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Wooden writing board
New Kingdom
19th dynasty, about 13th century BC
Probably from Deir el-Medina
Wood coated with fine stucco, polished
Height: 14.8 cm
Length:  18.5 cm
Thickness: 0.75 cm
Wooden tablets like this one were used for writing and drawing exercises. They are called palimpsests.
Successive texts were written on them, each one being erased to make room for the next. This rectangular
wooden writing board is coated with a white stucco layer on both sides. There is a small hole near the edge
to suspend the board when not in use. Recto and verso have two different texts. The partially defective
texts are written in black ink in hieratic, a cursive script based on hieroglyphic script for daily use (for the
rapid drafting of letters and accounts). On one side (designated here as verso) there are ten horizontal lines,
where lines 2-4 and 7-9 are arranged into columns. Some text is missing, especially line 5. because there is
a crack in gesso that shows on both sides. There are pictures of two baboons, the animal of Thoth, the god
of writing, on this side of the board. They might be intended as a caricature of the teacher. Below the
baboons there are traces of a drawing of a horse's head. The other side (here designated as recto) has got
seven horizontal lines of the text.
The page was last modified on February 1st 2011
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The Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum belongs among the most important
collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world. The collection houses more than 12,000 objects. They date
from the Egyptian Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods (around 3,500 BC) to the early Christian era, a
span of almost 4,000 years. The objects originated from the vast geographical area encompassing Egypt,
Nubia, the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia all the way to the Arabian Peninsula.















I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Dr. Helmut Satzinger, Professor of Egyptology,
University of Vienna, Former Keeper, The Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection,
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, who so kindly devoted his time and effort during my visit to the Museum.
All photographs were taken by Lenka Peacock in 2010 and are © Kunsthistorisches Museum.
I would also like to thank Jan Kunst from Holland for his constructive comments, corrections and additions to
the following text, and to Ingeborg Waanders, also from Holland, for her expertise,
support and encouragement.
Turin
Shabti of Sennedjem
New Kingdom
19th dynasty, around 1300 BC
From Deir el-Medina, Tomb 1 of Sennedjem
Limestone, painted
Height: 28.3 cm
Width: 9.95 cm
Depth:  8.8 cm
Ahmose-Nefertari sits on the throne facing right in front of a table with a libation pot. She wears a
flowing, pleated dress, typical in representations of elite women of the Ramesside period (about 1295-1069
BC) rather than the period during which the Queen was alive. On her head she wears the vulture
head-dress of the goddess Mut, consort of the god Amun of Thebes, surmounted by a sun-disc and ostrich
plumes. The cobra on her crown and the flail in her hand indicate her royal status. The lotus blossom was
often held by deceased women, thought to be representing rebirth. There is a cartouche of
Ahmose-Nefertari within the hieroglyphic inscription consisting of 2 vertical columns in the right upper part
of the stele. Another inscription is written in black ink at the bottom of the stele. It consists of 2
horizontal lines of hieroglyphs and contains an offering formula. The inscription is faded in places.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian - Oriental Collection
Inv AE_INV_158
Provenance: 1821 gift of C. A. Fontana
Sources:
1. Kessler, D.: Die kultische Bindung der Ba-Konzeption. 2. Teil: Die Ba-Zitate auf den Kultstelen und
Ostraka des Neues Reiches IN: Studien zur altagyptischen Kultur 29, 2001 153, Anm. 34
2. Huttner, M.: Die Votivstele des Vorarbeiters Chons IN: Gottingen Miszellen 178 (2000), 59-63
3. Wessetzky, Vilmos: Une stele dediee a Meresger. Bulletin du Musee Hongrois de.s Beaux-Arts 78,
1993, 15-19
4. Adel Mahmoud: Msw-hr = The sons of the Toms (IN: M. Eldamaty: Egyptian Museum Collections
around the world. Studies for the Centennial of the Egyptian Museum Cairo, 2002) 774. PM I 2,2 737
5. Papyri und Ostraka aus der Ramessidenzeit mit Ubersetzung und Kommentar von Mohamed Salah
El-Kholi. Siracusa : Museo del Papiro, 2006.
6. Parkinson, Richard: Cracking codes : the Rosetta Stone and decipherement
London : British Museum Press, 1999.
7. Taylor, John H.: Death and afterlife in ancient Egypt
London : British Museum Press, 2001.
8. The Cairo Museum masterpieces of Egyptian art / edited by Francesco Tiradritti
London : Thames & Hudson, 1998.
9. McDowell, A.G.: Village life in ancient Egypt : laundry lists and love songs
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1999.
10. CD Egyptian Treasures in Europe - 1000 Highlights
Multilingual Version v 1.0. 1999 ed.
11.
http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/record.aspx?id=5591
12. http://www.khm.at/en/kunsthistorisches-museum/
Figured ostrakon of the goddess Meretseger
New Kingdom
19th-20th dynasty, about 1315-1081 BC
From Deir el-Medina (probably)
Painted limestone
Height: 11.3 cm
Length:  16.6 cm
Thickness: 2.9 cm
Depicted on this piece of limestone is the goddess
Meretseger in the form of a coiled serpent in
front of an offering table flanked on both sides
by a jug with an entwined lotus on a stand. Her
head dress consists of two tall plumes and a sun
disk. Three tall papyrus stalks are leaning above
the rear part of the snake.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian -
Oriental Collection
Inv AE_INV_8304
Provenance: 1948 Purchase
Stele of Khonsu
New Kingdom
20th dynasty, reign of Ramesses III., 1198-1166 BC
From Deir el-Medina (probably)
Limestone, light, fine
Height: 14.2 cm
Width: 9.4 cm
Thickness: 3 cm
This round topped stele is divided into two registers. The
upper section is executed in raised relief and shows a ram
in the form of criosphinx facing to the left. His head is
adorned with the composite crown. A lotus shaped offering
table with loaves stands before the ram. The ram almost
certainly represents the god Amun-Re.
The lower register is executed in sunk relief and depicts
three striding men. The arms of the first man on the right
are raised in adoration, the other two men carry scribal
palettes and a lotus flower in their left hands.
The lower left corner of the stele is missing.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian - Oriental
Collection
Inv AE_INV_8212
Provenance:
1821 purchase by E. A. Burghart in Egypt
Papyrus Ambras
New Kingdom
20th dynasty, Year 6 of
whm-msw.t Ramesses IX
Location: in substance from Thebes
Height: 20.9 cm
Length: 41.2 cm
List of documents written in hieratic script
Rectangular papyrus leaf in horizontal format with two columns in horizontal lines: column on the right
consists of nine lines, column on the left of twelve lines.
Towards the end of the 20th dynasty declining state resources resulted in shortfalls in ration distribution
perhaps not only to the community of workmen at Deir el-Medina. The resulting poverty of the Theban
population together with diminishing fear of the authorities had a predictable outcome: by 1064 BC all the
major royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings had been looted. The workmen of Deir el-Medina were among
the convicted tomb robbers. There are 4 key texts we derive information on the tomb robberies from:
Papyrus Abbott (=Papyrus BM 10221), Papyrus Leopold II and Amherst, Papyrus BM 10053 and Papyrus
BM 10052.
The 2nd column of the Papyrus Ambras lists several documents - statements and acts of investigation -
relating to tomb robberies and the workmen's involvement in them. Among others it lists a receipt of the
gold, silver and copper identified as being stolen by the workers of the Necropolis, a statement regarding
the copper object the robbers sold from the valley of the Queens, an act of interrogation of the copper
smith Wares, who broke into a tomb of noble, and also an act of the interrogation of the tomb robbers
Pay, and Qaha Sethemhab.
Stele to Meretseger
From Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom, 19th-20th dynasty
Limestone, painted
Height: 20.7 cm
Width: 14.2 cm
Thickness: 3.3 cm
Meretseger was the goddess associated with the pyramidal
peak of al-Qurn. She presided over the whole Theban
necropolis. Her name means "she who loves silence".
Meretseger was primarily worshipped by the workmen of the
royal necropolis.
The top register: remains of a male figure standing on the
right making an offering in front of an offering table.
Meretseger, who is depicted as a goddess with a female body
and a cobra’s head, sits on her throne on the left side of the
table holding an ankh sign in her right hand and a sceptre in
her left hand. The inscription reads "Merest[sic]eger,
Mistress of the West. Made by the apprentice Sha[...?]"
The lower register: the ten serpents represent the cobra-
goddess Meretseger. Only seven snakes are visible as the
stela is in fragmental state - the bottom left part is broken
off.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian - Oriental
Collection
Inv AE_INV_122
Provenance: 1824 [1821] gift of Carlo Antonio Fontana
Stele of Pamerihu
New Kingdom
19th dynasty, about 1304-1201 BC
From Deir el-Medina (probably)
Limestone
Height: 18.95 cm
Width: 12.4 cm
Thickness: 4.6 cm
The round topped stele is a votive relief of the
sculptor Pamerihu, who probably lived in Deir el-Medina
and worked for the Royal Wife Ahmose-Nefertari
(c.1570-1505 BC). She was the wife of the founder
of the 18th dynasty Ahmose I (1570-1546 BC) and
mother of King Amenhotep I (1525-1504 BC), the
first king to be entombed in the Valley of the Kings.
Ahmose-Nefertari and Amenhotep I are often jointly
depicted on monuments in Deir el-Medina. Both were
worshipped in the settlement.
Sennedjem lived in Deir el-Medina during the reigns of Seti I (1291-1278) and Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC).
He was buried along with his wife, Iyinofreti and their family in a tomb in the villages western necropolis not
was found intact and contained mummies of three generations of Sennedjem's family along with burial goods and
the furniture from his home, which was used during his life.
One of Sennedjem's titles was "Servant in the Place of Truth".

Shabtis functioned as substitutes for the dead, their masters, and were expected to take their owner's place
in carrying out manual labour in the afterlife. This finely painted limestone shabti of Sennedjem shows a
mummiform figure holding agricultural implements. The inscription is skillfully painted in eight horizontal lines of
black pigment on white background around the mummiform body and legs. The hieroglyphs bear the name of the
owner and parts of Chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead (shabti spell) in Middle Egyptian.











Translation:
"Illuminated is the Osiris, the one who hears the voice in the Place of Truth, Sennedjem true of voice. He
says: Oh Shabti, when one commands and apportions the Osiris, the one who hears the voice in the Place of
Truth, Sennedjem true of voice, for any work which is to be done in the realm of the dead, then distinguish
yourself as a man of duty there, in tilling the fields, watering the banks, and moving sand from east to west.
When one commands and apportions you to do this, every day, then you shall say every time: I am here, behold
me, every time. The Osiris, the one who hears the voice in the Place of Truth, Sennedjem true of voice"

(Hieroglyphic inscription, transliteration and translation from CD Egyptian Treasures in Europe - 1000 Highlights
Multilingual Version v 1.0. 1999 ed.)

Although the shabti acts as a representation of the person, the features of the figurine are standardised so
we cannot consider this to be Sennedjem's portrait.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian - Oriental Collection
Inv AE_INV_6614
Provenance: 1901 Purchase

Another shabti of Sennedjem is in the collection of Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
see photo and description
here
The display area is divided into four large themes:
and the development of writing. The halls feature
18th dynasty stone columns, large statues and
many unique and impressive objects. Among the
highlights of the museum exhibition are the offering
The display area is divided into four large themes:
chapel of Kaninisut from the Old Kingdom, numerous
sarcophagi and coffins, grave goods such as shabtis
sarcophagi and coffins, grave goods such as shabtis
and votive stelae, examples of the Book of the
Dead, divine figures, pottery, objects of daily life
such as clothing and cosmetic articles, and
masterpieces of sculpture such as the Reserve
Head from Giza.
recto
verso
Translation:
Verso
(1) The chief gardener Menkheper has been appointed to collect the tpy-fish (?) which are outside from the
poor people that are with the watchman Amenemhat:
(4) Bauef-re
(5) ...
(6) Mut (?)
(7) Sepes-tut
2nd column: Regarding that which was found in the house: the representative Ahmose says to the
represented (and) the speaker of the king Semnakht......
3rd column: what the Court meeting said: Menkheper is right. The guardian Ahmose is wrong.

Recto
(1) What the official Amenhotep said:
(2) the royal scribe Minmose said to the scribe Pai the following: "you were brought this message saying I
have been informed by you what you have sent about this, namely: (I) have taken the people that were
taking shelter/were hiding/were seeking protection with the overseer of personnel Nakht away. Why did you
take this action? Did I not assign those people to you after you told (me) "I will not do anything bad?"

(both translated by Ingeborg Waanders from Holland and Lenka Peacock using the German text of El-Kholi
and his transcriptions into hieroglyphs, p. 60-62)

Dating:
The inscription on the board can be dated from the early 19th dynasty. Palaeographical characteristics, such
as the sign for
p (in pn), mn (in Imn), m (hr-m) and the plural strokes, can help us date the document.
Lexical features, that aid the dating, can be found in the negation
bn and preposition m-dj.
Several Middle Egyptian grammatical features appear in the text, such as the shape
sdm.n=f and the
negation
nn (rather than the Late Egyptian bn). Personal names as Amenemhat, Menkhepere and Ahmose were
common from the 18th dynasty.
(El-Kholi, 62)

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian - Oriental Collection
Inv AE_INV_3924
Provenance:
1877/78 purchase by E. Bergmann Egypt
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian - Oriental Collection
Inv AE_INV_3876 (Papyrus Nr. 30)
Provenance: over 1875 Ambras
Acquisition: the name of the papyrus comes from the name of the Habsburg Ambras collection, which contained
other art and ethnographical objects. The collection derived its name from the place where it was kept until
1806 - in the castle Ambras in Innsbruck.
Bristol
Nicholson
Kingston
Lacy
Hrdlička