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Home > Auctions > 22nd February 2022 > Unpublished Egyptian Hieratic Ostracon Featuring Merysekhmet with Extensive Hieratic Inscriptions

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LOT 0024

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GBP (£) 2,000 - 3,000
EUR (€) 2,400 - 3,600
USD ($) 2,720 - 4,080

Opening Bid
£1,620 (EUR 1,945; USD 2,206) (+bp*)

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Unpublished Egyptian Hieratic Ostracon Featuring Merysekhmet with Extensive Hieratic Inscriptions

Late New Kingdom, 1300-700 BC

A substantial limestone ostracon with several lines of hieratic writing to both sides, the six lines of script on the recto clearly written with the addition of a number of verse points, appearing to be of a literary nature, reading: '...his seat [when you.] / ...trade. You are doing the... / give it/him to the place of such and such and if he/it... / ..you say, as for this maidservant... / [of Pharaoh] life, prosperity, health, my good Lord be praised / ?... let it be given that which...'; the verso palimpsest with remnants of an underlying text and a clearly written name Merysekhmet, reading: '...the...work...your god / ...carrying/under it, in his every festival. It is belonging to... / one says to you, Sekhmet is protecting you... / ...in the Place of Truth, Neferhotep son... / son of his son, Merysekhmet'; old gallery sticker '6216' to one edge. 343 grams, 14cm high (5 1/2"). Fine condition, repaired. Rare and unpublished.

Provenance
Private collection of T.G.H. James, former keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, who apparently acquired it from the Egypt Exploration Society in 1969 when the premises moved.
Acquired from the widow of the late T.G.H. James.
Charles Ede, Brook Street, London W1, 2004, lot 66.
From the private collection of Egyptologist Paul Whelan, Hertfordshire, UK.
Accompanied by copies of the relevant Charles Ede catalogue pages and translation.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.11084-182425.

Published
Hamilton, M.J., An Unpublished Hieratic Ostracon Featuring Merysekhmet, Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Egyptology at Birkbeck, University of London, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, p.1-153 (forthcoming copy included).

Literature
See Petrie Museum, museum number 39637, for a literary ostraca from Thebes; The British Museum, museum number EA5629, for a literary ostraca with a portion of a Middle Egyptian poem.

Footnotes
Ostraca are pottery sherds or limestone flakes used as a substitute for papyrus for writing; the text found on Egyptian ostraca include hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, Coptic, Aramaic, Greek and Coptic. Many of the Theban hieratic ostraca originate from the village of Deir el-Medina, the village that housed the workers who built the royal tombs in the Valley of Kings and the Valley of the Queens. The name Merysekhmet is uncommon in any period of Egyptian history and there are thought to be three Merysekhmets from Deir el-Medina, making it likely that the name on the ostracon refers to one of these men. Attestations of leonine goddess Sekhmet are rare on New Kingdom ostraca from the Theban area and our ostracon could refer to a private festival in which Sekhmet is invoked for protection of an individual, possibly for Merysekhmet.