Stela of Dedu

Contributed by Oriental Museum Durham

A stela is a slab of wood or stone, usually painted, inscribed or engraved and set upright. In Ancient Egypt they were used as funerary monuments and for commemorative or votive purposes. They were also sometimes used as boundary markers.

This very finely carved stela was created for a man named Dedu. It records an elaborate form of the Ancient Egyptian funeral offering formula addressed to Osiris, Wepwawet, Hekat, Khnum and the other gods of a Abydos in Middle Egypt. Stelae such as this were set up by pilgrims visiting the shrine of the god Osiris at Abydos with a view to participating in and benefiting from its festivals for eternity. The text asks anyone passing to speak Dedu's name and in that way cause him to live forever.

Dedu is shown seated at the bottom left, with his wife sitting in front of him. His children and other family members face the, carrying offerings of food and drink and other luxuries that Dedu hoped to enjoy in the afterlife. In accordance with Ancient Egyptian artistic style, Dedu is shown much larger than all of the other figures to emphasise his importance.

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Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1944 BCE


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