The Three Stelae of King Nehsy from Tell Habwe at Al Arish Museum: A New Interpretation

Maha Yehia


The three stelae of King Nehsy were discovered in the foundation of the fort at Tell Habwe. The accidental discovery occurred at the site seems to be of great archaeological and historical interest. A little about the history of the provenance of this monument is known. Tell Habwe is located 10 km north of El Kantara. These pieces were stored in the store rooms of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) until it was decided to found Al Arish Museum. Two round-topped limestone stelae; each carry a royal cartouche of king Nehsy, they measure 43 x 29,5 x 9 and 40 x 29 x 9 cm and bear Nos. 674 and 675 at Al Arish Museum.
The text contains a standard late Middle Kingdom version. It also seems that the two stelae were erected parallel to each other, perhaps at the entrance of local sanctuary or building that was one day established in this place. The first stela, which was probably erected at the left hand side of the entrance, is inscribed inside the cartouche with the prenomen of King aA sH ra being preceded by the royal title nTr nfr “good god”, and followed by the tag di anx “given life” which commonly accompanies royal names; the whole scene was enclosed inside a round shape like a large Cartouche. The second stela was to be put to the right hand side and began with the epithet sA ra and the name of the king nHsj, then Dt, or nb Dt? Dt nb tA. The Cartouche is damaged at its right end but the name of the King Nehsy still can be identified. The stelae can provide some information to shed light on the King Nehsy. The third stela is a round- topped limestone stela. It includes a depiction of a standing figure making offering to the god who is standing in front of him, the scene belongs to the king whose name is written sA Ra, but the name is not inside a cartouche. The stela measures 9x39x80 cm and is probably made to be put inside a temple or a shrine, may be in Mendes. It has been also a matter of dispute whether king Nehsy and his successors belonged to the Thirteenth or the Fourteenth Dynasty. Dynasty XIV is a group of ephemeral rulers, possibly including Sheshi, Nehesy, and over fifty others. As suggested by Bietak, it was centered at Tell el Dab'a. King Nehsy bore the title sA nsw smsw “King’s eldest son.” and king. Accordingly, king Nehsy was a son of an Egyptian king, and he was a designated heir to the throne.
The god which is depicted on the stela is the chief deity of Mendes was the ram god” Baneb djedew“ (lit. Ba of the Lord of Djedew). The queen’s name that inscribed on the stela and written inside the cartouche is that of queen Tany, obviously, the origin of Tany is problematic, as some scholars suggested that Tany might have been a Theban because the writing of the first element on her name is precisely that found in the names of the Theban rulers of the Seventeenth Dynasty; Seqenenrea Ta-eaa and in the names of private individuals. Her name was also mentioned on other monuments with another king Ipp.
The study then deals in details with the two figures; of king Nehsy and the figure of the god, and the name of queen Tany to sum up with the conclusion that in view of close similarity of the name Ipp, written with Tany on the another stela, with the name of the ruler of the Fifteenth Dynasty, it might be argued that Ipp who connected to Tany was that of the Fourteenth Dynasty. The stela attested that Tany was still alive when Nehsy assumed the power and that can be proved by her tag anx.ti” may she live”. The inscriptions on the stela imply that it was inscribed by local sculpture. Nevertheless, it shed light on the relationship between Nehsy and Tany. It also strengthens the suggestion of Simpson and other scholars that Nehsy and Tany were of Egyptian origin. Accordingly, it can be concluded that Apophis I was of Egyptian origin as well.


hree Stelae of King Nehsy

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