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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Stela of Ramesses II

New Kingdom, Ramesside
Dynasty 19
reign of Ramesses II
ca. 1279–1213 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes
H. 72.4 cm (28 1/2 in); w. 50.8 cm (20 in); th. 11.4 cm (4 1/2 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Constantine Johnston Beach, 1954
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 123
This fragment of a limestone stela preserves part of an inscription endowing a temple or a chapel dedicated to Ramesses II within a Theban precinct of Amun-Re with provisions and land.
The temples of ancient Egypt were centers of worship and learning, but they also had an important part in the economic life of ancient Egypt, as this stela indicates. The inscription on the stela discusses daily and yearly provisioning of bread, fruit, textiles and other goods as well as a portion of land. The beneficiary of these provisions was Amun-Re, King of the Gods, although they are dedicated to a cult of Ramesses II in the god’s domain. The provisions are considerable but do not amount to that of contemporaneous temple endowments. It has, therefore, been suggested that the provisions listed here are intended for a subsidiary chapel within a temple of Amun-Re in Thebes.
The interplay between economy and religion is also evident in the articulation of text, which combines account making practices with religious phraseology. The first lines preserved here follow in detail the scribal conventions of calculating provisions, indicating the commodity, the relevant measurement, the amount, and the yearly total. This financial way of writing is intermingled with the religious phraseology of that day and age, mostly evident in the final lines of the text, where king is described as acting for his father, Amun-Re.
Niv Allon, January 2015
...flour (?), oipe (a dry measure), 1 + 1/4 + 1/20; white bread, baking value of 12 (per one oipe),....4 [making]...2, [oipe]...
...sweet cake, 1; beer, des-jar, brewing value of 25 (per one oipe), making daily 1 sack, grain, making yearly...
...[36], nemset-jar, daily, making hin (ca. 1/2 liter) 365, making men-jar 18 + 1/4...
...[x+]45; fruit, basket, 1 daily, making 365; vegetables, bundles, 10 daily, making 3650...
...for sweet cake, 1/6 daily, making oipe, 1+1/2+1/40; oil for lamps, hin 5 for a month, making...
...1 tunic of mek-cloth (perhaps tapestry woven cloth); 1 kerchief of mek-cloth (perhaps tapestry woven cloth); 1 tunic of good and thin linen; 1 kerchief...
...king of the gods, which was said in the Majesty of the palace on that day, may the temple of Usermaatre-Setepenre (Ramesses II) given life be...
...from the granary pf the divine offerings of the domain of Amun-Re, King of the Gods, while the goods of his treasury...
...given to this domain of the district of He of the Gleaming Aten, and the fields....
...upon Amun and the fields, being from the Domain of Adoration, arourae...
...for his father, Amun-Re, King of the Gods, forever and ever.

Niv Allon, January 2015
Purchased in Luxor by Mrs. Albert W. Johnstone, 1910. Given to the Museum by Mrs. Constantine Johnstone Beach, 1954.

Scott, Nora E. 1956. "Recent Additions to the Egyptian Collection." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, new ser., vol. 15, no. 3 (November), pp. 83–84, fig. 11.

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