birch Slip Number)
COMPASS Title: The 'crossword' stela of Paser


COMPASS Title: The 'crossword' stela of Paser

Image description



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Object reference number: YCA55405

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