MUSEUM PIECE: Unfinished Stele of Nebheq

This is a most fascinating artefact housed in the Museum of fine arts in Boston.

Unfinished stele of Nebheq

This gives great insight in to how these stelae were actually made and how carvings were completed. I love how crude the images are, perhaps even done firstly by a novice craftsman such as we see in Horemheb’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, where novices are seen to be corrected by master craftsmen. The two styles of relief are displayed here we see raised and bas relief and I wonder why the artist chose to use both? This could support the argument further that this was a practice piece, with the craftsmen experimenting with the two forms of carving. In fact, the more I look at it, particularly the detail of the face and other features the more I believe it was a novice artist who undertook this. I don’t know who Nebheq was, the museum dates it between the Old Kingdom-1st Intermediate Period, and the provenance as Dendera (but not specific). I note also there is an unfinished bee in the middle right, linked to royalty as”nswt bjty” in the Pharaoh’s titularly. Interestingly I have seen it used in conjunction with the Queen of the 4th dynasty Khentkaus I, her title, mwt nswt bity nswt bity, is proposed to be read as  “The Mother of two Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt”. Was the inscription on this stele going to tell us she was a Queen? Mother to a King? There is a fan bearer and an attendant at her feet. There is however, also a child behind her which clings to her hands, she could have been a wet nurse for a King. Unfortunately, my Egyptian language is not what it used to be (an area I hope to develop fully in the next year) so I cannot accurately transliterate and translate the broken text. Maybe this will be something to revisit later on as well as looking for other contemporary pieces.

If anyone has any more information or ideas about this artefact I would be very interested in hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Ankh Nfr

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