On its top ledge, this stela proclaims the name of King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II (ca. 2051–2000 B.C.), the founder of the Middle Kingdom. In the same line, the stela's owner, Intef, refers to himself as "his (the king's) servant." Intef also recounts that he was overseer of a fortress and served in the region of Herakleopolis, the capital city of the minor kings who ruled northern Egypt before the country's reunification under Mentuhotep II. An official could only have been appointed here after Mentuhotep II eliminated the last of the Herakleopolitan rulers during his reunification of Egypt (ca. 2021 B.C.)
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
Detail showing Intef and his wife before the offering table.
Detail showing offerings being brought.
Detail showing Intef holding a lotus blossom.
Detail showing herdsman.
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Title:Stela of the Overseer of the Fortress Intef
Reign:Seankhkare Mentuhotep III
Date:ca. 2000–1988 B.C.
Dimensions:H. 78 × W. 142 × D. 8.5 cm, 189.1 kg (30 11/16 × 55 7/8 × 3 3/8 in., 417 lb.)
Credit Line:Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1957
(Top edge) Horus "Uniter of the Two Lands," Two Ladies "Uniter of the Two Lands," Falcon of Gold "Tall of plumes," King of Upper and Lower Egypt Neb-hepet-re, Son of Re Mentuhotep, alive like Re forever:
His true and cherished servant, fortress-overseer of the Great Passage, king’s confidant in [every mat]ter — my lord also has appointed me in Heracleopolis as (left edge) [fortress-overseer] there;
great model of the king himself, treasury of ancient values by virtue of what the king inculcated in his heart;
learned one, perceptive and c[lever], (1) through whose action no mistake has happened since I (first) undertook to do a commission — (which was) when I was still in the midst of my childhood, when the king appoints a man to office, when a man comes into his father’s office;
one who acts as door over what is and is not, foremost of offices in the king’s house, (2) master of values ancient since the time of the ancestors;
confidant of the king in his palace when the subjects are kept from him, one to whom the great come bowing at the gate of the king’s house, ruler of estate personnel, director of officials, one whom the great greet, preeminent of the courtiers (3) with access to the palace;
who knows what is secret on the day the courtiers speak, great of incense and lord of awe on the day of dragging in the supplicant, who reports to the king is privacy, who approaches the throne on the day of assembly, to whom the king divulges his word in order to act as gateway over it, (4) true [of voice] on the day of [receiving] commission, one without transgression.
I am one unique to his lord, free of disorder, who sets speech so that it is correct, who knows how to speak, who uses choice expressions, who sees far off, who plans for the future, who knows where to stand in the king’s house. Everything his Incarnation ordered (5) I do for him, I have done it just as his Incarnation ordered done. I did not substitute something for something else. I did not neglect the needs (6) of his Incarnation. I did not disrupt any of his activities. My counsel is excellent, my expression forceful, and everything I do is valiant to my lord’s mind. I speak freely (7) when I talk, my mind filled with exactitude for my lord.
I am one preferred, praised, and cherished by his lord: the revered Intef, born of Tjefi.
(Right edge) An "offering that the king gives" of Osiris, lord of Busiris: an invocation offering of one revered before the great god, lord of the sky, Intef, born of Tjefi: (bottom edge) I am well endowed in my funerary estate by virtue of what the Incarnation of my lord has given me. I have come from my town and come down from my district (to this place), having done what men love and gods praise: I have given bread to the hungry and clothing to the naked — the revered In[tef].
(seated man) An invocation of the necessary offerings for the revered Intef.
(seated woman) His chosen wife, the revered Iti.
(top register, left to right) Giving the water of libation. Ka-priest. Making incense; embalmer. Performing the "offering that the king gives"; lector priest. A haunch for you. Figs for you. Ducks for you.
(bottom register, left to right) An ox for you. A goose for you. Offerings for you. Bouquets for you. Bread for you.
James P. Allen 2007
Purchased by the Museum from Ernst Kofler, Lucerne, 1957. With Mahmoud Mohassib previously in 1947-48, and apparently already by 1938 when text of stela was copied there by Ludwig Keimer.
Fischer, Henry G. 1968. Dendera in the third millennium B.C., down to the Theban domination of upper Egypt. Locust Valley, New York: J. J. Augustin, p. 213 (g).
Franke, Detlef 2006. "Fúrsorge und Patronat in der Ersten Zwischenzeit und im Mittleren Reich." In Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur, 34, 181, no. 27.
Arnold, Dorothea 2015. "Stela of the Overseer of the Fortress Intef." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 58–60, no. 10.
Kamrin, Janice 2015. "The Decoration of Elite Tombs: Connecting the Living and the Dead." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 28.
Grajetzki, Wolfram 2015. "The Pharaoh's Subjects: Court and Provinces." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 123.
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