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in the districts called 'Asâsîf and ķúrnah ; they were used
but the ordinary length is ten inches, and the diameter three of cones.
inches. The face, or flat part, of the cone at its thickest end
SEPULCHRAL STELÆ OR TABLETS
Use of stela.
Stela is the name given to the tablets of granite, calcareous stone, wood, or faïence, which the Egyptians used in large numbers for inscribing with decrees and historical records of the achievements of kings, biographical notices of eminent officials, priests, and private persons, hymns to Rā and other geds, and notices of any events of importance. The greater number, however, of those which have been found belong to the class called sepulchral, and are inscribed with the names and titles of deceased persons, their pedigrees, and the principal events in their lives. They were placed inside tombs, either in the corridor leading to the mummy chamber, or at the door, or at the foot or the head of the bier, or let into the wall ; sometimes they are rectangular and sometimes they are rounded at the top. The styles of stelæ, the arrangement of the scenes upon them, and the inscriptions, vary with
| Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, iii: p. 437.
the different dynasties. From the Ist-Vlth dynasty stelæ are
| The oldest stele known is preserved at Gîzeh and at Oxford, and was made for Shera, a priest of Senț, the fifth king oí 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 inedita, Rome, 1892.
3 The inscription of Chnemu-ḥ:tep, one of the most valuable of this period, is inscribed on the walls of his tomb,
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 cpoch the gods take their places, and he stands alone before Osiris, god and judge of the dead. In many stelæ of this period the name of the god Åmen has been carefully chiselled out, by order of the “hcretic king,” Amenophis IV. A remarkable characteristic of stelæ 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 stelæ, 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 Amāsis is an example of this class of documents. Amāsis 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 stelæ 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 stelæ appears not to have been so general, and from about B.C. 1000-650 they almost disappear. The stelæ which belong to this period are few and small, and the designs are generally poor imitations of stelæ 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