Stele of Bebi, his wife Henutsen, and their children

Egyptian
Late Old Kingdom to First Intermediate Period, D
2323–2061 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Dendara, Tomb of Bebi (family mastaba; tomb 770)

Dimensions

Height x width x depth: 42 x 89 x 6.2 cm (16 9/16 x 35 1/16 x 2 7/16 in.)

Accession Number

98.1031

Medium or Technique

Limestone

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Stele

Rectangular funerary stele of limestone depicting the official Bebi, his wife Henutsen, and their son & daughter, all rendered with somewhat elongated proportions. Edges of the stele are fairly battered, with some sizable fragments broken away and missing. Some text obscured by the damage. Two major breaks have been mended.

Within an incised, single-line border are six lines of hieroglyphic text, the topmost spanning the width of the block. The bottom five lines cover just over half of the width at right, with a scene of family members occupying the left side in a rectangular field with single baseline (i.e. the stele’s bottom border). Bebi and Henutsen appear at larger scale than their children. Bebi is shown with a very short-cropped hair style, flaring kilt, collar, bracelet, and holds a long staff upright and a shorter scepter at his side. The long staff forms a border between the scene and bottom five lines of the hieroglyphic inscription.

Henutsen stands behind Bebi with one arm around his shoulders and the other grasping his arm. She also has a short hair style, though with curls rendered in more detail. She wears a close-fitting garment with straps over the shoulders.

The attire of the children, shown at extreme left, is similar to their parents’ garb. Their daughter holds a box/chest out towards her parents. The son has longer hair than his father; no sidelock evident on either child.

The inscribed text is an offering formula for Bebi, spanning the majority of the top line (right to left) up to a vertical dividing line that separates it from caption text at the extreme left in glyphs of smaller scale.

The main text reads:
“An offering which the king gives to Anubis Who is on His Mountain which is in the Place of Embalming, Lord of the Sacred Land, that invocation offerings may go forth for…Manager of the Estate, Courtier, Lector Priest, Overseer of Prophets, one privy to the secrets of… one honored with his lord, Great Overlord of the Nome, one privy to all secret affairs which are brought from the Nome, one honored by Osiris, whose good name is Bebi.”

Caption text at top left reads:
“His wife, his beloved, royal(?)…Priestess of Hathor, Lord of Heliopolis, Henutsen.”

For other objects from the same family mastaba, see also: 98.1032, 98.1033a-h.

Provenance

From Dendara, tomb of Bebi (family mastaba; tomb 770). 1898: excavated by William Flinders Petrie for the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF); assigned to the Egypt Exploration Fund in the division of finds by the government of Egypt; presented to the MFA at the general meeting of the EEF.
(Accession Date: November 1, 1898)

Credit Line

Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription