Sunday, October 20, 2013

Museum Pieces - Scene from the Great Harris Papyrus: Ramesses III before the gods of Memphis

(Photocredit: British Museum)
Scene from the Great Harris Papyrus: Ramesses III before the gods of Memphis

Ramesses III stands praying before Ptah, Sekhmet and Nefertem. The accompanying notes are these:

Ptah the great, "South-of-His-Wall." lord of "Life-of-the-Two-Lands."

Sekhmet the great, beloved of Ptah.

Nefertem, protector of the Two Lands.

I tell the prayers, praises, adorations, laudations, mighty deeds, and benefactions, which I did for you in your presence, O Resi-inebef. (South-of-His-Wall)

Height: 42.500 cm
EA 9999/43

From Thebes, Egypt
20th Dynasty, around 1150 BC

At forty-two metres, the Great Harris Papyrus is one of the longest papyri still in existence from ancient Egypt. It is divided into five sections, with hieratic text and three illustrations of the king and the gods accompanied by hieroglyphic texts.

The first three sections describe the donations made by King Ramesses III (1184-1153 BC) to the gods and temples of Thebes, Heliopolis and Memphis. Each of these sections is illustrated, the king making offerings to three of the deities from each area. The amounts were colossal: The list relating to Thebes alone includes 309,950 sacks of grain and large quantities of metals and semi-precious stones.

This vignette is the third of those at the beginning of the papyrus. The king worships the gods of Memphis, one of the main administrative cities of Egypt. He holds the crook and flail, and wears clothing reserved for the king, including the banded cloth head-dress, sash, triangular-fronted kilt and bull's tail. Each god or goddess is shown in his or her most typical form. The close fitting and ornate costumes are typical of the traditional clothing the deities were thought to wear.

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Translation from:

James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records Of Egypt, vol 4 § 305

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