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09:26
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artemisdreaming:

Stela of Montuweser


Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12, year 17
reign of Senwosret I
ca. 1961–1917 B.C.E.
Egypt, Northern Upper Egypt, Abydos (Umm el-Qaab, Tell el-Manshiya, others)
Limestone, paint
H. 104.3 cm (41 1/16 in); w. 49.7 cm (19 9/16 in); th. 8.3 cm (3 1/4 in)
Credit LineGift of Edward S. Harkness, 1912. Accession Number12.184

This rectangular stone slab, called a stela, honors an official named Montuweser. Clasping a piece of folded linen in his left hand, he sits at his funeral banquet, ensuring that he will always receive food offerings and that his family will honor and remember him forever. To the right of Montuweser, his son summons his spirit. His daughter holds a lotus, and his father offers a covered dish of food and a jug that, given its shape, contained beer.
To show clearly each kind of food being offered, the sculptor arranged the images on top of the table vertically. The feast consists of round and conical loaves of bread, ribs and a hindquarter of beef, a squash, onions in a basket, a lotus blossom, and leeks. The low-relief carving is very fine. The background was cut away only about one-eighth of an inch. Within the firm, clear outlines, the sculptor subtly modeled the muscles of Mentuweser’s arms and legs and the shape of his jaw and cheeks. The chair legs and the calf’s head have also been carefully formed. The hieroglyphic inscriptions in sunk relief state that in the seventeenth year of his reign King Senwosret I presented the stela to Montuweser in appreciation of his loyal services. Montuweser’s deeds are described at length. He was steward, granary official, and overseer of all manner of domestic animals, including pigs. He is described as a good man who looked after the poor and buried the dead. Senwosret’s throne name, Kheper-Ka-Re, appears within a cartouche in the middle of the top line.

The stela was erected in the temple precinct of Osiris at Abydos. Montuweser’s image and the prayers on the stela were meant to bring him both rebirth and sustenance at the annual festivals honoring Osiris. At such festivals family members and other pilgrims would visit the commemorative chapels in which the stelae were set up, and at its end this stea’s text addresses explicitly three groups of people:

 
1. any scribe who shall read the stela;
2. any person who shall hear the stela read aloud;
3. all people who shall approach it. 

It is thus suggested that, according to ancient Egyptian understanding, the written word—and its imagery—reached many more people than only just the fully literate.  metmuseum

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