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This wooden funerary stela is covered with plaster over which is painted an offering formula. It measures 59cm high and formed part of the MacGregor Collection which was bought by Henry Wellcome at auction on 26.6.1922. It was given the Wellcome accession number 13713.[i]


It calls upon various gods, in this case Horus of Edfu, Osiris, Isis, Hathor and Anubis, to ensure that the dead person received bread, beer, beef, geese, incense and ‘all things sweet pure and good on which a god lives’. Such stela only belonged to the wealthy. This example was made for Pashrinyemhotep, an army scribe and overseer of priests in the temple of Horus at Edfu. It is probably 1st century AD in date.[ii]

Front: The upper section shows the winged sun-disk here associated with the falcon god Horus of Edfu. From the disk hang two snakes representing the deities Nekhbet and Wadjet, of Upper and Lower Egypt respectively. Between them is the inscription BHdt, ‘The Behdetite’ (Horus of Edfu). A legend tells how Nubians plotted against Re. Horus of Edfu flew up in the shape of a winged sun-disk and shone so fiercely that the rebels were blinded and killed each other in panic. In this shape Horus pursued and decapitated Seth.[iii]

Below, the deceased lies on a lion bed and the dog/jackal-headed god Anubis, or a masked priest, performs revivication rites. Anubis is helped by the goddesses Isis and Nephthys and by the Four Sons of Horus, whose names are written above them. The latter are discussed in the next chapter. On the right, the deceased, dressed as a priest and restored to life, holds up his hands in worship.

The inscription starts with the offering formula, addressed to Horus of Edfu and lists Pashrinyemhotep’s many priestly titles. These include a priest of Horus the Child, and of Amun, chief libation priest of Sekhmet, overseer of Selket, overseer of priests of Horus of Edfu, etc.

More specifically the offering formula reads:

….Hr BHdt nTr aA nb pt sAb Swt pr m Axt Hr – Axty hnty st wrt Wsir xnty aImntyw nb AbDw
Horus of Edfu, the great god, lord of the sky, variegated of plumage, who comes forth from the horizon, Harakhty, he who is before the great throne of Osiris, foremost of the Westerners, lord of Abydos
….Hr BHdt nTr aA nb pt sAb Swt pr m Axt Hr – Axty hnty st wrt Wsir xnty aImntyw nb AbDw
Horus of Edfu, the great god, lord of the sky, variegated of plumage, who comes forth from the horizon, Harakhty, he who is before the great throne of Osiris, foremost of the Westerners, lord of Abydos
Hwt-Hr Hnwt aImntyw aInpw nb mAaty m wsxt mAatyw aInpw imy-wt nb tA Dsr aInpw xnty sH-nTr
Hathor, mistress of the Westerners, Anubis, Lord of the two truths in the Hall of the true, Anubis, he who is in his Wat , lord of the sacred land , Anubis, he who is foremost of the divine booth


di.sn prt xrw t Hnqt kAw Apdw snTr Hr sDt ht nb nfr wab bnr anx(w) nTr aim.sn qrs nfr
that they may give voice offerings of bread, beer, beef, geese, incense on the flame, and all things good, pure and sweet, from which a god lives, a goodly burial
iwaw.f mnw Hr nst.f kA n Wsir Hm Hr sHtp Hm.s aHA(?) nb mAa-xrw Hm nsw bity smsw hAyt n Hr BHdty nb pt
his heirs abiding in his seat, for the ka of the Osiris, the sHtp Hm.s priest, the combatant of the lord of truth, the servant of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the elder of the Portal of Horus of Edfu, lord of the sky
wAH xt nTr n BHdt sS mSa sS hwt-nTr Hm-nTr snw Hr-pA-Xrd Hm-nTr Imn n Sna Hry wabw sxmt imy-r srqt wdpw Hry tp (?)
he who sacrifices to the gods of Edfu, the scribe of the army, second scribe of the temple, priest of Horus the Child, the great god, and of Amun of the storehouse, chief wab-priest of Sekhmet, overseer of Selket, chief butler
sS mDAt nTr (iry?) Hat imy-r Hmt-nTr n Hr BHdt nTr aA nb pt pA-Sri-(n)y-m-Htp mAa-xrw Sr Wsir
scribe of the divine book, the guardian of the prow, overseer of priests of Horus of Edfu, the great god, lord of the sky, Pashrinyemhotep, true of voice, child of Osiris
sA n Hm-nTr A n Hr BHdty Hr-sA-Ast mAa-xrw ir(w) n nbt pr Hry nst.s TA-Ast mAa-xrw mn sp-sn wAH sp-sp nq Dt
Son of the third priest of Horus of Edfu, Horus the son of Isis, true of voice, born of the mistress of the house, she who is in her place, the sistrum player, Ta-Isis, true of voice, may he last, may he last, may he endure, may he endure, without destruction for ever.



The chief wab-priest, or pure-priest was not necessarily a high rank.[i]

The phrase ‘true of voice’ indicates that the deceased has successfully undergone judgement.

The lowest section shows Osiris incorporated into a djed pillar which is flanked by two Anubis figures in jackal form seated on shrines. During the New Kingdom, the djed pillar came to represent the back bone of Osiris and stability. The deceased wished to be identified with Osiris who was brought back to life through mummification carried out by Anubis.

Back: This stela was free-standing and therefore decorated on the reverse. The back shows Isis (right) and Nephthys (left) squatting, with hands raised in worship of Osiris (centre). Beneath is a djed pillar flanked by two representations of the Girdle of Isis. The Girdle of Isis perhaps represents the cloth worn by women during menstruation and was a protective amulet.

[i]Ben Haring, Divine Households: Administrative and Economic Aspects of the New Kingdom Royal Memorial Temples in Western Thebes. Egyptologische Uitgaven 13 (Leiden, 1997), p. 222; Katherine Eaton Ancient Egyptian Temple Ritual. Performance, Pattern and Practice (New York and London, 2013), p. 29.

[i]Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge Catalogue of the MacGregor Collection of Egyptian Antiquities 26th June 1922 and the four following days and 3rd July 1922 and three following days. Lot 1588 describes this stela but gives no provenance.

[ii]The piece was researched and translated by Effland who attributed it to the 1st century: Andreas Effland, ‘Materialien zur Archäologie und Geschichte des Raumes von Edfu’ (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, 2004), pp. 227–30. The father of the owner of W1041 is mentioned in Cairo Museum stela CG2049: Ahmed Bey Kamal, Catalogue Général des Antiquités Égyptiennes du Musée du Caire No. 22001-22238. Stèles Ptolémaiques et Romaines (Cairo, 1905).

[iii]Randy Shonkwiler, ‘The Behdetite: A Study of Horus the Behdedite from the Old Kingdom to the conquest of Alexander’, (unpublished Ph.D thesis, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2014), particularly pp. 85, 125–6, 481–2, 494.







Other stelae in the Egypt Centre