Egypt, Nag ed-Der
Mortuary stela from the tomb of Lti
Late First Intermediate Period.
Early Dynasty XI
85.5 X 56.3 X 15.0
Felton Bequest 1939
To obtain an eternal life after death an Egyptian had to live an exemplary life according to the social and moral expectation of the day. The gods of the next world knew all such achievements, but they could also be commemorated within the tomb in reliefs and inscriptions, or upon stela (tombstones) set up at the tomb, for all who entered or passed by and who could read to note. The inscriptions conform to well-known formulae.
‘lti was a provincial official at the end of the period of disunity following the Old Kingdom; the stela was commissioned for him by his son and is executed in incised relief. ‘lti wears a long wig, a bead collar and a linen kilt; he grasps a scepter in his right hand and a walking stick in his extended left hand. Behind him is Shepsit, described as “his beloved wife, the king’s sole ornament, priestess of Hathor, revered with the great god“. She wears a tight-fitting, ankle-length dress, a bead collar and a long wig. Her slender body contrasts with the muscular appearance of her husband, whose right arm she grasps firmly in a posture of dependence. Shepsit’s skin color is yellow white that of her husband is red; this distinction, and that in their height and physique are convention.
The text is written in horizontal rows alternately colored pale green and yellow. It informs us that offerings to ‘lti are a gift from the king and the god Anubis, protector of cemeteries and master of embalming, and provides ‘lti’s sled-laudatory speech, eulogizing his virtues. This was all done in order to gain a good reputation and enable him to live forever. It concludes with a request that all who “love life and hate death” and who see the stela should make offerings to ‘lti.