This finely carved limestone stela (60.5cm in height) comes from the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of King Ramesses II. The stela was dedicated by an important man named Ramose, who held the title of Senior Scribe in the workmen’s village of Deir el-Medina during the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279-1213 BC).
Ramose is known from over 40 individual monuments from the Theban area. According to accounts on ostraca, he was appointed by the Vizier Paser as Scribe of the Tomb in year 5 of Ramesses II – a role in which he served until at least year 38 of that king. His position afforded him the opportunity to commemorate himself in a range of monuments. The large number may have been motivated by the desire of Ramose and his wife for a child; the couple eventually adopted a son called Kenhirkhopeshef – a scribe well-known to Egyptologists as a keen collector of papyri. Ramose might also have received an income from outside the Village, and his association with the cult of Ramesses II seems to have made him particularly prominent amongst the workmen.
In the Manchester stela, Ramose addresses Ptah, the ‘patron’ god of craftsmen, and his daughter Maat, the personification of cosmic justice.
Caption above Ptah and Maat:
Ptah, lord of Truth, king of the Two Lands, beautiful of face, who fashioned the gods, great god, lord until eternity. Maat, daughter of Re […]
Purity, purity for your Kas, in every good thing.
Text in front of Ramose:
Giving praise to Ptah, lord of Truth, king of the Two Lands, with beautiful [face], [who is on] his great throne, lord of destiny, who creates fortune, who sustains the two lands with his crafts, and kissing the earth for Maat, daughter of Re, mistress of the sky, mistress(?) of all the gods, eye of Ra, who is before him, with beautiful face, who is in the barque-of-millions, lady of the Estate of Amun, so that they may give a good burial after old age in the Theban necropolis, the district of the Two Truths, for the Ka of the Osiris, true scribe in the Place of Truth, Ramose, justified.
The original context of this stela is not clear. It may have been moved to the Ramesseum long after Ramose’s death. Interestingly, however, Quibell recorded finding parts of the nearby temple of Tuthmose IV reused in the Ramesseum; Ramose appears to have held an important position in the mortuary temple of Tuthmose IV prior to becoming Senior Scribe at Deir el-Medina – implying that building material was perhaps already being taken from the temple of Tuthmose IV whilst there was still an active cult there. Ramesses II is certainly well-known as a recycler of the monuments of his ancestors; the creation of his own “temple of millions of years” seems to have sealed the fate of others.
The reading of this text has benefited greatly from the suggestions of Angela McDonald, and is based on a new annotated translation by Mark-Jan Nederhof.