Limestone stele depicting three figures and heiroglyphs

Egyptian. Cast of the original in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Limestone relief from the Tomb of the God’s Father Hatiay at Saqqara, Memphis, 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom, c. 1336-1295 BCE.

The original work of art, replicated here as a cast, is believed to have decorated an entrance within the tomb of the God’s Father Hatiay. The priestly title “God’s Father” denotes Hatiay’s profession and it is speculated he may have been a member of an important priestly family based in Memphis.  

Three figures are represented in sunken relief with their right arms raised in a gesture of adoration to the god Sokar Osiris, the god of the Memphite necropolis. The figure of the god was likely depicted in close proximity to the original relief. The central figure represents Hatiay dressed in a pleated kilt, a priestly sash, and collar. He holds a censer and spouted libation vase in his left hand. In front of Hatiay stands a priest who wears a leopard skin and a wig. Hatiay’s son, the wab-Priest Ptahmose, stands behind him. He carries a bouquet of papyrus flowers with his left hand. Both Hatiay and his son are rendered in a style associated with the Amarna Period (c.1349-1336 BCE). The period began when Akhenaten was crowned pharaoh and broke with established religious tradition to favor the god Aten in a manner that has been described as almost monotheistic. His reign also ushered in radical changes in artistic style and iconography. During this time, artisans began to favor figures with oddly distorted heads, elongated forms, thin arms, and other bodily distortions. The figures of Hatiay and his son both demonstrate the elongated, distorted forms associated with the Amarna Period.

Above the three figures is a hieroglyphic inscription that expresses a prayer to Sokar Osiris and names Hatiay and his son. The hieroglyphs are translated as follows:

To the left: "Sokar-Osiris, I have given you a thousand of bread and a thousand of...a thousand of oxen and a thousand of fowl, a thousand of incense and a thousand of fat, a thousand of alabaster and a thousand of clothing, a thousand of wine and a thousand of divine-offerings, a thousand of everything sweet and a thousand of everything pure and good, and the offerings of all the yearly sustenance for Sokar in the Henu barque"

Above the main figure: God's father, Hatiay

Above the figure to his right: His son, the wab-priest, Ptahmose

[Translation of hieroglyphs courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art].

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