Stela

Stela of HoremhebA stela is a standing memorial stone, usually rectangular or with a rounded upper edge, featuring representations and/or texts. The majority of the stelae are funerary in character. The owner of the stela listed his names and titles and often some biographical information, in order that his name might live on. This is combined with a request to the living to give the deceased offerings. Funerary stelae are known from as early as the Protodynastic period. For many, stelae were an ideal substitute for a cenotaph (= empty tomb; Gr. kainos = empty, taphos = tomb) ) burial in the sacred town of Abydos, enabling one to be present in Abydos at least 'in name'. Another type of stela is that inscribed with hymns to the gods. Among the best known examples of this type are those with hymns to the sun god and other gods found among others in the tomb of Horemheb at Saqqara. Votive stelae, mainly known from the Ramesside Period as an expression of 'personal piety', contain prayers of entreaty to the gods. The owner of the stela would confess his sins on it and praise the god's greatness in the hope of receiving forgiveness. Sometimes these stelae include an illustration of the god's ear, 'which hears'. This type of stela was usually placed in or near a temple. Furthermore, there are memorial stelae which, for example, record the victories of the king over his enemies or some other important event. Given that this usually happened on the orders of or on behalf of a god, this type of stela was also erected in temples as a type of votive stela. Well known examples include Tutankhamun's Restoration Stela, which revoked Akhenaten's religious policies, and Merenptah's Israel stela. Finally, there were also boundary stelae. These marked out the borders of Egypt, of a city such as Akhetaten, or of smaller areas. Stelae were almost always made of stone, particularly limestone, though other materials were also used, such as wood, covered with plaster which could then be painted, or faience.