Ancient Egypt, Old Kingdom, 3rd to 6th Dynasty, ca. 2686 to 2181 BCE. A beautiful fragment of a hand-carved limestone offering stele for a deceased individual. The thick tablet features three registers of large hieroglyphs in low relief that are read right to left and separated with thin borders as well as a vertical lateral border. The intent of this tablet is determined by the first line which reads, "An offering which the King gives Anubis . . ." which is a commensurate phrase in the traditional Egyptian offering incantation. The second line reads, "The Osiris gives offerings of (strength?) . . ." and the third line reads, "A feast/festival/festal offering . . ." The intricate, low relief presentation of the hieroglyphs as well as offerings given by both the king and Osiris suggest that this stele was meant for an individual of great respect, wealth, influence deserving of ample sustenance in the afterlife. Size: 11.875" W x 12.875" H (30.2 cm x 32.7 cm); 13.9" H (35.3 cm) on included custom stand.
For an example of a relief from the late 3rd to 4th Dynasty, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 58.44.2a, and another can be seen at the Middlebury College Museum of Art.
For an example of an offering stele with incised hieroglyphs, please see The British Museum, museum number EA1663.
Provenance: private Hagar collection, Wildwood, Missouri, USA; ex-private North Carolina, USA collection, acquired in the 1980s
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This is a fragment of a larger tablet. Nicks and abrasions to some hieroglyphs, peripheries, and verso, with softening to some hieroglyphs, and light encrustations, otherwise intact and excellent. Great earthen deposits and preservation of remaining hieroglyphs.