Page images
PDF

the different dynasties. From the Ist–VIth dynasty' stelae are rectangular in form, and sometimes are made to resemble the outer façade of a temple. The inscriptions are comparatively short, and merely record the names of the relatives of the deceased who are represented on the stele, and the prayers to Osiris for cakes, bread, meat, wine, oil, milk, wax, bandages, ducks, oxen, etc., which are put into the mouth of the deceased. A remarkable inscription found in a tomb” of the VIth dynasty is that of Uná, who was born in the reign of Tetà, and held service under this king; under Pepi, the successor of Tetá, he brought stone from the quarries of Ruâu, and conducted an expedition against the nomad tribes to the east of Egypt, and in the reign of the following king, Mer-en-Ră, he died full of days and honour. During the XIth dynasty the stelae have many of the characteristics of those of the VIth dynasty, but the execution is better. A large number of the stelae of the XIIth dynasty are rounded, the inscriptions and scenes are carefully executed, and are often painted with many colours; sometimes on the same stele the figures are in relief, while the inscriptions are incised. As a rule the contents of the inscriptions are repetitions of the titles of the deceased, praises of the king, bald statements of the work he has done for him, prayers to the god for sepulchral meals, and an address to those who pass by the stele to make mention of the dead man in appropriate funereal formulae. The scenes usually represent the several members of the family of the deceased bringing to him offerings of the various things for which he prays. From the XIIth-XVIIth dynasty, biographies on stelae o are rare. Stelae of the XIIIth and XIVth dynastics are characterized by their uniformity of colour, when painted ; the workmanship is, however, poor, the inscriptions are badly cut, and the hieroglyphics are thin and small. The stelae of the XVIIIth dynasty are usually rounded at the top, and have

* The oldest stele known is preserved at Gizeh and at Oxford, and was made for Sherä, a priest of Sent, the fifth king of the IInd dynasty, about B. c. 4000; it is figured in Lepsius, Auswahl, Pl. 9.

* Compare the interesting inscription published by Schiaparelli, Una tomba egiziana in edita, Rome, 1892.

* The inscription of Chnemu-hetep, one of the most valuable of this period, is inscribed on the walls of his tomb.

Stelae of
the
Middle
Empire.

[ocr errors]

very little in common with those of older dynasties. In earlier times the deceased was represented as being surrounded by his parents, brothers and sisters, wife and servants, but at this epoch the gods take their places, and he stands alone before Osiris, god and judge of the dead. In many stelae of this period the name of the god Amen has been carefully chiselled out, by order of the “heretic king,” Amenophis IV. A remarkable characteristic of stelae at this time is the length and fulness of the inscriptions upon them. In the earlier times, private matters in the life of the deceased were passed over with little or no mention; now, however, full biographies become the rule, and the inscriptions cover not only the stelae, but the walls of the chamber in which the mummies were laid. Sometimes such biographies are almost the only authorities for the history of a period, and the inscription of Amäsis is an example of this class of documents. Amäsis was a naval officer who was born about the time of the final war of the Egyptians against the Hyksos, and he was present at the capture of the town of Avaris, during the reign of Amāsis I, king of Egypt. He was specially honoured by this king for his prowess in battle, and he served in various campaigns undertaken by his successors, Amenophis I., and Thothmes I. The stelae of the XIXth dynasty show a great falling off both in design and execution. The figures of men and women are poor, and their limbs are made out of all proportion to the rest of their bodies. The mode of wearing their clothes, too, has changed, a large portion of the body is entirely covered by the dress, and the figures wear a heavy head-dress, which falls squarely upon the shoulders. The hieroglyphics are carelessly engraved, and lack the spirit which indicates those of the XVIIIth dynasty. During the XXth dynasty the use of stelae appears not to have been so general, and from about B.C. IOOO–650 they almost disappear. The stelae which belong to this period are few and small, and the designs are generally poor imitations of stelae of an older date. The cause of this decline is not quite evident, but it may be either the result of the disquietude caused by the unsettled condition of Egypt through foreign invasions, or the consequence of some religious schism. It will be noticed that ushabtiu figures, as well as stelae, become fewer and poorer during this same period. The stelae of the XXVIth Stelo of dynasty exhibit the features which are characteristic of the . sculptures of this period. They occur in large numbers, they are larger in size, the hieroglyphics are small, but cleanly cut, and they have a beauty which is in itself sufficient to proclaim the time to which they belong. The inscriptions are copied from ancient texts, and as neither the scribe nor the sculptor understood at times what he was writing, frequent mistakes are the result. After the XXVIth dynasty stelae were made of all possible designs and forms; the hieroglyphics are badly cut, the inscriptions are the ordinary formulae, in which the deceased prays for sepulchral meals, and it is quite clear that the placing of a stele in the tomb had become a mere matter of form with the greater number of the Egyptians. In Ptolemaic times ancient models were copied, but the inscriptions are as often in Greek or demotic, or both, as in hieroglyphics. Stelae bearing bilingual inscriptions, in hieroglyphics and Greek, or hieroglyphics and Phoenician, are also known. Subsequently it became the fashion to make the figures of the gods on stelae in high relief, and the attributes and costumes of Greck gods were applied to those of Egypt. The greater number of the wooden stelae in European museums belong to the XXVIth and subsequent dynasties. They are rounded at the top, they usually stand upon two pedestals having steps on each side, and they vary in size from 6 in by 4 in. to 3 ft. by 20 in. The inscriptions and o scenes upon them are usually painted in white, green, red, so yellow, or black, upon a light or dark brown ground. On the of

XXVIth back are at times figures of the sun shedding rays i. and dynasty.

standards of the east # and west #. The large tablets have #. three registers; in the first are the winged disk eazz, with ' ' ) pendent uraei wearing the crowns of the north and south, the jackal-headed gods Anubis and Ap-uat, emblems of “life” and “power” |+| etc.; in the second register are the boat of the sun, in which stand a number of gods, Rä,

Horus, Cheperá, Maāt, Anubis, etc., and the deceased, or his soul, kneeling at a table of offerings in front of the boat

Inlaid stelae.

Stelae in glazed faience.

in adoration of Rā; in the third register the deceased makes adoration to a number of gods, and below this comes the inscription. The smaller, and more numerous, tablets have in the rounded part, the winged disk with pendent uraei, and the inscription -> 3 SEZ ses. Behuset neb pet “[Horus of) Behutet, lord of heaven.” The scene which follows is divided into two parts: in the one the deceased stands or kneels by the side of an altar in adoration before Rā-Har

machis #. and in the other he adores Nefer-Atmu. Below

the scenes are two inscriptions which read from the middle of
the tablet to the sides, and contain, the one an address or
prayer to Rä when he rises, the other, an address to Rä when
he sets. Frequently a tablet is inscribed with the prayer to
Rā-Harmachis and Nefer-Atmu for sepulchral meals.
Wooden stelae were sometimes inlaid with glass figures
and hieroglyphics of various colours in imitation of the scenes
and inscriptions on tablets of an earlier date. A remark-
I
able example of this class of work is B.M. *as which,
I

according to Dr. Birch, is inscribed with the name of Darius, and represents this king making offerings to Anubis, who is seated on a throne under a winged disk and stars; behind the god is Isis, with horns on her head, and a sceptre in her hand.

That sepulchral stelae were sometimes made of glazed fasence, we know from B.M. No. 6133, a fine example of a light blue colour, in which the deceased Amen-em-āpt, a royal scribe, is standing in adoration before the god Osiris, who holds a flail and crook. This interesting object was probably made about B.C. IOOO, when the art of making glazed faïence of a fine blue or green colour was at its greatest perfection.

VASES.

The Vases found in Egyptian tombs are made of alabaster, diorite, granite, basalt and other kinds of hard stone, steatite, bronze, wood, terra-cotta, faience, and glass. The shapes of vases are various, but the following are the most

[ocr errors]

placed in the tombs to contain the offerings of wine, oil, unguents, spices, and other offerings made to the temples, or to the dead in their tombs. Among hard stones capable of receiving a high polish, granite, diorite and alabaster were those most commonly used for making vases. Granite and diorite vases are usually without inscriptions, and were made during all periods of Egyptian history. Vases of alabaster are very much more numerous, and as this material was comparatively easily worked, and readily lent itself to form symmetrical and beautiful shapes, it was a great favourite with the Egyptians. They were sometimes inscribed on the front, the flat part of the rim, or the top of the cover, with inscriptions recording the names and titles of the deceased persons with whom they were buried ; thus they are valuable as giving the names of kings and officials of high rank, pedigrees, etc., and as showing at the same time the wonderful skill of the Egyptian alabaster worker at a period nearly four thousand years B.C. Alabaster vases were in use from the IVth-XXVIth dynasty, and the Persian kings had their names inscribed upon them in Egyptian and cuneiform. Arragonite, or zoned alabaster, was used for large vases and liquid measures; a beautiful example of this material is B.M. No. 4839, which has two handles and a cover, and is inscribed with its capacity

| | | | “eight hen and three quarters.” Vases in glazed

steatite are not common, and I believe the oldest to be B.M. No. 4762, which is inscribed with the name of Thothmes I., B.C. 1633. Vases in bronze are ancient, tolerably numerous, and of various shapes; among them must be classed those, in the shape of buckets with handles, which are ornamented with scenes in relief, in which the deceased is represented adoring various deities; they belong chiefly to the period of the XXVIth dynasty. Models of vases in wood were also made and placed in the tombs. They were sometimes painted to resemble glass (B.M. No. 9529d), and were sometiines covered with plaster and gilded, examples of which are B.M. No. 9529e and 9529 f, both were made for the

tomb of Rameses II. ; the former is inscribed još. | uatchu,

Use of vases.

Value of inscriptions on vaScs.

Models of vases.

« PreviousContinue »