This stela, a carved and painted composition on limestone, commemorates an official with the name Iy. It was probably once part of a wall in his tomb.
A funerary stela such as this was intended to make the name of the deceased live forever and symbolically provide him with offerings for eternity. It would have been seen by anyone visiting his tomb, but very few would have been able to understand the text. Only about one out of a hundred people in Ancient Egyptian could read hieroglyphs!
The stela is kept at the McManus art gallery and museum in Dundee, Scotland. The photograph was provided by curator Christina Donald. Analysis of the text is by Angela McDonald and Mark-Jan Nederhof, prepared using PhilologEg.
Iy lived in the first intermediate period, when Upper and Lower Egypt were divided. In that period, the artworks in Upper Egypt generally lacked the refinement of the Old Kingdom, yet possessed an original style with bright colors, as in the case of this stela.
The stela is from the Mesheikh region in Naga ed-Deir, a necropolis on the east bank of the Nile, approximately 30 km downriver from Abydos, in the eighth nome of Upper Egypt.
The stela was described on pp. 639-640 of:
Also from Naga ed-Deir is the stela of Inheretnakht in the British Museum.
The name Iy is written in hieroglyphs twice. He wears a pleated wig, a broad collar and bracelets, and a pointed linen kilt tied at his waist. He holds a staff in his left hand, and in his right a sceptre symbolising his authority.
His son, whose name Meniu is written above his head, looks like a smaller version of his father, Iy, but instead of a sceptre, Meniu holds the wings of a little bird: he’s still a child.
In most stelas from Naga ed-Deir, the deceased appears with his wife. This stela is unusual in that the main figure is represented with his son.
Also mentioned are his father, his mother, and his siblings. His mother, named Ibi, was part of the royal household; her honorary title ẖqrt-nswt literally means "king's ornament" and is freely translated as lady-of-the-court.
A servant is offering food to Iy.
Still visible are traces of jrj-pꜥt ("nobleman"), which was corrected to jmꜣḫ ("the revered one").
Damage to the surface was filled up. Signs on that patch are not carved as they are elsewhere, but merely painted.
Whereas most carved signs were painted in, the deceased on the bier is not.
The sign for jmꜣḫ was partially painted inside the cavity, which shows the damage arose before the inscription was created. It is tempting to read the two visible reeds as the ending of jmꜣḫy, but the text makes better sense if we assume there was a third reed, lost through damage in modern times, to read a second occurrence of the name Iy.
In the name of the mother, the middle sign is difficult to make out, which may be the result of a correction or other prior damage to the surface. We read b for this sign, to form the name Ibi.
ꜣpd n bird
j interjection o
jmꜣḫw n revered one
jmj-wt n Imiut
jnk pron I
js n tomb
jt n father
ꜥnḫ n life
ꜥnḫ n living one
pt n (f) sky
pn pron this
m prep in
mwt n (f) mother
mnḫt n (f) linen
mrj v love
msj v give birth
msḏj v hate
n prep for
n adj of
nb adj all
nb n lord
nfr adj-verb good
nṯr ꜥꜣ n great god
r prep to
ḥꜣtj-ꜥ n governor
ḥnqt n (f) beer
ḥsj v praise
ḥtp-ḏj-nswt n offering that the king gives
ḫt n (f/m) thing
ḫꜣ num 1000
ḫpyt n (f) death
ḫr prep before
ḫtmw-bjtj n royal seal-keeper
ẖrj-ḥbt n lector priest
ẖkrt n (f) ornament
sꜣ n son
swꜣj v pass
smr n friend
snwt n (f) siblings
st-jb n affection
kꜣ n ox
t n bread
tꜣ n earth
tꜣ-ḏsr n necropolis
tp adj on
ḏw n mountain
ḏd v say
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