Funerary stele of Shepen-Bastet

Late Period, Dynasty 26
664–525 B.C.


Height x width x depth: 32.5 x 20 x 3 cm (12 13/16 x 7 7/8 x 1 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, painted gesso

Not On View


The Ancient World



Round topped stele made from a single piece of wood, covered with plaster on every surface, and painted with light and dark green, red, black, and white. Some slight discoloration at some spots. Plaster cracked and flaked off from some areas. Lower right corner of stele chipped.

Decoration and scene: A border of colored rectangles separated by alternating white and black lines surrounds the entire stele. At top is a red and white winged sun disk from which two uraeus cobras hang. A caption accompanies the image, reading “The Behdetite.” The division between the upper lunette and the primary scene is occupied by two bands of a design like that of the border, between which is rendered kheker-frieze. In the main scene the deceased stands at right with arms raised in a pose of adoration towards five mummiform deities. She wears a tight-fitting dress painted white with brown cross-hatching, the same convention used for the mummy wrappings (except the upper oprtion) on the other figures as well. On her head the deceased wears a lappet wig tied with a fillet, a collar, and anklets.

The deities facing the deceased include (right to left) the falcon-headed Sokar-Re, followed by the Four Sons of Horus (human-headed Imsety, babboon-headed Hapy, jackal-headed Duamutef, and falcon-headed Qebehsenuef), protectors of the viscera of the deceased. Sokar-Re is shown with sun disk on his head with arms extended forward holding a was-scepter (hieroglyphic sign for “dominion”).

Between the deceased and deities is an offering table with vase and lotus flower.

Four lines of black painted hieroglyphic text occupy the bottom register; divided by green lines. The text reads:

(1)An offering which the king gives (to) [Osi]ris, Foremost-of-Westerners, Great God, Lord of Abydos (2) that he may give invocation-offerings of bread and beer, oxen and fowl, incense and (3) clothing, wine and milk, (4) and every good and pure thing for the spirit (ka) of the Osiris, the Lady of the House Shepen-Bastet.


By 1836: Robert Hay Collection, Linplum, Scotland; 1863: to his son, Robert James Alexander Hay; 1868-1872: Way Collection, Boston (purchased by Samuel A. Way through London dealers Rollin and Feuardent, 27 Haymarket); 1872: given to the MFA by Samuel's son, C. Granville Way.
(Accession date: June 28, 1872)

Credit Line

Hay Collection—Gift of C. Granville Way