Deir el-Medina stelae, offering
tables and other fragments from
the Petrie Museum
This page was last updated on February 27th 2017
1. Museum's own labels
2. Museum's web site at
3. Davis, Benedict G.: Genealogies and personality characteristics of the workmen
in the Deir el-Medina community during the Ramesside period. Thesis submitted in
accordance with the requirements of the University of Liverpool for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Liverpool : University of Liverpool, February 1996.
4. Trope, Betsy Teasley: Excavating Egypt : Great discoveries from the Petrie
Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London
Atlanta : Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, 2005.
4. Friedman, Florence: Meaning of some anthropoid busts from Deir el-Medina
IN : The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 71 (1985), pp. 82-97.
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty, around 1295-1186 BC
Offering table of Penrennut, "Servant in the Place of
Truth" as the central column of hieroglyphic inscription on
the base of the table states. The inscription is flanked
by 2 columns of incised vegetation motifs, most probably
depicting lotuses. The damaged spout carries remains of
incised depictions of a crude cake on one side and
possibly two leeks on the other side.
Length: 18.5 cm
Width: 14.5 cm
Depth: 4.75 cm
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From Deir el-Medina
20th dynasty, about 1160 BC
Offering stela of a person seated to the left of the
offering table. A young male on the right side stands in
the posture of reverence. Above the male and the
offering table there is an inscription, consisting of seven
short vertical columns of hieroglyphs (damaged at the
right), identifying both men as
"3h ikr n R'", "the able
spirit of Ra". The seated man is named Djaydjay, the
standing man Khnum-[...]. At the top register there is
a boat of Ra coloured yellow and red. Traces of red,
yellow and blue pigments are surviving on the rest of
the stela.
Height: 29 cm
Width: 22.5 cm
Probably from Deir el-Medina
20th dynasty (1186-1069 BC)
Height: 20 cm
Width: 12.7 cm
This is a right-hand part of a framed stele of Kaha.
It shows the deified Amenhotep I (1551-1524 BC)
standing to the left, holding a spear in his left hand.
The two cartouches next to him identify him as
Amenhotep Djeserkare. To his right there is a priest
standing in adoring position. The priest's name is
written in a hieroglyphic inscription above his head.
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty, around 1186-1295 BC
Offering table of Anakht, "chisel-bearer in
the Place of Truth' (king's tomb craftsman).
Hieroglyphic inscription inscribed around the
edges. Only the right half of the object is in
the museum.
Height: 18 cm
Width: max. 12 cm
Found at Thebes, probably from Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty, 1295-1186 BC)
Width: 14 cm
Height: 7.5 cm
Upper part of a votive stele showing a coiled
cobra with double falcon plume on her head.
The worshipper's name is illegible in the
hieroglyphic inscription, the rest reads
of the goddess Meretseger"
Possibly from Deir el-Medina
Ramesside Period (1295-1069 BC)
Height: 20.5 cm
Width: 14.5 cm
Fragment from a tomb. In the lower left
side of the fragment there is an upper
part of a royal head and face with uraeus
on the forehead. Above the head there is
a cartouche of Ahmes Nefertari, the
queen of Ahmose I (1570-1546 BC), the
mother of Amenhotep I (1551-1524 BC).  
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty (1295-1186 BC)
Width: 32 cm
Height: 18.5 cm
Fragment of a stela from the tomb of
Khawey, who had a title "Guardian in
the Place of Truth".
The stela shows a pair of human heads
on the left side and a male head on
the right side. There is a hieroglyphic
inscription around the head on the
The New Kingdom stelae very often show the owner in adoration in front of deities. The position of
honour seems to be the left, so the deities occupy that area, and may be seated, while the owner
stands to their right. Stelae of the 18th dynasty often show only the owner, his wife and his children.
Stelae of the Ramesside period may include other family members.

The upper parts of offering tables were often carved with the loaves, trussed ducks and vessels, so
that the stone-carved images could serve as magical substitutes for the real food offerings. Usually
the hieroglyphic offering formula and/or lists of produce are also present. Sometimes there were
grooves or channels cut into the surface of the table so that liquids such as water, beer or wine could
be poured on to the table.
© Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL
The text and photography Lenka Peacock
From Deir el-Medina
Ramesside period, (1069BC-1295BC)
The fragment comes from a tomb wall and
comprises the remains of three horizontal
registers. The background was painted yellow
and also remains of reddish and blue pigments
are visible.
Height: 29.5 cm
Width: 23.2 cm
From the Mary Broderick bequest
Top register: leg and foot in a sandal on the left side, before the words "on the west of Thebes" (hr imnt
). Also visible are the remains of the white skirt.
Middle register: "... made by (likely with the meaning: son of) one who is greatly favoured by
                            ...",        [...
r.n Hsy aA n ...]                                                       
[with thanks to Jan Kunst from the Netherlands for the translation and transliteration]
Bottom register: a couple facing to the right, only the heads remain. The man is wearing a cone on his
head, the woman - according to the inscription "his wife" (
hmt.f) wears a cone on her head and a blue
lotus on her forehead. Her name is illegible.
Seventy-five examples of small anthropoid, oracular or ancestral busts have been revealed during
excavations at Deir el-Medina. They generally do not bear any inscriptions, but some are inscribed for
specific individuals. Typically small, they measure from 10 to 25 cm in height (there are 2 known bigger
busts, one of which is the bust of
Muteminet EA 1198 in the British Museum measuring 51 cm) and are
made of limestone or sandstone. We can assume that most were originally painted as remains of pigment
on some are evident. The gender of the most of the busts is open to question.
The figures are referred to as 'ancestor busts'. It is thought that they were placed in the small shrine
areas which seemed to form part of
private homes, and played a part in the private devotions of the
family. Five busts were found in houses at Deir el-Medina, where they could have been placed in wall
niches in the first and second rooms. The wall niches are comparable in size, so this seems probable.
Rather than representing anyone in particular, the busts anonymous nature suggests that they represent
all the ancestors whom the family might wish to commemorate. Another theory is that they represent
"the able spirit" of those, who had been authoritative in life, by inference, the older members of the
community. In troubled times people turned to them for help, i.e. to a parent still remembered, not to an
ancestor of long ago. Some of these must have been older women.
The busts could have been transported from  house to tomb or chapel where identification, if desired,
could be supplied by the inscribed stelae, offering tables, or naos-shrine. As the
"3h ikr", they carry on
the traditions associated with
3h since the Old Kingdom, especially in the requirement for feeding and i
its function as the
3h-statue resting within the 3ht-shrine (Friedman, p. 97).
The ancestor busts are mentioned in the Book of the Dead under spell 151, "the spell of the head of
mysteries". It reads: " hail to you whose face is kindly...your head will never be taken away".
Similar objects have been found at fourteen other sites from the central Delta to the Third Cataract.
They were found in or near houses as well as in tombs and temples. Whether the context was domestic or
religious we cannot be sure, but it is understood that for the worshiper the ancestor busts conjured up
memories of a deceased relative.
Ancestor bust-shaped amulets occur as jewelry during the New Kingdom.
From Deir el-Medina
20th dynasty, (1186BC-1069BC)
Limestone with traces of pigment
The funerary stela belonged to Thutmose. He is
depicted on the left side, seated on a chair and
holding a lotus to his nose. He faces his brother who
stands opposite him and pours a libation with his right
hand. In his left hand he holds a censer. The brother
is named as "the scribe Pairy of the Place of Truth".
They are both likely to be members of the Deir
el-Medina workforce.
At the top of the stela there is a lunette, broken
away on both sides.
Wedjat eyes, one now missing,
used to flank the horizon above the inscription.
Height: 22.4 cm
Width: 13.3 cm
There are 6 vertical columns of hieroglyphic inscription above the two men. Thutmose is identified as
"3h ikr n R'", "the able spirit of Ra". The akh-spirits were the blessed dead, those who had attained a
seat in the sun-bark of the god Ra.
Their magical powers protected them from the dangers of the afterlife. They could also use them for
or against the dead and the living. To become an
akh (plural akhu) one had to know the magic spells,
perform funerary rites and have the gods,
especially Ra, intervene on one's behalf. Over 50 stelae from Deir el-Medina testify to the existence
of household cults devoted to deceased relatives who had become
akhu. The spirits could be dangerous if
offended, and the offerings to the
akhu were both propitiatory and reverential.
From Deir el-Medina
18th dynasty, (1550 BC-1292
White limestone with traces
of painting (red pectoral and
mentat etc). Originally the
bust would have had a brightly
painted floral collar on the
chest, symbolising rebirth and
the collars offered by the
living at the "Beautiful Feast
of the Valley", when they
visited the tombs of their
The lower corner of the
"oracular bust" is damaged.
Height: 20 cm
Width: 10 cm
Probably from Deir el-Medina
Pyramidion of Nebamun
19th dynasty (1295-1186 BC)
Of the 4 sides of this pyramidion, 3 sides are inscribed. Below is the depiction of a man with intricate
hairstyle shown in the pose of adoration with his arms raised. He wears a pleated kilt. The hieroglyphic
inscription mentions name of Nebamun.
Height: 18.5 cm
Width: 15 cm
Stela of Irynefer
19th dynasty
From Deir el-Medina, tomb 290
The lower part of this round-topped stela is
missing. The upper part displays remains of a
raised relief of the god Ptah shown from the front.
At the bottom of the right side of the stela there
is a remainder of a depiction of a man with his
arms raised in adoration - his head facing to the
left and his hands survived. The left bottom side
shows remains of a heaped offering table. The rest
of the stela is filled with 5 columns of hieroglyphic
inscription, where the worshipper is identified as
Irynefer, servant in the Place of Truth.
Height: 22 cm
Width: 20.5 cm
We cannot attribute this offering table to either of the 3 known Penrennuts, who lived at Deir el-Medina
and possessed the title "Servant in the Place of Truth" with certainty. Penrennut (i), who lived in the
village during the reign of Ramesses IV, was married to a lady called Tadehnetemheb. His father was
called Nakhtmin. He appears together with his family on Bankes stela no. 10 - nowadays in the National
Trust, UK collection at
Kingston Lacy. On the basis of dating the object to the 19th dynasty by the
museum curators, it could have belonged to the two earlier workmen, Penrennut (iii) and Penrennut (iv), a
cup- bearer, lived at Deir el-Medina during the reign of Ramesses II and Merneptah respectively