Object of the Day # 3

Hyun Woo Cho

1 October 2018

The object of the day that I chose was Stele of the Sculptor Userwer. The stele was made in the twelfth dynasty of ancient Egypt circa 1850 BCE. The stele is painted in red and black ink and has a rectangular shape which is 52 centimeters wide and 48 centimeters high. The stele is currently owned by the British Museum. This stele was a funerary stele for the sculptor Userwer made by carving hieroglyphs and figures on limestone. Funerary stelae were made by wealthy people “meant to preserve the memory of the deceased and inspire the living to make offerings to them” (Stokstad 2018, 64). On the upper part of the stele, there are five registers of hieroglyphs saying “O living ones who are on the earth who pass this tomb, as your deities love and favor you, may you say: ‘A thousand of bread and beer, a thousand of cattle and birds, a thousand of alabaster [vessels] and clothes, a thousand of offerings and provisions that go forth before Osiris” (Robins, p.103). On the bottom, there are two registers with hieroglyphs and figures. On the left side of the top register with figures, there are three figures which are Userwer himself and his two wives. Userwer is sitting in front of a table with a pile of food and his wife Satdepetnetjer is sitting behind him. The woman who is standing on the right side of the table is also his wife Satameni. On the right side of the register, there are two figures who are Userwer’s parents sitting next to another table with food and the figure on the left side of the table is Userwer’s son, Sneferuweser. The lowest register of the stele remains unfinished. On the register, there are hieroglyphs and eight standing figures holding something. They are believed to be Userwer’s children and his grandparents. However, it is difficult to identify the figures because they are left unfinished and they all look almost identical. The two figures on the left are left uncarved and the square grid lines that are used for guiding human proportions are still visible. The reason I chose this object is because it is incomplete. From this incomplete stele, I could understand the process of how these ancient Egyptian stelae were made. Moreover, I realized that this kind of funerary stele is not only made for the royal family but also made for wealthy people from ancient Egypt. The question for class discussion is what the figures on the stele are doing.

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