Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Inscribed Plaque From a Foundation Deposit

New Kingdom, Ramesside
Dynasty 19
reign of Seti I
ca. 1294–1279 B.C.
Probably from Memphite region, Memphis, foundation deposit; From Egypt
Egyptian blue, faience
H. 8 cm (3 1/8 in.); W. 4.5 (1 3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 122
Seti I, second king of Dynasty 19, was, like his father Ramesses I, very conscious of his role in establishing a new dynasty and restoring the power and stature of Egypt among its neighbors. He campaigned in the Levant and his battle reliefs decorate the exterior walls of the huge hypostyle hall that he added to the temple of Karnak. He also reopened the gold mines in the eastern desert and Nubia. He built a beautiful mortuary temple for himself at Abydos in which was carved the famous kinglist of Abydos, as well as a mortuary temple at Thebes. In the Valley of the Kings, he built one of the most beautifully carved and decorated tombs ever made there.
Very little is known of his building in Memphis. This cartouche-shaped plaque, however, may have come from the foundation deposit of a structure honoring the god Ptah of Memphis. The inscription on the front bears the throne name of Seti I, "Menmaatre, Ruler of Heliopolis," while on the back, the name of the structure appears as "the temple (called) Set-Merneptah-is beneficial-in-the-domain-of-Ptah." The structure was probably incomplete upon Seti's death, and was finished under his son Ramesses II who usurped it. The building was probably dismantled and its blocks were reused in later times, leaving only this plaque and two other small objects to indicate that it once existed.
The plaque is inscribed on both sides. The front reads:
Menmaatre (Seti I) Ruler of Heliopolis
The inscription on the back side reads:
Hw.t-nTr Ax stX.y-mr-n-ptH m pr ptH
The temple Beneficial-is-Seti-Beloved-of-Ptah-in-the-Domain-of-PtaH"

Niv Allon 2015
Formerly Gréau Collection. Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan before 1903. Donated to the Museum, 1917.

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