Ancient Egypt, New Kingdom / Third Intermediate Period, ca. 1550 to 712 BCE. A fragment of a carved limestone panel depicting a series of hieroglyphs on its lower half and the lower part of a standing anthropomorphic figure on its upper half. The lower body includes a small ankh, symbol of life, by its striding front foot. The zigzagging Ripple of Water hieroglyph is carved by the knee and some other, fragmentary symbols, probably other hieroglyphs, are carved above it. The figure stands on a vertically incised, curved boat - part of the fishing scene on the journey to Sht-Htp. The hieroglyphs are much more complete, with the owl (G17), tilapia (K1), part of a different kind of fish (probably K3), two buns (X1), and a building component, probably a variant of O43. This is a caption that translates as "shooting fish in the marsh". A human face is seen to the right of the fragment, lost behind the eye. Size: 2.05" L x 7.95" W x 17.4" H (5.2 cm x 20.2 cm x 44.2 cm)
The carved (rather than simply painted) and brightly colorful nature of this relief indicates that it was from a prestigious location - most likely a major temple, but also possibly a high ranking official's tomb or even a palace. Images like this one were part of larger stories, usually a journey through the afterlife or meeting deities in the afterlife, that were designed to help people understand religious concepts and, if found in a tomb, to introduce the dead to their new world. Hieroglyphic inscriptions offered prayers and advice for the dead.
Provenance: private St. Louis, Missouri, USA collection; ex Atlanta, Georgia, USA collection, acquired before 1990
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Piece is a fragment, with rough edges. Much of the panel face is clear, aside from loss at the top left (facing) as shown. Surface scratching commensurate with age and handling, but it does not obscure the remaining artwork.