Kingston Lacy, Dorset, England
The ancient Egyptian collection, assembled by John William Bankes (1786-1855) during his travels to Egypt in 1815 and 1818-1819, is the only surviving intact 19th century collection of Egyptian antiquities in an English country house.
The house became property of the National Trust, UK, in 1981 after the death of Ralph Bankes. Around 100 objects have been on display in the Billiards Room since 1992. They include a collection of stelae, fragments of Theban tomb paintings, amulets,
shabtis, relief sculpture, scarabs, bronzes, fragments of furniture and small divine statuettes.
In the grounds of the house there is an obelisk from Philae and also a granite sarcophagus. A collection of papyri (see below), mostly late copies of the Book of the Dead and several letters, and a recently discovered (in an unmarked crate in the cellar in 2007) collection of 212 Upper Egyptian ostraka, represent the written sources of this collection.
The majority of the stelae, held at Kingston Lacy, originated at Deir el-Medina. The country house has belonged to the National Trust, UK, since the death of Ralph Bankes in 1981. The stelae represent the earliest objects from Deir el-Medina to arrive on the British soil. They were brought back to England by William John Bankes (1786-1855). Bankes visited Egypt twice in his life - in 1815 and during 1818-1819.
It is thought that he acquired the stelae during his second visit to Egypt in 1818 and that they were put together by Henry Salt, the British Consul-General, whom Bankes spent time with during that time. The year 1818 rather than 1819 is suggested, because Giovanni d'Athanasi, Salt's agent and excavator, was perhaps helping to gather them and he was working for Salt in 1818. 1818 is also the year Bankes is known to have collected a batch of Late Ramesside Letters (see below) at Thebes. Jaroslav Černý published a description and translation of the stelae in 1958 in his "Egyptian Stelae in the Bankes Collection". In his preface to the publication he expressed his regrets about the quality of the photographs of the stelae, which do not show details of the hieroglyphic signs very clearly. Since then the stelae have been cleaned and conserved by the National Trust team.
With the kind permission of the House and Collections Manager at Kingston Lacy Robert Gray, I photographed the stelae in September 2011 and am presenting them below together with translations mainly by Jaroslav Černý, the language of whom was modernised by Andy Peacock. Some names have been transliterated according to the usage in modern genealogy sources. All the translated text is in italics. The collection was numbered in what is assumed to be the right chronological order.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Rosalind Janssen, whose field of expertise is Deir el-Medina, and to Jan Kunst, a Dutch Egyptologist, for their constructive and interesting comments on the contents of this page. I would also like to thank Ann Smith, from the UK, and to Ingeborg Waanders, from Holland, for helping me to acquire valuable primary resources.
All the photographs were taken by Lenka Peacock and are © of The National Trust, UK.
Bankes stela no. 1.
Stela of draughtsman May
From Deir el-Medina
End of the 18th, beginning of the 19th dynasty
Height: 30 cm
Width: 21 cm
This is a round-topped stela of a two fold division. In the lunette - the spatial region in the upper portion of the stela - the solar barque is carrying a solar disk above the sky, represented by the hieroglyphic sign pt (sky). A child with a thumb in his mouth sits on the right side of the barque.
The lower register of the stela consists of an image of a man standing at the bottom of the right side of the stela. He is facing to his right. His arms are lifted in adoration pose. Above and in front of the figure there are 10 columns of hieroglyphic inscription. The columns are written from top to bottom and read from left to right.
The text consists of a hymn to the setting sun:
"Praise to Re when he sets in life in the western horizon of heaven. You have appeared in the western half as Atum who is in the evening, having come in your might, having no adversaries and having taken possession of the sky as Re. You appear and shine upon the back of your mother, having appeared (as) king of Divine Ennead. I have done right in your presence, and kiss the ground (for?) your crew, worshipping (whilst) you travel the heaven, your heart glad. The Island of Flame has become peaceful, your enemies are fallen and are no more. The evil dragon's abode is doomed. Your corpse is Atum in the Boat of the Morning, the rightful one of the Two Lands. Beautiful is the Boat of the Evening when it has accomplished its end. (Said) by the draughtsman May, true of voice."
This type of stela is called a Lucarne stela. Altogether there have been identified 13 Lucarne stelae originating from Deir el-Medina. This stela is an early example of its type as the owner is depicted standing rather than kneeling in adoration. Only 1 other stela - Turin 50043 - shares this feature, all other 11 stelae depict the owner kneeling. Lucarne stelae share the following characteristics:
- a solar barque shown in the lunette, usually placed above the pt sign
- a sun disk or another sun god representation is depicted in the solar barque
- sun god is accompanied by other symbols relating to him (adoring baboons, wedjat eyes)
- the owner either stands or kneels in adoration of the barque
- although the owner's relatives can be depicted, it is seldom a case
- the hymn, written in columns, praises the rising and/or setting sun
Lucarne stelae were manufactured from late 18th dynasty until the 20th dynasty. They measure between 30 to 55 cm (Goyon, 2007, 1953-1954).
The owner of the stela was called May. He was a painter employed at the Theban Necropolis and living at Deir el-Medina in the 18th dynasty, around 1300 BC. His title was the "outline draughtsman of Amun" (Rice, 105-106). His tomb is situated in the Western Necropolis at Deir el-Medina near the tomb of the architect Kha (TT8) and is numbered TT 338. The wall paintings from May's tomb were detached from the walls and removed to Turin. They are displayed in Room III of the Museo Egizio.
The stela would have come from a niche in May's chapel, where it would have been placed on a stone pedestal
(according to Bernard Bruyère). When Deir el-Medina was excavated during the last century, these chapels
were partly or completely gone as they were built above the ground and made of mud bricks.
Bankes stela no. 2.
Stela depicting Huy
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty, the beginning of Ramesses II reign,
Height: 46 cm
Width: 28 cm
This round-topped stela is divided into 2 registers. In the top register, two deities seated on their thrones, are described This round-topped stela consists of 2 registers. In the top register, two deities seated on their thrones, are described in the hieroglyphic inscriptions together with their epithets.
The first one is Amun-Re, lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, residing in Waset, foremost of the Westerners, the great god. Behind Amun-Re sits his daughter Mut, lady of heaven, mistress of the Two Lands. A goddess with a head of a lion stands behind Mut's throne. Jaroslav Černý translated the inscription that identifies her as Daughter of Re, the cobra. Jan Kunst, a Dutch Egyptologist, points out that to translate the name as "The Cobra", there would have to be the feminine definite article tA, instead of the masculine pA. He suggests that the goddess might perhaps be Wadjet.
Wadjet is sometimes referred to as "Eye of Re" and can be depicted in leonine form or as a lion-headed woman, just like Bastet, with whom she was strongly associated. Moreover, she was strongly associated with Mut, which might explain her presence in this otherwise unusual combination. One of her epithets is "She of Pe", py.t, which might somehow (but not
fully) explain the pA. The cobra hieroglyph is likely to be the determinative for a goddess, rather than an ideogram, Jan Kunst explains in our private correspondence.
A man stands in front of the divine triad. His hands are raised in adoration while he makes an offering burning incense in a holder placed in his left hand. The inscription says: Made by the servant in the Place of Truth, Huy, true of voice.
The bottom register contains a procession of 2 men, 4 women and a small child. They all face the triad and are meant to be following Huy. The columns of inscriptions around them give us their names, sometimes their titles and their relationship to Huy. The first man on the left - directly behind Huy in the procession - is Kaha, who was most probably responsible for the setting up of this stela. The inscription reads Made by the servant in the Place of Truth, Kaha, true of voice. Behind Kaha is his brother Paherypedjet. Paherypedjet's hand touches the head of the child standing between Kaha and himself, his son Khuru. He is depicted as a small naked boy. This stela, with representatives of three generations of the same family, is an example of the valuable sources of information helping Egyptologists to reconstruct chronological frameworks of the work force at Deir el-Medina. Behind Paherypedjet stands his mother Tanehsy, followed by his sister, lady of the house, Tuy. The procession is closed by two women standing side by side, his son (sic.sister) Takhat and his sister Na'ay, true of voice.
Huy served as a distinguished official at Deir el-Medina in the early 19th dynasty. His title was "chief craftsman in the Place of Truth in West Thebes" (Davies, 1996, 15). Tanehsy, who is the first lady from the left, is Huy's wife. She is the mother of Kaha, who stands behind his father Huy in the procession - the first to stand on the left on the lower register of the stela. Kaha was a foreman for the "left side" of the crew at Deir el-Medina during the reign of Ramesses II (1279-1212 BC). From a stela recovered from the court of his tomb TT 360 his title was "chief workman of Usermaatre-setepenre in the Place of Truth". Kaha's status was reflected in the fact that he occupied one of the largest houses in the settlement (N.E.VIII) built in the 18th dynasty (Davies, 1996, 16). As Kaha's title on this stela does not state he was a foreman, it could be dated to the very beginning of Ramesses II reign as it is thought Kaha was appointed to the foremanship during the early years of the reign. The family relations as stated in the inscriptions relate to Kaha as a dedicator of the stela rather than Huy, the dedicatee. Kaha's wife Tuy is the lady standing behind Kaha's mother Tanehsy. They are believed to have had a large family with Kaha of at least 6 sons and 5 daughters (Davies, 1996, 16). One of the sons depicted here is Khuru, the little boy, standing near his uncle - Kaha's brother - Paherypedjet. Takhat and Na'ay are both identified as Kaha's sisters, but I have not found evidence for a sister named Na'ay. We know that Na'ay was a name of Kaha's daughter, but a daughter would not have been a grown up lady as show on the stela at this time of Kaha's life. In this particular case, the inscription definitely bears a mistake as the feminine ending for "snt" is missing and the word displays as the masculine form "sn". The word is usually translated as sister, but it does not designate only a sister in ancient Egyptian relations. Sometimes it also means a wife, a niece, an aunt, etc. The word "sn", usually translated as "brother", is also used for male relations between people of different generations that are related directly (an uncle, a nephew, etc.) or by marriage (a brother-in-law).
Bankes stela no. 3.
Stela of Ramose
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 46 cm
Width: 32 cm
This round-topped stela consists of 2 registers.
In the top register a goddess sits on her throne facing right. She wears a double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt and is described by the inscription as Mut, the great one, lady of Isheru, mistress of the House of Amun, beautiful of face in Hut-sekhem. Protection, life and dominion be around her every day, Mut's most favoured epithet among the artisans
(Jauhiainen,2009, 120). The same epithet appears also on Bankes stela no. 9. Hut-sekhem is situated south-east of Abydos, it is the modern Hiw. In Greco-Roman Period the town was known as Diospolis Mikra or Diospolis Parva
(Baines, 1996, 114).
Mut is sitting in front of an offering table piled with ox meat and large lotus bouquets. Offering all good and very pure things to the lady of the Two Lands, the mistress of the House of Amun.
In the bottom register a man is kneeling, facing the goddess, his hands in the adoration pose. Around him and above him there are 9 columns of hieroglyphic inscription: Giving praise to Mut, lady of heaven, [mistress of] the House of Amun, with beautiful hand carrying the sistra, sweet of voice. Singers, be content with all she says, pleasing(?) to (your) hearts. May she give life, prosperity and health, intelligence, [favour] and love to the soul of the scribe in the Place of Truth, Ramose, true of voice with the great god.
Ramose is one of the best documented officials from Deir el-Medina. Although he was not born in the village, he became one of the richest men who ever lived there. He was a son of lady Kakaia and a retainer Amenemhab (someone who delivered messages to officials in the Theban area). Ramose was born around 1314 BC (Booth, 2006, 185). He must have attended scribal schools before he became a scribe at the temple of Tuthmosis IV. He then moved to Deir el-Medina, where he married Mutemwia, the "lady of the house, whom he loves". He was appointed by vizier Paser as "scribe of the tomb" in year 5 of Ramesses II (O.CGC 25671). He served in the rank at least until year 38 of Ramesses II (O.CGC 25809) (Davies, 1996, 98).
As Ramose and Mutemwia continuously failed to conceive a child they petitioned various deities associated with childbirth and fertility. Stela 50066, now in Turin, is dedicated to Qudshu, the Asiatic goddess of love. There are many stelae and statues recording their plea, but the couple remained childless. In the end they adopted Kenherkhepshef, like Ramose, most probably a new arrival in the village, to be an apprentice who would take the role of the eldest son, take over Ramose's profession and perform burial rites for them.
Ramose's family occupied a house in the northern part of the village. He also owned some land outside Deir el-Medina and there are 3 decorated tombs attributed to him - TT7, TT212 and TT250.
Ramose was contemporary with the foreman Kaha of the Bankes stela no. 2.
The next stela also belonged to Ramose.
Bankes stela no. 4.
Stela of Ramose
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 43 cm
Width: 32 cm
This round-topped stela is divided into 2 registers. The top register holds the solar barque with images of scarab beetle, representing the sun, at the stern, while the ibis-headed Thoth stands on the prow offering the eye of Horus. The middle of the barque used to be occupied by a spherical flint, representing the solar disk, but it fell out and is lost. It was recorded as still in place by Sir John Gardner Wilkinson in the 1st half of the 19th century. A note was found in his manuscripts pointing at the fact that he must have seen at least this particular stela. On top of the prow the sun god in the form of a child is sitting upon a mat. A winged sun fills the curved top of the stela and hovers above the bargue.
The lower register carries an image of Ramose, kneeling in the left bottom corner, and 10 columns of hieroglyphic inscriptions, that translates:
"Adoration of Amun-Re, the bull residing in On, the chief of all gods, the goodly god, beloved one, who gives life to all warm blooded creatures and to all beautiful animals. Hail to you, Amun-Re, lord of the throne of the two lands, for most of Opet sut, bull of his mother, for most of his fields, wide of gate, foremost of the southern land, lord of Madjoy, ruler of Pwene, most ancient in heaven and eldest in the whole world, who dwells in all things. May you give life, prosperity and health, intelligence, favour and love and mouthful of food of your giving until I reach the venerated state in peace. To the soul of one who is excellent and beloved of his master, chief of the treasury of the house of Menkheperure, chief of the administration in the house of the chief seal-bearer, accountant scribe of the cattle of Amun-Re, assistant letter-writer of the hereditary prince, chief of the works on the west of Waset, chief of the treasury in the place of truth, Ramose, true of voice, from ....."
The stela records a succession of awards earned by Ramose before he was appointed to an administrative job at Deir el-Medina. In his commentary to the stelae Černý thought the "hereditary prince" mentioned in the text was the prince regent, future king Ramesses II. Later Černý noticed that the first 4 columns of the text are identical with the beginning of the Hymn to Amun preserved on a papyrus now in the Cairo Museum, attributed this title to Amenhotep son of Hapu, who had his own temple built by Amenhotep III in the vicinity of Tuthmosis IV temple, where Ramose worked as a scribe (Černý, 1973, 318).
Bankes stela no. 5.
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 51 cm
Width: 33 cm
This round-topped stela is divided into 2 registers.
The lunette is occupied by an image of the sun barque carrying a seated Re-Harakhte, lord of heavens, the falcon-headed sun god, who is being
worshipped by a baboon. Two wedjat-eyes, symbols of protection, are placed above the barque.
The larger bottom register depicts a kneeling man in the pose of adoration. 9 columns of hieroglyphic inscription identify the owner as Aamek. This is
the second example of a Lucarne stela from Bankes collection. This time the owner is depicted kneeling rather than standing, indicating it is of later date than stela no. 1.The text praises the setting, rather than rising, sun:
"Praise of Re, when he sets on the west horizon of heaven. Hail to you, Harakhte, Khepri residing in his boat, that is Re, lord of Opet-sut, Amun, who shines in a sky having appeared in the western half of heaven. Your Mother greets you who has come in your might, there being no adversary of yours. You have taken the possession of sky as Re, you are the god of the world, ranking first by your light, who sees mankind. Gods kneel in jubilation before you, and all people kiss the earth, and the spirits likewise. May I live praising your beautiful face and may you place me in jubilation because of your love like all the just. For the soul of the servant in the Place of the Truth, leader of the choir in the Place of Eternity, Aamek, true of voice, son of the .... of Barbaste Pakhuru".
Re-Harakhte was a revered deity at Deir el-Medina. Many stelae were erected in his honour. Stelae no. 1, 5 and 13 of the Bankes collection address Re-Harakhte. The baboon in the solar barque of stela no. 5 represents the god Thoth. Thoth was revered by the community also in the form of ibis-headed deity (stela no. 4) and a moon (Jauhiainen, 2009, 86).
Aamek lived at Deir el-Medina during the earlier part of the reign of Ramesses II. He had a title "Servant in the Place of Truth". His second title - '3 n' - mentioned in the text, was translated by Černý as the "leader of the choir". Černý thought he could have been a leader of singers accompanying statues of gods carried in processions during various festivals. Bernard Bruyère believed the post to be a secular one and translated it as "dans les ateliers des cimetières royaux" (Davies, 1996, 244), "in the workshops of royal cemetery".
Aamek was married to Wadjetronpet. Pakhuru, mentioned in the text and translated by Černý as "son", can be identified as either "son" or as "father" of Aamek. Pakhuru mentioned on the verso, line 6 of the BM Absence ostrakon EA 5634 could have been the son of Aamek.
Aamek probably occupied house S.E. VI at Deir el-Medina, as Bruyère found an inscription of the left-hand jamb from the shrine of the house saying ... blessing on] my house, for the spirit of the Servant in the Place of Truth", 'Aamek, justified" (Kitchen, 2001, 486). His stone hut at the top of the cliffs was also identified by Bruyère during his 1934-1935 season. Aamek's tomb is TT 1164 of the western cemetery (Davies, 1996, 245).
Bankes stela no. 6
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 49.5 cm
Width: 32 cm
The top register of this round-topped two fold division stela is occupied by a solar barque with a seated falcon-headed solar deity, identified here as Pa-Shu, the great god, lord of heaven. Jan Kunst points out that the solar god is identified as pA Sw, which translates as "the sun" or "the light of the
sun". He might therefore be identical to the god that was worshipped by Akhenaten under the name Aten. But his iconography is clearly borrowed from Re. The sms sign, symbol of followers, holds an image of full moon and its crescent in front of Pa-Shu, named as Moon-Thoth, the great god.
The lower register shows the kneeling dedicator of the stela, a woman called Iyinofreti. A man stands behind her in the pose of adoration.
9 columns of hieroglyphic inscription translate as:
[Praising] to Moon-Thoth, great god, who listens to the prayers, kissing the ground for Pa-Shu, great god. Mercy! [You (two)] cause that I see darkness by day, upon the words of women. Be merciful to me, may I see your mercy." (So said) by the mistress of the house, Iyinofreti, the justified. Her son 'Anhotep.
(Galan, 1999, 24)
Iyinofreti was a wife of Sennedjem, a "servant in the place of truth", who lived in the village at the beginning of the 19th dynasty during the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II. Their house lies in the south-western corner of the settlement and their tomb TT1 lies nearby on the slopes of the Western cemetery. Iyinofreti's mummy, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, is that of a woman aged approximately 75 years.
This is a votive funerary stela that was dedicated by 'Anhotep, Iyinofreti's grandson (rather than son as stated in the inscription). He would have placed the stela in the rock shrine. The text is often interpreted in Egyptology circles as a plea to be delivered from permanent blindness. The inscription refers to "the words of women" as being the reason for Iyinofreti seeing darkness. Černý in his commentary interprets the passage "You cause that I see darkness by day, upon the words of women" as her prayers to be relieved of her blindness which was caused by women's gossip or quarreling. Sweeney (Sweeney,
2006,136) agrees with the recent discussion by Adel Mahmoud, regarding the physiological information of Iyinofreti's remains, that ties together her advanced age plagued with her extensive tooth decay supplemented by textual evidence with her plea to be delivered from the blindness. On the other hand, Galan thinks the passage in question could refer to possible testimonies pronounced against Iyinofreti by her peers (Galan,1999, 28) and suggests, that physiological blindness is not always an adequate explanation. In his article "Seeing darkness" he gathers the corpus of stelae with the text revealing god's punishment of a sinner, who confesses wrong doings, begs for mercy and promises proclamation of the might of the god upon
the pardon. A shift in the perception of the divine is apparent here: Egyptian deities are willing to forgivepast sins rather than just reward good and punish evil.
The texts do not usually specify the exact nature of transgressions and do not always specify the punishment given. Apart from 3 instances, there are two phrases used to describe the sinner's situation: "you cause that I see darkness by day" or "you cause that I see the darkness you create". Usually the phrase getstranslated as "becoming blind".
Galan's interpretation of the phrase "seeing darkness" is as a metaphor used to refer to the situation in which the deceased find themselves after the Final Judgement and before they reach the Hereafter, where god is. They implore god's mercy to have possible sins removed and to be able to enter into contact with the divine. (Galan,1999, 29-30)
A new interpretation of the phrase is discussed by David G. Smith in his 2-part article on solar eclipses during the New Kingdom (see the link to the on-line version of the article in sources no. 18). During the reign of Ramesses II when the stela was produced, according to Smith there were eclipses of such magnitude that they could have been experienced as unusual and disturbing events and could be described as "loss of sight". He argues that this text and others with similar spells were produced in response to actual observation of astronomical phenomena, even if couched in religious terms.
Bankes stela no. 7
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 53 cm
Width: 30.5 cm
This is a large round topped stela of four fold division. In the lunette the seated goddess is identified as Nebethotep of I-n-tore, lady of heaven. She wears a solar disk and cow's horns on her head, holds an ankh in her right hand and a papyrus sceptre in her left hand. A heaped offering table is in front of her. Next to it, in the pose of adoration, facing the goddess, stands the dedicator of the stela. The inscription above her head reads Made by the lady of the house Bukanenfptah, true of voice. Behind Nebethotep, a large sistrum with the head of Hathor stands guarded on each side by a cat. The inscription above the instrument identifies it as Nebethotep, mistress of the Two Lands.
The second register contains 4 lines of hieroglyphic
Praise to your soul, Nebethotep, kissing the earth to the lady of the Two Lands. I give praise to your beautiful face (to) propitiate your soul every day. Be merciful to me that I may tell of your strength to all who know you not and all who know you. For all people come to you in crowds, alike men and women, and they say, "Be merciful" to Pipi the comely, for she is merciful. The lady of the house Bukanenfptah, true of voice, she says: Every follower (of her) is in joy. No evil shall befall them, child after child.
The next 2 registers are filled with a procession of men, women and one child, who need to be seen by the viewer as following Bukanenfptah and all are facing the goddess Nebethotep. The goddess Nebethotep seems to be a form of Hathor, the Solar Eye (Jauhiainen, 2009, 106). The procession is in festive mood, some are beating tambourines, some rattle wooden clappers, others clasp their hands or just carry offerings in the form of lotus flowers or food. It has been suggested that the family is taking part in the Feast of Hathor, the Eye of Re, as playing tambourines and clappers was an important part in placating the angry Hathor on her return from Nubia (Jauhiainen, 2009, 106).
All involved are identified by hieroglyphic captions. The first row starts from the left with The servant in the Place of Truth, Kasa, true of voice. Kasa is followed by his sister, lady of the house, Bukanenfptah. Her son Nebamentet, her sister Ya and her sister Isis all walk in the procession behind Sheritre.
The bottom register depicts her sister Pipia, her brother, the soldier Maia, her brother, the soldier Ramose, her sister, Bendepentes, her sister Tewosret, her sister Ipu, her brother Tjutju and brother Piay, the naked boy, who closes the procession.
This stela is exceptionally informative with regards to Bukanenfptah's family relations. Although she is recorded as Kasa's sister on the stela, she was his wife. Kasa's title was "servant in the Place of Truth". They both were contemporaries of foreman Kaha from Bankes stela no. 2, which places them in the first half of Ramesses II reign.
Kasa was a joint owner of TT 10 with the "guardian" Penbuy. There is no surviving textual evidence that would
state their relationship to one another.
Bankes stela no. 8
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 53 cm
Width: 40.5 cm
This round-topped stela is carved in well executed raised relief. It is the largest stela in the Bankes collection.
In the lower part of the stela 2 men stand in the pose of adoration in front of an offering table and large bouquets of flowers. They are addressing
Khnosu-in-Thebes, Neferhotep, Horus of..., who is depicted as falcon's head with a moon crescent and a full moon on his head. An uraeus is attached to his forehead and his neck is adorned by a massive collar. Jan Kunst explains that what we see here is the prow of the barque of Khonsu, together with the front part of the carrying poles. Apparently, the aegis of Khonsu which decorated the prow and stern of the barque was regarded as an embodiment of the god in its own right.
10 columns of hieroglyphic inscription in the upper part of the stela read:
Offering which the king gives to Khonsu-in-Thebes, Neferhotep, Thoth, lord of Upper Egyptian On, scribe of truth of the Divine Ennead, who gives an office to him whom he loves, and a lifetime in his home. Breath is in his grasp, and fate and fortune are from him. How happy is he who is in his favour, evil shall never overtake him. He gives life, prosperity, health, and happiness, a good old age and sound speech, no faulty act of his being brought up until (he) has reached the place of the righteous. To the soul of the chisel-bearer in the Place of Eternity, Piay, repeating life, and (to) the chisel-bearer of Amun, Piay.
Černý believed, that the first man on the left, adoring Khonsu-in-Thebes, was the "sculptor in the Place of Eternity" Piay, who lived at Deir el-Medina during the first half of Ramesses II reign. The sculptor Piay's name appears on several objects and in several tombs. He married Nofretkhau, with whom he had several children: Neferronpet, Nakhtamun, Ipuy (also sculptor, TT 217), Sahte and Henutmehyt (Davies, 1996, 213).
The man standing behind him is believed to have been his son of the same name Paiy. His title, the "sculptor of Amun", might help to explain the fact that his head is shaven as he might have been a priest in the temple of Amun.
Bankes stela no. 9
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 52 cm
Width: 35 cm
This round-topped stela is divided into 2 registers.
In the top register a winged sun fills the curved top of the stela and hovers above 5 columns of hieroglyphic inscription. The 3 columns on the right
identify a standing king as Lord of the Two Lands, Usermaatre-setepenre, Lord of appearances, Ramesses-Meryamun, endowed with life like Re for
ever and eternally. Ramesses II seemed to be worshipped at Deir el-Medina already during his lifetime. The cult continued until at least the end of Ramesside Period (Jauhiainen,2009,182). He offers wine jars to two goddesses who sit on their thrones opposite. The one on the left is identified as Mut, the great, lady of Isheru, by the first column of the hieroglyphic inscription. She wears the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt on her head. The same epithet appeared on Bankes stela no. 3. The
second goddess is Hathor, lady of the West, lady of heaven. Hathor's head dress consists of the solar disk and bovine horns. Her name and epithets are written in the second column from the left.
In the lower register 2 men and 2 women are depicted kneeling in the pose of adoration. The hieroglyphic inscription above their heads reads:
Giving praise to your soul, Hathor, mistress of the West, kissing the earth before Mut, the great, lady of Isheru, by the servant in the Place of Truth, Nekhemmut, his siter, lady of the house, Webkhet, his son Khons, his daughter Tamek(et), true of voice, and his daughter Tasak(et), true of voice.
Nekhemmut appears on the family tree of Sennedjem. In a scene in the tomb of Sennedjem's son Khabekhnet TT2, Nekhemmut is named as a son of Khons(ii), who was a brother of Khabekhnet and a son of Sennedjem and his wife Iyinofreti, who appeared on Bankes stela no. 6. Davies identifies Webkhet as Nekhemmut's wife rather than his sister and suggests she was a daughter of Khabekhnet and Sahte, thus meaning the couple were cousins (Davies, 1999, 55).
The stela names 3 of their children: son Khnos, and daughters Tameket and Tasaket, but only depicts 2 of them. We know the couple had another child called Amenkhau (Davies,1996,Genealogical chart 7). The offsprings are all depicted as adults, but it has been suggested that as the stela is dated to the reign of Ramesses II by his cartouche appearing in the top register inscription, this might be an artistic device and they could have been only children of a younger age (Davies,1996,56). This would tie in with the fact that the fourth child is not depicted perhaps due to the fact the stela was executed before it was born.
Nekhemmut is believed to have been born around year 25 of Ramesses II reign. He probably lived into his 70s as there is textual evidence that he became foreman of the crew during years 11-15 of Ramesses III reign (O.Geneva MAH 12550). Ostrakon Gardiner 57 tells us that he worked on the right side of the crew.
Bankes stela no. 10
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 50 cm
Width: 33.5 cm
This round-topped stela is divided into 2 registers. In the top register, the owner of the stela stands in the pose of adoration in front of the offering table. He is the servant in the Place of Truth, Penrennut, true of voice. Two deities face him on the left. Lord of the Two Lands, Djeserkare, Lord of appearances, Amenhotep, true of voice, the deified king Amenhotep I., and behind him his mother Ahmose-Nefertari. Khonsu-Thoth, the goodly god, sits on top of a shrine or a pylon behind the queen. He is shown as a small naked boy with a side-lock of youth and the thumb in his mouth. The hieroglyphic inscription, that is above and around the depicted also mentions Penrennut's (his) brother, the servant Seti, true of voice, his brother, the servant Hori and his brother Sobekmose. They are not depicted in the scene.
In the lower register 3 men and a boy stand in adoration to the deities. Two of them hold large lotus flowers. 11 columns of hieroglyphic inscription that reads from left to right. 8 men are mentioned in the lines: the first man is identified as True servant Amenemone, true of voice. His son Nebamun, true of voice. His son Qenamun. His son Amenkhau. The second man's caption reads The servant Huy, true of voice. His son Mentpahapy. The third in the procession is his father Nakhtmin. The child is the son of his son Panakhtemheb.
Penrennut was a workman at Deir el-Medina. His title was servant in the Place of Truth. He was married to a lady called Tadehnetemheb. His father was called Nakhtmin. Nakhtmin is the third man in the procession and he is followed by Panakhtemheb, who is his grandson and thus son of Penrennut. The relationship of the first man in the procession, Amenemone, to Penrennut is not stated on the stela. Perhaps he could be a worker from the reign of Ramesses IV, who is known to have been a father of workmen Seti and Hori, both named in the top register as Penrennut's brothers. In fact, they were both Penrennut's brothers-in-law (Davies,1996,251-252).
Other sons of Amenemose are named in the lower register as Nebamun, Qenamun and Amenkhau.
A limestone offering table of Penrennut, "servant in the Place of Truth", is in the collection of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London, UC 14446.
Bankes stela no. 11
From Deir el-Medina
The 1st part of the 20th dynasty
Height: 37 cm
Width: 26.5 cm
This round-topped stela is of a two fold division. In the top register the deified king Amenhotep I, lord of the Two Lands, Djeserkare, stands on the right side in front of the Theban triad, to whom he makes an offering. The father of the Triad is identified by the inscription near his head and his head dress as Amun-Re, lord of Happy Encounter. Behind him stands
his consort Mut, but she is not named in the inscription. The hieroglyphs above the head of the third deity identify him as Khonsu, the Moon god,
Amun-Re and Mut's child.
In the lower register there are 2 men kneeling in adoration. 12 columns of hieroglyphic inscription are surrounding them.
Two of the columns around the middle of the stela are damaged. The text was reconstructed by Černý and appears in the translation in brackets:
Giving praise to your soul Amun-Re, lord of Happy Encounter, and kissing the earth before your name by the hand of the wab-priest of the Lord of the Two lands in the Place of Truth, Pamedunutenakht, true of voice, son of the servant in the Place of Truth [on the West if Waset] Hay, true of voice, and by the hand of his beloved son Amenhotep-neferenwaset, true of voice.
Pamedunakht, son of Hay, is known to us from several sources. A rectangular stela from the British Museum EA 342 shows Pamedunakht, wab-priest, making offerings to the god Ptah. The stela was purchased by the museum from Henry Salt in 1821. Another small stela is in the Burrell collection in Glasgow. On that stela Pamedunakht worships Amun-Re, like on the Bankes stela here. The Glasgow inscription gives Pamedunakht's title as wab-priest of all gods, sculptor of statues in the House of Gold. Černý explains the House of Gold being an expression for the sculptor's workshop (Černý,1958,stela 11). Another source of our information on this workman comes from a Theban Necropolis rock graffito No. 839 (Davies,1996,89) dated in year 1 of Ramesses IV (Černý,1958,stela 11). Another appearance of this rare name comes from TT2, where Pamedunakht is named - together with 5 other men - as one of chief workman Nekhemmut's sons (Bierbrier, 1980,103). 3 of them are known to have been his sons, but the other 3 - including Pamedunakht - are not. Bierbrier suggests he could have been Nekhemmut's son-in-law (Bierbrier,1980,104).
Bankes stela no. 12
Tjay and Pentaweret's stela
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 34.5 cm
Width: 25 cm
It was suggested by Černý, that the stela used to have a round top, but it was chipped away. The stela carries an image of two deities, both facing
each other. The god standing on the left is named by the hieroglyphic inscription near his head as Amun-Re, lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands. The deified queen, mother of Amenhotep I, shakes sistra in her hands and is identified by the inscription within a cartouche as The Lady
of the Two Lands Ahmose-Nefertari.
A column of hieroglyphs is placed behind the queen's back and reads Made by the wab-priest of the Lady of the Two Lands, To, true of voice, son of the scribe Amennakht, true of voice.
At the bottom of the stela, below the line indicating the ground on which the deities stand, there is a line of a hieroglyphic inscription. It reads from right to left: Made by the scribe of the House of Eternity, Pentaweret, true of voice.
Scattered among the cliffs of the Theban Necropolis are several graffiti bearing the name Tjay. Tjay appears to be a "scribe" and to be a son as well as a father of Amennakht. The sons of the scribe Amennakht are recorded in various graffiti as Tjay, Amennakht, the draughtsman, Harshire, Amenhotep and scribe Pentaweret (Davies,1999,131). On the basis of evidence from TT 23 of the royal secretary Tjay it has been shown that the name To used to be employed as the diminutive form of the name Tjay. Thus it has been concluded by Davies that To, son of the scribe Amennakht and the scribe Tjay, were one and the same person (Davies,1999,132). Textual evidence based on two graffiti and a papyrus place him firmly in time between the years 1153-1134 BC: year 29 of Ramesses III (Graffito no. 3021), year 4 of Ramesses IV (Graffito no. 2609) and year 7 of Ramesses VI (papyrus Turin 1885) (Davies,1999,133). To/Tjay's titles include "scribe in the Place of Truth West of Thebes", "royal scribe in the Place of Truth West of Thebes, and "scribe of the tomb" (Davies,1999,131).
The second dedicator of the stela is named as scribe Pentaweret, who is known from Theban graffiti No. 785 and No. 2864 to be son of the scribe Amennakht. He was To's brother.
The stela is dedicated to Amun-Re an Ahmose-Nefertari by two brothers, sons of the scribe Amennakht.
Bankes stela no. 13
From Deir el-Medina
19th or 20th dynasty
Height: 39 cm
Width: 25.5 cm
This is the smallest stela of the Bankes collection.
Here we are looking at an example of a stela being appropriated at a later date. The original stela was a simple one with no carvings. It had its decoration and inscriptions painted in black. Only the traces of winged
sun disk at the very top and partly preserved inscription on the upper right part of the stela remain.
Černý read and reconstructed it as By the servant in the Place [of Truth] on the West [of Thebes] ..., true of voice, (and) his beloved son ...
The stela was reused later on. A smaller stela - measuring some 29 by 21 cm - was attempted to be cut out of the original one. The piece broke into two halves and was repaired using plaster. The secondary stela is decorated in bas-relief. Traces of red and yellow pigments and according to Černý also of gold leaf on the face of the deity and the solar disk on his head still remain visible. The newer stela is dedicated to falcon headed Re-Harakhte, the same deity Bankes stelae no. 1 and 5 are dedicated to. Re-Harakhte stands on the left and faces an offering table heaped with bread and offering vessels. He is identified by an inscription near his head as Re-Harakhte, the great god, lord of heaven.
Another hieroglyphic inscription appears at the bottom of the smaller stela: Made by Harmose and his son Khaemnun.
Both names, Harmose and Khaemnun, appear on various objects and in several wall paintings from Deir el- Medina, but it is not possible to identify a Khaemnun, son of Harmose with certainty.
Bankes stela no. 14
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 43.5 cm
Width: 28 cm
This round-topped stela was believed by Černý to have been also reused. Although the names of the dedicators are dated to the end of the 21st dynasty, the style of the stela fits the 18th dynasty. The layout of the contents together with the use of the pair of wedjat-eyes and the depiction of a person smelling a lotus all point to the pre-Amarna style.
The stela was most probably carved in the 18th dynasty and reused in the 21st dynasty. It has a short hieroglyphic inscription at the curved top. It
reads Life to the good god Djeserkare-Amenhotep, the deified king Amenhotep I, who, together with his mother Ahmose-Nefertari were jointly credited with the foundation of Deir el-Medina, where they
consequently enjoyed personal religious cults until the late Ramesside Period. Below is a pair of wedjat- eyes, symbol of protection. The round object in the form of a circle painted red with a ring around it, sits on a little pedestal resembling the hieroglyphic sign for "m". The meaning of the symbol has not been established.
Below the wedjat-eyes there are 9 short columns of hieroglyphic inscriptions. The first part of the inscription is written in the first 6 columns from the left and is read from the right: For the soul of the servant in the Place of Truth, Nespautytowe, true of voice, and His son Haemtawer, true of voice. The remaining 3 columns are read from left to right and translate: The son of his son, Pesherenese, true of voice.
Below the inscription there is an offering scene carved in raised relief. Two men, identified as Nespautytowe and his son Haemtawer, sit on a wide couch and the third man, the grandson Pesherenese, stands facing them on the right. A small offering table laden with ox meat and vegetables stands between them. Pesherenses contributes to the pile by adding another offering on the top. Nespautytowe, who is seen as sitting closer to the table, is smelling a lotus flower. His son Haemtawer rests his left arm on his father's shoulder.
Below the offering scene there are 3 lines of a hieroglyphic text: Offering which the king gives to Osiris, foremost of the Westeners, great god, lord of the necropolis, that he may give invocation-offerings and all good things whereon a god lives to the soul of the servant in the Place of Truth, Nespautytowe, true of voice.
Černý tells us that Nespautytowe's name appears in several rock graffiti and on one ostrakon and he places the type of the name towards the end of the 21st dynasty. The family, especially the grandson Pesherenese, must have lived during the turbulent times and most probably witnessed the move of Deir el-Medina's inhabitants away. They used to be believed to have moved within the safer walls of the nearby temple of Medinet Habu, but according to the latest research of Robert Demarée of Leiden University, under Ramesses IX the community took refuge near the Temple of Deir el-Bahri where they created tombs for the Priests of Amun, and, under a new boss of a new dynasty in Thebes, the ruling elite appears to have been given orders to empty the royal tombs and recycle the objects. More details are here.
The present display of the stelae collection within the former servants' quarters.
Bankes papyri collection, British Museum, London
A group of late Ramesside papyri, collected by William John Bankes (1786-1855) at Thebes duringhis second journey to Upper Egypt in 1818, have an interesting modern history attached to them. I.E.S. Edwards, the Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum from 1955 to 1974, knew of the existence of the papyri collection at Kingston Lacy from Prof. P.E. Newberry and wrote to H.J.R.Bankes to offer him access to them. The only problem was that the family did not know where to find them. During Edward's first visit all the likely places around the house were searched but with no result. During his second visit to Kingston Lacy, the collection was finally located having been carefully placed between the pages of a large atlas stored in the library.
Transliterations and translations of two complete papyri were published by Edwards in 1982 in his journal article The Bankes papyri I and II. The remaining documents in the collection were all fragmentary. In the 1950s and 1990s the Bankes papyri were all transferred to the British Museum for specialist care, conservation and storage by the National Trust.
Collected by William J. Bankes in 1818
Transferred from National
Reg. nu. 10302, 75019, 75022
© The Trustees of the British Museum
Altogether there are 16 separate documents, some of them consisting of several fragments. They are a particularly exceptional group of manuscripts, since they include previously unknown letters by the best known of the Ramesside correspondents - the necropolis scribes Dhutmose and Butehamun - and the missing half of an already published letter, now known to have been written almost certainly by the famous general Payankh. The first half of the letter was published by
Jac. Janssen in his Late Ramesside Letters and Communications (p. 37-39, pl. 23-24). The fragment (now BM Papyrus 10302) was later joined with another larger piece (BM Papyrus 75019) and four adjacent minor fragments (75020).
In 2006 ten of the Bankes papyri were published by R.J. Demarée in his The Bankes Late Ramesside Papyri.
The papyri have been conserved by Bridget Leach of the Museum's Department of Conservation and Scientific Research.