Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: The stela of Mentuhotep, a self-made man of the 11th dynasty
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Mentuhoteps family tree

The stela of Mentuhotep, a self-made man of the 11th dynasty

Stela of Mentuhotep
    This stela has been dated to the 11th dynasty by Gardiner, based on its names, titles and phraseology. It shows Mentuhotep, his parents and his son. The children (apart from the son) and servants were depicted together on the right, all part of the family. (Source: W.M.F. Petrie Tombs of the Courtiers and Oxyrhynkhos, 1922, Plate XXIII)
    (1) O ye who live and are upon the earth and who shall pass by this tomb, who love life and hate death, say ye: "May Osiris, head of the Westerners, glorify Menthotpe."
-   Westerners: The denizens of the underworld.
    (2) Now I was first among my contemporaries, the foreman of my gang, one who discovered the statement about which he had been asked, and answered (it) appropriately, (3) cool(-headed), one who obtained bread in its (due) season, one whose (own) counsel replaced for him a mother at home, a father making the family fortune (??), and a son of good disposition, one whom his (own) nature instructed as (it were) a child growing up with its father. (4) Now although I was become an orphan, I acquired cattle and got oxen (?) and developed my business in goats; I built a house and excavated a (garden-)pond, the priest Menthotpe.

Translated by Alan Gardiner
From W.M.F. Petrie Tombs of the Courtiers and Oxyrhynkhos, 1922

  foreman of my gang: A man of the people, seemingly risen to his position of foreman by merit.
  I was become an orphan: Quite a common occurrence in ancient times. Young children were taken in by relatives, but would not inherit unless those relatives were childless. The age at which Mentuhotep lost his parents is unknown.
  I built a house and excavated a (garden-)pond: Corresponding to today's villa in the suburbs with swimming pool.
  priest: Apparently lay priest.


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-[1] W.M.F. Petrie Tombs of the Courtiers and Oxyrhynkhos

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November 2003