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Hetep-di-nesw: ‘An offering which the king gives’


The beginning of the offering formula (see above) appears on lots of things in the Egypt Centre. See how many you can find. It is written above and sometimes occurs from left to right and sometimes right to left. It reads hetep di nesu, ‘an offering which the king gives’. The first sign above, the plant like glyph on the right, is the sign for nesu, king. The sign for the king comes first even though the Egyptians would have said it hetep di nesu because the king is very important. The two signs in the middle, one above the other, read hetep which means offering. The word comes from the word meaning to be satisfied. The glyph at the bottom shows an offering mat with a piece of bread upon it. The triangular sign on the right is di, meaning to give.

The king was called upon to give offerings on behalf of his people since only he could intercede on their behalf with the gods.

The full offering formula then goes on to ask the various gods, usually Anubis and Osiris, to make sure the deceased are provided for in the afterlife. Bread and beer are nearly always mentioned. You can see simplified versions of the formula on the display boards in the Egypt Centre, such as the one to the left of the case in which the reserve head is displayed.

The Egyptians believed that the ka soul of the deceased had to be fed in the afterlife. This could be done by providing food and drink at the tomb, through making depictions of food and drink, through writing down offering formula or simply by reciting the offering formula.

Look at W1041. Can you guess what is missing?