Pyramids and tombs weren’t the only artifacts left behind by the ancient Egyptians that played a role in unlocking the beauty of their culture and practices. There were also ancient steles that shed light on some of the funerary customs, languages, and art of the culture. In this article, you will learn a bit about the infamous Rosetta Stone and other monuments, such as the Stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu.
Egyptian hieroglyphics have always fascinated researchers who wanted to learn more about the language of one of the most infamous ancient cultures. However, without the help of the Rosetta Stone, we would not have reached an advanced understanding of their ways of communication. This stele dates back to the Ptolemaic era- bearing text that show up to three translations of a single passage. Two of the represented languages were Egyptian (hieroglyphic and Demotic), while the other was in classical Greek.
Dating back to 196 BC, the Rosetta Stone was discovered by French scientists in 1799. In 1822, a British scientist and French scholar teamed up to decipher some of the ins and outs of hieroglyph writing. They were successful in using all of the sources available to them to translate many pieces of hieroglyphic writing that remained a mystery for quite some time.
The text on the Rosetta Stone was actually a decree from Ptolemy V, which mentioned the abolishment of various taxes. The Stone also gave instructions on how to erect statues in temples. Measuring about 45 inches tall at its highest point, the Rosetta Stone was also nearly 30 inches wide and 11 inches thick. Interestingly it was not complete on its sides or on the reverse of the stone. Today, the public can see the stone at the British Museum , an attraction since 1802. Interestingly, it weights quite a bit , 1,700 pounds to be exact.
The Stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu
With Egyptian texts painted on both faces (such as a chapter of the Book of the Dead), the Stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu has a colorful history and background. Made out of wood, the stele was uncovered in 1858 as exploration took place at the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut. Originally, the stele was created for the Montu-priest named Ankh-ef-en-Knonsu, as it was found close to his coffin. The monument dates back to around 680 BCE, during the days of the late 25th Dynasty. Today, it can found at the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, as it was relocated from another museum in 1902.
Fashioned out of wood, the stele was covered with a plaster gesso, which was then painted on. It measures a little over 51 centimeters high and 31 centimeter wide. An image of the priest is detected on the front. He is seen giving offerings to Re-Harakhty , the god with the head of a falcon. Behind the god, there is a symbol that refers to the place of the Dead. Other features include the depiction of Nut (the sky goddess) and the Winged Solar Disk.