Objects from Meydûm

By: B. G.

Originally Published in 1933

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THE objects received from the Meydûm excavations of the season 1931-1932 are, although chiefly of the later periods, very varied in character. Largest in bulk is a great quantity of pottery ranging in date from the Fourth Dynasty to early Christian times. In addition to the normal types of pottery sent us by Mr. Rowe are interesting decorated vases, vessels with short incised inscriptions, a jar inscribed as containing embalming-resin, seemingly from the royal stores, and a number of Græco-Roman lamps. The Egyptian Section, it may be mentioned, now possesses a large and representative collection of dated pottery of all periods from the predynastic onwards, of great importance to students of Egyptian fictile products. Other vessels from Meydûm include decorated cosmetic-jars and some glass. Of stone objects we have an inscribed slab from the tomb of Prince Nyhep of the Fourth Dynasty, the sculptor’s exercise or ‘trial piece’ of the same period, and bearing perhaps a picture of King Snefru, described in previous numbers of the Bulletin, and a fine offering-tablet. A good wooden mummy-case will take its place in the room shortly to be installed for mummies and their equipment.

Carved stone offering table with symmetrical design showing bowls, flowers, and offerings
Plate VII — Offering Tablet from Græco-Roman Tomb at Meydûm, Egypt
Museum Object Number: 32-42-749
Image Number: 36560

As previously, Meydûm has yielded a number of small objects, of which the most attractive are perhaps the amulets (including two fine sets in stone, Ptolemaic) and a quantity of beadwork. Among inscribed objects are Coptic ostraka, and parts of papyri written in Demotic and Greek from the ‘cartonnage’ masks of mummies. There are some pottery figurines of Greek type, and finally a number of miscellaneous small things connected with adornment, the toilet, household concerns and the dead-in the last category a golden tongue, found in the mouth of a mummy, being a very unusual object.

The limestone offering-tablet which has been selected for reproduction here [Plate VII] is an excellent specimen of its kind. It is from the tomb of one Hôr, of the Græco-Roman Period. Something on which to place the funerary offerings was perhaps the most important feature of the superstructure of the Egyptian tomb; in predynastic times it was a reed mat (the primitive form of dining-table), but this was early replaced by a stone tablet. This was placed before the ‘false door’ through which the dead man was believed to enter the offering-chamber from his burial place below the ground; and upon the tablet a relative, or the ‘soul-servant’-a person formally appointed to maintain the funerary rites-placed the food and drink deemed essential to the welfare of the deceased. Water, and sometimes wine and beer, were poured into the two depressions, which are surrounded, perhaps as a purely decorative motive, by the ‘cartouches’ in which royal names were written, and any overflow was carried by the surrounding gutter and drained away on the side furthest from the ‘false door.’ Upon the remainder of the tablet were placed offerings of food and flowers. On the Meydûm tablet, as regularly in the later periods, some of the offerings to be made are represented in relief; we see two tall vases with their liquid contents issuing into the depressions, circular loaves, lotuses, and-a less usual feature-a small wooden table bearing four vessels. Two fine examples of ‘false doors’ are to be seen in the Egyptian Section: that in the offering-chamber of Kaipurê in the Memphite Hall; that of Ptahyerti in the Hall of Statuary. Two offering tablets, earlier than that of Hôr, are also to be seen in the Section.

B. G.

Cite This Article

G., B.. "Objects from Meydûm." Museum Bulletin IV, no. 3 (April, 1933): 71-75. Accessed April 20, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/1126/

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