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Offering table

Offering table
© BA Antiquities Museum/M. Sobhy

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Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 0612

Inv.Inventory
 (Al Ashmunin storerooms) 85

where to find


showcase 33

Offering table

Category:
Religious / Cult objects, offering tables
Date:
Ancient Egyptian period, Late Period (664-332 BCE)
Provenance:
Upper Egypt, Minya, Mallawi (Deir Abu Hinnis)
Material(s):
Rock, limestone
Height:
4.5 cm;
Length:
36.5 cm;
Width:
35 cm
Hall:
Extension, showcase 33


Offering tables

Part of the funerary equipment of the well-to-do Egyptian, the offering table was placed in the tomb in front of an inscribed stela, false door, or statue, where relatives, friends, and funerary priests performed the funerary rites ensuring the immortal life of the deceased. These rites included not only material offerings of food and beverages, but also ritual recitations and magical spells.

Offering table of “Djihuty”

This rectangular offering table belongs to a certain “Djihuty”. It reproduces the shape of the hieroglyphic sign   Hetep  (offering) – a visual allusion to its purpose.   

The inscriptions on the outer frame begin in the center and run to the right and left. They were intended to be read by the viewer; in this way the Egyptians believed the food offerings depicted would be transformed into material existence. The inscriptions invoke two of the most important gods of the realm of the dead: “Osiris”, Lord of the Netherworld, that he may grant enough food to the owner of the table; and “Wepwawet” (Anubis), the jackal-headed god and mythical master of embalming, who awakens the dead to life by preparing the mummy, that he may grant the breath of life to the dead.

The basic Egyptian repast carved on the table includes the hindquarter, head and the ribs of a cow; fowl; round and conical loaves of bread; and beer.
 
Numerous shallow basins carved on the table are joined by channels. Oils and other liquid offerings were poured in the upper basin, flowed down to lower levels, and drained from the offering table through a gargoyle-like element.


 

 


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

References
  • Sue D'Auria et al., Mummies and Magic: The Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt (Boston, MA: Museum of Fine Arts, 1988).
  • Andrey O. Bolshakov, “Offering tables”, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, edited by Donald B. Redford, vol. 2 (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001): 572-576.
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