Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours of Museums, Art Galleries, and Historic Sites

Egyptian Stela Fragment  

Penn Museum - Joy of Museums - Egyptian Stela Fragment

Egyptian Stela Fragment

This 5,000-year-old “Egyptian Stela Fragment” is a Stele that depicts a seated couple, sculpted in sunken relief. It shows a wife and husband with the small figure of a servant holding a jar and offering a drink of beer to the man with Hieroglyphic text above the figures.

The Hieroglyphic inscription above the seated figures does not preserve the name of the male, but it records his title as:

 “Royal Chamberlain of the Great House”. 

The name and title of the wife are “Redu-ihu.

Sunk or sunken relief as opposed to low relief is a sculpture style mainly seen in the art of Ancient Egypt where it is common. The image is made by cutting the relief sculpture itself into a flat surface.

 Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children

A  more complete example of sunk-relief. The background has not been removed, merely that near the sculpted form. Strong shadows are needed to define the image.

The figure itself is in low relief but set within a sunken area shaped around the image, so that the relief never rises beyond the original flat surface. This method minimises the work removing the background while allowing standard relief modelling.

Egyptian Stela Fragment

  • Title:                 Egyptian Stela Fragment
  • Culture:           Egyptian – Old Kingdom
  • Provenience:  Egypt, Dendereh, Cemetery
  • Period:             Old Kingdom, Sixth Dynasty – Seventh Dynasty
  • Date Made:      2350 – 2130 BC
  • Find date:        1898
  • Materials:        Limestone
  • Dimensions:    H: 30.5; W: 28.5; D: 10.5
  • Museum:          Penn Museum

Explore the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


“The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.”
– Marcus Aurelius


Photo Credit: BGM 2) By Unknownmyself (Gerbil from de.wikipedia) (Own work) [Public domain, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Top Posts & Pages

Museums, Art Galleries & Historical Sites - Virtual Tours
Lone Star Flight Museum - Virtual Tour
"Great Peacock Moth" by Vincent van Gogh
"The Battle of Anghiari" by Leonardo Da Vinci
"The Night Café" by Vincent van Gogh
Perot Museum of Nature and Science - Virtual Tour
"Poppy Field in a Hollow near Giverny" by Claude Monet
"The Healing of the Man born Blind" by Duccio
Anthropomorphic Celtic Sword with Scabbard
Meadows Museum - Virtual Tour