(Oxfordshire Communications in Egyptology VII)
The fruit of fifteen years’ research, this new book documents the 600 votive stelae and other objects discovered in 1922 in the Salakhana tomb on the Western Mountain of Asyut in Middle Egypt.
The tomb belonged to Djefaihapy III, nomarch of Asyut during the XIIth Dynasty, and was later used either as a shrine for votive offerings or as a depository for them.
Though it was an Egyptological sensation, the find was overshadowed by the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the Salakhana stelae lay forgotten in the vaults of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum until the current project was initiated in 1995.
The stelae and figurines of the Salakhana trove date from early Dynasty XVIII to the Late Period, most of them falling within the Ramesside period. They provide a unique record of personal life and religion in Asyut during this period and represent a cross-section of society in that city. Donors came from almost all social strata and include, unusually, a number of women who dedicated stelae on their own initiative.
Most of the stelae were dedicated to Upwawet, the local god of Asyut, or to his little-known consort Hathor of Medjed, but various other deities were also honoured.
The Salakhana stelae provide entirely new information on private worship in Middle Egypt and on the employment and social status of the devotees, and many of them are of special artistic interest. Despite its neglect hitherto, the trove is an unparallelled resource for the study of the social and religious history of New Kingdom and later Egypt.
The book provides a detailed introduction to the Salakhana trove, followed by a comprehensive catalogue of the objects, including transcriptions, transliterations and translations of texts, and photographs of most of the stelae.
In supplementary chapters, Edmund S Meltzer covers the palaeography and grammar of the objects, Geoffrey J Tassie provides an in-depth analysis of the hairstyles and hair adornments depicted on the stelae, and there is an extended essay on male and female clothing by Janet M Johnstone. Each of these chapters makes a new and important contribution to the dating of Egyptian objects.