Amenemhat Funerary Stele: a Touching Family Scene! (An Embracing into Eternity!)

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Detail of funerary stela of Amenemhat. The name of God Amun was erased by Akhenaten’s agents. Limestone, painted. From Egypt, early 18th Dynasty. The Burrell Collection, Glasgow.
Wikimdia Commons

It’s a lovely heritage from the old magical Egypt, which shows us such a loving relationship between a family.

In this 12th dynasty tomb painting, the deceased Amenemhat (also spelt Amenemhet) is embraced by his living father Intef and his deceased mother Iy, as his living sister Hapy looks on from the right. We know this from a close reading of the offering formula to the deceased above the figures, and the name-and-relationship hieroglyphs beside the living figures. Upon the offering table, succulent cuts of beef are piled up with garlic, vegetables, and bread for the sustenance of the deceased in the afterlife. (Ancient Egypt)

Now let’s read the details of this beautiful and a lot of narrative Stele. With hearty thanks to Marie Grillot. via https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/

Amenemhat funerary stele – painted limestone – Middle Kingdom
Discovered in the necropolis of El-Assassif by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
during the 1915-1916 season – Egyptian Museum in Cairo – JE 45626

This “Amenemhat funerary stele” is painted on limestone, 30 cm high, 50 cm wide. It is dated to the Middle Kingdom, around 2000 BC.

The colours are soft (which is unusual for the time). It’s with a dominant white and gentle green.

The scene can be split into two “sequences”: On the left side, three figures are seated on an elegant black wooden bench with a lion’s feet and small white and green backsplashes.

The first character is a woman, charming, thin and slender. She wears a black, three-part wig, which goes down to below the shoulders while leaving the ear open.

Amenemhat funerary stele – painted limestone – Middle Kingdom
Discovered in the necropolis of El-Assassif by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
during the 1915-1916 season – Egyptian Museum in Cairo – JE 45626

His eyes, stretched out, are bordered with a black line, the pupil and the eyebrow, are also black. Around her neck, a large, soft green necklace, in the same colour as the wrist and ankle bracelets. She is wearing a long, tight dress, immaculate white. The garment, held by a strap, leaves the breast uncovered; its point, strongly marked, is materialized in black. Under her, a lovely little basket with a handle, very feminine, is placed, from which protrudes the recognizable handle of a mirror.

In front of her is a man: he turns his back to her; she rests her right hand on his right arm, while her left hand rests on his left shoulder.

The man looks young. He has black hair that falls in layers to the back of his neck. He wears a simple white loincloth; on his neck hangs a necklace, and, on his wrist, a large bracelet of the same gentle green.

Amenemhat funerary stele – painted limestone – Middle Kingdom
Discovered in the necropolis of El-Assassif by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
during the 1915-1916 season – Egyptian Museum in Cairo – JE 45626 – photo of the museum

In front of him seats a man who looks like him but appears older. He is coiffed and dressed in the same way. The difference is that he wears a black beard, and his collar is wider.

These three characters hold each other’s arms and their hands. The bonds of affection between them are palpable and displayed.

In “Treasures of Egypt – The Wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo”, Rosanna Pirelli gives us the following details: “At the far right, appears the owner of the stele, Amenemhat, on the left, his wife and, in the centre, Antef, the couple’s son. The scene is striking in its naturalness since the three characters are associated in a scene, testifying to their intimacy: the woman holds her son’s shoulders with both hands, her left arm crossing her right arm. Amenemhat, with his left hand, holds his son’s right hand. “

Behind the three figures is an offering table that opens the second part of the scene. The harness is treated in white with black patterns. On each side of the central foot is placed a loaf of almost conical shape. As for the tray, it is crumbling under the food piled up there, meat and vegetables: “The funeral offering consists of bread, beer, pieces of beef and poultry for the venerable (s).

Amenemhat funerary stele – painted limestone – Middle Kingdom
Discovered in the necropolis of El-Assassif by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
during the 1915-1916 season – Egyptian Museum in Cairo – JE 45626

“A woman, dressed as Iy, is standing, her right arm brought to her chest and her left arm hanging alongside her body, palm open. She has been represented smaller: “Hieroglyphics designate her as” her venerable sister “, and some interpretations indicate her as the” daughter-in-law “of Amenemhat.”

The skin of the two women is treated in light yellow while that of the men is in ocher-brown. Their harmony is perfect: black hair, white clothes, almost identical green jewellery…

Above the figures, over the entire width of the stele, runs a beautiful hieroglyphic inscription: “The line of inscription in hollow hieroglyphs is an invocation of food offerings in favour of Amenemhat and his wife Iyi; the names of Antef and Hapy respectively accompany the image of their son and daughter-in-law. “

Amenemhat funerary stele – painted limestone – Middle Kingdom
Discovered in the necropolis of El-Assassif by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
during the 1915-1916 season – Egyptian Museum in Cairo – JE 45626

This stele has a freshness and a tenderness which can only seduce us: it gives us the impression of entering into the intimacy… and into the eternity of a particularly loving, warm and harmonious family.

It was discovered during the First World War, which, during excavations carried out in 1915-1916 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the Assassif, concession held since the 1912-1913 season.

In the foreground, the necropolis of Assassif; in the background, the rocky cirque of Deir El Bahari
including the temple of Hatshepsut

The team is then led by the Egyptologist Ambrose Lansing, to whom Harry Burton, Egyptologist and a great photographer, is associated. (To whom we owe in particular, the reporting of wonderful discoveries: including that of the tomb of Meketré and that of Tutankhamun).

It is at the foot of the temple of Hatshepsut: “to the left of the courtyard of the tomb MMA 37, where several small tombs have been found. They have got the numbers R1 to R12”. Dated from the Middle Kingdom, they respect funerary architecture.

The stele was in tomb R4 and was recorded in the Journal of Entries of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo under number JE 45626.

Marie Grillot

Sources:

Stela of Amenemhat’s Family http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/record.aspx?id=15268

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, may 1917

Treasures of Egypt – The Wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Francesco Tiradritti
The treasures of ancient Egypt at the Cairo museum, National Geographic

17 thoughts on “Amenemhat Funerary Stele: a Touching Family Scene! (An Embracing into Eternity!)

  1. Welcome back Aladin! Hope your break enabled your heart to refill and reenergise. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing more of Marie’s Egyptian wonders! Today’s post was like a lesson in how to read a painting or inscription by looking at it in parts or sequences as she says.

    It’s deeply reassuring to see that “Love” and caring for others, however we define it, is central to our human existence. Now, then and always. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You said it wisely, my dear Deborah. It’s a lesson of Love and Care, which have been existed since humans have been. I also thank you heartily for your best wishes. Alas! It didn’t work as I wished. I will write a short explanation about this in my next article. Love and light for you, my dearest.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. elainemansfield

    Just exquisite and the addition of human love which isn’t found in many Egyptian reliefs. Thanks for sharing this beauty and the commentary. Be well and warm, Elaine

    Liked by 1 person

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