Metternich Stela


Magical stela
Egyptian, Late Period, Dynasty 30, reign of Nectanebo II (ca. 360343 BCE)
Greywacke; H. 32 7/8 in. (83.5 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1950 (50.85)


Detail (sorry for reflective irregularities)...

(from Museum website
"The top half of this stela was skillfully carved in a hard dark stone. On the part below the central figure panel, rows of hieroglyphs record thirteen magic spells to protect against poisonous bites and wounds and to cure the illnesses caused by them. The stela was commissioned by the priest Esatum to be set up in the public part of a temple. A victim could recite or drink water that had been poured over the magic words and images on the stela. As a mythic precedent, the hieroglyphic inscription around the base describes the magic cure that was worked upon the infant Horus by Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing."

Also, via the Metternich stela Isis speaks:

"I am Isis the goddess, the possessor of magic, who performs magic, effective of speech, excellent of words."
(Translation given in The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice by Robert K. Ritner, (University of Chicago 1993), page 34)

It is filled with interesting imagery, including griffins:

Zooming in...

It is similar to one found in TeVelde's book regarding the god Set:

"Griffin with Seth-head drawing a chariot"

That's not the only griffin featured. On the side panel is:

(I apologize for the poor focus)

Which resembles the 'Tesh-tesh' griffin illustrated in TeVelde:

Slightly more elaborate head deco in the 30th dynasty version, also the griffin is clutching daggers, as Tutu often does.

The Met museum website makes this interesting final note:
"Nectanebo II (r. 360343 B.C.) was the last indigenous king of ancient Egypt. He struggled valiantly against the Persian empire only to be defeated in the end. After the lost battle, he fled to Upper Egypt, and nothing is known about his end."

Hopefully it wasn't death by poisonous bite or wound!