Funerary stela of Amenuser - ROM2004_1137_1


Funerary stela of Amenuser

Medium:Limestone, carved and painted
Geography: Probably from Abydos, Egypt
Date: c. 2040-1650 BC
Period: 11th-13th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom
12.6 x 8.2 cm
Object number: 948.34.87
Credit Line: Gift of Sir Robert Mond
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This very small stele commemorates a man named Amen-user (Amun is powerful) who lived almost four thousand years ago. The figure on the front is Amenuser himself, seated on a fine chair, patiently looking at a table piled with food offerings. He stretches on hand toward the food - it will be eternally within reach; he will never run out of food. The table and the food are shown as elements of eternal provision and not depicted realistically; they seem to float in front of the deceased. On the bottom level are jars of beer and wine.  On the table itself are three loaves of bread, a haunch of beef, and a vegetable.

The stele contains a clear and complete Offering Prayer for the Dead. In the top line we can read, from right to left, "An offering which the king gives to Osiris," followed in the next line by the rest of the name of the god, "Lord of Djedu, that he may give" and on the third line, "the voice-offerings of bread and beer, beef and fowl, for the k3 of the Revered One" and then the deceased's name follows, written in front of his face. The last two signs, just to the right of his face, are 'maat-khrew' which means 'true of voice' or 'justified.' This was the phrase used in law courts when announcing innocence.  It means that Amenuser has been judged by the Great God, and now will live forever, a powerful spirit who can help those left on the Earth.

This small stele was probably placed in his tomb which, judging by the size of the stele, would have been fairly humble.

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