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Donation Stela

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor

One of the most characteristic monuments of the Third Intermediate Period (circa 1070–653 B.C.) is the donation stela, a commemorative inscription that records the gift of land to a temple or a member of the temple staff. The texts give the conditions of the gift and the penalties to be incurred by anyone violating the terms. The punishments are usually couched in the form of curses, which, contrary to popular belief, were rare in ancient Egypt.

In the frame above the text on this stela a triad of gods associated with the city of Mendes stands facing the Libyan prince Hornakht, ruler of Mendes at the time. The prince wears the characteristic Libyan feather on his head and a short kilt with a transparent overgarment. Acting as mediator, he presents the hieroglyph for "fields" to the assembled deities. Behind him stands a flute-playing priest with a shaven head, a member of the temple staff to whom the fields are being given. Named Ankhpakhered, he was flutist of the god Horpakhered (Harpocrates), whose name means "Horus the Child" and who is shown standing between Hornakht and the god Osiris.

MEDIUM Limestone
  • Place Found: Mendes, Egypt
  • DATES year 22 of Sheshenq III, ca. 804 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 22
    PERIOD Third Intermediate Period
    DIMENSIONS 20 1/2 x 12 3/4 x 2 1/2 in., 41 lb. (52.1 x 32.4 x 6.4 cm, 18.6kg)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Round-topped white limestone stela with deeply cut sunk relief representation of the Libyan chieftain Hornakht accompanied by the flute player Ankh-hor-pa-khered, making donation of a field of 10 acres to Harpocrates who is shown followed by the Mendesian triad of Osiris, Ba-nebdjedet, and Hatmehyt. Below them a text of seven lines in hieratic dating the document to the 22nd year of king Sheshonq (III), ca. 804 B.C. Condition: Very good except for some surface wear, damage to edge, and discoloration.
    CAPTION Donation Stela, year 22 of Sheshenq III, ca. 804 B.C.E. Limestone, 20 1/2 x 12 3/4 x 2 1/2 in., 41 lb. (52.1 x 32.4 x 6.4 cm, 18.6kg). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 67.118. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 67.118_PS1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 67.118_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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