Stela - ROM2018_16141_46



Geography: Egypt
Date: c. 1550-1295 BC
Period: 18th Dynasty?, New Kingdom
14.5 × 10.9 × 3 cm
Object number: 948.34.95
Credit Line: Gift of Sir Robert Mond
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This small votive stele would have been made as an act of devotion, and kept in the home of the devotee, or given to shrine in memory of the person who commissioned it.  Since there is no worshipper named, the former use is more probable.

Ptah stands, wrapped, his potential power and action endless, holding a was scepter of power, a flail of kingship, and an ankh.  These three are not quite arranged in their traditional manner, but the meaning is clear.  Ptah wears a close-fitting skull-cap that was associated with the professions of engineering and architecture in ancient Egypt.  What appears to be a high collar is actually the menat, or counterpoise for his broad collar. As usual, he wears the squared-off false beard of a king, rather than the usual curved beard of a god.

In front of the god is a stand with a container of pure water.  Behind it is a tall plant, also an offering. Behind the god is the phrase, "May all life and safety be at his back, like the sun.” A line at the top of the stele identifies the god as Ptah, Lord of the Land . . ." but is not clear enough to make-out the entire epithet.

Ptah was a god of creation, patron of craftsmen, and a lord of the dead.  He is one of the earliest Egyptian gods whose figure we can recognize, and was revered throughout Egyptian history.
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