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Work Funerary stele of a father and his son

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Roman Egypt (30 BC - AD 392)

Funerary stele of a father and his son

© 1996 Musée du Louvre / Christian Larrieu

Egyptian Antiquities
Roman Egypt (30 BC - AD 392)

Aubert Marie-France

This is an example of the iconography typical of funerary steles from Abydos, showing Anubis presenting the deceased to Osiris. Here, a justified father and son, each of whom has an Anubis in the role of guardian angel, are being presented to Osiris, god of the underworld and lord of Abydos.

A stele in honor of Osiris

This arched stele is carved in high relief, with the protective emblem at the top: the winged sun disk, flanked by two uraeus cobras. The wings consist of a double row of large tail feathers, extended by a pattern of smaller ones. Underneath, the slender figure of Isis is shown in profile, wearing a wig in the New Kingdom style, with a vulture skin, surmounted by the solar disk with cow horns. She has a wide usekh collar round her neck, and a sheath dress ending in pleats that veil her legs. She is holding the ankh sign, symbol of her divinity, in her right hand, while with her left she protects and venerates Osiris.
Osiris is a mummiform figure, with his upper torso in front view and his legs in profile. He is portrayed as a deity, seated on a cubic throne of the Old Kingdom style, his feet resting on a little pedestal. He is wearing the miter-shaped white crown flanked by two feathers, and the usekh collar. His hands are joined on his breast, without their usual attributes (a scepter and a whip). The two figures of Anubis, wearing usekh collars and short kilts, are also shown in profile. They are presenting the deceased father and son (represented frontally) to Osiris. The son is a minature replica of his father. Both are wearing Hellenistic tunics and cloaks, but the father's hair is close-cropped in a rounded cut, and he has a split goatee beard. He raises his open-palmed right hand in a sign of prayer, and holds the crown of justification in his left.

A Greco-Egyptian style

This type of stele from the Roman Period is characterized by the juxtaposition of two styles: the deceased are dressed in Hellenistic-style clothing, whereas the deities are represented according to the pharaonic tradition.

Abydos, home of Osiris

Abydos, in Upper Egypt, was the holy city of Osiris. In order to obtain the god's protection in the afterlife, the Egyptians wanted to be buried there, or, failing that, to be represented in the city by a monument such as a stele like this one. The deceased was usually portrayed between Osiris and Anubis, perhaps with an inscription indicating name, age, and status.

Technical description

  • Funerary stele of a father and his son

    AD 100-150

    Abydos (judging from the style)

  • Limestone carved in high relief

    H. 56 cm; W. 40 cm; D. 8.50 cm

  • Drovetti collection, purchased 1827

    B 43 (N 146)

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Lower ground floor
    Roman Egypt (room closed for renovation)
    Room A

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