An Egyptian limestone fragmentary royal stele for king Merenptah
Lot 279*
An Egyptian limestone fragmentary royal stele for king Merenptah
£40,000 - 60,000
US$ 67,000 - 100,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
An Egyptian limestone fragmentary royal stele for king Merenptah
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, circa 1212-1201 B.C.
Round-topped, carved in sunken relief, depicting the king Merenptah wearing the Crown of Upper Egypt, his hands raised to offer two vessels to 'Amun, the great and great' standing in front, wearing a false beard and double plumed headdress, holding a was-sceptre, with four columns of hieroglyphic text above, including two cartouches for the king, called Baenre Meramun 'Lord of the two lands', and Merenptah Hotephermaat 'Lord of Appearances', 'given life like Re', 18in (45.7cm) wide, mounted


  • Provenance:
    D. Barr Collection, New York. Acquired in 1978-9 from Nicolas Landau (1887-1979), Paris.

    King Merenptah was the son of Ramses the Great, and appears to have followed in his father's warlike footsteps during his ten-year reign. His military achievements are documented by three important inscriptions: one on the walls of the temple of Amun at Karnak; a stele from Athribis in the Delta; and the Hymn of Victory stele found in 1896 by Petrie in Merenptah's mortuary temple at Thebes, now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

    Petrie's Hymn of Victory stele is also known as the Israel Stele as it contains the lines: 'Israel is wasted, non-existent is its offspring'. C.F. Nims, Thebes of the Pharaohs, London, 1965, p. 33. This is the 'first and only' reference to Israel in Egyptian records. W.C. Hayes, The Scepter of Egypt, vol. II, New York, 1959, p.353. This led many scholars of the past to identify Merenptah as the pharaoh of the Exodus.

    He is now recognised as a warrior king, perhaps one of Egypt's last. He erected a magnificent funerary temple on the west bank of Thebes, near the Valley of the Kings, where his tomb is situated.

    Artefacts from the reign of Merenptah are comparatively rare. It has been suggested that from the quality of the carving, this stele is probably from the funerary temple itself or possibly from Karnak Temple on the east bank.

    With thanks to Jack A Josephson.
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