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Boundary Stela of Sety I

The text on this stela mentions that in the first year of his reign Seti I ordered a survey of two parcels of land. The stela marked the boundaries of these areas. Although the text fails to mention the survey's intent, it seems to have been related to a royal endowment supporting the cult of a type of royal statue called a "protected image."

The figure in the upper portion of the stela represents the protected image of Seti I's endowment. Pious pilgrims who confronted these images worshiped the divine aspect of the king inherent in the statues. Such images were truly part of Egyptian popular religion for they stood in fields where they could be approached by all members of society. The fan behind the figure guaranteed the safety of the protected image.

The date mentioned in the text is indicative of how the Egyptians measured time in a variety of ways. Within the political sphere, dates were given according to the regnal year of the king. Each new reign began in year 1.

This method of dating implied that at the new king's accession the universe had been re-created by the Creator God in the guise of the pharaoh. The headdress worn by the statue of Seti I emphasizes the concept of a new beginning. This helmet, called the Blue Crown, originally had military associations. By the Eighteenth Dynasty, it had become the coronation crown.

Catalogue Description:
Round-topped limestone stela bearing a representation of, and inscribed for, King Sety I (Mn-ma'at-r'). The king is represented, on the upper portion of the stela, standing and wearing the Blue Crown. Below the king are three lines of inscription: the inscription dates the piece to Year 1 of Sety 1. Both figure and inscription are executed in sunk relief. The stela was cut off at the bottom in modern times; the other edges and the rear surface are rough. The piece is somewhat wider near the top (at the springing of the round top) than at the bottom. Condition: Numerous chips and scratches.

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