Stela of Amennakht

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 109

This fine round-topped stela belongs to an official named Amennakht. In the large scene that takes up the bottom three-quarter of the stela, the owner is shown accompanied by his wife, whose name is not recorded. Amennakht has short hair, and wears a broad collar and a starched short kilt. He stands with one foot forward, holding a long walking stick in one hand and a shorter staff of office in the other. Despite some erosion on the surface, red pigment remains on much of his skin. Amennakht’s wife wears a long sheath dress, and her head is adorned with two ornaments in the form of papyrus umbels. She places one hand on her husband’s shoulder and holds a water lily blossom, a symbol of regeneration, in the other. In front of Amennakht’s face is a pile of food offerings placed on a mat. A tall, slender libation jar known as heset and three ovoid jars placed on a rack also appear in front of his legs. On the farthest right are three ground lines, each supporting a small-scale unnamed figure. On top stands a man, perhaps the couple’s son, wearing a short kilt and placing one hand over his chest. In the middle is a woman, perhaps the couple’s daughter, holding a water lily flower up to her face. On the bottom is a very small man, probably a butler, presenting a cup and bringing a fowl as an additional offering. The five lines of inscription in the top portion of the stela include an offering formula and an appeal to the living, both meant to magically sustain Amennakht for eternity.

Stela of Amennakht, Sandstone, paint

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