Skip Navigation

Donation Stela with a Curse

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, 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 XXII Dynasty
    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
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.

    Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please contact (charges apply).

    For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch.

    For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright.

    If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    CAPTION Donation Stela with a Curse, 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
    IMAGE overall, 67.118_negC_bw_IMLS.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    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.
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.