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The God Iah-Thoth Receiving the Wadjet (Stela of Neferrenpet and Huynefret)



Reproduction Details

Object Type: Penitential stela

Material: Limestone

Date: c. 1279-1213 BC

Period: 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II

Findspot: Deir el-Medina, Egypt

Dimensions: H. 48.0 cm x W. 33.0 cm x D. 3.5 cm

Inventory number: Cat 1592 (Turin N 50046)

Current location: Muzeo Egizio, Turin (Sala 6, Vetrina 8)

Print Reference: DP60A

Description

My reproduction of an illustration from a stone stela praising the healing power of the god Iah-Thoth, who is shown as an ibis-headed man, riding on the solar barque through the night sky. The god is being presented with a wadjet, or Eye of Horus, by the baboon-form of Thoth, which represents the healing power and protection of the god.

The illustration sits in a lunette above the hieroglyphic text, which was dedicated to the deceased spirit of Neferrenpet, a sculptor from the workman’s village, Dier el-Medina, in c. 1279-1213 BC. It describes Thoth as holding life and health as objects in his hands which he can pass to the dedicator of the stela, Neferrenpet in the same way that any other object may be passed from one to another.


Iah-Thoth

The ibis-headed god Thoth (also known as Djehuty) is shown in his form of Iah-Thoth, or the God of the New Moon, indicated by the lunar disk on his head. As early as the Old Kingdom, Thoth was worshipped as a god of the moon along with Iah and Khonsu, and he was thought to embody the moon's dynamic nature. As this is a funerary stela, Iah-Thoth is shown in the white shroud of underworld deities and the hieroglyphs below describe him as “the merciful one”.



The Barque of a Million Years

Iah-Thoth is sitting on a boat made from papyrus with a net draped over one end and an elaborate prow taking the shape of the renpet hieroglyph meaning ‘year’ at the other. This hieroglyph takes the form of a notched palm frond, which was used by Thoth to count and record the years and is a visual clue to the name of the boat “the barque of a million years”. This is the vessel which the gods travel across the heavens at night in and ferry the souls to the afterlife, and it is floating on a blue pet hieroglyph, meaning “sky”.



The Baboon and the Eye of Horus

In the Old Kingdom the baboon became associated with Thoth as the god of writing and patron of the scribal arts. They featured in many of the myths surrounding the underworld, appearing as guardians to gates, protectors of organs and witnesses to the soul’s final judgement. Here the baboon represents another form of Thoth, associated with his powers for healing by the wadjet, or Eye of Horus symbol, he holds. This image is based on the myth of the destruction of one of the falcon-headed god Horus's eyes by the god Seth and its restoration by the god Thoth. It symbolised good health, restoration, and the ongoing victory of stability over the forces of chaos.



Neferrenpet

Neferrenpet, son of Piay, was a 'sculptor in the Place of Truth' at Deir el-Medina during the reign of Ramessess II. He was buried in TT 336 with his wife Huynofret and their tomb contains depictions of them receiving offerings from their wider family, including their sons Piay, Huy, Pashedu, Nefermenu, and daughter Tabaki. This stela, which was not from the tomb but would have been placed in a rock-cut shrine, was dedicated to Neferrenpet, his wife and his other daughter, Werel.

For more information see Who's Who at Deir el-Medina by Benedict Davies (1999, p.183).


Translation

The vertical columns of hieroglyphs go from left to right and should be read from top to bottom. The following translation comes from J.M. Galan's Seeing darkness (1999):


Praising to Iah-Thoth, kissing the ground for the merciful one.

I praise him up to heaven:

“I exalt your gentleness,

(so that) you may be merciful to me and

I may see your mercy,

I may witness the greatness of your [mercy],

You cause that I see the darkness that you create.

Enlighten me, (so that) I may see you.

Health and life are in your hand,

And is alive by what you give to him.”

For the Ka of the [sculptor] of Deir el-Medina,

[Nefer]renpet – justified, well in peace –

His beloved sister, mistress of the house, Huynefret – justified,

And her daughter Werel, for her lord.


Key Sources

Davies, B. G. (1999). Who's who at Deir el-Medina: a prosopographic study of the royal workmen's community. Leiden, Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten.

Galan, J. M. (1999). Seeing darkness. Chronique d'Egypte, 74(147), 18–30.

Potter, D.M. (2016). Linguistic Understanding of Divine Interaction in Ramesside Egypt. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

Tosi, Mario, Roccati, (1972). Stele e altre epigrafi di Deir el Medina: n. 50001 - n. 50262 (Catalogo del Museo Eg. di Torino - Serie II. - Collezioni 1), Torino, pp. 80-81, tav. p. 280


Further Reading

“Catalogue de la collect. d'antiq. de mons. le chev. Drovetti, a 1822”, in Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione (a cura di), Documenti inediti per servire alla storia dei Musei d'Italia, vol. 3, Firenze - Roma 1880, p. 226, n. 63

Andreu, Guillemette (a cura di), Gli artisti del faraone: Deir el-Medina e le Valli dei Re e delle Regine, Milano 2003, p. 275

Assmann, Jan, Ägyptische Hymnen und Gebete: Übersetzt, kommentiert und eingeleitet. Zweite, verbesserte und erweiterte Auflage (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis - Sonderband), Fribourg-Göttingen 1999, pp. 384-5, n° 157

Davies, Benedict G., Ramesside inscriptions, translated and annotated: notes and comments, volume III. Ramesses II, his contemporaries, Malden – Oxford 2013, pp. 490-491

Kitchen, Kenneth A., Ramesside inscriptions, translated & annotated. Translations, volume III: Ramesses II, his contemporaries, Oxford 2000, p. 452

Kitchen, Kenneth A., Ramesside Inscriptions: historical and biographical, III (3), Oxford 1980, pp. 668-669

Lanzone, Ridolfo Vittorio, Dizionario di mitologia egizia, Amsterdam 1881-1884, p. 90, tav. XXXVIII

Leospo, Enrichetta, Mario Tosi, Vivere nell'antico Egitto : Deir El-Medina, il villaggio degli artefici delle tombe dei re, Firenze 1998, pp. 75-6

Luiselli, Maria Michela, Die Suche nach Gottesnähe: Untersuchungen zur persönlichen Frömmigkeit in Ägypten von der 1. Zwischenzeit bis zum Ende des Neuen Reiches (Ägypten und Altes Testament 73), Wiesbaden 2011, pp. 99, 164, 172, 330 (nota 47), 391-393

Orcurti, Pier Camillo, Catalogo illustrato dei monumenti egizi del R. Museo Egizio di Torino, Torino 1855, p. 109, n. 211

Petersen, Lars, Nicole Kehrer (Hrsg.), Ramses: göttlicher Herrscher am Nil, Karlsruhe 2016, p. 225

Tiradritti, Francesco (a cura di), Il cammino di Harwa: l'uomo di fronte al mistero: l'Egitto [mostra: Brescia, Mus. Diocesano ott. 1999-gen. 2000], Milano 1999, p. 57 e 164, fig. a p. 57



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