LiverpoolLiverpool Weekend

Liverpool Weekend (Day Three) – Limestone Stela of Ni-ankh-tet at World Museum


I had to Google what a ‘stela’ was and after I insisted to Google that I hadn’t just mis-spelt ‘stella’ (which is a drink I’d never search for) it informed me that it was a stone slab which was erected as a monument. The museum’s description is:

“Slab stela of Ni-ankh-tet, royal acquaintance, director/controller of scribes connected with petitions (or iah?) and scribe of reversion offerings of about late 3rd Dynasty or early 4th Dynasty. Sunk and raised relief with a combination of vertical and horizontal inscriptions. The deceased is seated before a table of offerings. With his right hand he reaches out towards the table of bread loaves, while with his left he grasps the shoulder knot of his garment in his clenched fist. At the top right side is a register list of linen of various fineness. The bottom part of the stela is broken away.”

As this isn’t going to be an Egyptian history blog, for one reason I know nothing about it, I was just going to witter on about the age of this, which is from 2686 to 2494 BC making it a remarkable survival given its age. It was discovered by Joseph Sams in 1833 who owned it until 1850 when he sold it to Joseph Mayer, who donated it to the museum in 1867. The number of people who have seen this stone at the museum must outnumber how many saw it when it was in situ.

It’s not known when the excavation took place, but Joseph Sams (1784-1860) was a book-seller and antiquities dealer, so he was likely hawking around the area waiting for these items to be uncovered. Joseph Mayer (1803-1886) made his money as a jeweller and then started to build up an art collection of some considerable size, which he donated in its entirety to the World Museum (or the William Brown Library and Museum as it then was).

I find these exhibits particularly fascinating as a reminder of how advanced the Egyptian civilisation was and wondering what the original stone carver would have thought of thousands of people in Liverpool looking at their handiwork…..