Stela of Khonsu


Rectangular stela made for the chancellor's son Khonsu, excavated at Abydos 1906, above tomb 6 A'06 accessed via a shaft 7.3 metres deep. Unfortunately the limestone stela was broken into several fragments in the Second World War when a fire destroyed the Museum in May 1941. An archive image in the collection provided by the excavator, John Garstang, shows how the stela appeared in 1906 before being donated to the Museum and repaired for display in the Main Hall. At the centre is a large panel with the deceased seated before an offering table and smelling a lotus flower, painted in red, brown and yellow. Above are four rows of carved text orientated to the right, painted blue with divided lines in red. The upper part of the stela are two holes each 80 mm in diameter with limestone plugs. On either side of the panel two columns of text. The stela has been published Dr Wolfram Grajetzki, who provided this description [written on 4 April 2012]: “The stela of Khonsu is unique in size; it is well datable and an important object as it comes most likely from a tomb. It is so far the only known tomb stela of a high court official dating to the 13th Dynasty. There are about 2000 stelae found at Abydos dating to the Middle Bronze Age (about 2000 to 1500 BC - 12th to 17th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt). Very few are coming from a well excavated and recorded context. Here the stela Liverpool, belonging to the 'royal sealer and leader of the broad hall' Khonsu is one big exception and was found in an Abydos tomb in context with other objects, including another stela of Khons. Most Abydos stelae were placed in chapels by officials who wanted to be symbolically close to the Underworld god Osiris (who had his main temple at Abydos), but were buried somewhere else. However, there are also huge cemeteries at Abydos demonstrating that people from Abydos town were buried here, but also people from other parts of the country. Khons, the owner of Liverpool was a leading official at the royal court. The stela in connection with the tomb demonstrates that Khons was buried at Abydos. This is the only monument providing evidence that officials of the national elite could be buried at Abydos (and not near the royal residence at Dahshur) in the 13th Dynasty. Otherwise, we do not have yet any other well excavated burials of the period belonging to the tombs of the national elite. Those at the royal residence are so far only badly excavated. The monument itself confirms the importance of Khonsu. It is in size much bigger than most contemporary stelae. The monument is made up of several pieces, something so far also not often attested at Abydos. Furthermore, most stelae of the 13th Dynasty show groups of people (families and colleagues working at Abydos). There are few stelae of the period belonging to a single person. The stela Liverpool is one of the few examples. This is another point showing that this was a tomb stela and not one place in a commemorative chapel. Khonsu is well datable via his father (the father is known from other sources) into the middle of the 13th Dynasty. Therefore, this monument provides an important chronological anchor for the development of private relief”.